PhD in Civil and Environmental Engineering
Southern Methodist University - Moody School of Graduate and Advanced Studies
4 - 5 years
Earliest start date
* our Ph.D. programs are fully-funded, which includes tuition coverage and health insurance
Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) at SMU has a long tradition of excellence in serving people and society. Today, we continue this tradition by developing the fundamental and applied technologies that have an impact on people’s lives.
Our faculty, graduate and undergraduate students work on some of the world’s most pressing problems including natural and manmade hazards, civil infrastructure, the environment and energy, water, and earth systems. The faculty within the CEE department brings together solid engineering and scientific expertise to offer undergraduate and graduate degrees, as well as research programs that place emphasis on the broad areas of smart infrastructure and the environment. In our degree programs, innovative classroom teaching intersects with research, hands-on experiences, service-based learning, lecture series, and field trips.
As a result of Lyle’s outstanding technical professional and leadership development, our alumni have a history of success in the industry, consulting, national laboratories, and academia.
Why Civil and Environmental Engineering?
At Lyle, Civil and Environmental Engineering students master and apply fundamentals toward the analysis and design of infrastructure components and systems through B.S., M.S., M.A., and Ph.D. degree programs.
Within these programs, students form comprehensive expertise in one or more technical areas. As students begin to develop individual passions in certain subjects in Civil and Environmental Engineering, the Department allows flexibility within degree program options to accommodate numerous combinations of specialty areas, minors, and dual majors.
Extracurricular activities include research and service partnerships with multidisciplinary teams of faculty and students in other Lyle academic areas, departments, and Institutes that provide broader contexts and opportunities for unique learning experiences.
In addition to meeting the Lyle School of Engineering requirements for the Ph.D. degree, candidates are required to satisfy the following:
- At least 54 credit hours of coursework beyond the baccalaureate degree.
- A minor of at least 12 credit hours providing breadth and support to the doctoral program.
- Twenty-four credit hours of dissertation.
The major and minor courses comprising a degree plan for a doctoral student will be determined by the student’s advisory committee. These plans will vary among students depending on their background and dissertation research topic. Possible Ph.D. program focus areas include geotechnical engineering, structural engineering, transportation systems management, air pollution control, atmospheric science, or water and wastewater engineering.
Preliminary Counseling Exam (PCE)
Students with a GPA less than 3.5 on four core courses, selected by their adviser at the start of their Ph.D. program, must take the PCE within a semester after completing the core courses.
Qualifying Exam (QE)
All Ph.D. students are required to pass a QE to be admitted to candidacy.
The QE consists of two parts:
Part 1: Comprehensive Exam
Part 1 of the QE, the comprehensive exam, is administered by an ad-hoc committee consisting of at least three faculty in the student’s major field, including the academic adviser. The ad-hoc committee should develop the exam and inform the student of its format and timing at least four weeks prior to the exam, which can be written, or oral. At a minimum, the exam assesses the student’s ability to respond to open-ended questions, apply critical thinking skills, synthesize across course topics, and demonstrate adequate knowledge and skills to complete a dissertation. The comprehensive exam should be administered no later than 18 months (or part-time equivalent) after matriculation into the program unless an exception is approved by the ad-hoc committee. A waiver to the comprehensive exam requirement can be granted by the ad-hoc committee, at their discretion, if:
- The student has a GPA of 3.5 or greater; and
- The student has submitted a peer-reviewed paper within the same 18-month period (or part-time equivalent) since matriculation. The paper must be approved by the ad-hoc committee as sufficiently rigorous and relevant to the thesis to merit the waiver.
Part 2: Thesis Proposal
Part 2 of the QE, the thesis proposal, is administered by the student’s supervisory committee, which should be formed and approved by the department and Lyle School at least one month prior to the exam. The Part 2 exam should be completed no later than 12 months after completing 24 credit hours of coursework toward the Ph.D. For this exam, the student shall prepare and orally defend a written dissertation proposal. The proposal should include, at minimum, the first draft of the student’s first research paper, as well as a plan for the completion of the remainder of the dissertation. The written proposal should be submitted to the supervisory committee at least 14 days prior to the oral exam. During the oral exam, the student will present a summary of the dissertation proposal and committee members will ask questions about the proposal, as well as assess the student’s ability to respond effectively to oral questioning.
All Ph.D. candidates will be required to complete and successfully defend a dissertation.