The Doctor of Philosophy degree is designed for students who desire a deep understanding of the fundamentals of the field and of the potential application of these fundamentals to environmental and water resources problems. The Ph.D. is a research degree in which students learn investigative methodologies and apply them to a problem of interest. The primary requirement for a Ph.D. degree student is to present a dissertation of sufficient quality to the faculty. The dissertation is expected to present the results of the student's significant and original work in the field. The dissertation is presented to the student's supervising committee and defended orally at the end of the program.

The Ph.D. degree program has no formal course requirements. Generally, students complete 16 or more graduate courses, including courses taken for a Master's degree. The course program usually includes several courses taken outside of EWRE to develop an area of specialty from another field (science, mathematics, or other engineering discipline) that can be applied to environmental and water resources engineering problems. In addition to the "Defense of the Dissertation," successful candidates for the Ph.D. degree pass two earlier examinations.

Qualifying Examination

The first examination, called the "Qualifying Examination," is administered by a committee of at least three faculty members. The purpose of the examination is to evaluate the student's understanding of the fundamentals of environmental and water resources engineering, and to guide the student in selecting appropriate courses. This examination, consisting of a written English examination and an oral examination, must be taken before the beginning of the second semester of a student's tenure, so that course work for the second semester can be influenced by the results of the examination. International students can request to take the examination at the end of the second semester if time is needed to develop further proficiency in English. The committee is composed of two EWRE and one other Civil Engineering faculty; all EWRE faculty are invited to attend. After passing this examination, the student is admitted to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree and can decide on the members of the supervising committee. This committee is comprised of five (or more) faculty, including the primary supervisor, one or more members from outside the Civil Engineering Department, and other faculty knowledgeable in the student's specialty area.

Comprehensive Examination

The second examination, or "Comprehensive Examination," is taken near the end of the student's coursework. The student must prepare a written dissertation proposal and distribute it to his or her supervising committee prior to this examination. The proposal is to be of the length and quality that one would expect to send to a national funding agency for peer-review evaluation. At the oral examination, the supervising committee determines if the student is prepared to perform the research, based on knowledge of the general area of the student's specialty and on knowledge of the specific area of research. The committee also determines whether the proposed research is of the quality and significance expected of a successful Ph.D. degree candidate.

The time required for completion of the Ph.D. degree is a minimum of two years beyond the M.S. degree; most students take 3 to 4 years beyond the M.S. degree. For more information on the Ph.D. Degree Program, please read the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering PhD Guidelines.