Ph.D. - Civil Engineering 

There are two basic requirements for an applicant to meet:

  1. An applicant must exhibit unmistakable evidence of penetrating mastery of a rather broad major field; such evidence is ordinarily provided by a General Examination, after which the applicant may request admission to candidacy.
  2. A candidate must prove an ability to complete a significant program of original research by preparing a dissertation embodying creative scholarship and by passing a rigorous Final Examination. The dissertation must add to the sum of existing knowledge and it must be presented with considerable literary skill.

All students are strongly encouraged to review and follow the PhD in Civil Engineering Program Checklist.

Qualifying Examination

The qualifying examination is to be scheduled preferably during the first semester after the master’s degree is awarded or by the end of the first year of full time study for a student not pursuing a master’s degree. A Qualifying Examination consists of a written examination and/or an oral examination administered by the PhD Advisory Committee to test the student's knowledge and capacity to pursue a doctoral degree in their respective research area. Generally, a graduate student is not formally admitted into the departments Ph.D. program until a qualifying examination has been passed. 


Students become applicants for the doctorate by passing the qualifying examination, being accepted by their major department (Civil and Environmental Engineering) and their minor department or concentration area, and having their program approved by the Graduate Council.

Advisory Committee

The student’s advisory committee is charged with administering all phases of the student’s Ph.D. program towards the doctorate degree. The student, in consultation with the major professor, will recommend the members of the advisory committee to the department. After approval by the CEGPC, the chair of the CEE department will nominate the approved advisory committee to the Graduate School for appointment by the dean of the Graduate School. In forming the advisory committee, the following requirements apply:

  • At least three (3) members of the Graduate Faculty, including the major professor (who is the chair of the committee) should comprise the student's advisory committee. (To view a list of graduate faculty for our department, go to the Graduate School website for a complete list).
  • The Major Professor, who acts as chair or co-chair, must be from the CEE department.
  • If either an adjunct or a non-tenure track faculty member is the major professor, a full-time tenured or tenure track graduate faculty member from the CEE department must co-chair the committee. In such cases, the chair of the advisory committee must be a Full or Associate member of Graduate Faculty. The co-chair can be an Affiliate member or administratively approved to serve on the committee.
  • At least one-half (1/2) of the graduate faculty on doctoral committees must be full-time tenured or tenure-track faculty at LSU.
  • A minimum of 2 of those faculty members must be from the CEE department and at least one of whom must be a full member of the LSU graduate faculty.
  • At least 2 faculty members must be full members of the Graduate Faculty. 
  • The remaining members may be from the CEE department or may be from outside the department if pertinent to the student's area of concentration, with the proviso that at least one of the remaining members must be a full member of the graduate faculty.
  • No more than one non-graduate faculty requiring administrative approval can serve on a student’s Advisory Committee.
  • Any declared outside minors require representation, either among the first 3 members of the committee or by additional appointments to the committee.
  • The Dean of the Graduate School appoints a member of the graduate faculty to serve on doctoral general and final examination committees (Dean's Representative). The name and contact information of this Dean's Rep will be advised to the CEE Graduate Program Coordinator who will forward the email to both the student and the student's advisor. The student is then responsible for contacting the Dean's Rep.
  • All committee members must be Full, Associate, Affiliate members of Graduate Faculty or administratively approved to serve on the committee. 

Graduate Degree Program Form

By the end of their first year and definitely before the start of their second year , students should work with their faculty advisor to map out their course work. To do this, students must complete and submit the G101 Graduate Degree Program.

A student's plan of study is subject to the following requirements:

  1. Students with a bachelor's degree are required to earn a minimum of forty-two (42) credit hours of course work plus one (1) credit hour for the CE 7750 seminar course, exclusive of thesis and dissertation credit. These should be graduate credit courses taught by members of the graduate faculty (for a list of civil engineering graduate faculty, go to the Graduate School website). Not less than 21 credit hours of these hours should be in civil engineering subjects. At least one-half of the minimum required graduate course work must be at or above the 7000 level. Full time graduate students should register for the one credit hour seminar class (CE 7750) each and every semester, if required by their program group. Part time graduate students are required to register for this seminar only in their graduating semester. Only one hour of CE 7750 may be applied to satisfy the course requirements.
  2. Students entering a Ph.D. program with a Master's degree from LSU or another institution must take a minimum of eighteen (18) credit hours of course work plus one (1) credit hour for the CE 7750 seminar course,  exclusive of thesis and dissertation credit. Not less than 9 credit hours of these hours should be in civil engineering subjects. Subject to approval of the advisory committee and the Department through the CEGPC, students transferring from doctoral programs of other institutions can transfer a maximum of 6 credit hours of course work.
  3. Students should select an area of concentration in one of the traditional areas of civil engineering (i.e., environmental engineering, water resources, geotechnical engineering, structures, mechanics of materials, transportation).
  4. After the students advisory committee has approved the program, the student or student's faculty advisor must submit both forms to the Graduate Program Coordinator, who will route the form(s) for CEGPC and Department approval.
  5. Students should also select six hours of graduate work to provide them with a tool such as computer science, mathematics, geology , etc.

General Examination and Doctoral Degree Audit

  1. This examination will be administered only after the candidate has substantially completed all course work (not earlier than the last semester of course work), has satisfactorily completed the language requirements and has prepared the dissertation proposal.
  2. The Request for Doctoral General Exam form is to be filed with the Graduate School via the Graduate Program Coordinator at least three (3) weeks prior to date of the General Examination. This form can be found on the Graduate School website.
  3. At the same time that the Request for Doctoral General Exam form is submitted, students should also submit a Doctoral Degree Audit form. This form can be found on the Graduate School website.
  4. A dissertation proposal (which should include the cover page G103 Master's and Ph.D. Proposal Form) should be submitted at the same time of the Request for Doctoral General Exam. (see information below regarding preparing the proposal)
  5. The general examination will be both written and oral in form. Part of the oral presentation will be the students proposal for his/ her dissertation.
  6. The students advisory committee will meet to decide the result of the written examination before the oral examination is given. No more than one member of the committee should be dissenting in deciding the acceptance of the student for candidacy.  

Dissertation and Final Examination

A principal part of the students Ph.D. program is the dissertation. Each candidate must meet the following requirements:

  1. Submit a formal proposal no later than the time of the general examination. Preparation and typing of the dissertation proposal is the responsibility of the student. Dissertation proposal format should include:

    Cover Page (Form G103)
    Abstract (not more than 200 words)
    Literature Review
    Scope of Study (state limitations)
    Work Plan and Schedule

    It is expected that an informative dissertation proposal showing students interest, background and general grasp of the project will not be less than 5 and not more than 20 double spaced typed pages. Dissertation research proposals, for unfunded research, must include an estimate of computer and/or other costs associated with fulfilling the objectives of the project. Students should review this matter with their advisers so that a reasonable estimate of the cost can be included in the proposal. The dissertation proposal will be considered for approval at the time of the general examination
  2. Students should plan to review the progress of their dissertation research periodically with their advisory committee.
  3. The Request for Doctoral Final Examination form (found on the Graduate School website) is to be filed with the Graduate School via the Graduate Program Coordinator at least three (3) weeks prior to the date of the Final Examination or (if a student plans to graduate that semester) no later than the semester deadline set by the Graduate School (see graduate school calendar).
  4. Copies of the thesis must be in the hands of the student's examination committee at least three (3) weeks prior to the scheduled Master's Examination
  5. An "S" or "U" will be awarded as the final grade for the dissertation. This grade is not averaged into the students semester or cumulative average.
  6. The student is responsible for providing a finalized bound version of the dissertation to the members of his/her advisory committee and the Department. The copy submitted to the Graduate School should be unbound.


  1. Qualifying Examination: Only under the most unusual circumstances may the student be permitted to retake the qualifying examination, and then only once.
  2. General Examination: Both written and oral parts of the general examination can be repeated once. Satisfactory completion of the written examination is prerequisite to scheduling the oral examination.

General Exam

The General Exam for Ph.D. students can be revalidated subject to the following guidelines.

  • Following an oral or written examination the student's graduate committee, excluding the Graduate School representative may approve by majority vote the revalidation of the general exam.
  • The student's graduate committee then recommends the revalidation of the general exam including proof of progress to the CEGPC for approval and transmittal to the Graduate School.
  • The general exam may be revalidated for a period of two years.