Graduation Requirements

For a Ph.D. following an MS

  • 30 credits, including at least 15 CAE credits, are required beyond the MS degree
  • 18 credits of courses
  • 6 credits of coursework at the 700 level in CAE courses other than independent study (Special Problems)
  • 12 credits of dissertation (CAE 830 pre-candidacy, CAE 840 post-candidacy)

For a Ph.D. without prior MS

  • 60 credits, including at least 30 CAE credits, are required beyond the BS degree
  • 42 credits of courses
  • 12 credits of coursework at the 700 level in CAE courses other than independent study (Special Problems)
  • 18 credits of dissertation (CAE 830, CAE 840)

Transfer of Credits from Other Institutions

A total of 6 credits of transfer and/or exchange coursework (not counted towards the student’s BS or MS degrees) may be taken at another institution and used to satisfy requirements for the Ph.D. degree.

Admission Requirements

All students applying to the graduate program are required to submit GRE scores and three letters of recommendation. Admission criteria are described under Colleges of Engineering – Graduate Admission Requirements.

  1. International students should consult the section on admissions.
  2. Students who hold a bachelor’s degree in a field other than their proposed major may be admitted to the graduate program and to candidacy upon completion of appropriate undergraduate deficiency courses, in addition to the regular requirements for the graduate degree.


The Program of Study is tailored to the student's background and goals by their advisor, and must be approved as constituting a Ph.D. in Civil Engineering by the student's Supervisory Committee.  The Committee comprises a minimum of 4 members as follows:

  • CAE Committee Chair (Advisor) shall be a full-time CAE faculty member and a member of the Graduate Faculty.
  • Two other members must be members of the CAE faculty and the Graduate Faculty.
  • One member must be outside CAE with an earned Ph.D.

Qualifying Examination

A Ph.D. student must pass a Qualifying Examination, generally taken at the end of the first year of study, before being allowed to defend a dissertation proposal. The exam is administered by the student’s Program of Study Committee. Three outcomes of this exam are possible: pass, fail, and fail with option to re-take once.

Dissertation Proposal Defense

Subsequent to passage of the Qualifying Examination, the student can defend their Dissertation Proposal to their Dissertation Committee, which is typically the same as the student’s Program of Study Committee or, if not, has makeup equivalent to the Program of Study Committee. All Committee members must approve the Proposal.

Admission to Candidacy

Admission of the student to Candidacy is subject to passage of the Qualifying Examination and passage of the oral Dissertation Proposal Defense.