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Nieri Department of Construction, Development and Planning

Master of Construction Science and Management


Master of Construction Science and Management

The Master of Construction Science and Management Program, STEM-designated and accredited by the American Council for Construction Education, was started in 1986 when approval was received from the State of South Carolina to offer the state's only graduate program in construction management education on the Clemson campus. In 1992, the department received approval to also offer the same master's degree program via distance learning technology. It is one of the few accredited programs in the United States that a qualified individual can earn a master’s degree without ever having to step onto a college campus. The program has been consistently recognized by many national construction organizations including the Associated General Contractors of America and the National Center for Construction Education and Research. The program has a thesis and non-thesis option and those graduating from it are eligible to apply to Clemson’s PhD in Construction Science and Management.

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PhD in Construction Science and Management



  • Mission and Goals

    The mission of the Nieri Department of Construction, Development and Planning is to offer a comprehensive program of education, service, and research activities consistent with the mission of Clemson University and Strategic Plan of the College of Architecture, Arts, and Humanities for the purpose of improving the quality of the construction industry and thus the built environment.

    To realize the mission, the department has the following major goals as it relates to its graduate master's degree program:

    1. Excel in the education of Construction Science and Management graduate students through a vigorous program of academic learning designed to produce motivated, well-educated, and responsible citizens with the management and technical skills requisite for advanced leadership positions in the construction industry.
    2. Foster Clemson University's service mission by providing outreach activities for the construction industry and public both nationally and internationally.
    3. Assist in attaining Clemson University's funded research goal by conducting and disseminating the results of research and development, and/or conducting educational courses for the construction industry.
  • Admission Requirements

    Applicants to the master’s degree program must demonstrate a high level of knowledge and understanding of the use and application of construction principles and technology substantially equivalent to the following core competencies:

    • Nature and properties of construction materials
    • Construction documents, their use and interpretation and documentation
    • Development and interpretation of detailed cost estimate
    • Development of a plan to execute a construction project
    • Development and interpretation of a construction project schedule
    • The management of a construction project

    The above core competencies can be met in whole or in part by having a Clemson University approved bachelor's degree in construction science, construction management, building construction, or a related area. If met in part, applicants may be required to remedy any deficiencies in previous course work to provide the prerequisite skills and knowledge for the program through such means as taking additional undergraduate courses, having passed the American Institute of Constructors AC or CPC certification examination or other Department approved equivalent means. In addition, applicants from other disciplines may be admitted, but they may also be required to make up any deficiencies through such means as taking additional undergraduate courses, having passed the American Institute of Constructors AC or CPC certification examination or other Department approved equivalent means.

    Acceptance must be granted by the Graduate School and the Department of Construction Science and Management. Graduate school acceptance is based on meeting all applicable Clemson University requirements. Acceptance by the department is based on performance in previous undergraduate studies, a satisfactory score on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), work experience, and three letters of recommendation. Foreign students must also earn a satisfactory score on the TOEFL.

    The minimum admission requirements for MCSM are:

    • GPA of 3.0 from undergraduate degree
    • GRE
    • TOEFL/IELTS (for foreign students)
    • One year of approved construction industry experience preferred
    • Three letters of recommendation
    • Official transcripts from undergraduate and/or graduate schools
    • A detailed resume of construction industry experience

    Note: Test scores should be sent to the Graduate School.


    Transferring Credit into the MCSM Program

    Students can transfer up to 9 semester graduate hours from another accredited institution with departmental approval, as long as those credits were not used to obtain another degree.

  • Degree Requirements

    Time Limit

    Students must be enrolled in and complete all coursework to be credited toward any master's degree within six calendar years of the date on which the degree is to be awarded. 

    Application Deadlines

    Fall Semester: May 1 for full-time students; July 1 for distance-learning students

    Spring Semester: September 1 for full-time students; November 1 for distance-learning students

    Summer Semester: March 1 for full-time students; May 1 for distance-learning students

    Requirements for Degree Candidacy

    1. The MCSM degree requires a minimum of 30 semester hours. This includes taking CSM 8520, CSM 8600, CSM 8650, CSM 8680, and any two CSM graduate elective courses for a total of 15 credit hours. The balance would consist of department-approved electives for the non-thesis option or CSM 8910 for up to 9 credit hours of the balance.

    2. When a candidate does not have the necessary prerequisite skills and knowledge from previously approved coursework and/or approved construction-related experience, any deficiencies would have to be satisfied through such means as taking additional undergraduate courses, having passed the American Institute of Constructors AC or CPC certification examination or other Department approved equivalent means.

    Requirements for Awarding of a Degree

    Thesis Option:
    • A minimum of 21 semester hours of approved course work with a B average in the student's prescribed curriculum, including a thesis, is required.
    • A thesis on an approved construction-related topic must be completed satisfactorily. Up to nine semester hours of thesis credit (CSM 8910) may be taken.
    • Satisfactory performance on a final oral examination relating to the student's thesis and program of study is required.
    Nonthesis Option:
    • A minimum of 30 semester hours of approved course work with a B average in the student's prescribed curriculum is required.
    • Satisfactory performance on a written comprehensive examination covering the student's program of study is required.
    • Satisfactory performance on a final oral examination relating to the student's program of study is required in cases in which the student does not pass the comprehensive written exam.
  • Directed Study Requirements

    CSM 8900 allows students to conduct an in-depth study of a specific topic related to the construction program. It is not intended to take the place of any required course or to serve as a substitute for a series of major or free electives. Students may take this course for a maximum of six semester credit hours.

    Students must have formal approval to enroll in CSM 8900 the semester before they wish to take it. Students cannot preregister or register for the course until they have obtained this approval. To receive approval, students must submit a written request to the graduate coordinator. The report must include the following:

    1. Topic to be studied
    2. Product of the study (if a written report, it must be typed in accordance with the faculty member's instructions)
    3. List of activities to complete the product and a date by which each will be accomplished
    4. The name of the faculty member who will work with the student and evaluate the end product
    5. Student's signature and date

    The request must be submitted in triplicate to the graduate coordinator. If the request is approved, one copy will be sent to the designated faculty member, one copy will be returned to the student, and the remaining copy will be retained in the student's file.

    During the semester, the student is responsible for adhering to the schedule outlined in the original request. Changes cannot be made without prior approval of the designated faculty member. The final product must be turned in to that faculty member no later than the last day of classes for the semester.

  • Graduate Student Expectations

    Clemson University and the Nieri Department of Construction, Development and Planning expect all graduate students to maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0 out of a possible 4.0. Because of their previous academic qualifications, some students may be admitted to the construction science and management master's degree program in a probationary status. The terms of this conditional admittance will be included in the letter of acceptance to the respective students. In most cases, the condition(s) include attaining a minimum 3.0 average in all coursework for the first semester in the department. In addition, if currently enrolled students fall below the minimum cumulative 3.0 grade point average for any one semester, they will be placed on probation for one semester. In either case, it is the student's responsibility to remove the conditional acceptance or probationary status in the time frame outlined in University and/or department communications.

    If a student does not fulfill the conditions of continuance in the program, the student must present a formal request to the Department graduate program coordinator as to why he/she should be allowed to continue enrollment. The request will be reviewed and a decision will be made based on the student's academic history in the department. The decision will be final with no further appeal possible. In addition, if the student's request is granted, it will be for only one additional semester.

    In fulfilling their academic requirements, graduate students are expected to adhere to all department and faculty course requirements, including those contained in the Nieri Department of Construction, Development and Planning Department Expected Student Behaviors, which is made available to all students at the beginning of each semester with their course syllabus. Students who fail to follow requirements may be dropped from courses and the master's degree program.

    It is also critical that students follow acceptable standards in developing or presenting research reports for courses and projects. This includes properly citing references and including bibliographies, formatting documents correctly, and utilizing correct English grammar and spelling. Resources for properly citing references and formatting documents include the American Psychological Association, Associated Schools of Construction Author Guidelines, and the American Institute of Constructors Author Guidelines.

  • Graduate Student Assistantships and Responsibilities

    The Nieri Department of Construction, Development and Planning awards assistantships to graduate students, which result in a substantial reduction in tuition. The current assistantship amount per semester will vary as well as the number of hours the student will work for that department if an assistantship is awarded. To qualify for an assistantship award, students must meet and maintain the conditions noted below and be enrolled for no fewer than nine credit hours each academic semester and, when assistantships are available in the summer, for three credit hours each session.

    An assistantship award is considered an honor made on the basis of available funds, previous academic performance, performance on entrance examinations, and the decision of the graduate program coordinator. Students who are admitted in a conditional status and are required to achieve a minimum academic performance are not considered as candidates for assistantships until they have met the stipulated condition(s). To retain an assistantship award, all students must maintain a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 and must receive satisfactory performance assessments from their immediate supervisor.

    If students are placed on probation, their assistantships are removed so they can devote the needed time to their studies and regain the minimum cumulative grade point average. There are no exceptions since students' first priority should be academic work. When students do not receive satisfactory assessment from their assigned supervisor each semester, the assistantship is removed. 

    Graduate Assistant Responsibilities

    The Department expects graduate students to work a designated number of hours per week. The duties may include, but are not be limited to, the following:

    1. Provide support to faculty on their instructional assignments. This includes such tasks as proctoring examinations, grading papers, and developing instructional materials.

    2. Provide assistance to the department chair and/or faculty on research projects. Specific tasks will vary depending on the need.

    3. Provide assistance to the administrative staff. Duties will vary with need.

    Graduate students on assistantships work on the same calendar as faculty with a nine-month appointment. Unless prior permission has been obtained for a different schedule, graduate assistants must be available as of the Monday of the first week of classes until the end of final examination week for the fall semester, and Monday of the first week of classes until the end of final examination week for the spring semester. Not adhering to these dates is grounds for removal of the assistantship.

    At the beginning of each semester, the graduate assistant meets with his/her assigned faculty or staff member (supervisor), and together they develop a work schedule. A copy of the graduate assistant's class schedule should be given to the assigned supervisor, along with any other information that may impact work performance.

    It is the graduate students' responsibility to report to his/her assigned supervisor at the times agreed upon, whether or not work has been given. In addition, extenuating circumstances may require graduate assistants to work at times other than those scheduled. These times will not conflict with scheduled class times.

    In the event that a supervisor does not have sufficient assignments for the graduate assistant to work the required number of hours, it is the student's responsibility to report to the department administrative assistant for work assignments. In the event the administrative assistant does not have any work, the graduate assistant must report to the graduate program coordinator for further assignments. Graduate assistants who do not demonstrate an effort to maintain the required number of hours may lose their assistantships.

    Paychecks are automatically deposited into the graduate assistant's bank account. Unsatisfactory performance, as described here, may result in a stop payment on the biweekly deposits. If the graduate assistant has paid work assignments other than the department assistantship, the Department work must take precedence. If this is not possible, then the assistantship will be removed.

    Graduate assistants are responsible for completing the graduate assistant time sheet every week via Time Capture. Time Capture requires students to indicate how many hours they worked and what duties were performed; the immediate supervisor's signature is required. Time Capture submission is due on the Monday following the end of the previous week. Failure to comply with this requirement may result in the immediate loss of the assistantship.

    The Department expects all graduate students to perform satisfactory work to retain assistantships. This includes not only working a designated number of hours per week but also obtaining satisfactory assessment from the assigned supervisor(s).

    Unsatisfactory job performance will be managed as follows:

    1. Graduate assistants who are not performing satisfactorily will first be given a verbal warning from their assigned supervisor.

    2. Upon the second incidence of unsatisfactory performance, the assigned supervisor will give the graduate assistant a second verbal warning and notify the graduate coordinator of the incident in writing or by email.

    3. If the unsatisfactory performance continues, the assigned supervisor will notify the graduate program coordinator, who will initiate action to immediately remove the assistantship.

    If a graduate assistant disagrees with an unsatisfactory assessment, he or she can submit a written appeal to the graduate coordinator within five days of the unsatisfactory performance notification. The graduate program coordinator will investigate the appeal and take the appropriate action, which will be final.

Three graduate students with CSM professors at graduation


N. Mike Jackson, Ph.D., P.E.
Professor and Department Chair
2-134 Lee Hall
Nieri Department of Construction, Development and Planning
Nieri Department of Construction, Development and Planning | 3-114 Lee Hall Box 340507 Clemson, SC 29634-0507