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.
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 308 on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) Aptitude Test for Ocean Engineering applicants. For all other applicants, the GRE is not required for admission; it is an optional component of the application.
- A minimum score of 79 for internet-based or 550 for paper-based exam 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. Additional information is available on the Graduate Admissions website.
- 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: coastal, environmental, geotechnical, structural, transportation engineering & civil infrastructure systems, or water resources.
Detailed instructions to guide you through the application process are available at the Graduate College website. Applicants from outside the U.S. should be sure to review the special instructions for international students.
The CEE Department adheres to the general University of Delaware application deadlines for admission:
- February 1 for Fall semester, with full 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.