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Growing and established cities are continually meeting new infrastructure needs and maintaining older systems, such as highways, bridges, and airports. The School of Engineering's PhD in Civil Engineering program produces graduates dedicated to enriching the field. Research-oriented and focused on the latest developments in the discipline, our program readies you for civil engineering research careers in the private sector. It also prepares you to teach at the university level, ensuring the most recent advancements in the field are shared with a new generation of civil engineers.


As a Ph.D. candidate, you will choose to concentrate in 1 of these sub-disciplines:

  • structural materials and engineering
  • geotechnical and geo-environmental engineering
  • environmental and water resources engineering
  • construction management and engineering
  • highway and traffic engineering
  • urban infrastructure systems

Other focus areas are possible and can be developed with the assistance of faculty advisers. All subject areas must be relevant to the degree sought, and a faculty member must be willing and able to guide your research.

Admissions Requirements

  1. Admission to this program requires an MS in Civil Engineering or equivalent with a GPA of 3.5 or better (on a 0-4 scale).
  2. GRE scores are required for all full-time PhD applicants.
  3. Foreign applicants must take the TOEFL examination and submit the results for consideration.

In criteria 1 and 2 above, the “equivalent" can be achieved in several ways. You may have an MS degree with a different title that covers substantially the same material. In more general terms, you must demonstrate that you have the equivalent of all undergraduate and master’s-level course work to be able to pursue doctoral-level work in the chosen major area, as well as in a minor area within the umbrella of civil engineering. Further, “equivalence” is evaluated based on the totality of your undergraduate and graduate record, not course-by-course. Thus, if you wish to pursue doctoral work in Environmental Engineering, for example, you must have the entire undergraduate and master’s-level course background expected in Environmental Engineering, but you do not need to demonstrate such a background in structures.

Because admission to a PhD program requires a relevant MS (or equivalent), applicants who have not yet achieved a master’s degree would normally be admitted as MS students. They are expected to earn an MS degree while completing their major and minor course requirements. In rare cases, an applicant with only a BS degree may be directly admitted into the PhD program with the written approval of the department head.

Academic Advising

If you are admitted to the PhD program, you will be assigned an academic advisor, who you should meet with shortly after receiving your acceptance letter. During your meeting you should establish your program of study, which will include a list of the fundamental and advanced topics that will comprise specific courses, the subject matter for your qualifying exam, and possible research areas. For additional information about your academic advisor and the Academic Advisory Committee that will help guide the completion of your qualifying examination, please refer to the Civil Engineering PhD section of the School of Engineering academic catalog beginning on page 149.

Transfer Credits

A maximum of 39 credits of approved graduate work may be transferred and applied to your degree requirements. They be awarded on a course-by-course basis or by the transfer of a MS degree from another institution in satisfaction of 30 graduate credits. The latter requires a recommendation from the department’s Graduate Committee and the approval of the department head. Transfer credits are generally awarded at the time of admission and must be approved by the academic adviser, the graduate coordinator, and the department head.

Applicants to this degree program may be eligible to participate in
the Abu Dhabi Global Fellow Program.



Program brochure:


Academic Director