Doctor of Philosophy in Civil Engineering
Requirements and Procedures
This document describes the principal requirements and procedures to be followed by students pursuing the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree in Civil Engineering. In addition to the policies and procedures described in the "Academic Regulations" section of the Lawrence Technological University Graduate Catalog, students in the PhD program are also required to meet the requirements set forth below for admission, matriculation, and graduation. Students with questions should seek assistance from the Director of Civil Engineering Graduate Programs.
Students applying for admission to the PhD in Civil Engineering program are required to meet the following criteria:
- Have Civil Engineering background at undergraduate level. Students with non-Civil Engineering backgrounds may only be considered on a case-by-case basis under very exceptional circumstances.
- Hold a Master of Science degree in Civil Engineering or an equivalent from an accredited college or university. Exceptional students with an earned Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering may be considered for direct admission into the Doctoral program.
- Have earned an overall GPA of at least 3.3 on a 4.0 scale in the Master degree. Students with lower GPA's may be accepted on a provisional basis as described below.
- Provide official transcripts of all completed college work.
- Submit a graduate Application Form (minimum two months before beginning of the term expected to enroll).
- Submit three letters of recommendation from academic professors who have directly evaluated the student’s academic performance during previous degrees.
- Submit a research statement describing subject(s) of interest. This statement MUST INCLUDE the intended area of specialization within Civil Engineering.
- Submit up to date professional resume.
- Non-native speakers of English must document English proficiency upon entry to the program (TOEFL minimum 550 or IELTS minimum 6.0).
Students with a graduate GPA lower than 3.3 may be admitted on a provisional basis. They are evaluated for continuation upon completion of nine (9) credits of graduate coursework at LTU. This evaluation is conducted by the Director of Civil Engineering Graduate Programs, the Chair of Civil Engineering Department and the Associated Dean of Graduate Studies and Research. The Department Chair will notify the student of the outcome. If a student is not permitted to continue work toward the PhD then the student is expected to terminate studies within the Department. The student may petition the decision to the Doctoral Governance Committee of the College of Engineering (COE) within one week of decision letter. The decision of the Doctoral Governance Committee is final.
Students with an engineering master’s degree in a field other than civil engineering who have a GPA of at least 3.3 on a 4.0 scale may be admitted on a provisional basis. The graduate program director and program adviser(s) will define the prerequisite requirements.
Summary of Degree Requirements
Students admitted to PhD in Civil Engineering program have to earn a minimum of 24 course credits (beyond the Master degree) and 36 dissertation credits to satisfy degree requirements. Additionally students must pass: (a) a PhD Qualifying Examination; (b) a Proposal Examination and (c) a Dissertation Defense.
Students admitted to the program are defined as “PhD Applicants” until they pass the Proposal Examination at which time they are considered “PhD Candidates.” PhD Candidates must complete one year residency as part of the degree requirements, i.e. as a PhD Candidate, the student must complete a minimum of one year (or equivalent) of research in the Lawrence Tech campus environment.
Course credits are subjected to following limitations:
- Maximum of 9 credits from 5000 level civil engineering courses
- Minimum of 15 credits from 6000 and higher level courses
- Maximum of 9 credits from 6000 and higher level courses from other departments
- Maximum of 3 Civil Engineering Independent Research courses (i.e. ECE7993)
- 6 credits of 4000 and higher level courses in mathematics, probability, statistics or programming
- English as Second Language (ESL) and any required prerequisite course credits are not counted towards the degree
Descriptions of all graduate courses offered by the Department of Civil Engineering are provided in the Civil Engineering Graduate Course Descriptions brochure. Students are required to consult the Director of Civil Engineering Graduate Programs in selecting courses not offered by the Department of Civil Engineering. Students are not allowed to register for any dissertation credits until they have passed the Qualifying Examination.
Credit Transfer Policy
Lawrence Tech allows the transfer of a maximum of 6 credits of qualified graduate level coursework from other institutions. Transfer courses must have been taken within the past five years and passed with a “B” grade or better. An applicant transferring from another institution with special circumstances will be evaluated on a case by case basis.
Students admitted to the PhD in Civil Engineering program may select from one of the following civil engineering specializations:
- Construction Engineering and Management
- Environmental and Water Resources Engineering
- Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering
- Structural Engineering and Materials
Selection decision will also depend on students’ background during their MS in Civil Engineering. Those who have not been adequately exposed to the selected specialization are required to enroll in additional courses to bridge the gap. Depending on the specialization selected, each student is assigned to an Advisor who will guide and advise the student throughout the process.
PhD Qualifying Examination
To become eligible to take the Qualifying Examination, the PhD Applicants must have completed a minimum of 12 credit hours beyond the Master degree and have a GPA of 3.3 or better in graduate course work at Lawrence Tech. With special permission from the Director of Civil Engineering Graduate Programs, students may include up to 3 credits of Civil Engineering Independent Research.
It is the Applicant’s responsibility to initiate the process by making a written request to appear for the Qualifying Exam. Eligibility for the Qualifying Exam is determined by the Director of Civil Engineering Graduate Programs and the Doctoral Governance Committee after reviewing the student's academic performance.
The examination will ordinarily be given as soon as the student is eligible and should be taken no later than 12 months after admission as a PhD Applicant. If the student does not meet this requirement, the student must petition the Director of the Civil Engineering Graduate Program for permission to continue in the program. The petition must include an updated plan of work supported by the Advisor.
The Qualifying Examination is administered by a Qualifying Examination Committee selected by the student's Advisor and appointed by the Director of Civil Engineering Graduate Programs. The Committee, comprised of at least three graduate faculty members, two of whom must be from the Civil Engineering faculty will prepare the qualifying exam.
Qualifying Examinations are given separately for each student. The student is allowed a specified amount of time to respond to a set of written examination questions selected to test the student's knowledge in the chosen and closely related fields. The student then makes an oral presentation to the Qualifying Examination Committee of the solutions and the theories applied to the examination questions. The student is also expected to defend the solutions and answer oral questions from the Qualifying Examination Committee on related topics in the field of study. In some cases a more extensive and comprehensive Qualifying Examination may be required.
After reviewing the written answers and oral presentation, the Qualifying Examination Committee submits its recommendation to the Civil Engineering Department and the Chair of Civil Engineering Department officially informs the student of the outcome. The three possible outcomes are: 1) pass; 2) deferment for re-examination at a later date after remedial steps taken to address deficiencies; or 3) denial. The student is only permitted to appear for the Qualifying Examination twice. The student denied acceptance is not permitted to continue work toward the PhD and is to terminate studies within the Department of Civil Engineering by the end of the academic semester. The student may petition the decision to the COE’s Doctoral Governance Committee within one week of the issuance of the decision letter. The decision of the Doctoral Governance Committee is final.
Following successful completion of the PhD Qualifying Examination the Qualifying Examination Committee informs their decision to the Department of Civil Engineering and the COE’s Doctoral Governance Committee.
Selection of a Dissertation Topic
As soon as possible after passing the Qualifying Examination, the student should choose a dissertation topic in consultation with the Advisor. Typically, the Advisor becomes the Chair of the Dissertation Committee. If necessary, any full-time engineering faculty member can serve as Co-Chair.
The student's dissertation research must make a significant contribution to knowledge in the chosen area of specialization. However, the scope and complexity of the research should not make completion impossible within a reasonable period of time. Students must refer to the Handbook for Doctoral Students for further details.
The Dissertation Committee must include at least four members of qualified faculty, including at least two from the Department of Civil Engineering and at least one from a cognate field outside the Department of Civil Engineering. Other qualified individuals not affiliated with Lawrence Technological University may also be appointed. To have any person who is not a faculty approved to serve as a committee member, it is necessary to file a curriculum vitae (or resume) describing that person’s qualifications.
After the Dissertation Committee prospective members agree to serve, the designated Dissertation Committee Chair requests the Doctoral Governance Committee and the Department of Civil Engineering to recommend appointment of the Dissertation Committee to the Dean of the Graduate Programs.
The student must submit a written proposal describing the scope and approach to the dissertation research for approval by the Dissertation Committee during a Proposal Examination. The Proposal Examination must be conducted when the PhD Candidate has earned a minimum of 30 credits towards the degree, including a maximum of 12 dissertation credits. In addition, this must occur within 3 years from passing the Qualifying Exam. The Department of Civil Engineering requires the student to have completed or enrolled in a minimum of 6 PhD Dissertation credits at the time of the Proposal Examination. To become eligible to take the Proposal Examination, the PhD Applicant must have maintained a minimum of 3.3/4.0 GPA. In consultation with the Advisor, the PhD Applicant should assume the responsibility for arranging the date, time and venue of the Proposal Examination.
The Proposal Examination consists of a presentation followed by an oral examination during which the PhD Applicant defends the Dissertation Proposal to the Dissertation Committee. Only the presentation portion of the Examination is open to the public.
The Dissertation Committee submits its recommendation to the Civil Engineering Department and the Chair of Civil Engineering Department officially informs the student of the outcome. The three possible outcomes are: 1) acceptance of the proposal and advancement to the status of PhD Candidate; 2) deferment for re-examination at a later date after remedial steps taken to address deficiencies; or 3) denial. The student is only permitted to appear for the Dissertation Proposal Examination twice. The student denied acceptance is not permitted to continue work toward the PhD and is to terminate studies within the Department of Civil Engineering by the end of the academic semester. The student may petition the decision to the Doctoral Governance Committee of the College of Engineering within one week of the issuance of the decision letter. The decision of the Doctoral Governance Committee is final.
Preparation of the Dissertation
The steps in the process of completion, submission and approval of the dissertation are specified in the Handbook for Doctoral Candidates. The dissertation must be prepared according to the Handbook. A final draft of the dissertation must be submitted to each member of the Dissertation Committee for review and evaluation fourteen (14) days before the Final Examination.
The student must complete a minimum of 36 dissertation research credits to fulfill the degree requirements. The student may be enrolled in any remaining credits during the semester of the Dissertation Examination. PhD Candidates are responsible for remaining in contact with the committee members and updating them on the progress.
The Final Oral Examination is conducted by the Dissertation Committee. During the Examination, the PhD Candidate gives an oral presentation of the research and defends the dissertation. The Final Examination is advertised by the Department and only the presentation portion is open to public. In consultation with the Advisor, the PhD Candidate should assume the responsibility for arranging the date, time and venue of the Dissertation Examination.
At the end of the Dissertation Examination, the Dissertation Committee informs the student of the outcome. The three possible outcomes of the Final Examination are: 1) acceptance of the dissertation as submitted; 2) acceptance of the dissertation with corrections; or 3) deferment for re-examination at a later date after steps have been taken to remedy deficiencies. Following successful completion of the Examination, the Dissertation Committee informs their decision to the Department of Civil Engineering and the COE’s Doctoral Governance Committee. PhD in Civil Engineering degree is awarded to the PhD Candidate by the Dean of Graduate Programs upon recommendation of the Doctoral Governance Committee.
An unbound final copy of the dissertation, incorporating all corrections required by the Dissertation Committee, is required by the Dean of the Graduate Programs. The final version is submitted in electronic and hard copy as set forth in the Handbook for Doctoral Students.
A student must complete all doctoral work within 7 consecutive years of initial enrollment in the doctoral program. A student exceeding this time limit must petition the Dean of the Graduate Program through the Department for an extension of time and may be required to take additional examinations and/or course work.