Civil and Environmental Engineering
The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering offers three graduate degrees: Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), Master of Science in Engineering (M.S.E.), and Master of Engineering (M.Eng.). Students must be admitted to one of these three degree programs. For each of these degree programs, the department offers individualized tracks of graduate study that are aligned with the following research areas:
- Mechanics, Materials, and Structures
- Architecture, Arts, and Archaeology
- Hydrology and the Atmospheric Environment
- Sustainable, Resilient Cities and Infrastructure Systems
- Chemistry, Biology and Technology
- Water, Climate, and Energy
The student-faculty ratio in the department is kept small to allow for productive working relationships between students and their advisers. The department maintains an atmosphere in which close interaction between students and faculty is the norm, whereby students benefit from the background, experience, and knowledge their advisers have gained in solving important engineering problems.
When a student enters the Department, an adviser is assigned to the student based upon the student's area of interest. Every admitted Ph.D. student is given financial support in the form of a first-year fellowship. In addition, all admitted Ph.D. students are automatically considered for the prestigious Wu and Upton Fellowships. Students are typically supported as an assistant-in-research or assistant-in-instruction for subsequent years in the program.
The requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy include the (i) passing of all General Examination requirements including required coursework, (ii) presentation of an acceptable thesis, and (iii) passing of the final public oral examination (thesis defense).
Demonstrated proficiency in coursework is required for admission to the General Examination in the following courses:
- CEE 509 - Independent Study I
- CEE 510 - Independent Study II
- 2 applied mathematics or computational methods courses
- 6 additional courses covering depth in, and breadth around, one's research
CEE 509 and 510: The CEE 509/510 requirements are meant to demonstrate the requisite abilities to carry out advanced independent research with scientific conference-type presentations evaluated by faculty. These requirements must be completed by the end of the semester of the General Examination.
Applied mathematics or computational methods: The mathematics/computational methods requirements are meant to provide a strong foundation in quantitative skills. The requirement may be fulfilled by courses in advanced calculus, probability, data science, statistics, numerical methods, scientific computation, or related fields.
Specialized knowledge courses: Each student must complete at least three courses that focus on the student's specific research. These courses are directly related to the foundational knowledge of the Ph.D. thesis research, and they ensure that the student has a firm grasp of relevant fundamentals. At least three specialized knowledge courses must be completed by the end of the semester of the General Examination.
Breadth of knowledge courses: In addition to taking courses in specialized subjects, students must broaden their education beyond the intellectual boundaries of their own research. This is important for success in future academic or non-academic careers, given the complexity of modern civil and environmental challenges and the need for interdisciplinary teams to solve them. To be active members or future leaders of such teams, students must be able to converse and understand a range of issues, concepts and approaches that are far wider than their detailed research specialization. Each student must demonstrate proficiency in at least three "breadth" courses. These courses must cover multiple areas outside the student’s core research area. One of the breadth courses may be taken after the General Examination.
Grade requirements: All required Ph.D. coursework must be taken for a grade (no P/D/F, no audit). The average grade of all graduate courses in the student’s overall program of study must a "B" (3.00) or better.
In order to be considered eligible to stand for the general examination, students must successfully complete nine of the required courses. (The final breadth course may be taken after the general examination) Students are expected to take the general examination by the end of the second year of Ph.D. studies.
In cases where equivalent and relevant graduate coursework has been completed prior to enrollment as a Ph.D. student at Princeton, a student may propose to use that prior coursework to satisfy one or more course requirements and thereby demonstrate coursework proficiency. A student must submit to the DGS a copy of the syllabus and other supporting material for review by CEE faculty in advance of the submission of the General Exam Request Form.
General Examination Request form: The General Exam Request Form consists of the student's plan to meet the coursework proficiency requirements, the title of the Ph.D. research, and the abstract of the research. The form, normally submitted in the semester before taking the General Examination, is reviewed by CEE faculty to ensure demonstrated proficiency in relevant subject areas. For plans that are not approved, feedback is given to the student to modify the plan. Once approved, any deviations from the approved coursework plan must be submitted to the faculty adviser and DGS. A full review by the CEE faculty may be required for substantial coursework changes.
Research Proposal: A dissertation research proposal is due to the Graduate Program Administrator in advance of the General Examination. This document forms the basis of the student's General Examination oral presentation. It must demonstrate adequate background knowledge, clear and concise communication skills, and the ability to plan and formulate a research project.
Examination Structure: The General Examination Committee consists of four to six examiners, of whom at least three are CEE faculty members. The Committee is normally chaired by the student’s adviser. The General Examination is scheduled for up to three hours and is conducted as an oral examination. The General Examination consists of a presentation by the student, followed by questions from the committee on topics related to the student’s research and coursework preparation.
The Master of Arts (M.A.) degree is normally an incidental degree on the way to full Ph.D. candidacy and is earned after a student successfully completes the required coursework and the general examination. It may also be awarded to students who, for various reasons, leave the Ph.D. program, provided that the coursework requirements have been met and the sections of the general exam showing proficiency and scholarship have been passed. In such cases, it is not required that students have completed the part of the general exam involving a research seminar based on a dissertation proposal.
Students admitted to the Ph.D. program who do not wish to complete the program may be considered for an M.S.E. degree with approval from the department and the Graduate School. Ph.D. students who have already been awarded the incidental M.A. are not eligible to earn an M.S.E.
Teaching experience is considered to be a significant part of the graduate education. It is recommended that Ph.D. candidates assist with course instruction for at least one term.
Yearly Meetings with Research Committee
Upon completion of the general examination, students must have in place a research committee consisting of the adviser and two or more additional faculty members. The research committee meets with the candidate at least once per academic year to supervise the research and provide feedback on it.
Dissertation: The candidate must complete a dissertation that has to be accepted by the Department and one that follows Graduate School requirements.
Final public oral (FPO) examination: After completion of an acceptable thesis, the candidate has a final public oral examination, in which the dissertation is presented and defended by the candidate.
The Ph.D. is awarded after the candidate’s doctoral dissertation has been accepted and the final public oral examination sustained.
The M.S.E. program has a strong research focus including coursework, culminating with the requirement of an M.S.E. thesis. The M.S.E. is usually completed within two academic years of full-time study. Financial support in the form of a research or a teaching assistantship may be available for students enrolled in this program.
The course requirements are fulfilled by successfully completing 10 one-semester courses, two of which are the required research courses (CEE 509 and CEE 510). The M.S.E. degree is usually completed within two academic years of full-time study.
The M.S.E. program has a strong research focus reflected in the requirement of a master’s thesis. By the second term of study, a committee consisting of the adviser and one additional faculty member is formed to guide and supervise the candidate's thesis research. Candidates must prepare and submit an acceptable thesis as well as present an open seminar on their research.
A Master of Engineering degree is offered to those students who are interested in the applied aspects of engineering and wish to prepare for professional practice and consulting. There is no research requirement for this degree program, and therefore it is essential that prospective students find a faculty mentor before applying. The M.Eng. degree is completed in one academic year of full-time study.
There is no financial support for students in this degree program. Students interested in research-focused degrees should choose to apply to the M.S.E. or Ph.D. degree programs instead, where financial support through teaching and research is available.
A student fulfills the requirements by successfully completing 8 one-semester courses. The coursework is intended to be at the graduate level (500), though specific undergraduate courses may be approved in advance by the student’s adviser and Director of Graduate Studies. No more than four courses may be taken at the undergraduate level. The average grade of all graduate courses in the student’s overall program of study must be 3.0 or better. All courses must be taken for a grade. Courses taken with a PDF or audit option will not be counted toward course requirements.
- Peter R. Jaffé (acting)
- Catherine A. Peters
Director of Graduate Studies
- Mark A. Zondlo
Director of Undergraduate Studies
- Branko Glisic
- Elie R. Bou-Zeid
- Michael A. Celia
- Maria E. Garlock
- Peter R. Jaffé
- Denise L. Mauzerall
- Reed M. Maxwell
- Catherine A. Peters
- Amilcare M. Porporato
- Anu Ramaswami
- Z. Jason Ren
- James A. Smith
- Sigrid M. Adriaenssens
- Branko Glisic
- Ning Lin
- Claire E. White
- Mark A. Zondlo
- Ian C. Bourg
- Luc Deike, Mechanical & Aerospace Eng
- Lars O. Hedin, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
- Marcus N. Hultmark, Mechanical & Aerospace Eng
- Michael G. Littman, Mechanical & Aerospace Eng
- Forrest M. Meggers, Architecture
- Satish C. Myneni, Geosciences
- Guy J.P. Nordenson, Architecture
- Tullis C. Onstott, Geosciences
- Bess Ward, Geosciences
- Gerard Wysocki, Electrical Engineering
- Thomas P. Roddenbery
Visiting Assistant Professor
- Edward M. Segal
- Serguei A. Bagrianski
- Michael W. Hopper
Courses listed below are graduate-level courses that have been approved by the program’s faculty as well as the Curriculum Subcommittee of the Faculty Committee on the Graduate School as permanent course offerings. Permanent courses may be offered by the department or program on an ongoing basis, depending on curricular needs, scheduling requirements, and student interest. Not listed below are undergraduate courses and one-time-only graduate courses, which may be found for a specific term through the Registrar’s website. Also not listed are graduate-level independent reading and research courses, which may be approved by the Graduate School for individual students.