Rice University logoGeorge R. Brown School of Engineering
 
Civil and Environmental Engineering
 

Degrees Offered

The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering offers advanced degrees with emphasis on a variety of specialization areas ranging from hydrology and air quality to structures and bridge engineering, sustainable environmental engineering and more.
 

Enrollments and degrees awarded for degree programs in the Engineering School are available at: http://engineering.rice.edu/Enrollments_GraduationData/


Overview of Degree Programs  

 Jamie at the blackboardMaster of Civil and Environmental Engineering (MCEE) 

  • 30 semester hours of graduate level courses 
  • 24 semester hours must be at Rice University (no more than 6 hours of transfer credit).
  • All 30 hours of course work must be at or above the 500 level. All courses must be in the relevant field.
  • Additional requirements:
    -One semester of CEVE 601(F)/602 (S) Seminar 
    -Final project required.   
    -Fulfill minimum residency, which is one fall or spring semester in full-time or part-time graduate study

Master of Science (MS)

  • 24 semester hours of approved courses
  • 6 semester hours of research
  • Present and orally defend a thesis

 Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)

  • 90 semester hours past B.S. 
  • 60 semester hours past M.S. 
  • Pass a preliminary exam and a qualifying exam
  • Present and orally defend a doctoral thesis, which constitutes an original research contribution

*Please visit http://ga.rice.edu/GR_degrees/  and http://ga.rice.edu/GR_regulations/  for more information in relation to Rice policies.

GRADUATE STUDENT HANDBOOK LINK

Master of Science (M.S.) - Engineering

The Master of Science degree is offered in civil and environmental engineering. For general university requirements, see Graduate Degrees in the General Announcement. To earn a MS degree, students must:

  • Complete a minimum of 30 credit hours to satisfy degree requirements
  • Complete a minimum of 24 credit hours from approved graduate level courses while maintaining a minimum average GPA of 3.0 [and at least a minimum grade of B].
    • For students focusing on environmental engineering, this must include one course in each of the following areas: environmental chemistry, water treatment, hydrology, and air quality.
    • For students studying civil, structural engineering, and mechanics, this must include one course in each of the following areas: structural engineering, mechanics, applied  mathematics, structural dynamic systems, systems reliability and earthquake engineering.
     
  • Complete a minimum of 6 credit hours of thesis research. 
  • Select a thesis committee according to department requirements and conduct original research in consultation with the committee.
  • Present and defend in oral examination an approved research thesis. Students take the oral exam only after the committee determines the thesis to be in a written format acceptable for public defense. Normally, students take two academic years and the intervening summer to complete the degree.

Comparable course work completed previously may be substituted for these core courses.

Please note: Students intending to extend their studies into the Ph.D. degree program should note that the department does not grant an automatic master’s degree to doctoral candidates who have not written a satisfactory master’s thesis.  


Master of Civil and Environmental Engineering (MCEE) Program

The Master of Civil and Environmental Engineering (MCEE) is a professional non-thesis degree requiring 30 semester hours of approved course work. Students who have a BS or BA degree in any field of engineering or related study may apply.
They will complete 30 hours of graduate level courses (24 semester hours must be at Rice University) in our Civil Engineering or Sustainable Environmental Engineering and Design sub-tracks including the required final project.

Graduate courses from other departments might count towards the MCEE degree, but need prior approval by a CEE faculty advisor and must be in the relevant field. Depending on their background, some students may need to fulfill pre-requisites or take remedial engineering courses in addition to the required 30 semester hours to earn the MCEE degree. Students can transfer up to 6 credits of graduate-level courses equivalent to the required courses and must fulfill the minimum residency, which is one fall or spring semester in full-time or part-time graduate study.

For the final project, students must choose an advisor to work with in the first semester, and register for CEVE 590 with the advisor’s approval to conduct the project in the second semester. In the second semester or semester which the final project will be completed, students are required to meet with their advisor to discuss final project details and timeline by the end of the first week of class.

MCEE degree (environmental track) prerequisite list:

  • 2 years calculus including differential equations
  • 1 year chemistry
  • 1 semester physics
  • 1 semester biology, Fluids

MCEE degree (civil track) prerequisite list:

  • 1 course in each of the following: calculus, linear algebra, and differential equations
  • 2 courses in physics that include mechanics and electro-magnetism
  • 1 course in each of the following: engineering mechanics, strength of materials

Core courses:

Civil Engineering Track, see handbook regarding degree requirements here.

Sustainable Environmental Engineering track: See details here.

-Final project required.   

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

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
The application deadline for the Spring  2017 semester in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department is October 15th


Enrollments and degrees awarded for degree programs in the Engineering School are available at: http://engineering.rice.edu/Enrollments_GraduationData/