Doctor of Philosophy in Civil and Environmental Engineering

The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering offers the Ph.D. degree to students interested in research and teaching. The primary focus is on the development of skills to pursue original research in careers in academia, government, or research institutions. Students may focus their studies in environmental, geotechnical, structures, or construction engineering and management. The program of study leading to the Ph.D. includes the following elements:

  • Completion of coursework appropriate to the research interests of the student,
  • Completion of a qualifying examination,
  • Completion of coursework and a candidacy examination,
  • Preparation and defense of a doctoral dissertation.

Students usually complete the degree within three to five years.


Eighteen credit hours of coursework beyond the M.S. degree are required. At least two-thirds of the doctoral coursework credits shall be at the 600 level or higher. Students are required to maintain an average GPA of B+ (3.333) in all Ph.D. coursework taken at Syracuse University.

Qualifying Examination

The Qualifying Examination is normally taken after one year of doctoral study. The purpose of the examination is to determine the preparedness of the student for Ph.D. study. The examination includes written questions on coursework taken at Syracuse University and an oral examination covering the student’s responses to the written questions as well as fundamental concepts relevant to the student’s field of study.

Candidacy Examination

The Candidacy Examination is given upon completion of the student’s formal coursework. In preparation for the Candidacy Examination, the student prepares a formal dissertation research proposal, outlining the objectives, methods and significance of the proposed work. The examination is an oral examination conducted by the student’s doctoral committee. The examination is focused on the research proposal. After completing this examination, the student is considered a Ph.D. Candidate.

Dissertation and Final Examination

The dissertation is a piece of original scholarly research that constitutes a significant contribution to civil or environmental engineering. Following approval by the dissertation advisor, the candidate may request a defense of the dissertation. This examination is conducted by the student’s doctoral committee, with an Examination Chair appointed by the Graduate School.

View program details in the University Course Catalog