Doctor of Philosophy in Civil Engineering

A student holding either a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree or a Master of Science (MS) degree in engineering may apply for admission to graduate studies to work toward the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) majoring in their particular field of engineering. 

Work leading to the PhD is designed to give the candidate a thorough and comprehensive knowledge of their professional field and training in methods of research. The final basis for granting the degree shall be the candidate’s grasp of the subject matter of a broad field of study and a demonstrated ability to do independent research. In addition, the candidate must have acquired the ability to express thoughts clearly and forcefully in both oral and written languages. The degree is not granted solely for the completion of coursework, residence and technical requirements, although these must be met. The work in the major field will include the preparation and defense of a Doctoral dissertation (involving results of research conducted by the candidate).

The Civil Engineering doctoral program within the department has twelve areas of specialty which the student must choose from in order to focus their doctoral studies. Each area covers a different aspect of Civil Engineering that can be found in today's society:

  • Artificial Intelligence and Data Science
  • Automation in Civil Infrastructure
  • Coastal Engineering
  • Construction Engineering and Management - Infrastructure Engineering and Management
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Future Cities
  • Geotechnical Engineering
  • Materials Engineering
  • Structural Engineering
  • Sustainable and Resilient Natural and Built Environments
  • Transportation Engineering
  • Water Resources Engineering

Qualifying Examination

The Zachry Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering requires that all PhD students pass a Qualifying Exam. The exam format is at the discretion of the area coordinator and faculty and typically involves both a written and an oral component. The qualifying exam should be completed before the completion of the first year of study. In some areas, the qualifying exam is done at the end of the first semester.

Qualifying Examination Format

The objective of the Qualifying Examination is to evaluate

  • whether the student has the general area knowledge required to successfully pursue PhD studies; and
  • that the student has demonstrated successful research potential.

Qualifying Examination Failure

If a student fails to pass either component of the Qualifying Examination, a retake of the exam is allowed no later than the end of the following semester. If a student fails the second attempt, they will have to leave the PhD program.

Steps to Fulfill a Doctoral Program