Jul 20, 2024  
2021-2022 Graduate Catalog 
2021-2022 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Civil and Environmental Engineering Ph.D.

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Admission Requirements

Applicants are required to satisfy these requirements:

  1. An M.S. degree in civil engineering, environmental engineering or a closely related discipline in engineering or the physical sciences from a U.S. college or university accredited by a regional accrediting association, or completion of an international degree that is equivalent to a U.S. master’s degree from a college or university of recognized standing.
  2. Excellent academic performance in all completed coursework, with a minimum GPA of 3.000 on a 4.000 scale.
  3. Submission of a complete application, including a statement of purpose, official transcripts for all previous undergraduate and graduate studies, and payment of appropriate application fee.
  4. Official GRE graduate school admission test scores.
  5. Three letters of recommendation from individuals who can judge the applicant’s potential success as a doctoral student.
  6. Graduates from foreign countries are required to submit a notarized financial certification form. All international students whose native language is not English and who have not graduated from an American university must submit a minimum TOEFL English language proficiency score before being considered for admission:
  • 550 – paper-based examination.
  • 213 – computer-based examination.
  • 80 – Internet-based examination.

Degree Requirements

In addition to meeting the Lyle School of Engineering requirements for the Ph.D. degree, candidates are required to satisfy the following:

  1. At least 54 credit hours of coursework beyond the baccalaureate degree.
  2. A minor of at least 12 credit hours providing breadth and support to the doctoral program.
  3. Twenty-four credit hours of dissertation.

The major and minor courses comprising a degree plan for a doctoral student will be determined by the student’s advisory committee. These plans will vary among students depending on their background and dissertation research topic. Possible Ph.D. program focus areas include geotechnical engineering, structural engineering, transportation systems management, air pollution control and atmospheric science, or water and wastewater engineering.

Qualifying Exam (QE)

All Ph.D. students will be required to pass a QE to be admitted to candidacy. The QE is administered by the student’s supervisory committee, which should be formed and approved by the department and Lyle School at least one month prior to the exam. The exam should be completed no later than 12 months after completing 24 credit hours of coursework towards the PhD.

The QE consists of the following components:

  • A comprehensive written exam to be completed prior to the oral exam. The supervisory committee should develop the exam and inform the student of its format and timing at least 2 weeks prior to the start of the written exam. At a minimum, the written exam assesses the student’s ability to respond to open-ended questions, apply critical thinking skills, synthesize across course topics, and demonstrate adequate writing skills to complete a dissertation.
  • A written dissertation proposal to be submitted to the committee at least 14 days prior to the oral exam. The proposal should include, at minimum, the first draft of the student’s first research paper, as well as a plan for completion of the remainder of the dissertation.
  • An oral exam, during which the student will present a summary of the dissertation proposal and committee members will ask questions about both written portions of the exam, as well as assess the student’s ability to respond effectively to oral questioning.


All Ph.D. candidates will be required to complete and successfully defend a dissertation.

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