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Doctoral Programs

Doctoral Programs

The UMass Lowell Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering offers two doctoral programs.

  • Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
    Civil and Environmental Engineering Option

Ph.D. - Civil & Environmental Engineering Option


The objective of the Doctor of Philosophy degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering is to develop decision-making, research-oriented engineers with the ability to produce new engineering knowledge and analyze complex, cross-disciplinary issues. Successful applicants are expected to perform advanced research in one or more areas of concentration within the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and successfully complete both core courses and electives that may be drawn from a variety of disciplines. Beyond the core courses, the program can be tailored to the needs of each student through a formal arrangement between the student and his or her research advisor.

Areas of Concentration

The areas of concentration within the Doctor of Philosophy in Civil and Environmental Engineering are:

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Geoenvironmental Engineering
  • Geotechnical Engineering
  • Transportation Engineering
  • Structural Engineering

Program Curriculum

In addition to the general degree requirements described earlier, students are required to take the Core Courses in one of the program concentration areas listed below.

  • Core for Environmental Engineering Concentration
  • Core for Geoenvironmental Engineering Concentration

and at least one of the following:

  • CIVE.5290 Engineering with Geosynthetics
  • CIVE.5380 Soil Behavior
  • CIVE.5270 Geotechnical and Environmental Site Characterization
  • Core for Geotechnical Engineering Concentration

(and any four of the following:)

  • Core for Transportation Engineering Concentration
  • Core for Structural Engineering Concentration

Admissions Requirements

Admission to applicants who have at least one degree in engineering from an accredited university and department requires high academic standing in all prior course work. Admission may be also offered to applicants who hold a Bachelor's and/or Master's degree in non-engineering fields. In such cases, the applicant must successfully complete all requirements for a Master of Science in Civil and Environmental Engineering prior to being considered a candidate for the Doctor of Philosophy degree. Applicants must meet all Graduate Admissions standards for this program, which includes three letters of recommendation, and official GRE scores.

Plan of Study

Within about one academic year of initiation of doctoral study, each student must work with his/her research advisor to develop a Plan of Study that complies with doctoral program and University policies. Courses substitutions in the Plan of Study must be reviewed by the Departmental Graduate Committee. Formal requests for substitutions are made by the student's Research Advisor. The student's Research Advisor is the supervisor of the student's research activities. The Advisor will work with the student to develop Dissertation research focus and request the service of appropriately qualified persons in the student's Dissertation Committee. The Dissertation Committee will comprise a minimum of 4 persons of which at least 2 will be full time, regular faculty members of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. The function of the Dissertation Committee is to ensure that the final edition of the student's dissertation meets the high technical standards expected in doctoral work and that the student successfully defends his/her findings prior to the award of the doctorate degree. Dissertation Committee members are not necessarily co-investigators of the student's research topic.

Qualifying Examination

Upon the completion of a maximum of 45 credit hours of graduate work that count towards the doctoral degree, the student will apply to the Dissertation Committee to take a Qualifying Examination. In addition, students who were admitted as non-engineering degree holders into the Doctor of Philosophy program must satisfy all requirements for the award of the M.S. degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering before they are allowed to take the Qualifying Examination. The Qualifying Examination may be written and oral. The Dissertation Committee members will submit their grades to the Doctoral Program Coordinator who will tally them and report the overall grade on a pass/fail basis, to the student and his/her advisor. Students who successfully complete the Qualifying Examination will be designated as Candidates for the Doctor of Philosophy degree. For each doctoral student, a maximum of two Qualifying Examinations will be allowed. A doctoral student who fails the Qualifying Examination two times will not be allowed to continue in the doctoral program. Shortly after passing the Qualifying Examination, the Doctoral degree candidate will be expected to develop a thesis plan in collaboration with his/her advisor, and defend it successfully before the Doctoral Committee.

Ph.D. Program in Chemistry - Environmental Studies Option

A Ph.D. in Chemistry with an option in Environmental Studies is offered jointly by the Department of Chemistry and the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. The program is described in detail in the Chemistry Department section of this catalog.