What Degree Is Required For Coastal Engineering?

A coastal engineering student surrounded by technical books and tools.

Choosing the right degree for a career in coastal engineering can be a real head-scratcher. Did you know, at schools such as Texas A&M University, a civil engineering background is key to diving into coastal specializations?

This article unpacks the degrees needed to thrive in this dynamic field, ensuring you’re well-informed and ready to ride the wave of education towards your dream job.

A B.S. degree in civil engineering is generally required for pursuing research and specialization in coastal engineering. A minimum of 30 semester credit hours is required for the Master of Engineering degree (MEng) and the Master of Science (Non-Thesis) in coastal engineering.

Stick around – the water’s just fine!

Key Takeaways

  • You need a Bachelor of Science in Coastal Engineering to start off. This teaches you about waves, sand, and how to protect coasts.
  • After your bachelor’s degree, you can get more knowledge with a Master’s or even go for a Ph.D. These help you learn more and get better jobs.
  • To be good at coastal engineering, it helps to know lots about math and physics because they are big parts of the job.
  • Online courses and certificates are also there if you want them. They fit around other things you might be doing.
  • Being a coastal engineer means that you could earn quite a lot of money and work for different places like the government or companies that give advice on building near water.

Understanding Coastal Engineering

A coastal landscape with erosion protection structures in natural light.

Coastal engineering is a specialized field that focuses on protecting and managing coastlines from erosion, flooding, and other natural processes. As a coastal engineer, you’ll need to understand the dynamics of waves, tides, currents, and sediment transport to design and implement effective coastal protection measures.


Coastal engineering is the study of how to design and build structures by the sea. You learn how to work with waves, tides, and sand to protect beaches and buildings. It’s a mix of civil engineering and ocean science that helps us keep coasts safe.

This kind of engineering is super important because it keeps our coastal towns from flooding. Engineers in this field make sure bridges, harbors, and other waterside spots stay strong against the power of the ocean.

They use math, physics, statistics, economics, environmental studies, aesthetics—the works! To understand water movements near shores so they can plan better for big storms or rising seas.

Next up is why this job really matters..


Coastal engineering is key for our world. It helps us understand and protect shorelines from the ocean’s power. Engineers in this field make sure beaches, ports, and sea walls are safe.

They also work on saving habitats and help deal with floods or erosion.

You might design a huge sea wall or plan a new beach if you become a coastal engineer. This work can save lives and homes when storms hit. Plus, keeping our coasts healthy is good for animals and plants that live there.

Let’s dive into what coastal engineers do every day..

Job responsibilities

Coastal engineers play a big role in protecting our shores and oceans. They work hard to make sure coastal areas are safe and healthy.

  • Design sea defenses to keep people safe from floods and storms.
  • Create plans for harbors, marinas, and docks so boats can come in and out smoothly.
  • Study the sand, rocks, and water to understand beaches better.
  • Work with computer models to see how waves and currents might change the coast.
  • Make sure construction near the water won’t harm the environment or fish.
  • Find ways to fix beach erosion when sand is washed away.
  • Share their knowledge with others by writing reports or teaching.
  • Lead project teams that include other kinds of engineers and experts.
  • Keep learning new things about coastal engineering as technology changes.

Degree Options for Coastal Engineering

A rugged coastline with crashing waves and engineering tools.

– Bachelors of Science in Coastal Engineering

– Masters of Engineering/Science

– Doctoral degree

Bachelors of Science in Coastal Engineering

To start your career in coastal engineering, a Bachelors of Science degree in Coastal Engineering will equip you with the foundation needed. This program typically covers essential topics such as math, physics, and specialized coursework like oceanography or structures.

Completing this degree usually takes around four years and sets the stage for more advanced studies or entering the workforce directly. For example, at Texas A&M University Engineering, a B.S.

degree in civil engineering is required to specialize in coastal engineering research – particularly if you’re looking to work on complex projects.

Masters of Engineering/Science

After completing your Bachelor’s in Coastal Engineering, pursuing a Master of Engineering or Science can provide advanced knowledge and specialization. These programs typically require 30 semester credit hours and build upon the foundational principles learned during undergraduate studies.

This next level of education equips you with an in-depth understanding of coastal processes, modeling techniques, and design principles through core courses such as Coastal Hydrodynamics and Sediment Transport.

Additionally, elective courses offer opportunities to delve into specialized areas like Coastal Structures and Port Planning, enabling you to tailor your education to your specific career goals.

Graduate programs also present options for online learning and certification in Coastal Engineering & Sciences for those seeking flexible study arrangements or desiring focused expertise within shorter time frames.

Doctoral degree

For those aiming for advanced research and specialized roles in coastal engineering, pursuing a doctoral degree is the pinnacle of academic achievement. A Ph.D. in Coastal Engineering equips you with the highest level of expertise, allowing you to delve deep into cutting-edge research and contribute significantly to the field’s advancement.

With an emphasis on innovation and problem-solving, a doctoral degree opens doors to leadership positions in academia, government agencies, or private industry. The extensive research involved not only expands your knowledge but also enhances critical thinking skills essential for addressing complex coastal challenges head-on.

Moving forward from exploring doctoral degrees, let’s dive deeper into the undergraduate requirements for Coastal Engineering programs..

Undergraduate Requirements for Coastal Engineering Programs

To pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Coastal Engineering, you’ll need to complete relevant coursework in math, physics, and statistics, as well as specializations in areas like structures or oceanography.

If you want to learn more about the undergraduate requirements for coastal engineering programs, keep reading!

Relevant coursework (math, physics, statistics)

To understand coastal engineering, it’s important to take relevant coursework in math, physics, and statistics. Here are the specific classes you may need to consider:

  • Mathematics courses such as calculus, differential equations, and linear algebra
  • Physics courses covering mechanics, thermodynamics, and fluid dynamics
  • Statistics courses focusing on probability, data analysis, and statistical modeling

Specializations (structures, oceanography, etc.)

For coastal engineering, you might specialize in structures or oceanography. Both are essential for understanding and designing coastal infrastructure. If you opt for structures, it involves learning about building materials and the impact of waves on buildings along coastlines.

For oceanography, it focuses on studying tides, currents, and marine life to make informed decisions when designing coastal projects. These specializations offer diverse opportunities to apply your skills in real-world scenarios and contribute to sustainable coastal development.

While pursuing a degree in coastal engineering, focusing on either structures or oceanography can help you gain specialized knowledge that will be valuable as you start your career in this field.

Duration of program

Coastal engineering programs typically require around five years to complete, especially if your coursework is out of sequence. A B.S. degree in civil engineering is commonly required, and math, physics, and statistics will be important classes for you.

This program can offer specialized courses in ocean and coastal engineering so that you gain the necessary knowledge and skills.. As a student pursuing coastal engineering studies.

– Undergraduate Requirements for Coastal Engineering Programs

Graduate Programs in Coastal Engineering

Graduate programs in coastal engineering offer advanced courses and specializations, providing a deeper understanding of oceanography, structures, and coastal processes. These programs also offer online options and certificates for professionals looking to enhance their skills in this field.

Online options

Consider earning a Coastal Engineering certificate online to enhance your skills and career prospects. You can pursue this program with just a bachelor’s degree from an accredited engineering program, and it covers a diverse range of disciplines, including physics, environmental studies, and aesthetics.

To meet the requirements for the Master of Engineering degree (MEng) or the Master of Science in coastal engineering (non-thesis), you will need to complete at least 30 semester credit hours of approved courses.

Additionally, specialized online courses are available in ocean and coastal engineering to equip you with the necessary knowledge for this field.

Enroll in an online Coastal Engineering Certificate Program after completing your bachelor’s degree from an accredited engineering program. This certificate requires coursework covering various topics such as physics, economics, environmental studies, and aesthetics along with essential engineering principles relevant to coastal engineering.

Coastal Engineering certificate

To earn a Coastal Engineering & Sciences Certificate, students need to have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited engineering program. This certificate program covers diverse disciplines including physics, economics, environmental studies, and aesthetics in addition to engineering principles.

The Department of Civil & Coastal Engineering at Texas A&M University requires applicants to possess a B.S. degree in civil engineering with a specialization in structures to be eligible for this program.

The certificate offers specialized courses in ocean and coastal engineering to equip students with essential knowledge and skills for this field.

Core courses

To become a coastal engineer, you will need to take several core courses that will provide you with the necessary knowledge and skills. Here is a detailed list of the essential core courses:

  1. Mathematics: Courses in calculus, differential equations, and numerical methods are crucial for understanding the mathematical principles fundamental to coastal engineering.
  2. Physics: Understanding the principles of physics, including fluid mechanics and wave dynamics, is essential for analyzing coastal processes and designing effective coastal structures.
  3. Fluid Mechanics: This course focuses on the behavior of fluids and their interactions with structures, providing a foundation for understanding coastal hydraulics.
  4. Coastal Processes: A comprehensive understanding of coastal dynamics, sediment transport, and shoreline evolution is essential for addressing challenges in coastal engineering projects.
  5. Coastal Engineering Design: This course covers the practical application of engineering principles to address real-world coastal problems such as erosion control, flood protection, and sustainable development.
  6. Environmental Studies: Understanding environmental impacts and sustainability considerations is vital when designing solutions for coastal areas affected by human activities and natural processes.
  7. Geotechnical Engineering: Knowledge of soil behavior and foundation design is crucial for developing resilient coastal infrastructure that can withstand dynamic marine environments.
  8. Risk Assessment and Management: Learning how to assess risks associated with coastal hazards such as storms or sea-level rise is important for developing effective mitigation strategies.
  9. Coastal Regulations and Policy: Familiarizing yourself with relevant regulations and policies governing coastal development will ensure compliance and ethical practice in your engineering projects.

Elective courses

To further specialize in coastal engineering, you can select elective courses that cater to your interests and career goals. Here are the elective courses commonly offered in coastal engineering programs:

  1. Coastal Zone Management: Gain an understanding of how to manage and sustain coastal areas through environmental planning, policy development, and resource management.
  2. Coastal Sediment Transport: Explore the movement of sediments along coastlines, its impact on shorelines, and methods for predicting and managing sediment transport.
  3. Coastal Resilience Engineering: Learn about designing resilient coastal infrastructure to mitigate the impacts of natural disasters and climate change on coastal regions.
  4. Beach Erosion Control: Study techniques for preventing beach erosion through engineering solutions such as seawalls, breakwaters, and beach nourishment projects.
  5. Marine Renewable Energy: Delve into the engineering principles behind harnessing energy from ocean resources such as waves, tides, and currents for sustainable power generation.
  6. Coastal Risk Assessment: Understand how to assess and manage risks associated with coastal hazards like flooding, storm surges, and sea-level rise to enhance community resilience.
  7. Coastal Hydrodynamics: Explore the study of water movement in coastal environments including wave dynamics, tidal currents, and their effects on coastal structures.
  8. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for Coastal Applications: Acquire skills in using GIS technology to analyze and visualize spatial data for coastal planning, management, and decision-making.

Career Opportunities for Coastal Engineers

Coastal engineers enjoy high average salaries, a positive job outlook, and a variety of employers in both the public and private sectors. To explore the exciting opportunities in this field..

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Average salary

Embarking on a career in coastal engineering means entering a field where your expertise can have a significant impact on coastal communities and environments. Financially, it’s a rewarding choice as well. According to data from 2012, the average annual salary for professionals in this field was around $88,100. While the figures may have adjusted since, they reflect the value that coastal engineers bring to the table.

Here’s a glimpse of what you can expect in terms of compensation:

Experience LevelAverage Annual Salary
Entry-Level$55,000 – $70,000
Mid-Level$70,000 – $100,000

Salaries vary by region, experience, and the complexity of projects you handle. In high-demand coastal regions, you might find salaries on the higher end of the spectrum. As you advance in your career, obtaining a master’s or doctoral degree can further increase your earning potential. Keep in mind, the positive job outlook for coastal engineers suggests that career opportunities will continue to expand. This growth is a beacon for those of you considering this path, as it promises not just financial rewards but also a chance to make a tangible difference in protecting and enhancing our coastlines.

Job outlook

Coastal engineering is an expanding field, and the job outlook for coastal engineers is very promising. As coastal areas continue to face challenges from rising sea levels and extreme weather events, the demand for skilled professionals who can design resilient infrastructure and protect coastlines is on the rise.

On average, coastal engineers earn around $88,100 annually with opportunities in both public and private sectors, including government agencies, consulting firms, and research institutions.

With a steady need for experts in this area, pursuing a degree in coastal engineering could lead to fulfilling career prospects that positively impact communities and the environment.

Moreover, as climate change continues to impact our coastlines and oceans, there’s an increasing need for professionals who can address these challenges through innovative solutions.

Types of employers

Coastal engineers can find employment in various sectors, including government agencies, consulting firms, research institutions, and environmental organizations. Many coastal engineers work for government entities such as the Army Corps of Engineers or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Consulting firms specializing in coastal engineering also hire graduates to work on projects related to coastal protection and infrastructure development. Moreover, research institutions and environmental organizations often seek coastal engineers to contribute their expertise in studying and mitigating the impact of coastal hazards on communities.

With a degree in coastal engineering, you can explore diverse career opportunities across different sectors working towards protecting coastlines and enhancing resilience against natural forces.

Whether it’s designing protective structures for vulnerable coastlines or conducting research to address climate-related challenges, your skills as a coastal engineer can make a significant difference in safeguarding our coasts for future generations.


In conclusion, pursuing a degree in coastal engineering opens doors to promising career opportunities. The curriculum emphasizes math, physics, and specialized coursework tailored to the dynamic field of coastal engineering.

By obtaining the required degree and skills, you can contribute to vital projects that protect shorelines and support marine ecosystems. Remember that through dedication and continued learning, you can make a meaningful impact in this essential area of civil engineering.

Embrace the challenge and strive for excellence as you embark on your journey toward becoming a skilled coastal engineer.


1. What kind of degree do I need to become a coastal engineer?

To dive into the world of coastal engineering, you’ll generally need a bachelor’s degree in civil or environmental engineering—and it’s even better if your program has courses focused on coastal subjects.

2. Can I specialize in coastal engineering at the master’s level?

Absolutely! If you’re looking to deepen your expertise, many schools offer specialized master’s degrees where you can focus solely on the nuts and bolts of coastal engineering.

3. Do I need further certification for a career in coastal engineering?

While your academic degrees lay the groundwork, becoming a licensed Professional Engineer (PE) could be your next step—this stamp of approval showcases your dedication and skill to employers everywhere.

4. How important is hands-on experience in this field?

Hands-on experience is like gold—it helps turn theory into real-world know-how. Internships or related work during your study can give you that needed edge when stepping onto the professional stage.

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