The University of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Transportation Degree Programs

Degrees Offered:

Masters Degree

The Master of Science degree program in Transportation Engineering is designed to provide students with strong technical foundations applicable to a wide range of transportation engineering projects.  It can typically be completed in 3 semesters, or in a calendar year for students opting to work on a project or thesis during the summer.  The program welcomes students with a bachelor's degree in engineering or a related field from an accredited program.

Degree Requirements

All Master's degree candidates must earn a minimum of 31 graduate credits from required courses, electives, and the choice of completing a Master’s Project, a Master’s Thesis, or a Coursework-only option.  UMass is committed to providing a strong educational foundation in three primary emphasis areas within transportation engineering: planning, design, and traffic operations.  The curriculum provides students opportunities for advanced learning in specific areas of transportation engineering through elective courses and independent study. The degree requirements for the Master of Science are as follows:

1. Core Transportation Engineering Courses (10 credits)

  • CEE 509 Transportation System Analysis (3 credits)
  • CEE 511 Traffic Engineering (3 credits)
  • CEE 516 Transportation Design (3 credits)
  • CEE 695A Transportation Seminar (1 credit)

2. Transportation Engineering Program Electives (6 credits)

  • Two CEE 600-level courses, not including project or thesis credits (6 credits)

3. General Electives (9 credits)

  • Three 500 or 600-level courses from CEE or on a related topic from any department, subject to advisor’s approval (9 credits)

4. Research or Coursework Option (6 credits)

  • Option A (Research): Master’s Project (6 credits of CEE 698)
  • Option B (Research): Master’s Thesis (6 credits of CEE 699)
  • Option C (Coursework): Two CEE 600-level courses (6 credits)

Course Offerings in the Transportation Engineering Program:

  • Core Courses
    • CEE 509 Transportation System Analysis
    • CEE 511 Traffic Engineering
    • CEE 516 Transportation Design
  • Elective Courses
    • CEE 510 Public Transportation Systems
    • CEE 518 Intelligent Transportation Systems
    • CEE 520 Traffic Flow Theory and Simulation I
    • CEE 521/697F Traffic Flow Theory and Simulation II
    • CEE 522 Signalized Intersections and Systems
    • CEE 597A Application of Unmanned Aerial Systems
    • CEE 597S/697G Transportation Sustainability
    • CEE 610 Transportation Analysis and Planning
    • CEE 611 Transportation Investment and Pricing Analysis
    • CEE 612 Transportation Planning and Policy Analysis
    • CEE 614 Advanced Concepts in Traffic Safety
    • CEE 697L Freight and Logistics Systems
    • CEE 697M Big Data and Machine Learning for Engineers
    • CEE 697PT Advanced Public Transportation and Mobility
  • Seminars
    • CEE 695A Transportation Seminar (1 credit)
    • CEE 793D Transportation Doctoral Seminar (1 credit)

Students should meet with their Advisor to determine which option is appropriate for their goals. Courses from the list of Transportation Engineering Program electives and relevant courses from other departments at UMass can be grouped to create an inter-disciplinary track related to an area of interest. Registration for the weekly 1-hour Transportation Seminar (CEE 695A) is required, and attendance at the seminar is required throughout the graduate program. No more than 6 credits of independent study (CEE 696) can be applied to the Master’s Degree.

Specific requirements for the Project option or Thesis option can be found in the Regulations Governing The M.S. and Ph.D. Programs in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. All other requirements established by the Graduate School or the University must be satisfied.

Master's Examination

All Master's candidates selecting one of the research options must pass an Examination that consists primarily of presenting and defending the Project or Thesis, and may include broader examination of Transportation Engineering knowledge. The Examination is conducted by the student's Committee. At the discretion of the Committee Chair, a portion of the examination may be closed to all but faculty members. Approval by all Committee members is required to pass the examination.

Degree Completion

Specific requirements pertaining to the Degree Application/Eligibility Form can be found in Regulations Governing The M.S. and Ph.D. Programs of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Graduate Data Information and Graduate Student Check-Out List forms are included in Appendix D and E, respectively.

Online Opportunities

The Master’s degree requirements can be completed online through the University Without Walls (UWW).  Any courses completed online will receive the same credit toward degree completion as courses taken on campus.  Online course offerings are being expanded with the goal to make it possible to possible to complete all of the degree requirements remotely.

Ph.D. Degree

Applicants may be admitted to the Ph.D. program upon the successful completion of a Bachelor’s or Master's Degree in a related field.  The graduate student and Advisor should consult and follow the CEE Department manual (Regulations Governing the M.S. and Ph.D. Programs of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering) regarding requirements and regulations pertaining to the Ph.D. degree. Information on Degree requirements, Committees, Examinations, etc., is described in the manual.

Credit Requirements
Course Credits. The Transportation Engineering Program requires a minimum of 12 credits of approved coursework beyond the requirements of the M.S. degree. The Ph.D. candidate's program includes courses from both the major and supporting areas; however, the specific breakdown and exact number of credits required is left up to the discretion of the Ph.D. Committee. "Supporting area" may actually involve coursework in one or more academic programs outside of transportation engineering. Examples include Industrial Engineering (human factors), Regional Planning, Business, Math, Statistics, Operations Research, etc. In addition, all Ph.D. students are expected to attend the Transportation Seminar (CEE 695A) each semester they are in residence, although formal registration for the course can only take place during one semester.  Ph.D. students are also encouraged to attend the Transportation Doctoral Seminar (CEE 793D).

The goal is for the Ph.D. student to support his or her research and career plans with additional coursework deemed appropriate by the Ph.D. Committee. Typically, at least six (6) of these credits are devoted to a "research skill" such as statistics, numerical methods, or advanced computer programming.

Dissertation Credits. The CEE Department and Transportation Engineering Program requirements for dissertation credits are the same, but are described here for your convenience. A minimum of 18 Dissertation credits (CEE 899 Doctoral Dissertation) must be earned in addition to the minimum of 12 credits of coursework specified above. A student may not register for CEE 899 until he/she has passed the Comprehensive Examination.

Preliminary Comprehensive Exam
The Preliminary Comprehensive Examination is scheduled for students as soon as possible following completion of the required 12 credits of coursework. A written portion with questions from Transportation Engineering Group faculty covering the three core areas of the program: systems, design, and operations; and a fourth question provided by the Advisor.  The written portion is followed by an oral portion in which that examiners can ask follow up questions about the written portion or about the other transportation knowledge.

Ph.D. Committee
After passing the Comprehensive Examination, the Ph.D. student must select a Dissertation Committee. The committee is composed of at least three Graduate Faculty members: your Advisor, who will be recommended as Chairperson; at least one other faculty member from the Transportation Engineering program; and at least one member from outside the UMass CEE Department. Committee composition should be discussed with your Advisor before selection.

Dissertation Prospectus Defense
The Ph.D. Dissertation Prospectus Defense is administered by the candidate’s Advisor.  The defense is scheduled after successful completion of the Comprehensve Examination and at least 7 months prior to the Dissertation Defense.  The student prepares a written Dissertation Prospectus, which is distributed to the committee in advance of the defense.  The student will present the Prospectus in a formal presentation. The student will then respond to oral questions from the committee. The Prospectus Defense is expected to last about two hours.

A passing grade must be earned from all committee members. If on the first attempt the student does not pass, the committee will direct the student to make changes to the Dissertation Prospectus and reschedule the Defense.

Dissertation Defense
After completion of the written Dissertation and with approval of the candidate's Advisor, a Dissertation Defense will be scheduled with the Ph.D. Committee.  The defense is a public formal oral presentation for the dissertation.

Teaching and Service

All Transportation Engineering Ph.D. students are encouraged to obtain teaching experience as part of their education. Each student should talk to their Advisor about having the opportunity to present lectures in appropriate courses. In addition, the Transportation Engineering Program has a philosophy of having everyone work together to help the program. In this regard, Ph.D. students are occasionally called upon to help with program activities.


All Transportation Engineering Ph.D. students are encouraged to write and publish one or more conference and/or peer-reviewed papers during their Ph.D. program. Each student should consult with their Advisor to identify publishing opportunities. Every effort will be made to obtain financial assistance to send students to conferences and meetings in which a paper written by the student has been selected for presentation. Students will be strongly encouraged to attend professional meetings and conferences.

Ph.D. Summary

The Ph.D. degree has the following requirements:

  • 12 credit hours of graduate coursework, minimum
  • 18 credit hours of dissertation (CEE 899)
  • One (1) credit hour of Transportation Seminar (CEE695A)
  • Passage of a Preliminary Comprehensive Examination
  • Passage of a Dissertation Prospectus Defense
  • One year of residency (2 consecutive full-time semesters on campus)
  • Completed Dissertation
  • Passage of Dissertation Defense (Final Oral Examination) 

Dual Degree Option: Master of Regional Planning/Master of Science in Civil Engineering (Transportation)

For those students interested in an interdisciplinary education that will provide them with strong foundations in the closely connected fields of transportation engineering and regional planning, the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Department of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning offer an M.S.C.E./M.R.P. dual master’s degree.  The dual degree program provides students with a solid background in engineering along with understanding of the social, political, regulatory, and economics factors in preparation for careers in related fields.

This 66-credit program (30 credits in Civil Engineering’s Transportation Program and 36 credits in Regional Planning) allows students to complete two degrees in two years (plus summers).  Students complete the required courses for the M.S.C.E. in Transportation Engineering, with the 1-credit Transportation Engineering Seminar requirement waived.  Students complete the requirements for the M.R.P., with the core engineering courses counting for the M.R.P. concentration requirement.  Students will also fulfill the joint requirements for M.S.C.E. Thesis, Project, or 2-course option and M.R.P. Thesis, Project, or 3-Course Option on a topic of relevance to both programs.  A student pursues a Thesis or Project in one program and course option in the other or completes the course option in both programs.

Applicants must meet the respective admission standards for each program. The GRE is required for the M.S.C.E. degree and is admissible for M.R.P. admissions as well. Students submit only one application, which is reviewed by both programs. Applicants must be accepted to both programs to enter the M.S.C.E./M.R.P. dual degree program.

Additional information regarding M.R.P. program options is available in the Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning section of this Bulletin. Additional information concerning the M.S.C.E. degree is available in the Civil and Environmental Engineering section of this Bulletin.