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Geotechnical Engineering Master's Degree Program

UW CEE’s Geotechnical Engineering Master’s Program is one of the oldest in the United States. Founded in 1935, the program has produced outstanding students who have achieved great success in practice and academia. The program provides a solid background in all traditional areas of geotechnical engineering and allows students to focus on areas of particular interest, including geotechnical earthquake engineering, landslide hazards, soil mechanics and foundation engineering. Graduate students work closely with faculty and also interact with leaders in the local professional community, many of whom are UW graduates, through special courses taught by practitioners, field trips, seminars and professional society meetings.


People with advanced degrees in geotechnical engineering enjoy careers with consulting firms, major contractors, design firms and government agencies. Geotechnical engineers enjoy a balance of analysis, design, subsurface investigation and construction monitoring that allows them to spend time both in the field and in the office. Geotechnical engineers work closely with geologists, seismologists, structural engineers, and construction engineers in the design and construction of buildings, bridges, dams, pipelines and other critical elements of modern infrastructure.

Degree requirements

A total of 42 credits is required for both Professional Master's Program and research track master’s programs. Students in both tracks take many of the same courses. Research track students have fewer required class credits due to their research activities, for which they receive credit. Master’s students enrolled in on-campus programs may take online courses as electives. Learn more about prerequisites and required coursework to complete each degree.


Research track students have the opportunity to engage in cutting-edge research with renowned faculty. UW students and faculty conduct research in a broad range of areas of geotechnical engineering, including seismic site response, earthquake- and rainfall-induced landslide analysis, numerical modeling of flow slides and other large deformation problems, soil liquefaction, soil-structure interaction, and partially saturated soils. Research is funded by federal and state agencies such as the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Geological Survey, the Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center and the Washington State Department of Transportation. Learn more about Geotechnical Engineering Research.

More resources

This 5-minute video produced by the DFI Women in Deep Foundations (WiDF) Committee answers the question: “What is the geotechnical field?”