Nov 20, 2019  
Graduate Catalog | 2019-2020 
    
Graduate Catalog | 2019-2020

Civil Engineering, Ph.D.


***Intending to admit students beginning Fall 2020
pending approval by the U.S. Department of Education***

The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) provides opportunities for discipline-specific and multidisciplinary graduate-level and doctoral-level education in Civil and Environmental Engineering and closely related areas.  Advanced coursework and capstone research experience are used to enhance professional development, improve technical competency, and engage in a life-long learning experience.  CEE has ongoing collaborative research and student exchange programs with several international institutions that add value and further enrich the experience.

The department offers doctoral studies leading to a Civil Engineering Ph.D. degree in five areas of concentration:

  1. Environmental Engineering
  2. Geo-Environmental Engineering
  3. Geotechnical Engineering
  4. Structural Engineering
  5. Transportation Engineering

Doctoral students engage in courses of study leading to the doctoral degree, becoming competent in selected topics required for completion of research at the doctoral level. During this process, doctoral students acquire knowledge, demonstrate abilities to research on advanced topics in engineering, and communicate technical information effectively.  They also discover and create new knowledge, and understand interactions among advanced topics in engineering. The development of such skills helps doctoral students to function and excel professionally.

Doctoral studies leading to the Ph.D. in Infrastructure and Environmental Systems (INES) are available through an interdisciplinary, inter-college program.  See the Ph.D. in Infrastructure and Environmental Systems  for details.

Admission Requirements


In addition to the general requirements for admission to the Graduate School, CEE seeks the following from applicants to the doctoral program:

Applicants with a Master’s Degree in Civil Engineering (Eligible to Pursue the Ph.D. Degree with Advanced Standing)

Doctoral students who hold a relevant master’s degree in Civil Engineering, either from UNC Charlotte or another institution, may be eligible to pursue the Ph.D. degree with Advanced Standing.  Eligibility for this accelerated option must be made at the time of admission to the program, and is subject to review by the Graduate School.  Requirements for admission include:

  • An earned master’s degree in Civil Engineering (Master of Science in Civil Engineering, MSCE or Master of Science in Engineering, MSE with emphasis in Civil Engineering)
  • A master’s degree GPA of 3.0 or better
  • A satisfactory score from the Aptitude Portion of the GRE
  • A statement of purpose
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • An acceptable TOEFL or IELTS score as required by UNC Charlotte for international students. In addition, TOEFL iBT must be a minimum score of 18 on each section of the test while the IELTS must be a minimum score of 6.5 in each section
  • Any other appropriate credentials as required by the Graduate School

Applicants with a Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering (Eligible to Pursue the Ph.D. Degree)

Doctoral students who hold a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering, either from UNC Charlotte or from an ABET-accredited college or university in Civil Engineering, may be eligible to pursue the Ph.D. degree.  Requirements for admission include:

  • An earned bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering (Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering, BSCE) from an ABET accredited college or university in Civil Engineering
  • A bachelor’s degree GPA of 3.0 or better
  • A satisfactory score from the Aptitude Portion of the GRE
  • A statement of purpose
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • An acceptable TOEFL or IELTS score as required by UNC Charlotte for international students. In addition, TOEFL iBT must be a minimum of score of 18 on each section of the test while the IELTS must be a minimum score of 6.5 in each section
  • Any other appropriate credentials as required by the Graduate School

Notes

  • Admission for applicants currently in the MSCE program at UNC Charlotte requires a minimum GPA of 3.0, completion of all core courses in their area of concentration, completion of at least 15 credit hours at master’s level, and acceptance by the Graduate School to the doctoral program at UNC Charlotte.
  • Admission for applicants without an undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering requires completion of MSE degree with emphasis in one of the five areas of concentration and GPA of 3.0 or above.

Early Entry Program

Current MSCE students at UNC Charlotte with outstanding academic performance, and satisfying the requirements described above, may be admitted to the Early Entry Program to pursue doctoral study while completing the master’s degree requirements. Early Entry doctoral students are dually enrolled with both master’s and doctoral status, and may complete up to 15 credit hours toward their doctoral degree prior to graduating with their master’s degree.

Application Deadline

Applications for admission must be submitted online directly to the Graduate School. They may be submitted any time prior to April 1 for Fall admission, and October 1 for Spring admission. To be considered for assistantships and tuition grants for the following academic year, potential applicants must apply and submit all required documents by March 1.

Degree Requirements


Requirements for Doctoral Students with a Master’s Degree in Civil Engineering (Pursuing the Ph.D. Degree with Advanced Standing)


Under the Advanced Standing option, students must complete 42 credit hours of civil engineering courses, including only 18 credit hours of dissertation research. The remaining 24 credit hours under this option are determined by the student’s concentration.  With the approval of the doctoral research advisor and Graduate Program Director, a maximum of two doctoral-level courses (outside CEGR or within CEGR) related to the dissertation topic or the student’s area of concentration may be incorporated into the credit hour requirement.  Note that each doctoral student with Advanced Standing is limited to one individual study class within the 42-credit hour requirement.  All doctoral students must also complete GRAD 8302  (Responsible Conduct of Research) and GRAD 8990  (Academic Integrity) as a Graduate School requirement. 

Concentration Courses (24 credit hours)


Select 24 credit hours from the appropriate concentration:

Dissertation Research Course (18 credit hours)


The following course must be repeated for a total and maximum of 18 credit hours:

Degree Total = 42 Credit Hours


Requirements for Doctoral Students with a Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering (Pursuing the Ph.D. Degree)


Under this option, students must complete 72 credit hours of civil engineering courses, including only 18 credit hours of dissertation research. The remaining 54 credit hours under this option are determined by the student’s concentration.  At least 39 credit hours of these remaining requirements must be in courses numbered 8000 or above.  With the approval of the doctoral research advisor and Graduate Program Director, a maximum of two doctoral-level courses (outside CEGR or within CEGR) related to the dissertation topic or the student’s area of concentration may be incorporated into the credit hour requirement.  Note that each doctoral student is limited to two individual study classes within the 72-credit hour requirement.  All doctoral students must also complete GRAD 8302 (Responsible Conduct of Research) and GRAD 8990 (Academic Integrity) as a Graduate School requirement.

Concentration Courses (54 credit hours)


Select 54 credit hours from the appropriate concentration:

Environmental Engineering Concentration

Geo-Environmental Engineering Concentration

Geotechnical Engineering Concentration

Structural Engineering Concentration

Transportation Engineering Concentration

Dissertation Research Course (18 credit hours)


The following course must be repeated for a total and maximum of 18 credit hours:

Degree Total = 72 Credit Hours


Advising


Each student admitted to the doctoral program will be assigned an initial academic advisor. Within the first year (prior to completion of the second semester) in the doctoral program, each student will select a permanent doctoral research advisor. This selection must be approved by the Program Director and Dean of the Graduate School.

At any time, a doctoral student may request a change in initial academic advisor or doctoral research advisor. These requests must be submitted to the Program Director in writing for consideration and action.

Doctoral Committee


Each student’s doctoral committee will contain at least four members. One committee position will be filled by a UNC Charlotte Graduate Faculty Representative appointed by the Dean of the Graduate School. The remaining three members are recommended, before the completion of the student’s first year in the doctoral program, by the student’s doctoral research advisor, with input from the Graduate Program Director.  The Program Director approves, with subsequent concurrence by the Dean of the Graduate School, the three recommended faculty members to serve on the doctoral committee. The doctoral committee of each student is chaired by the student’s doctoral research advisor.

At least one doctoral committee member must be an expert and CEE faculty member in the student’s area of concentration. The inclusion of one member from outside the area of concentration or CEE is strongly encouraged, and this person must also be a member of the UNC Charlotte Graduate Faculty.

Qualifying Examination


Each doctoral student with Advanced Standing must take and pass a qualifying exam before the end of the 4th semester from joining the doctoral program, while each doctoral student without a master’s degree must take and pass a qualifying exam before the end of the 6th semester from joining the doctoral program. The written qualifying exam should cover at least four courses in the area of concentration, and is administered by the student’s doctoral research advisor and doctoral committee. The written qualifying exam may be followed by an oral qualifying exam, administered by the student’s doctoral research advisor and doctoral committee.

Doctoral students with Advanced Standing, who have completed at least 18 credit hours of coursework and have at least a 3.0 GPA, are eligible to take the written qualifying exam. Doctoral students without a master’s degree, who have completed at least 48 credit hours of coursework and have at least a 3.0 GPA, are also eligible to take the written qualifying exam. A doctoral student may attempt to pass the qualifying exam no more than twice. Failure to pass the written qualifying exam in two attempts or before the end of the specified semester will result in termination of enrollment in the doctoral program. Doctoral students who do not take the qualifying exam before the end of the specified semester but are terminated from the doctoral program may appeal to be reinstated back into the doctoral program by submitting an acceptable plan to take and pass the qualifying exam.

Advancement to Candidacy


After passing the qualifying examination, a student must propose a dissertation topic, prepare a written proposal, and submit it to the doctoral committee for review at least two weeks before the oral exam date. The oral exam, administered by the student’s doctoral research advisor and doctoral committee, includes a presentation and defense by the student of his or her proposed research topic in a forum open to the public. This oral exam should be successfully completed before the end of the 5th semester from joining the doctoral program by doctoral students with Advanced Standing, and, before the end of the 8th semester from joining the doctoral program by doctoral students without a master’s degree. The doctoral student advances to candidacy after the dissertation topic and proposal has been approved by the student’s doctoral committee. The candidacy must be achieved at least 6 months before the doctoral degree is conferred.

Dissertation


The doctoral program includes a minimum of 18 credit hours of dissertation. Each doctoral student must complete and defend a dissertation based on a research program approved by the student’s doctoral committee. The dissertation must be of high quality and represent an original piece of research that advances the body of knowledge in the area of concentration. The oral presentation and successful defense of the dissertation before the student’s doctoral committee in a forum open to the public is required. A copy of the student’s dissertation will be made available to the doctoral committee at least two weeks prior to the public defense. The dissertation must be written in a format acceptable to the Graduate School and shall satisfy all requirements and deadlines specified by the UNC Charlotte Graduate School.  Details pertaining to required actions for the dissertation are available from the department and Graduate Program Director.

Application for Degree


Each student should apply for his/her doctoral degree by completing the online Application for Degree through DegreeWorks no later than the filing date specified in the UNC Charlotte Academic Calendar.

Time Limit


Students are allowed a maximum of eight (8) calendar years from formal admission to the doctoral program to complete the program successfully.

Assistantships


Teaching assistantships are available from CEE on a competitive basis to highly qualified applicants. Interested applicants are encouraged to directly contact faculty in their area of interest for research assistantships.

Research Opportunity/Experience


CEE doctoral students enjoy a curriculum with opportunities for interdisciplinary research, study abroad, and active participation in a growing research program. Programs of study can be tailored to suit individual needs and interests. The CEE website provides current areas of research conducted by the faculty.

Transfer Credit


CEE accepts the transfer of related doctoral level courses (6 credit hours maximum) taken at another institution or from UNC Charlotte prior to admission to the doctoral program in Civil Engineering. These courses must be part of the recommended list of courses in the doctoral student’s area of concentration. Further, these credit hours cannot be counted toward another degree.

Tuition Grants


Tuition grants including Non-Resident Tuition Differentials and Resident Tuition Aids are available on a competitive basis for both out-of-state and in-state doctoral students, respectively.