Student works with equipment inside the eco-machine.

Environmental Engineering

Environmental Engineering focuses on the improvement of environmental quality through design, including the treatment of surface water, groundwater, wastewater, soil, and air; the management of wetlands and watersheds; the treatment and disposal of solid and hazardous wastes; the production of renewable energy; and the design of “green” products. The Penn State Environmental Engineering (EnvE) program has specific strengths in biological processes for energy production, bioremediation of hazardous contaminants, physical/chemical processes for contaminant removal, conventional water and wastewater treatment, green product design, and environmental law.

Program Requirements

Master of Engineering Degree 

Master of Engineering students must complete 31 credits (400-level and above), a minimum of 18 credits at the 500-level, and a minimum of 12 credits with a CE prefix. Students will also be required to complete a one-credit colloquium (CE 590) as part of SARI training. At least 20 credits must be earned at an established graduate campus of the University. The following course work is required:

12 credits of the Core Curriculum
6 credits of EnvE Electives
12 credits of Technical Electives

Master of Science Degree

Master of Science students must complete 30 graduate credits (18 credits of which must be at the 500 and/or 600-level, combined), prepare and orally defend a thesis, and satisfy the other academic program requirements outlined in the Graduate handbook. The following course work is required:

12 credits of the Core Curriculum
6 credits of EnvE Electives
6 credits of Technical Electives
6 credits Thesis Research (CE 600 or CE 610)

Doctorate Degree

Doctor of Philosophy students must complete a minimum of 21 credits of graduate course work (400-level and above) beyond the Master’s degree or 15 credits beyond the M.S. in Environmental Engineering at Penn State (exclusive of thesis research). In addition, Ph.D. students must also successfully pass the Qualifying Exam, Comprehensive Exam, Final Oral Exam, write a dissertation, and satisfy the other academic program requirements outlined in the Graduate handbook

All academic program requirements are outlined in the Graduate handbook.

Courses Offered

The Env E curriculum is built around four cornerstones of understanding environmental problems: Microbiology, Chemistry, Chemical Transport, and Process Engineering. Other courses extend these basic themes to support research and teaching interests of the faculty and students. Students select a program of study that satisfies the Core Course Requirements as well as an individually chosen area of specialization. Programs of study that satisfy the course requirements for each degree are developed in consultation with the adviser.

Core Curriculum

Students must demonstrate competence in each of the following four core areas: Microbiology, Chemistry, Chemical Transport, and Process Engineering (3 credits in each core area). Suggested courses to provide this core curriculum are provided below. In addition, all students must complete CE 371 (Water & Wastewater Treatment) at Penn State, or the equivalent.

Microbiology - CE 479
Chemistry - CE 570 or CE 573
Chemical Transport - CE 576 or CE 580
Process Engineering - CE 571 or CE 572
Colloquium - CE 590

Environmental Engineering Electives

Environmental Engineering electives allow students to develop additional expertise in their areas of specialization. The following courses are offered in the EnvE program (all courses are 3 credits unless otherwise noted):

CE 475 – Water Quality Chemistry
CE 476 – Solid & Hazardous Wastes
CE 479 – Environmental Microbiology Laboratory
CE 570 – Environmental Aquatic Chemistry
CE 571 – Physical-Chemical Treatment Processes
CE 572 – Biological Treatment Processes
CE 573 – Environmental Organic Chemistry
CE 576 – Environmental Transport Processes 
CE 578 – Groundwater Remediation
CE 580 – Surface Water Quality Modeling
CE 591 – Environmental Engineering Seminar (1)
CE 592 – Environmental Engineering & Science Topics (1)

Technical Electives

Students are encouraged to take courses outside the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Courses in agronomy, biotechnology, chemical engineering, chemistry, geohydrology, geochemistry, materials science, microbiology, and mineral processing may be of particular interest. Students should discuss options for satisfying their technical elective requirements with their academic advisers. A detailed list of technical electives can be found in the Graduate handbook.



The Penn State Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, established in 1881, is internationally recognized for excellence in the preparation of undergraduate and graduate engineers through the integration of education, research, and leadership.

Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering

212 Sackett Building

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802-1408

Phone: 814-863-3084