Ph.D. Degree Requirements (Civil Engineering)

The Ph.D. program is aimed at training the graduate student to achieve the highest degree in research within a chosen topic. Mathematics, fundamental sciences, and engineering sciences are combined to provide a personalized program of study and research. All graduate students work in close cooperation with the faculty in the chosen area. Although it is possible for students to study toward a Ph.D. directly upon entering graduate school, most students choose to obtain the MCE or MAS first.

Residency Requirement

The student must meet a campus residency requirement of at least one continuous academic year devoted exclusively to full-time study in the major field at the University of Delaware. The residency requirement may be fulfilled in the fall and spring semesters but not in the summer or winter sessions. If a student has earned a master's degree at the University of Delaware, this can be used to fulfill the residency requirement.

Course Requirements

A student's doctoral program, comprising 72 credits beyond the bachelor's degree (including doctoral dissertation), is planned around a central objective in applied science and mathematics. If a student who already holds a master's degree in the specific field of study is accepted directly into the Ph.D. program, the coursework from the master's degree will be taken into account in the design of the doctoral program. All courses in the program are selected with the approval of the student's dissertation advisor. The Ph.D. coursework typically include at least 3 credits at the 800 level. The program requirements are shown in the following table.

Beyond the Bachelor of Science Degree

Graduate Program Courses 36
RESEARCH (minimum) 9
Additional research and/or course credits 18

Beyond the Master's Degree

Graduate Program Courses 12
RESEARCH (minimum) 9
Additional research and/or course credits 12

Mathematics and Engineering Sciences: The purpose is to provide an adequate basis for original work in the field of study and, within the limits of available time, to extend the student's knowledge outside that field. Typically one course must be taken from each of the Mathematics and Engineering Sciences course lists.


All doctoral students are required to attend departmental or college seminars in their fields of study. Students are expected to register for CIEG865 (0 credits) each semester. Students will also make presentations at these seminars.

Resume and Dissertation Proposal

A student who has completed about 30 credits of coursework should consult his/her advisor for assistance in the preparation of a written resume that is to include the dissertation proposal. The resume should provide information about the student's background: publications authored; the concentration contemplated; and a proposal describing the doctoral research to be undertaken. The resume can enable the advisor and the committee to assess progress and plans for the future. It is also useful to advisor and student in determining the composition of the student's Doctoral Committee and the most appropriate character for the Qualifying Exam. The student will provide a copy of the resume to each committee member and the Department Chairperson for approval.

Doctoral Committee

The Ph.D. committee must consist of at least four individuals. The committee is chaired by the student's research advisor and must include at least one additional faculty member from the Department that represents the major field of interest. Moreover, the committee must have an external examiner from a different academic unit or from outside the University. The selection of prospective members of the Doctoral Committee is discussed by the student and their advisor, who then forwards a recommendation for the composition of the committee via the Department Chairperson to the Office of Graduate and Professional Education. Changes in the composition of the committee to reflect the student's interests may be made folowing the same procedure.

Qualifying Exam

The Qualifying Examination is usually taken near the completion of 36 credits of course work beyond the bachelor's degree. The Qualifying Exam consists of a comprehensive written and oral exam. It is usually administered in two sections, a week or so apart, to test the student's preparation and the aptness of the proposed research. It is not open to the public. The advisor, as the Examination Committee Chairperson, administers the written exam and chairs the oral exam. In general, the Doctoral Committee should strive to achieve consensus concerning the student's performance and quality of work. In case of dissenting votes, the majority opinion rules and a majority vote in favor is needed for successful completion of the Exam. At the conclusion of the Qualifying Exam, the committee members signify agreement by signing the Recommendation for Candidacy Form.

The Qualifying Exam (written and oral) may result in one of the following actions for a student:

  1. Passed; candidacy form signed by all committee members.
  2. Passed, but additional work required (self study or formal course); form signed by all committee members. If the Qualifying Exam Committee recommends passing but with additional study or course work, the Committee Chairperson will ensure that the student meets these recommendations promptly.
  3. Failed, but to be offered a second complete exam after, in most cases, one semester of additional preparation; memo of record from advisor via the Department Chairperson to the Office of Graduate Studies. If unsuccessful a second time, the student will not be permitted a third attempt, and matriculation in the program will be ended. The form signed by all committee members
  4. Failed, no re-examination; form signed by all committee members and matriculation in the program will be ended.

Dissertation Defense

The procedure for departmental presentation of the Ph.D. dissertation is as follows: After the student has obtained the approval of the advisor regarding the contents of the dissertation, it must be prepared in accordance with the rules of the Office of Graduate and Professional Education. The written dissertation must be distributed to the committee members for review no less than two weeks prior to the scheduled final oral examination. University policy requires that "all Ph.D. dissertation defenses be open and that an announcement of the time, place, subject, candidate's name, and the title of the dissertation be made available to the University community at least one week prior to the defense."

In the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, the procedure for the Final Oral Examination is as follows:

  1. The candidate gives a presentation of approximately 30 minutes on the dissertation research and findings.
  2. An intensive questioning by the Doctoral Committee and all others present takes place after the presentation. The examination is not merely a defense by the student of the dissertation but may also include a review of the student's competence and comprehension in related fields. After the questioning is completed, the meeting is closed to everyone except the committee members, who render their vote.
  3. Upon successful completion of this examination and compliance with any necessary revisions of the dissertation, the candidate will be certified by the Doctoral Committee for conferral of the degree by completion of the Certification of Doctoral Dissertation Defense form.
  4. In the case where the Final Oral Examination is not passed by the student, the applicant will be allowed to appear for a second trial after the lapse of at least six months. If unsuccessful in a second trial, the student will not be permitted to take a further examination and will be terminated from the program.
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