Carnegie Mellon University

Possibilities Engineered

robot.pngDiscover your potential in our Civil and Environmental Engineering PhD program. Be at the forefront of engineering innovation, equipped with the skills to drive progress in civil and environmental disciplines. You'll be well-equipped to be a leader and change-maker in academia, industry, and beyond.

At the forefront of engineering research, our institution is dedicated to impactful, collaborative, and interdisciplinary research. We take pride in our transformative approach, led by a world-class faculty recognized for their leadership and groundbreaking research contributions. Immerse yourself in our vibrant community, where you'll engage in cutting-edge research and join a world-renowned institution reimagining civil and environmental engineering.

Guided by Expertise: Your Faculty Mentor and Research Advisor

During your admission, you will be paired with a faculty mentor who aligns with your research interests and will serve as your research advisor throughout your doctoral journey. You have the option to indicate a preferred advisor during the application process. 

Welcome to the CEE PhD Graduate Program at CMU, where you can be part of redefining the future of engineering.

Research Pathways

Collaborative research lies at the heart of Carnegie Mellon University. While our researchers may specialize in one or more of the research pathways listed below, it is common to find interdisciplinary research projects that transcend these boundaries.  As a doctoral student, you have the opportunity to engage in research within one or more of these areas. We encourage you to take a moment to explore an overview of these research pathways.

The Intelligent Engineered Systems and Society (IESS) research group empowers you to tackle global challenges like climate change and urbanization through intelligent infrastructure systems. As a doctoral student, you gain skills to help influence policy and develop equitable solutions, immersed in cutting-edge civil and environmental engineering research that addresses these challenges head-on, preparing you for impactful careers.

IESS PhD Program Information

The Climate Resilient Environmental Systems and Technologies (CREST) research program shapes aspiring engineers to lead in sustainable environmental solutions. With a focus on climate adaptation, water systems, and innovative technologies, our interdisciplinary approach equips you with expertise in cutting-edge methods like data analytics, AI, and risk assessment.

As a graduate, you become part of developing real-world solutions for environmental engineering's future amidst the challenges of a changing climate.

CREST PhD Program Information

The Sustainable Energy and Transportation Systems (SETS) PhD program molds the next generation of engineers into adept researchers through transformative education and pioneering research. Anchored in smart mobility and advanced energy systems, our interdisciplinary curriculum equips students with cross-cutting methodologies for innovative energy and transportation infrastructure solutions.

As you complete your doctoral research, you'll emerge as a forward-thinking engineer, empowered to lead sustainability and resilience efforts across the evolving energy and transportation landscape, leaving a lasting impact in both private and public sectors.

SETS PhD Program Information

The Mechanics, Chemistry, and Materials (MCM) PhD program leads interdisciplinary exploration in civil and environmental engineering. Our accomplished researchers specialize in mechanics, chemistry, and materials, leveraging classical and quantum mechanics to address challenges through innovative modeling techniques, bench experiments, and fieldwork.

This program equips you to comprehend material behaviors, optimize them for diverse applications, and contribute to sustainable advancements in civil and environmental engineering while addressing contemporary issues.

MCM PhD Program Information

Program Structure

Direct Entry and Advanced Entry

Direct Entry

Direct entry PhD students holding an undergraduate engineering or related technical field degree from an accredited institution can apply directly for the program. Direct entry students can complete the requirements for the MS degree before beginning PhD studies.

Advanced Entry 

If you already hold a master’s degree in engineering or a related technical field, you may enter the program as an advanced entry student and begin your PhD studies immediately.

Length of Program

Typically, your PhD will require at least four years of graduate study beyond your BS degree or three years beyond your MS degree. This duration allows you to deeply engage in research, advanced coursework, and comprehensive examinations.

Course Requirements

We offer flexibility in our curriculum to accommodate diverse research interests. There are no formal course requirements for your PhD program, though most students choose to take relevant courses that align with their chosen focus area. These courses can help you prepare for your qualifying comprehensive exam and enhance your knowledge base in your research field.

Research Independence

Our program encourages you to be independent and creative in your research. While much of the research is faculty-initiated, you are encouraged to think independently about your research questions and approaches. We foster an environment where you can collaborate with faculty on existing research projects or propose new research directions.


As part of the qualification process, you will assemble a doctoral committee that will provide guidance and support from the initial thesis proposal stage all the way through to your thesis defense.

PhD Research Assistantships

When you join the CEE PhD Graduate Program at CMU, you're not just pursuing a doctoral degree but stepping into a world of unparalleled support.

Tuition Coverage: Your academic path begins with the assurance of full tuition coverage.

Generous Stipends: Besides tuition, we provide a generous living stipend that supports your daily life and allows you to focus on your studies.

Unique Opportunities: Our program offers you the chance to secure a research assistantship—an opportunity that covers your tuition and provides a stipend for your living expenses. Rest assured that all applicants are automatically considered for this assistantship, which can extend for up to five years, contingent upon your satisfactory progress toward degree completion.

As a part of this assistantship, you'll dedicate approximately 20 hours per week to teaching and research activities. This hands-on experience is integral to your graduate education.

Beyond assistantships, many of our international and US students have achieved distinction by securing prestigious fellowships from various organizations. Your journey with us opens doors to these opportunities.

Learn About External Funding Opportunities