Ph.D. Degree

The Ph.D. program with an emphasis in Sustainable Systems is highly flexible to accommodate a wide range of student educational objectives and research interests. Overall, however, the Ph.D. program demands very high standards of scholarship from students. Students are expected to develop both great depth and breadth in their knowledge and to conduct research that is a significant and original contribution at the frontiers of knowledge. The program is intended to prepare students for careers in teaching and research in academia or careers in research and advanced engineering applications in industry.

Ph.D. students in Sustainable Systems must follow all rules and requirements of the Graduate School and the Civil Engineering graduate program. The Ph.D. degree in Sustainable Systems requires the completion of significant coursework beyond the M.S., conducting independent research leading to the preparation of a dissertation, and completion of major examinations and other milestones, as described in the Civil Engineering PhD guidelines.

There is no specific minimum number of courses required for the Ph.D. degree. Nonetheless, Ph.D. students are expected to take courses to develop breadth and depth in their knowledge and to prepare them to conduct independent research. Courses should be selected by the student in consultation with their Research Supervisor and their Dissertation Committee.  As a guideline, Ph.D. students in Sustainable Systems typically take 4 to 8 courses beyond the M.S. To guide course selection, the student should consult the list of sample courses in the Sustainable Systems area.


The Doctor of Philosophy is a research degree, and conducting high quality original research represents the most fundamental requirement of the degree. Research for the Ph.D. is expected to be significant in scope and to be an original contribution at the frontiers of knowledge in the field. Further, while research is conducted under the guidance of the Research Supervisor and the Dissertation Committee, Ph.D. students are expected to work independently in the conduct of their research.

To develop a suitable topic and scope for their research, Ph.D. students are encouraged to discuss their ideas and interests with a faculty member affiliated with the Sustainable Systems emphasis. Ph.D. students are also encouraged to identify a faculty member to serve as their Research Supervisor and to identify a topic for their Ph.D. research as early as possible.

While the student will work closely with their Research Supervisor, the student will also form a Dissertation Committee to help guide and review the research. The Dissertation Committee normally consists of a minimum of five faculty members, with at least one member outside of the CE graduate studies committee.

Research for the Ph.D. culminates in the preparation of a Dissertation. The Dissertation must be approved by the Dissertation Committee.

Course Selection
Sustainable Systems students can take courses from many different areas within CAEE, as well as outside the department. At least six hours should be from the recommended course listing below. In addition, all Sustainable Systems students will be required to enroll in CE 397 Sustainable Systems Seminar. The intent of these requirements is to assure that coursework programs provide both depth and breadth. A list of recommended courses for Sustainable Systems is included below. Please note that this list is not exhaustive and simply provides examples. More information and complete syllabi from recent offerings of the courses currently available.

Examples of courses commonly chosen in the Sustainable Systems emphasis
CE 397 Urban Systems Engineering

CE 397 Renewable Energy/Environmental Sustainability

CE 397 Climate Change Mitigation

CE 397 Sustainable Materials

CE 397 Sustainable Pavement Engineering

CE 397 Sensors/Signal Interpretation

CE 389H HVAC Design

CE 392N1 Infrastructure Systems Management

CE 392U Transportation Systems Management

CE 395S4 Project Management

CE 393N Novel Structural Materials

CE 397 Structural Health Monitoring/Non-Destructive Testing