The University of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Massachusetts Amherst

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SEM Degree Programs

The Structural Engineering and Mechanics group (SEM) within the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at UMass offers study in the traditional areas of Structural Engineering and Structural Mechanics including coursework in structural analysis, structural stability, structural dynamics, finite element analysis, structural design, material modeling, and probability concepts in mechanics. Faculty members in the group collaborate often with faculty from other groups including mechanical engineering, building materials and wood technology, architecture, and polymer science and engineering. The background and interests of the faculty and the diversity of available coursework throughout the Department of Civil Engineering and the University allows students to design a program of study to meet individual career goals.

M.S. and Ph.D. degrees are offered in the group. The SEM group primarily offers classes during the morning and afternoon; evening classes (after 6:00 pm) are not typically offered.

Download the SEM Graduate Student Handbook


M.S. Degree (Research Option)

M.S. Coursework Option

Ph.D. Degree

M.S. Research Option

The principal objective of the Master's degree program in Structural Engineering and Mechanics is to prepare individuals for careers as engineers in industry, government or education. This objective is achieved through a program carefully prepared by the student and his/her advisor. The basic understanding of structural behavior and fundamental structural mechanics is obtained from a core of required basic courses in the discipline. In addition to the core courses, elective courses are offered that allow individuals to tailor to their professional goals and individual interests. The M.S. Research Option focuses on developing research skills by conducting a research project on a topic that is relevant and current to the field. The student must complete a research thesis as a requirement of this option.

The following list summarizes core courses offered by the SEM group. These courses are part of the core classes required to fulfill requirements for an M.S. Degree:

A.  Structural design classes

  • CEE 536 Advanced Topics in Concrete Design
  • CEE 542 Advanced Topics in Steel Design
  • CEE 550 Introduction to Bridge Engineering
  • CEE 646 Seismic Design

B.  Structural analysis and mechanics classes

  • CEE 535 Matrix Analysis of Structures
  • CEE 541 Structural Dynamics
  • CEE 549 Structural Stability
  • CEE 605 Finite Element Analysis
  • CEE 615 Probability Methods in Structural Mechanics
  • CEE 630 Advanced Solid Mechanics
  • CEE 631 Civil Engineering Analysis

M.S. students pursuing the Research Option must complete:

  • Fifteen (15) credit hours from courses listed above, with at least two from Group A and two from Group B.
  • Nine (9) credit hours of elective classes within or outside the SEM group.
  • CEE 694B and CEE 693B (Structural Engineering Seminar) throughout the duration of their degree
  • Six (6) credit hours of Master's Research Project (thesis).  Please consult the SEM Graduate Student Handbook for details.

All courses are selected from available electives in consultation with the student's faculty advisor. Download the MS & PhD Course Selection Agreement

M.S. Coursework Option - Additional Degree Requirements

Instead of completing six (6) credit hours of Masters Thesis, students pursing the M.S. Coursework Option must complete the following:

  • Six (6) additional credit hours (for a total of 15) of elective classes with a maximum of 3 classes (9 credits) outside the SEM group.

All courses are selected from available electives in consultation with the student's faculty advisor. Download the MS & PhD Course Selection Agreement

Ph.D. Degree

The main objective of the Ph.D. degree in Structural Engineering and Mechanics is to provide advanced study in a specific area related to Structural Engineering and Mechanics in preparation for a research career in industry, academia or national laboratories. Emphasis is placed on developing the candidate’s ability to conduct independent research in in a new area of inquiry. It is expected that the Ph.D. candidate will produce work that is considered to become a significant contribution to the profession through the advancement of knowledge in the field.

  • The number of courses required to obtain a Ph.D. degree depends on the individual’s background. Students pursuing a Ph.D. degree have often completed a number of graduate classes as part of the requirements for an M.S. degree. Those students entering the Ph.D. program without having completed an M.S degree will be required to take a minimum number of classes at the graduate level equivalent to those required of Masters students. Further classes will be determined in consultation with the research advisor and would typically be focused to the research problem being solved for the Ph.D.
  • The requirements for the Ph.D degree include (consult Graduate Student Handbook for classes):
    • 18 credit hours of dissertation credits.
    • Preliminary Comprehensive Examination to demonstrate general breadth of knowledge in Structural Engineering and Mechanics.
    • One year in residency.
    • Dissertation Prospectus.
    • Dissertation Defense
  • Please consult the SEM Graduate Student Handbook for additional details. All courses are selected from available electives in consultation with the student's faculty advisor. Download the MS & PhD Course Selection Agreement