Geoengineering, Master of Science (Technology)
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As one of the top-ranked programmes in its field, the Master’s Programme in Geoengineering provides world-class education in the disciplines of geotechnics, rock mechanics and highway engineering. Programme graduates play a key role in urbanisation and circular economy, with their expertise helping to alleviate climate change and reduce the use of natural resources. Thanks to their highly appreciated knowledge and skills, as well as the programme’s close collaboration with the industry, graduates tend to find great job opportunities with ease.
As raw materials – used in construction materials, household items, energy, groundwater and basically all common goods – originate in the earth, experts in soils, rocks and their use are in high demand. Large construction projects, in particular, require engineers capable of designing the foundations, roads, excavations and tunnels, to name a few. The Master’s Programme in Geoengineering gives its students a great variety of relevant skills and knowledge. Geoengineering graduates have:
- Extensive expertise in one or more of the fields: geotechnical engineering, rock engineering or highway engineering, with courses chosen by the students to suit their needs and interests.
- Numerical modelling skills. Graduates can choose a study path giving them world class skills in advanced computational modelling.
- Deep understanding of tools and software. Graduates know the underlying logic and basic functions of the most frequently used tools and computer programmes within the industry.
- Co-operational and communications skills. Graduates are active team players and skilled team leaders who cope well with pressure in even the fastest-paced environments.
- Experience from the field. Graduates have hands-on experience related to real-world construction and testing.
Upon graduation from the Geoengineering programme, graduates possess a comprehensive view of the lifespan of geotechnical structures, from the initial investigations, to design, construction, maintenance, and recycling.
Tuition fees and scholarships
Aalto University’s tuition fee for master’s programmes taught in English is 15 000 euros per academic year. Tuition fees apply to citizens of countries other than those of the European Union (EU), the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland.
Aalto University has a scholarship programme to support non-EU/EEA citizens who study in a fee-charging degree programme. The scholarship may cover 100% or 50% of the tuition fee.
More information on tuition fees and scholarships at Aalto University is available at the Scholarships and Tuition Fees webpage.
Structure of studies
The Master’s Programme in Geoengineering is organised by the School of Engineering and comprises a total of 120 ECTS credits. The two-year programme consists of:
- Major studies (60 ECTS)
- Master’s thesis (30 ECTS)
- Elective studies (30 ECTS)
The major studies are comprised of compulsory first-year common studies (30 ECTS) and elective advanced studies (30 ECTS). This allows students to flexibly choose a more theoretically advanced path, a more applied and practical approach, or a combination of both.
At the beginning of their studies, students define their Personal Study Plans (PSP) together with an academic advisor. The primary purpose of the PSP is to ensure that the studies support the student’s interests and are completed in a logical order.
Personal Study Plan (PSP)
The Personal Study Plan (PSP) is a practical tool to define a student’s own study path, i.e. compiling an optimal selection of courses, aligned with the student's interests and programme requirements. The PSP is also a useful tool for keeping up with studies as it shows the stage at which students are with their studies and sets concrete milestones for them to follow.
For more information on the courses, please visit the programme's section on Student guide.
The master’s thesis (30 credits) is a piece of applied research conducted independently by the student. Its key goal is to solve a problem relevant to the field of study, based on existing scientific knowledge and in compliance with the principles of responsible conduct of research. Master’s theses are written on topics related to the advanced studies of the programme, agreed upon between the student and the supervising professor. A master’s thesis may be, for example, a research and development project carried out for an industrial partner outside the university, or it can be connected with an ongoing research project of the department. Completing a master’s thesis usually takes six months of full-time work.
Most of the final project topics are acquired from construction and consultancy companies and authorities in different fields of geoengineering, thus giving also valuable contacts for any student planning a career in the industry. For students with academic career prospects, completing the final project within a research group in Aalto University or in another research organisation is also a viable option. In Geoengineering, the great majority of master’s thesis subjects are sponsored by the industry, governmental organisations or research projects with gratification paid to the student undertaking the work.
The teachers in the geoengineering programme are well recognised in Finland and abroad for both their scientific and applied expertise. Many of them have been involved in challenging engineering designs and projects and they are maintainin strong industry links. It guarantees that students are provided with up-to-date courses and knowledge close to the needs of the companies. As the programme professors actively pursue research, they don’t hesitate to introduce new knowledge in their teaching, keeping geoengineering graduates at the cutting edge of development. Furthermore, the daily studies include multiple learning methods like flipped classroom teaching, experiments in the above-standard laboratory facilities, field investigations (usually with machinery from industry, sometimes even with explosives), hands-on projects for the industry, visits to construction sites, and even certain projects carried out in tunnels under the campus or through virtual reality.
Working with foundations and ground improvement requires knowledge of soil types, mines and tunnels call for expertise in rock, and the construction of transportation routes needs highway engineers. Thus, in the Master's Programme in Geoengineering, students may choose to specialise in:
Sound geotechnical knowledge is the foundation of all construction. The main topics of interest in geotechnical engineering are the mechanical, hydraulic and thermal properties of soil and how they affect designs. In particular, students learn to select the foundation type, design foundations and other geotechnical structures, take into account soil-structure interaction and decide on ground improvement. The programme also introduces knowledge related to off-shore engineering and the influence of cyclic loading on soil behaviour, mainly due to the growing interest in wind energy.
An essential feature of geotechnical expertise is the knowledge of mineral-based materials and their sustainable use. The integral part of the skills of geotechnical engineering graduates is the familiarity with modern design methods, including design based on numerical methods and reliability, built upon an in-depth knowledge of soil behaviour and computer methods.
Airports, ports, highways, streets, low-volume roads, rails, subways and other high traffic areas form a crucial part of societal infrastructure. As such, they have a profound impact on everyday life and the functioning of the entire society. Highway engineering education focuses on the structural and geometric design of roads and pavements and the material science of bituminous materials. This provides students with the understanding of how to select paving material and design structures for each application based on solid engineering criteria and sustainability. Students will also learn the methods to maintain and rehabilitate structures to prolong their service life.
Rock engineering involves using the bedrock as an underground space and as a mineral and energy source. The core fields of rock engineering are rock mechanics, excavation techniques, construction and geosciences. These are the tools required for designing optimal structures in the rock and carrying out plans in a safe and economical way without endangering the environment. Rock engineers are involved with tunnelling projects in the planning phase by designing the layout and reinforcement of the rock structures. In the construction phase, they materialise the plans for challenging rock excavation projects.
The content of studies depends largely on the choice of specialisation. However, here are some examples from the wide course selection to give an overview of how extensively the programme educates its students:
- Advanced Soil Mechanics (5 ECTS)
- Numerical Methods in Geotechnics (5 ECTS)
- Environmental Risk Analysis (5 ECTS)
- Engineering Geology (5 ECTS)
- Road Maintenance and Rehabilitation (5 ECTS)
- Foundation Engineering and Ground Improvement (5 ECTS)
- Rock Excavation (5 ECTS)
- Rock Mechanics (5 ECTS)
- Project Course in Geoengineering (5 ECTS)
More information on the programme content and curriculum can be found in the Student guide.
Webinar | Geoengineering
Master’s Programme in Geoengineering provides world-class education in the disciplines of geotechnics, rock mechanics, highway engineering and construction. In this webinar, the programme director tells more about the studies and the future career possibilities.
Geoengineering students are actively encouraged to spend a semester abroad, studying at one of the top-tier international partner universities of Aalto University. Another typical internationalisation path goes through the several multinational companies that are partners of the geoengineering programme.
Aalto University is international by nature, welcoming thousands of degree and exchange students from abroad each year. These students join the diverse Aalto community not only through studies, but also multiple free time events, activities and celebrations around the campus. Programme administrators, active student tutors and student support services work rigorously to help international students integrate into the Nordic culture and welcome them at home in Finland.
Further study opportunities
The programme qualifies for doctoral studies. Typically, 1–3 students start their postgraduate studies in geoengineering in Aalto University every year. The selection is competitive and an MSc degree with good grades in a relevant field is a prerequisite for applicants.
Thanks to the programme’s outstanding links with the industry, geoengineering graduates work closely with industry companies and experts already during their studies. The boundary between the industry and geoengineering studies is kept low to best serve the learning experiences of students as well as the future careers of graduates. For example, in 2017-2018 around 90% of the MSc theses were sponsored by the industry and virtually all the graduates were able to find a job related to their expertise. Overall, the companies are extremely active in attracting geoengineering graduates as they represent a scarce and unique talent, highly sought after in Finland and Estonia, as well as in Europe and around the world.
Geoengineers hold key positions in areas related to construction engineering, design and consulting to management, teaching and research, and usually find themselves working as:
- Designers and other professionals at consultancy and industry-leading companies
- Founders or experts at industry-challenging startups
- Experts in governmental organisations
- Researchers in research institutions
- Academics and teachers
Aalto University has well-established career services through which you can get employed in Finland and abroad. Aalto students tend to find good positions with ease upon graduation. An active entrepreneurship community is also present at Aalto, which can help as a springboard for founding your company. Finally, if an academic career is of interest, the Master’s programme in Geoengineering is a great foundation for doctoral studies.
Co-operation with other parties
For their elective studies, students can freely choose among courses offered by any of the schools of Aalto University. Some of the most favoured multidisciplinary options are combining structural engineering or traffic management with a geoengineering degree. There are also some collaboration opportunities between the programme and other universities around themes like circular economy and sustainability.
Aalto University is well-known for bridging disciplines of business, arts, technology and science. The lively campus and freedom to choose elective courses across the university bring students from different fields under one roof. This spontaneous multidisciplinary environment sparks new ideas, gathers enthusiasts around them and gives birth to friendships, networks, and every so often, startups.
Get to know us
Hear students' thoughts on the Master's Programme in Geoengineering.
The master’s programme in Geoengineering has been much like the groundwork itself – it has given me a strong basis upon which I can build my expertise during my career.
What better way is there to learn something than to have an actual person who works on the same kinds of problems every day giving you advice and comments on your work?
Now Francisco Oliviera is graduating from the Geoengineering Master’s programme and works as a Geotechnical Designer.
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Aalto University's student selection process is competitive and paper-based. Applications that pass the eligibility check (administrative evaluation) conducted by Aalto University Admissions Services proceed to the school's programme-specific academic evaluation.
The following are used as criteria for academic evaluation 2024:
What is evaluated: Grades of the previous degree(s)/CGPA
Admission requirements: Grades need to be mainly very good or excellent.
Evaluated documents: Transcript(s) of records, degree certificate(s)
Relevance of previous studies
What is evaluated: Contents and scope of previous studies compared to demands/ contents of study option applied to
What we look for in an applicant: We check whether the applicant has taken courses that allow him to successfully study Geoengineering at Aalto. In particular, we check whether there are enough courses related to mathematics and computations, as well as basics of mechanics, strength of materials and similar. We are also looking for basics of geology, geotechnics / soil mechanics and some civil engineering oriented courses.
Evaluated documents: Transcript(s) of records, degree certificate(s)
Recognition and quality of institution
What is evaluated: Recognition and quality of the applicant's previous institution
Admission requirements: Previous degree from a recognized institution
Method of demonstrating competence: The quality of the university is checked based on national and international rankings.
What is evaluated: Suitability of programme for applicant + communication skills + other areas as determined by the programme
What we look for in an applicant: Based on motivation letter and other provide documents we evaluate candidate approach for the study and discipline, and we check whether the candidate expectations are realistic.
Evaluated documents: Motivation letter
Other areas of competence
What is evaluated: Work experience + learning gained otherwise or demonstration of skills such as publications, contests, non-formal learning, extra degrees etc.
What we look for in an applicant: We check for special qualities of the candidate. This is, however, less important than other areas of evaluation.
Evaluated documents: Extra materials: Curriculum vitae, letter of references, proof of employment, publications
Study-option-specific documents requested
The documents requested from all applicants are listed here (https://www.aalto.fi/en/study-at-aalto/applying-to-masters-programmes). In addition, applicants to the Geoengineering programme are requested to provide the following study-option-specific documents:
● Motivation letter*
The motivation letter should be written in English. The maximum length of the motivation letter is about 4000 characters. Motivation letter is a very important document for the evaluation process and not submitting it will significantly reduce your chances for admission.
● Curriculum Vitae (CV)*
This is an important document for the evaluation process and not submitting it may decrease your chances for admission.
*The lack of this document will adversely affect the evaluation of the application.
The study option should provide genuinely new knowledge and enhance the career prospects of the applicant. Thus, applicants who already have a master’s degree in a closely related field will only be admitted with well-justified reasons which should be explained in the motivation letter.
Master’s Admissions at the School of Engineering 2024
The motivation letter is an important part of your application. It gives you an opportunity to present relevant pieces of information that cannot be provided elsewhere in the application.
Examples of questions to consider when writing the motivation letter:
- Why are you applying for the master’s programme in question?
- What do you expect to gain from studies in the master’s programme?
- Why do you think you are the right person for this master’s programme?
- How will your previous education, work experience, knowledge and skills support your success in your master’s degree studies?
- Describe your professional goals. How do you think the master’s programme you are applying for would support the development of your professional profile?
- In which sector would you like to work in the future? What kind of career are you planning?
- Why do you want to study at Aalto University and in Finland?
Professor, Programme director
wojciech.solowski (at) aalto.fi
Planning officer (content and studies of the programme)
katri.koistinen (at) aalto.fi
Aalto University, Admission Services
For enquiries regarding the application process, obligatory application documents or English language proficiency, please contact Admission Services at