Graduate Student FAQ’s
Information for Future Graduate Students:
Frequently asked questions about our department
1. What graduate degrees are offered?
The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering offers graduate programs of study and research leading to three degrees: Master of Civil Engineering, Master of Applied Sciences, and Doctor of Philosophy in Civil Engineering. Six areas of concentration are available:
- Coastal & ocean engineering
- Environmental engineering
- Geotechnical engineering
- Structural engineering
- Transportation Engineering & Civil Infrastructure Systems
- Water resources engineering
The two master’s degree program are similar in their core requirements but are designed for students with different background qualifications. Non-thesis options are available for both master’s degree programs in certain circumstances.
Master of Civil Engineering — The Master of Civil Engineering (MCE) degree is awarded to individuals who have previously earned an undergraduate degree in engineering, preferably civil or environmental engineering.
Master of Applied Sciences — Students whose undergraduate degrees are in non-engineering majors are awarded the Master of Applied Sciences (MAS) degree. The MAS degree is also an option for students who choose to utilize the elective courses in their degree programs to study other engineering or physical science disciplines (even if they were admitted with an undergraduate degree in engineering.
Doctor of Philosophy in Civil Engineering — The Ph.D. in Civil Engineering is aimed at training the graduate student in research within a chosen topic. Although it is possible for students to study toward a Ph.D. directly upon entering graduate school, most students choose to obtain the MCE or MAS degree first.
Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering and Public Policy — This research-oriented doctoral program focuses on the intersection of engineering and policy at all levels, local to global, including both the policy influences on engineering decisions and applications, and the policy impacts and implications of scientific and technical decisions.
Master of Science in Ocean Engineering and Doctor of Philosophy in Ocean Engineering — These degrees are offered through a cross-disciplinary program operated jointly by the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the College of Marine and Earth Studies. Students use physics and engineering to study contemporary research topics in coastal physical oceanography, coastal engineering, ocean acoustics, nearshore processes, environmental fluid dynamics, air-sea interactions and estuarine dynamics. This multidisciplinary academic program is designed to give students broad knowledge in Ocean Engineering as well as opportunities to focus on their desired area of expertise. The program is particularly appropriate for students with physics, mathematics, or engineering backgrounds.
Non-Thesis Options — Non-thesis master’s options are available for students concentrating in coastal engineering, environmental engineering, and structural engineering. These options are designed especially for students with relevant experience in industry whose employment precludes them from conducting the extensive research required for a master’s thesis. The objective of the non-thesis option is to allow these students to obtain an advanced degree of comparable quality and depth to the traditional master’s degree with thesis.
Through a program of coursework, non-thesis students can develop their engineering skills and obtain a state-of-the-art background within their chosen area of study. Students originally enrolled in the thesis master’s degree program may not transfer to the non-thesis option except under special circumstances and with the approval of their thesis advisor and the departmental Graduate Committee. Students selecting the non-thesis option are not eligible for financial support from the University.
For more details concerning the academic requirements for each degree program, consult the University of Delaware Graduate Catalog or our web pages outlining master’s and Ph.D. requirements.
2. What are the requirements for admission?
Applicants for admission to graduate study in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering are expected to have the following:
- A baccalaureate degree in the field or in a closely allied field of science or mathematics
- An undergraduate grade point average in engineering, science, and mathematics courses of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale
- A minimum of three letters of strong support from former teachers or supervisors
- A minimum combined (verbal and quantitative) score of 300 on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) Aptitude Test for Civil Engineering applicants and a minimum score of 308 for Ocean Engineering applicants.
- A minimum score of 550 on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) for students whose first language is not English and who have not received a degree from a college or university in which English is the sole language of instruction.
- The minimum IELTS (International English Language Testing System) score is a 6.5 overall with no individual sub-score below 6.0
Students considering entering the doctoral program directly must have completed any previous graduate study with at least a 3.5 grade point average and have clearly demonstrated a capacity for independent work. If a master’s thesis or other comprehensive work was written at another institution, a copy must be provided to the advisor soon after the student enrolls at Delaware.
Admission to the graduate program in civil engineering at the University of Delaware is selective and competitive based on the number of well qualified applicants and the limits of available faculty and facilities. Those who meet these minimum academic requirements are not guaranteed admission.
3. How do I apply?
You may apply for admission using the University of Delaware’s on-line graduate application. When writing your personal statement of objectives and interests, please indicate clearly which civil engineering concentration(s) you are most interested in pursuing: civil infrastructure systems, coastal, environmental/water resources, geotechnical, structural, or transportation.
Detailed instructions to guide you through the application process are available at the Office of Graduate Studies website. Applicants from outside the U.S. should be sure to review the special instructions for foreign students.
The CEE Department adheres to the general University of Delaware deadlines for admission:
- February 1 for Fall semester, consideration for assistantships/fellowships
- July 1 for Fall semester, final deadline
- October 1 for Spring semester, all applications
4. How should I choose an advisor and a research topic?
Upon admission to the CEE Department, each graduate student is required to choose an advisor who is close to his/her field of interest. However, the process of matching students with advisors often begins before an application is even submitted and continues throughout the admission cycle.
The number of graduate students a professor advises frequently depends upon the size and number of grants the professor has received in support of his or her research. As the faculty review graduate applications, they look for an excellent academic record. However, they also carefully read the applicants’ personal statements of objectives and interests in order to locate students whose goals, interests, and experiences mesh well with their current research projects.
Students with well-defined interests may also take the initiative by researching prospective advisors and contacting them prior to admission. The internet has facilitated this process, since most professors have e-mail and web pages describing their research interests. We encourage communication between prospective graduate students and our faculty, including personal visits to the University and the department whenever possible.
The advisor should be consulted in the planning of a program of study for each semester and, unless you are in a non-thesis master’s program, in the conduct of your research. By the end of your first year, you and your advisor will agree on your research topic. Often faculty will be looking for graduate students to assist with specific projects that are already well defined. However, there are also frequent opportunities for students to explore their own research questions.
Graduate study is individual in nature and requires frequent interaction between the student, the advisor, and other professors. Therefore, the personality of a potential advisor should be a consideration. Do you feel this is someone with whom you will be able to work comfortably? Visiting and communicating with the professor prior to enrollment will help you determine the answer to this question. You may also want to contact current graduate students in our program.
Your advisor may also be of assistance and provide counsel in non-curricular matters such as health, housing, language deficiencies, etc. When necessary, an advisor may counsel a student to alter his/her course of study, to review academic goals, or to terminate work at the University of Delaware. The chair of the CEE Department and the chair of the department’s Graduate Committee are available to complement the services of the advisor and may be consulted whenever the student feels it will be useful.
5. What courses will I take?
The traditional master’s and doctoral programs in the department are highly individualized programs allowing for a great degree of freedom in planning your curriculum. Together, you and your advisor will select classes that will provide breadth and depth in your education and support your research interests. You will likely draw not only from upper-division and graduate-level courses offered by the CEE Department, but also from other departments including Mathematics, Mechanical Engineering, Marine Studies, Geography, Urban Affairs and Public Policy, or Plant and Soil Sciences. For a full listing of available courses, consult the UD Graduate Catalog.
The non-thesis master’s degree options in coastal, environmental, and structural engineering have more specific course requirements
6. What kinds of financial assistance are available?
Two types of financial support are available from the CEE Department or the University of Delaware: research assistantships and fellowships.
Research Assistantships — Master’s and Ph.D. candidates are both eligible for research assistantships (excluding non-thesis master’s students). Research assistantships are offered by the department chair on the recommendation of individual faculty who have research funds available. Research assistantships are typically 12-month appointments and involve 20 hours per week of research.
Fellowships — Fellowships are competitive, merit-based awards. They are most often used to attract outstanding new applicants to the program, but some are available to second- and third-year students as well. There is no particular work required of students with fellowships, but good academic progress is expected.
Consideration for assistantships and fellowships is part of the admission process. You should indicate on your application form which types of funding you are interested in. No separate forms are required. Fellowships and teaching assistantships are offered by the department chair on the recommendation of the Graduate Committee. The committee usually meets in November and March to prioritize offers to be made in spring and fall, respectively. In order to be considered for these positions, your application should be received by October 1 for spring or February 1 for fall.
Students who hold appointments in the CEE Department are not permitted to accept other employment, within or outside of the University, during the period of appointment. This is necessary to ensure that a student does not undertake so much work that academic progress suffers. For master’s degree candidates, no more than two years of financial support will be provided from fellowships and teaching assistantships. For Ph.D. candidates, a maximum of three years of support of these two types will be provided beyond the master’s level. No long-term support is guaranteed for any student; awards are typically committed on a semester or yearly basis with further support based on the student’s satisfactory performance and the availability of research funding.
Students who are not offered fellowships or assistantships by the department or the University may, of course, seek funding elsewhere. Possible sources include fellowships sponsored by agencies such as the National Science Foundation, student loans, and part-time employment. Students who do not hold appointments in the department but who accept employment elsewhere are requested to keep their advisor informed of these circumstances.
More information on financial aid for graduate students is available from the UD Catalog and the section for prospective grad students on the UD Graduate College website.