Carnegie Mellon University

PhD Program Requirements

To meet the requirements for a PhD, candidates must successfully complete the following:

Comprehensive Examination  

This examination is designed to evaluate the student's general knowledge and preparation for undertaking a doctoral program in his or her chosen area of study. The examination is customized for each student.

This exam is scheduled immediately following the end of the fall semester

Thesis Proposal Examination

The Thesis Proposal Examination is designed to evaluate a candidate’s ability to plan, conduct and communicate independent research in both oral and written form.

Thesis Proposal Examination is typically taken between twelve and twenty-four months following the successful completion of the Comprehensive Examination and more than nine months prior to the final PhD Dissertation Defense.

Dissertation Research and Preparation  Students will enter into full-time research and preparation of the dissertation in All But Dissertation status.
Dissertation Defense To complete the requirements of the PhD, the dissertation must be reviewed by the Doctoral Committee and defended in a public oral examination. A Defense announcement must be posted publicly a minimum of two weeks prior to the scheduled date.
Thesis Submission The final stage of completing the PhD degree requirement is submitting a successfully defended Dissertation prior to the posted deadline.

The process typically takes five years of graduate study following a BS, or four years of graduate study following an MS.

PhD Degree Title Options

The standard title of the PhD degree awarded to candidates in Civil and Environmental Engineering is the PhD in Civil and Environmental Engineering. Students wishing to receive a degree title other than PhD in Civil and Environmental Engineering must formally petition the Department Head for a special title.

Joint PhD - CEE/EPP

Current students interested in the joint CEE/EPP PhD degree program must successfully complete one year in EPP or CEE before applying to this program as a PhD student.

Joint CEE/EPP PhD candidates will be required to complete a comprehensive exam in both departments. Candidates will form one defense committee, meeting each department's requirements and will complete one proposal exam and final defense, submitting one dissertation. 

Current students in the EPP PhD program will need to submit an application for the CEE PhD program and must begin the joint CEE/EPP PhD program at least one year prior to their expected graduation date.

Current students in the CEE PhD program should contact the Engineering and Public Policy department for additional information. CEE/EPP joint PhD degree program students must satisfy the teaching requirements of both departments.

For more information, please contact the program advisors:

Civil & Environmental Engineering   David Vey  
Engineering & Public Policy Vicki Finney