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University of Pittsburgh    
2023-2024 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog 
  Jun 24, 2024
2023-2024 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog

Civil Engineering - Advanced Infrastructure Systems - Structural Engineering and Mechanics Specialty, PhD

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PhD Track Requirements

Students pursuing the PhD must complete a minimum of 72 post-baccalaureate credits, including the following:

  • a minimum of 24 course credits (e.g., eight, 3-credit lecture courses) in their major area as agreed in consulation with their primary advisor
  • a minimum of 9 course credits (e.g., three, 3-credit lecture courses) in a chosen minor area
  • a minimum of 18 credits of dissertation research

Remaining credits may be course credits or special investigation credits or doctoral research credits in their area of concentration or a closely related area as agreed in consultation with their primary advisor.

The total number of credits above these minimum requirements will depend on the student’s background and academic achievement upon entering the program and their dissertation topic. This decision will be made in consultation with their primary advisor.

Each student must complete a minimum of 8 courses towards the Major Concentration and 3 courses towards their Minor Concentration for a total of 11 Lecture Courses, i.e., a minimum of 33 credits of post-baccalaureate coursework taken at Pitt (2XXX level or higher) or transferred in from post-baccalaureate study elsewhere.  The coursework shall be comprised of lecture courses and not include seminar or research courses.

Independent of any credits transferred from prior post-baccalaureate study, each student must complete at least 9 course credits (approximately 3 courses) at Pitt.  At least 3 of these credits (typically 1 course) must come from “CEE” designated courses.

Up to 30 credits may be applied to the Major Concentration and/or Minor Concentration from previously completed post-baccalaureate study (e.g., an earned Master of Science degree in civil and environmental engineering or related discipline).

A minor area of concentration can be within any approved coherent area of study outside of CEE.

Doctoral Research (CEE 3997 - RESEARCH, PH.D ) may only be taken following successful completion of the PhD Preliminary Exam.

At least 12 credits of the Dissertation Research credit must be taken as Doctoral Dissertation (CEE 3999 - PH.D. DISSERTATION ), which may only be taken following successful completion of the Comprehensive Examination (i.e., PhD Dissertation Proposal Exam).  The remaining 6 credits of Dissertation Research may be taken as Doctoral Research (CEE 3997 - RESEARCH, PH.D ) or Doctoral Dissertation (CEE 3999 - PH.D. DISSERTATION ).

All students must enroll in the departmental seminar (CEE 2085 - GRADUATE DEPARTMENTAL SEMINAR ) every semester of full-time residency (i.e., full-time study in the PhD program).

All PhD students are subject to all applicable guidelines and rules set out by SSOE and The University of Pittsburgh.

Additional Information

Plan of Study

The PhD Plan of Study is prepared by the student with the aid of the student’s faculty advisor during the student’s first two terms of graduate study. It shall be approved and signed by the faculty advisor, majority of faculty members in the program area, the graduate coordinator, and the department chair. Copies should be made available to the student, the faculty advisor, and the academic coordinator. Any change in the Plan of Study must be approved by the faculty advisor and the academic coordinator, and should likewise be recorded.

PhD Examination Structure

All PhD candidates must pass the preliminary, comprehensive, and final oral examinations:

Preliminary Examination

The purpose of this examination is to determine the student’s potential to complete the PhD program. It is organized by the advisor and faculty from the student’s program area, before or sometime during the first two terms of the program. Not counting the summer term, full-time students already with an MS (or equivalent) must take the exam following completion of their first 2 terms of study, while full-time students without an MS (or equivalent) should take the exam no later than completion of their first 3 terms of study.

Comprehensive Examination

All PhD students must take this examination toward the end of their course work. Students must submit a written proposal of their expected dissertation research and pass a presentation and comprehensive oral examination administered by the student’s doctoral committee. The comprehensive examination committee will typically also serve as the final dissertation examination committee and shall consist of the major advisor as chair, at least two faculty members from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and at least one faculty member from outside the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.  The written proposal is recommended to be in the format of a standard federal research proposal (e.g., National Science Foundation) in terms of length, formatting, and technical content.  A student must have a cumulative GPA of 3.0/4.0 or higher to be allowed to participate in the examination.  The examination can be administered no sooner than 1 term (i.e., 4 months) following completion of the Preliminary Exam and no later than 2 terms (i.e., 8 months) prior to the final oral examination (dissertation defense).

Final Oral Examination

This is an oral defense of the student’s PhD dissertation. The examination will be administered by the doctoral committee. The doctoral committee will consist of the major advisor as chair, at least two faculty members from the student’s program area within the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and at least one faculty member from outside the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

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