Detroit Mercy offers accelerated five-year environmental engineering master’s program

June 18, 2018

Students conduct an experiment in an environmental engineering lab.University of Detroit Mercy is making it easier than ever to get involved in environmental issues like water quality, global warming, air quality or waste management with its accelerated Environmental Engineering master’s program.

Individuals can earn a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, biochemistry, biology or civil engineering and a Master’s of Environmental Engineering in just five years.

“This program has several interests: you can study water quality, soil cleanup or soil remediation, waste management and air quality. Depending on what you’re interested in you can take classes in that field,” Professor of Environmental, Civil & Architectural Engineering Alexa Rihana-Abdallah said.

The job opportunities for environmental graduates is expected to grow by 8 percent from 2016 to 2026 and the median pay is $84,890 per year according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“With a Master’s of Environmental Engineering you can work for an environmental consulting company, or governmental agencies like the EPA or NSF. A lot of our students will also work for political advocacy,” Rihana-Abdallah said. “There are plenty of options after graduation.”

Detroit Mercy’s Environmental Engineering program requires cooperative education assignments (co-ops) , which students can start as soon as their freshman year. Co-ops are a great way for students to develop real-world experience and boost their resume at the same time.

“In the Environmental Engineering program, we do three co-ops, which is overall an awesome experience,” current Detroit Mercy senior Frankie Rider said. “Because Detroit Mercy has such a wide variety of classes that all include practical work such as design projects and lab work, as a student, you are setup really well to get the co-op position that you actually want. Also, the co-ops are a great way to gain experience with clients and expand your network with working professionals in the field.”

Co-ops can also lead to internships and jobs while students are still in college.

“The co-op class offered during a student’s freshman year allows them to create a resume that is geared toward securing them a paid internship in their engineering field after just their freshman year,” Detroit Mercy senior Brian O’Hara said. “By the time students graduate from Detroit Mercy, they will already have real world engineering experience from these internships, which gives them a head start in the industry compared to other schools.” 

In addition to the co-op and internship opportunities, Detroit Mercy’s Environmental Engineering program allows students to work in labs, conduct research and tailor their studies to their interests.

“What I enjoy most about the program are the labs,” Rider said. “I love getting to see the material I am learning in the classroom come to life and get to do the same thing that established professionals in the industry get to do every day. It was also extremely helpful when I was being interviewed for full-time positions, because I was able to mention all of the practical course work that I have done and actually say that I already know how to use the lab equipment and perform necessary tests/experiments.”

Students also enjoy Detroit Mercy’s low student-to-faculty ratio, which provides plenty of individual attention.

“At Detroit Mercy, students have the opportunity to make the most of their education,” O’Hara said. “The ability to meet with professors daily and the small class sizes provide students with the resources to improve their areas of weakness and expand their interests in ways that a larger university cannot provide. We learn about sustainable processes and clean energy technology. We see the impact of every decision we make on the environment (water, land, air) and on future generations.”

“What I really like about Detroit Mercy’s Environmental Engineering program is how hands on everything is,” Rider said. “I know so many other schools also say that they’re hands-on, but at Detroit Mercy it’s in a different way. At Detroit Mercy, my professors are always there. They actually teach the classes and labs, know the students on a personal level, and are there to help at any hour of the day. The learning and experience you get are just absolutely phenomenal.”

Environmental engineering is also an appealing alternative for biology and chemistry majors, who originally planned on going to medical or dental school but have discovered that path isn’t for them.

“This is another option for students who know they are not going into those professions now,” Rihana-Abdallah said. “They can come here and earn a master’s in Environmental Engineering. There is a lot of overlap between chemistry, biology and environmental engineering. In environmental engineering we talk about pollutants and chemicals, and the health effect on the body. We talk about how microorganisms and bacteria can help break up pollutants. So there are a lot of common themes.”

To learn more about Detroit Mercy’s Environmental Engineering program, visit

— By Dave Pemberton. Follow Detroit Mercy on FacebookTwitter and Instagram. Have a story idea? Let us know by submitting your idea.