PhD

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Study mode:On campus Study type:Full-time Languages: English
Local:$ 43.2 k / Year(s) Foreign:$ 43.2 k / Year(s) Deadline: Feb 1, 2025
124 place StudyQA ranking:3567 Duration:4 years

Photos of university / #riceuniversity

Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) is a broad and diverse field of study that offers students an education with several degree options. The most flexible degree options are at the bachelor’s level, where students can major in civil engineering and pursue a Bachelor of Science (BS) that has four areas of specialization or pursue a Bachelor of Arts (BA) that affords more flexibility, or complete a double major with any other Rice University major. One nonthesis graduate degree, the Master of Civil & Environmental Engineering (MCEE), is also available to students who desire additional education and specialization in the practice of civil engineering or environmental sciences and engineering.

Students admitted for graduate study leading to a Master of Science (MS) or Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree must complete a rigorous course of study that combines advanced course work with scholarly research culminating in the public defense of a written thesis. Graduate research is carried out in a range of areas reflecting the interests of the department’s faculty. Examples include environmental engineering, geotechnical engineering, structural engineering and mechanics, infrastructure reliability, hydrology, water resources and water quality management, air pollution and its control, and hazardous waste treatment.

The Ph.D. degree in CEE has two sub tracks: (1) Civil Engineering (CE) and (2) Environmental Engineering and Sciences (EES). In both cases, to earn a Ph.D. degree, students must meet the following requirements:

  • Complete 90 credit hours of approved credits past BS (60 credit hours past MS) with high standing, including core course requirements stipulated below.
  • Pass a preliminary written examination (see guidelines below).
  • Pass a qualifying examination on course work, proposed research, and related topics.
  • Complete a dissertation indicating an ability to do original and scholarly research.
  • Pass a formal public oral examination on the thesis and related topics.

Ph.D. students in civil and environmental engineering, (EES track) take the preliminary exam, administered by department faculty, after 2 semesters of course work. Ph.D. students in civil and environmental engineering (civil track) take the preliminary exam, administered by department faculty, after 3 semesters of course work. Student who pass this exam then form a doctoral committee according to department requirements.

The qualifying examination is administered by the doctoral committee after students develop a research proposal to demonstrate their preparation for the proposed research and identify any areas requiring additional course work or study. As part of the advanced degree training, we also may require students to assist the faculty in undergraduate courses and laboratory instruction.

Core Courses - Course requirements are stipulated to prepare and train students for rigorous and high quality education, research, and practice. These courses, usually completed within the first two years of graduate school, are designed to train and test the student's aptitude for higher level thinking, problem solving, and independent research. Core courses also contribute breadth beyond minimum competency as civil and environmental engineers. A minimum grade of B- must be achieved for each of these core courses, as well as a minimum average GPA of 3.0.

For the CE sub-track, PhD students should take at least 6 of the following 16 courses: 

  • CEVE 500  Advanced Mechanics of Materials
  • CEVE 503  Nonlinear Finite Element Analysis*
  • CEVE 505  Engineering Project Management and Economics 
  • CEVE 519  Elasticity, Plasticity and Damage Mechanics*
  • CEVE 524  Time Dependent System Reliability Modeling and Analysis*
  • CEVE 527  Computational Structural Mechanics and FEM*
  • CEVE 530  Concrete Building Design *
  • CEVE 538  Computational Nanoscience for Green Infrastructure 
  • CEVE 540  Steel Building Design * 
  • CEVE 554 Computational Fluid Mechanics
  • CEVE 560  Bridge Engineering & Extreme Events * 
  • CEVE 570  Foundation Engineering
  • CEVE 576  Structural Dynamic Systems * 
  • CEVE 578  Earthquake Engineering *   
  • CEVE 592  Modeling and Analysis of Networked Systems *
  • CEVE 596  Offshore and Marine Systems *
  • CEVE 678  Advanced Stochastic Mechanics * 
  • CEVE 679  Applied Monte Carlo Analysis *

* Offered every two years

For the EES sub-track, Ph.D. students should take at least 6 of the following 9 courses:

  • CEVE 501  Introduction to Environmental Chemistry
  • CEVE 509  Hydrology and Water Resources Engineering
  • CEVE 504  Atmospheric Particulate Matter 
  • CEVE 511  Atmospheric Processes
  • CEVE 512  Advanced Hydrology and Hydraulics
  • CEVE 534  Fate and Transport of Contaminants in the Environment
  • CEVE 535  Physical Chemical Processes for Water Quality
  • CEVE 536  Environmental Biotechnology and Bioremediation
  • CEVE 544  Environmental Microbiology and Microbial Ecology
  • CEVE 550  Environmental Organic Chemistry

Additional requirements. All students are required to enroll in Seminar, CEVE 601 (fall) and CEVE 602 (spring) each semester while at Rice. 

Substitutions will be considered when a core course is not offered, or under special circumstances related to the professional goals of the student. Substitutions will be considered on a case-by-case basis, and will require approval by the faculty. 

Preliminary Exam - All Ph.D. students must take the preliminary examination after completing the core course requirement, usually at the end of the first year in the graduate program. Because the core courses provide a basic level of preparation and breadth, the preliminary exam has broader latitude to probe synthesis and high-level thinking skills, rather than serving as a check on coursework.  

Civil engineering graduate students will be required to take their written preliminary exam on Friday before the classes of the spring semester, 1.5 years from the fall semester they enter into the program, and take the oral exam on Friday the first week of classes. If a student enters in the spring semester he/she needs to take the exam in the following spring semester along with other students.

For the CE sub-track, the format of the Preliminary Exam is as follows:

Day 1: Written Exam (closed book)
    2 hours - Applied Mathematics
    2 hours - Structures/Mechanics/Linear FEM/Related Areas
    2 hours - Structural Dynamic Systems 
    2 hours  - Optional Area:  Mechanics/System Reliability/Bridge Eng./Earthquake Eng/ Nonlinear continuum mechanics and Nonlinear FEM/ Struc.Control & Identification/Computational Nanoscience
                   (Optional area can be chosen by the student)  

Day 2: Oral Exam 1 hour per student

Civil Engineering faculty examine/question the student about the written exam and additional broad set of topics to assess the students thinking ability, comprehension, problem solving skills and overall aptitude in the field of structural engineering, structural mechanics, and system reliability. 

Students will be informed of the results after all students have finished the oral exam. Students who fail the exam either fully or partially can petition for retaking the exam. Petitions will be considered on a case-by-case basis by the department chair, who will consider the advice of both the Preliminary Exam and Graduate Studies committees. Students who fail the preliminary exam twice will not be allowed to continue in the Ph.D. program.

For the EES sub-track, the examination consists of three parts:

Day 1: Written Exam
Part I: A three-hour exam on fundamentals of environmental engineering covered in the core courses. This exam does not necessarily test understanding of the specific materials covered in these courses, but knowledge in physical, chemical and biological principles of environmental engineering, as well as mathematics skills that are necessary to solve problems discussed in the courses above. Recognizing that students taking the exam may not have taken all core courses, students will have the flexibility to answer four (4) out of all sets of questions posed by the professors of the environmental engineering and science program. Unless otherwise stated, Part I is closed-book. 

Part II: A 3-hour open-book exam in specialized areas of environmental engineering. The purpose of this exam is to evaluate the student’s depth of knowledge in subjects relevant to his or her research topic. The student will be given one comprehensive, in-depth question by the thesis advisor. The graduate committee will exercise quality control of the exam questions to ensure that these questions are not a simple extension of those in Part I. 

Day 2: Oral Exam 
Part III: The oral examination takes 30-45 minutes per student. It is a general exam on common topics of environmental engineering, with the intent to probe for high-level thinking across broad themes. A faculty committee will preside over the exam and each committee member may ask questions. The questions may or may not be related to those in the written exam.

Students will be informed of the results after all students have finished the oral exam. Students who fail the exam either fully or partially can petition for retaking the exam. Petitions will be considered on a case-by-case basis by the department chair, who will consider the advice of both the Preliminary Exam and Graduate Studies committees. Students who fail the preliminary exam twice will not be allowed to continue in the Ph.D. program.

Ph.D. Qualifying Examination - Ph.D students who pass the preliminary exam are required to form a doctoral committee as soon as possible. The qualifying examination, administered by the doctoral committee after students develop a written research proposal (with reasonably detailed preliminary work and proposed research approach), evaluates their preparation for the proposed research and identifies any areas requiring additional course work or study. The qualifying exam must be scheduled at least six months before the final defense. Students who fail the qualifying examination will not be granted Ph.D. candidacy. Petition to re-take the exam will be considered on a case-by-case basis by the department chair, who will consider the advice of both the Qualifying Exam and Graduate Studies committees.

Ph.D. Defense - Candidates who pass the qualifying exam are required to write a detailed Ph.D. thesis and schedule the Ph.D. defense under the guidance of their advisor and doctoral committee. The Ph.D. thesis must be handed at least two weeks prior to the defense. The Ph.D. defense must be scheduled according to the Rice University graduate school requirements requirements (at least fourteen days prior to the date of the defense). Defense announcements should be submitted to the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies by filling out a form online at  http://events.rice.edu/rgs/.  The Ph.D. defense will typically last two hours. The candidate will make a detailed presentation for approximately an hour; the presentation will be open to public. This will be followed by question and answer session by the general audience and a closed door question and answer session by the doctoral committee. The candidates who successfully defend their Ph.D. will be awarded the degree of doctor of philosophy.

Suggested Time Lines for M. S. Students: 

  • First  year: Course work, begin research under direction of advisor as deemed appropriate
  • End of first year or latest by spring of second year:  Take the preliminary exam if intending to continue for a Ph.D.
  • First semester, second year: Form committee and consult with committee; meet if necessary (at the discretion of the committee chair)
  • Second semester, second year: Write and defend thesis

Suggested Time Lines for Ph.D. Students (those admitted after B.S. may follow the M.S. student's guidelines initially and then switch to the following after completion of the M.S.): 

  • First/second year: Course work, begin research under direction of advisor as deemed appropriate
  • End of first year: Take the preliminary exam
  • First semester, second year: Form committee and consult with committee
  • Each semester thereafter (at a minimum) consult with committee; meet if necessary (at the discretion of the committee chair)
  • Third or fourth year: Write and defend proposal in Ph.D qualifying examination (this should be at least six months before final defense)
  • Final semester: Defense and submit dissertation
  • GPA Requirement 3.0 or higher
  • Transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate schools attended. Applicants must upload an unofficial transcript to the application and also send an official copy of their transcripts. If an unofficial transcript is received during the admissions process, and you are admitted, a 30 day deadline is given (from the date of the offer letter) to provide an official transcript.  If the current degree has not been conferred, Rice requires a final transcript showing conferral of the degree before registration of the second semester at Rice. Note: All transcripts mailed must arrive in sealed envelopes, with signature across the seal.
  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE) Scores are required. The verbal, quantitative, and analytical writing scores must be reported.  GRE tests must meet a combined score of 301 on quantitative and verbal, with at least 150 on the verbal section.
  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is required for applicants who are foreign nationals or whose native language is not English. Applicants must score at least 90 on the iBT TOEFL. For those students who choose to take the IELTS in lieu of TOEFL, the minimum score is 7. The TOEFL school code for Rice is 6609.  
  • Letters of Recommendation are required from at least three teachers or advisors.  The online application system will require you to enter the name of your references and their email addresses. The system will send an email to each of the references with a secure link to the online system.  This will allow them to submit letters on your behalf electronically. 
  • Application fee of $85. The fee should be paid by credit card. The application can be processed only when the application fee has been received.   

Scholarships

Stipends

Qualified doctoral and thesis master’s students often receive departmental stipends of $21,000-30,000 per year to cover living expenses.  That means you can earn your Ph.D. and get paid for it.  Stipend and/or tuition support is also available in some master’s programs. 

Similar programs:
Study mode:On campus Languages: English
Local:$ 7.94 k / program Foreign:$ 13.4 k / program
StudyQA ranking: 3391
Study mode:On campus Languages: English
Local:$ 48.9 k / Year(s) Foreign:$ 48.9 k / Year(s)
Deadline: Dec 31, 2024 9 place StudyQA ranking: 3193
Study mode:On campus Languages: English
Local:$ 415 / program Foreign:$ 877 / program
601–800 place StudyQA ranking: 2969
Study mode:On campus Languages: English
Local:$ 210 / Year(s) Foreign:$ 445 / Year(s)
StudyQA ranking: 3026
Study mode:On campus Languages: English
Local:$ 4.84 k / Year(s) Foreign:$ 14.3 k / Year(s)
200 place StudyQA ranking: 2835
Study mode:On campus Languages: English
Foreign:$ 3.41 k / Year(s)
Deadline: Jan 30, 2025 351–400 place StudyQA ranking: 5032
Study mode:On campus Languages: English
Local:$ 3.45 k / Year(s) Foreign:$ 3.45 k / Year(s)
StudyQA ranking: 5003