Doctoral Program (PhD)

Faculty member Andreas Stavridis talks to graduate students in the Structural Engineering and Earthquake Simulation lab.

The Department offers two doctor of philosophy (PhD) Programs: one in Civil Engineering and one in Environmental and Water Resources Engineering. Each program requires students to develop a dissertation that communicates the results of original research at a high level of scholarship.

On this page:

Degree Requirements

Both PhD programs consist of three elements:

  • a program of graduate coursework
  • written and oral qualifying examinations
  • successful defense of an approved doctoral dissertation

The PhD program consists of 72 credit hours beyond a bachelor’s degree, including up to 36 credit hours from the previous  MS degree, 12 to 30 credit hours of dissertation, and at least  12 hours of coursework (most students complete substantially more courses) . Regardless of the number of assigned credit hours, approval the  dissertation is based on rigor, originality, and a substantial contribution to the field of study.

Each program of coursework is formulated by the student and his/her advisor at the beginning of the doctoral program. Core course requirements, as specified below, can be satisfied through doctoral classes or MS classes completed previously.  Elective courses are selected from an approved list that is particular to each degree and program concentration, including CSEE classes and courses from other Departments.

Additional detail concerning the PhD program requirements can be found in the Graduate Studies Manual (PDF).

Doctoral Research and Coursework

PhD programs are tailored for the needs of each student. Research topics are dependent upon the research insterests of the faculty advisor. Please visit CSEE Research for more information on our research sections.

See the CSEE Graduate Courses page for descriptions of individual courses available within the Department. Doctoral students are encouraged to enroll in courses offered outside of CSEE, as well. 

Core Curriculum

CSEE maintains a basic core requirement for civil engineering MS and PhD degree candidates consisting of one of two courses in mathematics and one of two courses in mechanics, either fluids or solids.

The courses comprising the core are selected to ensure that advanced degree recipients from the department have knowledge in the basic mechanics and mathematics that are the "fundamental language" of civil engineering.

The only exception to this rule is when a student can demonstrate that he/she has already taken an equivalent course before coming to UB. In this case the student should take an alternative course, as specified by the Graduate Studies Committee.

While high performance in all graduate work is important, excellent grades in core courses are particularly significant in the faculty's assessment of a student's potential to pursue a PhD.

The current core program is as follows

Civil Engineering

Technical Concentrations

PhD in Civil Engineering students may choose one of the following technical concentrations:

Research in computational engineering mechanics involves the application of the fundamental principles of solid and fluid mechanics to a variety of emerging engineering problems, using state-of-the-science numerical algorithms and high-performance computing technology.
Research in geotechnical engineering addresses computational geomechanics, deep foundations, ground improvement, seismic response of soils, liquefaction, and retrofit of foundations, dams, slopes, and retaining walls.
The goal of research in earthquake engineering is to enhance the seismic resiliency of communities through improved engineering and management tools for critical infrastructure systems.
Research in transportation systems engineering focuses on improving the efficiency, safety, sustainability, and resiliency of surface transportation systems.

Environmental and Water Resources Engineering

Students in the EWRE programs develop a deep understanding of the physical, chemical and biological processes that influence human health and the environment. PhD students apply this knowledge to develop innovative engineering solutions for pollution prevention and treatment, environmental restoration, and sustainable resource management. In addition, PhD students conduct original research to expand the scientific knowledge base and support innovation in engineering practice. Students from both programs acquire a comprehensive understanding of contemporary issues in EWRE, eventually pursuing research and consulting careers in academia, government and industry.

Research in environmental engineering seeks to better understand the physical, chemical, and biological processes that influence the health of our environment and to pursue innovative solutions for its protection.