Civil & Environmental Engineering (Ph.D.) Program Details

Degree Requirements

    ❱   Required coursework
    ❱   Qualifying or comprehensive examination
    ❱   Graduate School writing proficiency requirement
    ❱   Graduate School Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) requirement
    ❱   Dissertation  
    ❱   Final oral examination/Dissertation defense

Research Specializations

    ❱   Environmental and water resources engineering
    ❱   Geotechnical engineering
    ❱   Structural and earthquake engineering
    ❱   Transportation engineering

Research Opportunities  

The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering houses several research initiatives and laboratories designed to support graduate research, including the Transportation Research Center (HUTRC), the Structural Simulation Laboratory (HUSSL), the Environmental and Water Resources Engineering (EWRE) group, the Center for Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology (CEINT), the Consortium for Risk Evaluation with Stakeholder Participation (CRESP), the Stout Infrastructure, Geotechnics and Materials Laboratory (SIGMa), and the Environmental Biotechnology Laboratory. Read more about our research initiatives below. 

Research Areas & Interests

Faculty Research Interests

A sampling of research interests

  • Developing membrane processes for environmental applications
  • Physical-chemical processes for water and wastewater treatment
  • Global drinking water quality and environmental justice
  • Molecular biology for sustainable, cost-efficient urban water treatment
  • Impact of sulfur on nitrogen cycling during wastewater treatment
  • Impact of connected and automated vehicles on individuals’ daily lifestyle
  • Development of protective systems to improve the performance of bridges, and buildings under extreme loads
  • Remote sensing and hydrological models for forecasting
  • Analysis of risk information derived from geospatial data
  • Fostering sustainability and resilience in civil and marine infrastructure
  • Estimating the performance of engineering systems using machine learning techniques

Research Subfields

Environmental and water resources engineering

Environmental and water resources engineering involves sustainable design to control and protect the environment and its resources. This area includes water quality and treatment research, hazardous waste management, treatment and control of air pollutants, flood control, and hydrology.

Geotechnical engineering

Geotechnical engineering encompasses the areas of soil mechanics and foundation engineering. It is concerned with the design and construction of structures built on or below the ground surface and the physical characteristics of soil and rocks or composite material (i.e., foundations of bridges and buildings, design of tunnels and dams) and the geological factors affecting these structures.

Structural and earthquake engineering

Structural and earthquake engineering includes designing all types of structures, including buildings, dams, bridges, and tunnels, and monitoring their construction. A primary concern of structural engineers is predicting the loads a structure will have to resist during its lifetime and ensuring that it will be both safe and valuable.

Transportation engineering

Transportation engineering deals with the planning, design, construction, operation, and performance management of highways, railways, air transportation systems and terminals, and safety considerations.

Program of Study (Environmental and Water Resources)* 


CIEG 511     Environmental Chemistry

BIOL 424    Environmental Microbiology

CIEG 502    Physical/Chemical Process for Water Treatment

CIEG 501    Biological Processes for Wastewater Treatment

CIEG 557    Advanced Hydrology

CHEG 412  Transport Phenomena


CUGW CE 6505  Environmental Impact Assessment

CUGW CE 6509  Introduction to Hazardous Waste

CUGW CE 6601  Open Channel Flow

CHEM 251  General Biochemistry

BIOG 415  Molecular Genetics

CIEG 553  Environmental Engineering Project Research

*Other Electives or 24 credit hours from a master’s degree can be transferred to the Ph.D.


Program of Study (Geotechnical Engineering)*


CIEG 600   Advanced Soil Mechanics

CIEG 603   Advanced Foundation Engineering

CIEG 514   Finite Element Analysis

UMD ENCE741  Earth Retaining Structures

GMU CEIE 634  Groundwater and Geoenvironmental Design


UMD ENCE743  Soil Dynamics and Earthquake Engineering

PHYS 192  Math Methods in Physics I

UMD ENCE647  Slope Stability and Seepage

CIEG 616   Advanced Optimization

CIEG 605   Research Methods

CIEG 614   Special Topics in Geotechnical Engineering I

CIEG 615   Special Topics in Geotechnical Engineering II

*Other Electives or 24 credit hours from a master’s degree can be transferred to the Ph.D.


Program of Study (Structural Mechanics and Earthquake Engineering)*


CIEG 513   Advanced Structural Analysis (Matrix Structural Analysis)

CIEG 514   Finite Element Analysis

CE 6301     Advanced Reinforced Concrete Design

CE 6320     Advanced Steel Design

CIEG 555   Structures Research Project


CIEG 529  Introduction to Structural Protective Systems

CIEG 500  Special Topics in Structures

CIEG 603   Adv. Foundation Engineering

CUGW CE 6340  Structural Dynamics

CUGW CE 6302  Pre-stressed Concrete Structures

CIEG 509  Structures Research Project II

CIEG 622  Earthquake Engineering Research I

*Other Electives or 24 credit hours from a master’s degree can be transferred to the Ph.D.


Program of Study (Transportation Engineering)*


CIEG 579   Advanced Traffic Engineering

CIEG 507   Traffic Flow Theory

CIEG 504   Intelligent Transportation Systems

CIEG 466   Traffic Engineering II

CIEG 544   Transportation Engineering Research


CIEG 620   Transportation Systems Modeling and Analysis

CIEG 619   Urban Transit Planning

CIEG 567   Construction Project Management

CIEG 618   Transportation Engineering Project

EECE 502  Engineering Analysis A

HUDE 400  Intermediate Statistics

HUDE 500  Advanced Statistics

*Other Electives or 24 credits hours from a master’s degree can be transferred to the Ph.D.


*Courses included in the sample program of study are subject to change. Students should consult with their programs regarding their required program of study. 

Admission to Candidacy 

Students are admitted to formal candidacy by the Graduate School when they have completed the required coursework, passed the qualifying or comprehensive examination, submitted an approved topic for research, and been recommended by the Department. Candidates must also have satisfied the Graduate School writing proficiency requirement and Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) requirement.

Graduate Funding 

Admitted students may be eligible to compete for Graduate School competitive awards, which provide tuition remission and a stipend during the academic year. Additionally, graduate research or teaching assistantships may be available at the department level. Research assistants and teaching assistants work no more than 20 hours a week under the program's direction, usually in support of faculty research (research assistants) or in support of assigned courses (teaching assistants). Please see the Funding website for more detailed information.