How do I Earn a Civil Engineering PhD?

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  • Last Modified Date: 14 November 2019
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Civil engineering is a field which involves designing, maintaining, and constructing things such as buildings, bridges, canals, roads, or dams. To become a civil engineer, typically you need a college degree specializing in engineering and then a graduate degree in engineering. Some people pursue the civil engineering Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree because having a doctorate increases the likelihood that you will be considered for jobs with higher level of responsibility and pay.

The path to getting a civil engineering PhD is not an easy one. For instance, not only do you have to do well in the classroom but you also must be good at applying the information learned within an engineering context. Because engineering is about problem solving, each day can be a surprise. The engineering challenge is in using the information you have learned to solve the problem at hand.

If you want to become a civil engineering PhD, it is helpful to excel in math and science. It is also useful to be good at analyzing data. Having these particular skills will tend to give you a good foundation upon which to build an engineering career.


Getting a civil engineering major on the bachelor's degree level is helpful if you want to become a civil engineering PhD. Coursework typically includes calculus, computer science, solid mechanics, fluid mechanics, structural design, and dynamics. In addition to the required coursework, civil engineering majors are usually required to do a supervised civil engineering internship as part of their college undergraduate program.

Job application will typically occur during the final year of college. Then, after working in engineering for two years or more, the search for a civil engineering PhD opportunity typically begins. Decide which doctoral programs are the best programs to apply to based on your individual career goals in civil engineering.

Apply to several schools. Complete the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), get references from former professors, supervisors, or employers, fill out applications, and write the application essay. Also, read books that pertain to interviewing skills so the interview portion of the application process will go smoothly.

Once accepted to a civil engineering PhD program, look at the requirements the civil engineering program has and then fulfill those requirements. Take the courses, complete a teaching assistantship if required, and do the required internship. Do the research, work cooperatively with the doctoral dissertation committee, and complete the dissertation successfully and you will get the PhD.


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Post 2

Does anyone know of any fellowships, grants, or scholarships for engineering PhD's? I am getting ready to apply for graduate school, and I am hoping to be accepted into the PhD/Master's program at my engineering school. The program combines the two degrees into one, cutting a year off of my studies. Even though I will be saving a year (If I am accepted...fingers crossed) I still need to find other ways to fund grad school. I would appreciate any advice or resources anyone can offer.

Post 1

Do I need to obtain a Masters' in Civil Engineering or a related field before applying for a PhD in Civil Engineering? I am two years into my engineering program, and I love it. Engineering school is hard work, and I have little time for much else besides school, but I relish in the challenges the course work presents me. I have decided that I want to continue studying engineering with the hopes of having a distinguished career in the field. I want to become a PE and maybe one day teach engineering at the University level.

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