University of Southern California Department of Biomedical Engineering The USC Andrew and Erna Viterbi School of Engineering USC


The transportation system is a fundamental part of any region's physical, economic, and social structure. The United States' 41,000 mile Interstate highway system cost approximately $100 billion. The number of vehicle miles traveled in the Los Angeles region in a single day exceeds 201 million, or 2.2 times the distance from the earth to the sun. Approximately 10 percent of our gross national product is spent on transportation.

The field of Transportation Engineering focuses on the planning, design, construction, management, and performance of transportation systems. These systems consist of the facilities, vehicles, control mechanisms, new technologies, and policies that combine to permit the efficient conveyance of people and freight.

The Civil Engineering Department of the University of Southern California offers two graduate credentials for advanced studies in transportation, a Master of Science degree in Transportation Engineering and a Certificate in Transportation Systems. The Graduate Certificate program provides graduate students from any program with an opportunity to earn a specialized credential in transportation and provides professionals with the means to broaden and update their education with respect to this rapidly changing field. The Master of Science program offers students an opportunity to acquire special academic depth in several aspects of Transportation Engineering.

The program for the M.S. degree in Civil Engineering with a special designation in Transportation Engineering conforms to the general degree requirements of the School of Engineering and the Department of Civil Engineering.
Transportation engineering is an interdisciplinary field, and the M.S. degree program offers students a variety of choices. Each student must take a core set of courses involving fundamental transportation systems technology. In addition, each student must take other courses associated with various tracks. The tracks include transportation planning, advanced transportation systems, construction engineering and management, structural engineering and geotechnical engineering. Students may make course selections that are restricted to one track, or, subject to advisor approval, they may select courses distributed over two or more different tracks.

The Masters of Science Program consists of at least 27 units of course work. Of the 27 units, 18 must be at the 500- level or higher. At least 16 units must consist of courses offered by the School of Engineering.
Program without Thesis:
No more than 8 units of directed research (590) may be included in the program.

Program with Thesis:
Students may elect to complete a thesis as part of their program subject to advisor approval. The thesis presents the results of an investigation of an approved subject in transportation engineering. It is supervised by a thesis committee appointed by the Chair of the Civil Engineering Department. The committee is usually composed of two members of the Civil Engineering Department and one other member of the University faculty.

Under the thesis option, 4 of the 27 units of course work associated with the Master of Science program may consist of thesis units (594a,b). In addition to the 4 thesis units, up to 4 units of directed research may be included in the program. At least 16 units, not including thesis units but including other directed research, must be at the 500-level or higher.
Engineering background

Students with a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Aerospace Engineering may be admitted without restriction to the program. Students with a Bachelor of Science in Transportation Engineering, Industrial and Systems Engineering, Electrical Engineering and associated fields may be admitted, but with the restriction that either they follow the transportation planning or advanced transportation system tracks or they complete prerequisite undergraduate courses identified by the Department of Civil Engineering. Such prerequisite courses are associated with the construction engineering, structural engineering, and geotechnical engineering tracks.

Engineering Prerequisites (approximately 10 units):

The following prerequisites are associated with the various transportation tracks.

One calculus-based course in probability and/or statistics, equivalent to ISE 225 or CE 408.

ISE 460 Engineering Economy (4) or equivalent

PLUS 480 Introduction to Urban Transportation Planning (4) (transportation planning track), or

CE 462 Construction Methods and Equipment (3) or equivalent (construction engineering track), or

CE 358 Theory of Structures I or equivalent (structural engineering track), or

CE 464 Geotechnical Engineering or equivalent (geotechnical engineering track).

An additional course in intermediate micro-economic theory is suggested, but not required.

Methodological Core (15 to 17 units)

Transportation and Engineering Science (9 or 10 units):

Required courses:


Principles of Transportation (3). If the equivalent of CE 471 has already been completed, students may substitute an engineering prerequisite for CE 471. If the equivalent of CE 471 and all engineering prerequisites have already been completed, the student may substitute an additional technical elective in a thesis program, or an additional 4 units of directed research in a nonthesis program up to a total of 8 units of CE 471 directed research.


Transportation Engineering (3)

Additional courses (take only one):
CE506 Heavy Construction Estimating (3) (construction engineering and management track)
CE529a Finite Element Analysis (3) (structural engineering track)
CE531 Soil Mechanics (3) (geotechnical engineering track)
PLUS 581 Institutional and Policy Issues in Transportation (4) (transportation planning track)
CE585 Traffic Engineering and Control (3) (advanced transportation systems track)
Quantitative Methods (6 or 7 units):
Required courses:
Engineering Analysis Part b (3)
Additional courses (take only one):
CE525a Engineering Analysis Part a (3)
ISE 530 Introduction to Operations Research (4)
ISE 536 Linear Programming and Extensions (3)
ISE 538 Elements of Stochastic Processes (3)
MATH 501 Numerical Analysis and Computation (3)
PLUS 606 Advanced Research Methods in Planning: Multivariate Statistical Methods (4)
MATH 544L Multivariate Analysis (3)
Research Electives (4 to 8 units)
CE590 Directed Research in Transportation Engineering (4)
CE594a Master's Thesis Course a (4)
CE594b Master's Thesis Course b (4)
Technical Electives (3 to 8 units)
Transportation Planning Track:
CE585 Traffic Engineering and Control (3)
CE587 Transportation Energy Analysis (3)
ECON 414 Introduction to Econometrics (4)
ECON 500 Microeconomic Analysis and Policy (4)
ECON 511 Econometric Methods (4)
ECON 607 Topics in Dynamic Optimization (4)
ECON 644 Economic Development Programming and Policy Planning (4)
ECON 666 Urban Economic Theory (4)
ISE 515 Engineering Project Management (3)
PLUS 562 Land Use Policy : Analysis Design Planning and Evaluation (4)
PLUS 561 Environmental Impacts (4)
PLUS 580 Urban Transportation Planning and Management (4)
PLUS 680 Advanced Urban and Regional Transportation Planning (3)
PLUS 526 Urban Information Systems (4)
MATH 543L Nonparametric Statistics (3)
MATH 545L Introduction to Time-Series (3)
MKT 540 Marketing Methods (4)
Advanced Transportation Systems Track:
CE585 Traffic Engineering and Control (3)
ISE 435 System Simulation in Industrial Engineering (3)
ISE 516 Facilities Location and Layout (3)
ISE 520 Optimization: Theory and Algorithms (3)
ISE 532 Network Flows (3)
ISE 537 Discrete Optimization (3)
ISE 538 Elements of Stochastic Processes (3)
ISE 561 Advanced Engineering Economy (3)
ISE 562 Value and Decision Theory (3)
ISE 570 Human Factors in Engineering (3)
ISE 580 Statistics in Simulation (3)
Construction Engineering Track:
CE501 Functions of the Constructor (3)
CE502 Construction Accounting and Finance
CE505 Heavy Construction Operations and Methods (3)
CE556a,b Project Cost Estimating and Control (3,3)
ENE 505 Energy and Environment (3)
ENE 516 Hazardous Waste Management (3)
Structural Engineering Track:
CE528 Seismic Analysis and Design of Reinforced Concrete Bridges (3)
CE535a,b Earthquake Engineering (3,3)
CE536 Design for Dynamic Loads (3)
CE537 Advanced Reinforced Concrete (3)
CE538 Prestressed Concrete (3)
CE539 Advanced Steel Structures (3)
CE541a,b Dynamics of Structures (3,3)
CE542 Theory of Plates (3)
CE583 Design of Transportation Facilities (3)
Geotechnical Engineering Track:
CE531 Soil Mechanics (3)
CE532 Principles of Foundation Engineering (3)
CE547 Engineering Rock Mechanics (3)
CE548 Foundation Design (3)
CE599 Pavement Design and Rehabilitation (3)

Many transportation faculty are also affiliated with USC International Institute for Innovative Risk Reduction Research on Civil Infrastructure Systems. In a natural disaster such as an earthquake, civil infrastructure systems such as transportation networks, pipeline systems, and other critical life lines may perform poorly or even fail. Center faculty strive to develop methods by which advanced and emerging technologies are used to enhance the physical and functional performance of civil infrastructure systems, thus reducing the risk of system failure. Opportunities exist to integrate these technologies into every phase of the life cycle of civil infrastructure systems, including planning, design, construction, operation, maintenance, retrofit, rehabilitation, and demolition.

Opportunities exist for graduate students to participate in the Center's ongoing activities, including research on:

High-performance materials and structural systems
Smart materials in building and civil infrastructure systems
Advanced sensors, sensing systems, and their implementation for health monitoring, damage detection, and damage control
Integrated disaster information systems: use of satellites in conjunction with various advanced sensors, wireless data transmission techniques, radio telemetry, advanced signal processing techniques, global positioning systems, for on-line, real time identification, reporting, diagnosis, and control of hazardous events
Advanced robotics for retrofit, construction, demolition, search, and rescue
High performance computing and communication 

Application forms for admissions to the graduate programs in Civil and Environmental Engineering may be obtained from:
Department of Civil Engineering
Graduate Admission, KAP-239
University of Southern California
Los Angeles, CA 90089-2531
Tel: (213) 740-0587
Fax: (213) 744-1426

Teaching Assistantships and Research Assistantships are two major forms of financial aid available for graduate students. Both types of assistantship are awarded on the basis of high academic achievement and potential. A full Research Assistantship will provide a monthly stipend and 12 units of tuition remission per semester. Applicants are encouraged to contact the faculty member(s) whose research specialties are related to their interest. A Teaching Assistantship will provide a monthly stipend and 8 units of tuition remission per semester. A student may combine a partial Research Assistantship and a Teaching Assistantship; the benefits are equivalent to a full Research Assistantship.
The financial aid application forms may be obtained from the Civil Engineering Department at the above address.


Additional information can be found in the University of Southern California Catalogue, which lists and describes all the engineering courses offered at USC; and the schedule of classes, which list all the courses offered each semester.