The University of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Graduate Program & Degree Requirements

Graduate Program Director:

Dr. Caitlyn Butler, 

The Civil and Environmental Engineering Department (CEE) at the UMass Amherst College of Engineering awards M.S. and Ph.D. degrees with programs of study in four specialized engineering disciplines:

Each program area provides focused study at the graduate level, though there is a high degree of exchange and cooperation among the disciplines. Faculty research interests include: pharmaceutical contaminants in drinking water, climate risk management, earthquake engineering, green building technologies, intelligent transportation systems, transportation systems modeling, transportation safety, and sustainable water resources planning and management. We are renowned for interdisciplinary scientific research, including collaborations with the departments of Architecture, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Geosciences, Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, Microbiology, School of Management, and the School of Public Health.

M.S. Degree

Master's degree students concentrate in one of four program areas: Environmental and Water Resources, Geotechnical, Structural Engineering and Mechanics, and Transportation. The masters program prepares students for careers in industry, government, consulting, or for further study at the doctoral level.  See each graduate program for specific degree requirement details.

Primary Requirements

  • Coursework: 31 credits are required for the masters degree. Masters students complete core classes specific to each area, with at least 12 credits of upper-level (600-800) courses and a 1 credit seminar. Masters students pursuing the research option must complete a thesis or project, which will fulfill 6 required upper-level course credits through CE-Engin 689. Specific course requirements vary by program area.
  • Thesis or Project: Masters degree students pursuing the research option complete their degree with either an Engineering Project or a Thesis; these masters candidates must pass an oral examination (also known as a defense) conducted by a committee consisting of at least two members of the graduate faculty.

Please note: The coursework-only option is intended to be completed in one year and does not include a thesis or project.

Timeline for M.S. Program (with thesis/project)

  • First Semester: Appoint advisor, prepare program of study.
  • End of First Year: Select thesis/project committee.
  • 4 Months Prior to Defense: Prepare thesis outline, determine date of defense.
  • 2-4 Weeks Prior to Defense: Deliver thesis/project to committee.
  • After Defense: Make corrections.  MS Thesis students must submit their thesis to the Graduate School and provide copies for the CEE Department.  MS Project students must submit a PDF copy on a CD and provide copies for the CEE Department.

Ph.D. Degree

The doctoral program is intended to prepare the student for a research career in industry, academia or national laboratories. Academic background, research topic, and career plans are tailored to an individual student's needs as determined by the academic advisor, the Ph.D. Committee, and primary requirements of the degree.  See each graduate program for specific degree requirement details.

Primary Requirements

  • Coursework: Required coursework for Ph.D. students varies between program areas; please consult the degree requirements for each program area.  The academic curriculum includes courses from both major and supporting academic areas. Ph.D. students work closely with their academic advisor to ensure coursework requirements are met.
  • Preliminary Comprehensive Examination:  Ph.D. candidates take an exam administered by faculty in their program (the PhD Committee). The exam consists of both written and oral portions.
  • Dissertation Prospectus: Ph.D. students prepare a written proposal that includes a preliminary literature review and describes the research to be conducted, analyzed, and presented in the dissertation. The prospectus is presented to the Dissertation Committee.
  • Dissertation: The Ph.D. program culminates in the dissertation, a written account of the original research performed by the candidate. Ph.D. candidates must pass an oral examination (also known as a defense) conducted by the Dissertation Committee.

Please note: A minimum residency of one academic year as a full-time student is required for all candidates.

Timeline for PhD Program

  • First Semester: Appoint advisor, prepare program of study.
  • End of First Year: Register for dissertation credits, establish Ph.D. committee.
  • 2nd-4th Semester:  Take preliminary comprehensive exam (specific timing should be determined in coordination with Program Coordinator and Ph.D. advisor).
  • 7 Months Prior to Defense: Defend dissertation prospectus.
  • 2-4 Weeks Prior to Defense: Distribute dissertation draft to dissertation committee, notify Graduate Program Office of defense date.
  • After Defense: Make corrections to dissertation and submit to the Graduate School and also provide copies for the CEE Department.

To speak with someone about the Graduate Program, email or contact Jodi Ozdarski at 413-545-0686.

Accelerated M.S. program in Civil Engineering

The Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering is happy to offer students majoring in CEE at UMass Amherst the opportunity to apply for admission to an accelerated M.S. program.  The program allows students to transfer up to 9 credits of graduate level coursework from their undergraduate years provided those credits are not used to satisfy bachelor’s degree requirements.  Application is made in the spring of junior year and admission is typically offered to students with GPA’s in the top 33% of their class, contingent upon completion of a full application and obtaining letters of recommendation from 2 CEE faculty members.  Students who meet the GPA criterion will be invited to apply during the spring of junior year.   Other students may inquire about application.  The GRE exam requirement is waived for UMass Amherst CEE students applying to the accelerated M.S. program.