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Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Candidates for admission to the Civil Engineering PhD program must satisfy the requirements for admission into both the Graduate School and the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

These requirements are summarized as follows:

  1. Complete Graduate Studies Admission Application on-line or request printed form from graduate school admission office
  2. Bachelor’s degree in civil engineering
  3. 3.00/4.00 undergraduate; 3.25/4.00 graduate GPA
  4. Graduate Record Exam score above 60th percentile Quantitative, above 60th percentile Verbal, and a score of at least 4.5 on the Analytical Writing section
  5. Three letters of recommendation, with at least two addressing the students’ ability to successfully perform independent research
  6. For international students, a TOEFL score of at least 213 (earlier form TOEFL scale = 550)
  7. Personal statement



Students holding a master’s degree in civil engineering and meeting the admission criteria above will be admitted to degree status without condition, and will not need prerequisite courses. These students will take 30 hours of courses and defend a research dissertation. The dissertation component is the equivalent of two semesters’ full-time residency (18 hours credit).

Students holding a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering may be admitted directly to the PhD program. These students will be required to complete an additional 30 hours of courses at the 500 and 600 level under an individual course of study developed after consultation with the Department Chair, Director of Graduate Studies, and the faculty in the student’s area of interest (geotechnical, structures, etc.)

For those students who do not have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in civil engineering, prerequisite courses will likely be required. These courses will be necessary to prepare and qualify the student for the research to be undertaken. The number and content of the courses will be determined after consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies and the faculty in the student’s area of interest.



Course of Study

Other than the 18 hours of dissertation credit (CEE 699), the only required course for all PhD students is CEE 698, CE PhD Research Seminar, 3 hours.

Before beginning their dissertation research, students are expected to have reached an acceptable level of competence in the mathematics related to the research. Therefore, the advisor may allocate up to 6 hours’ credit in appropriate graduate mathematics courses. Alternatively, the advisor may utilize independent study credit to achieve the needed mathematics competence in the student.  The remaining course hours are in-discipline courses and graduate engineering or science electives in areas related to infrastructure and/or the environment (i.e., geotechnical, structural, transportation, or water resources). The particular program of courses will be developed by the student’s advisor and committee, and with the intent to support the dissertation research.


CE Ph.D. Course of Study Semester Hours
CEE 699 CE PhD Research 18
CEE 698 CE PhD Seminar  3
In-discipline Program Courses and Electives*  27
*May include up to 6 hours credit in approved mathematics



Research Advisor and Committee

Each student will select a research advisor during the first semester in the program. The advisor will recommend and approve the courses to be taken, and will advise the student on other potential members of the committee. Until an advisor is selected, the Director of Graduate Studies will advise the student.



Candidacy Examination

At or near the end of the student’s course work, the committee will administer the candidacy examination. The format of the exam is at the discretion of the committee, with approval by the Director of Graduate Studies. The exam is intended to confirm the student’s ability to conduct doctoral-level research in civil engineering.




After admission to candidacy, the student must present to the committee for approval a fully developed dissertation research proposal. This is a required formal presentation to the committee. The advisor must inform the Director of Graduate Studies (in writing) once the proposal has been successfully presented. At the conclusion of the research, the student will also make a formal, public presentation and defense of the findings, in accordance with Graduate School requirements.



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