Civil Engineering

Major: Civil Engineering
Degree Awarded: Master of Science in Civil Engineering (MSCE) or Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Calendar Type: Quarter
Total Credit Hours: 45.0 (MSCE); 90.0 (PhD)
Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) code: 14.0801
Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code:

About the Program


The graduate program in civil engineering offers students the opportunity to develop a more fundamental and complete understanding of the principles that govern their field as well as current design methodology. Students are encouraged to be innovative and imaginative in their quest for recognizing, stating, analyzing, and solving engineering problems.

The goal of the master’s program is to develop technical depth of expertise for a professional career in the planning, design, construction, and operation of large-scale infrastructure systems, built facilities, and water resources management. The goal of the PhD program is to develop the abilities to discover, pursue, and apply basic knowledge. PhD recipients are prepared to engage in teaching and research or in an industrial career in the development of new concepts and innovative systems.

General Information

The civil engineering programs comprise the following areas of specialization: building systems, geotechnical engineering, hydraulic and coastal engineering, structural engineering, and water resources.

For more information, visit the Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering web page.

Admission Requirements

MS admission is based on an academic record demonstrating adequate preparation and potential for successful graduate study. This typically includes a BS from an engineering curriculum accredited by the Accrediting Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) or the equivalent from a non-U.S. institution. Submission of results from the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) is required. A grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 is usually required. Graduates who do not have a bachelor's degree in either Civil, Architectural or Environmental Engineering may be required to take preparatory undergraduate courses.

For additional information on how to apply, visit Drexel's Admissions page for Civil Engineering.

Master of Science in Civil Engineering

The programs of study at the master’s level continue the specialization developed at the senior level of the undergraduate program or newly developed interests. The Master of Science in Civil Engineering program may be elected by graduates of ABET-accredited undergraduate programs in civil engineering and related fields. Admission and prerequisites are determined on the basis of a student’s undergraduate transcript.

Most MSCE graduates work as professional engineers in consulting firms, industry, or governmental agencies. A number of our graduates have started consulting and construction firms in the Philadelphia area and have been very successful. Other former students hold prominent positions in public utilities, local government agencies, and industry.

The full-time graduate academic program is closely associated with the research efforts of the faculty. Full-time master’s degree candidates are encouraged to base their master’s thesis on some aspect of faculty research. The one-to-one relationship between student and faculty member provides an invaluable learning experience. The General (Aptitude) Test of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is required for applicants pursuing full-time study.

The master’s degree requires a total of 45.0 credits, of which 24.0 credits must be in the major field of interest and 6.0 credits are to fulfill math requirements. The remaining credits are taken as electives in related areas. The choice of core and elective courses is made in consultation with the student’s graduate advisor.

Areas of concentration include:

  • Structural
  • Geotechnical/geoenvironmental/geosynthetics
  • Water resources
  • Building systems/energy

Dual graduate degrees are possible. Among the more popular programs are combining the MS in Civil Engineering with an MS in Environmental Engineering, or Engineering Management. The required credits must meet all civil engineering program requirements and will be determined on the basis of the student’s proposed program of study.

PhD in Civil Engineering

The PhD degree is awarded for original research on a significant civil engineering problem. Graduate students who have completed their MS degrees work closely with individual faculty members (see Faculty Research Interests below). PhD dissertation research is usually supported by a research grant from a government agency or an industrial contract.

The full-time graduate academic program is closely associated with the research efforts of the faculty. The General (Aptitude) Test of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is required for applicants pursing full-time study.

Doctoral students normally take at least 45.0 credits, including research credits, beyond the master’s degree requirements. Full-time residency for one continuous academic year is required for the PhD degree to ensure students the opportunity for intellectual association with other scholars. Many doctoral students take two, three, or four years of full-time graduate study to complete their degrees. Involvement in the teaching activity of the Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering Department is required of all PhD applicants.

After approximately one year of study beyond the master’s degree, doctoral students take a candidacy examination, consisting of written and oral parts. Each PhD candidate is supervised by a major professor and a doctoral committee chaired by the major professor.

PhD candidates submit a detailed proposal for dissertation research to the doctoral committee. The students then take a proposal examination; successful completion of this examination is required to become a PhD candidate. After approval of the proposal, the committee meets from time to time to review the progress of the research. The dissertation must be submitted to the doctoral committee at least 90 days before the graduation date. The committee schedules and conducts a final oral examination before approval of the dissertation.

Areas of research include:

  • Structural
  • Geotechnical/geoenvironmental/geosynthetics
  • Water resources
  • Sustainable engineering
  • Building systems/energy

Dual Degree Programs

Civil Engineering students may find it useful to pursue dual MS degrees. Such programs have been pursued in concert with Environmental Engineering/Science, Mechanical Engineering, Information Studies and Engineering Management. A dual degree student must complete the required coursework for each degree. Depending upon the concentration, up to 15.0 credits from another program may count as electives for the MSCE. with the advisor's approval. The student is responsible for obtaining approval of MSCE. courses that apply to the second degree.

Bachelor’s/Master’s Dual Degree Program

Exceptional undergraduate students can also pursue a master of science degree in the same period as the bachelor of science. Many students deepen their knowledge with a Master's degree in Civil Engineering, while others have broadened their knowledge with a Master's degree in related areas such as Environmental Science, Engineering Management, Software Engineering and Information Technology.

For more information about this program, visit the Department's BS/MS Dual Degree Program web page.


Construction Materials Laboratory
This laboratory contains facilities for the study of concrete, asphalt, mortar, soil-cement, and timber materials, and moist cure facilities.

Geosynthetics Laboratory
This laboratory contains a complete suite of physical, mechanical, hydraulic, endurance, and environmental test devices for assessing behavior of geotextiles, geogrids, geonets, geomembranes, and geocomposites.

HVAC and Refrigeration Laboratory
This laboratory contains complete models of heating, ventilation, air conditioning, refrigeration, and pumping system models.

Hydromechanics Laboratory
This laboratory contains a wave channel tilting flume, pipe friction equipment, bench demonstration equipment, and a beach erosion model.

Soil Mechanics and Geoenvironmental Laboratory
This laboratory contains triaxial and direct shear equipment, controlled environmental chambers, consolidation tests, flexwall permeameters, and a test bed.

Structural Testing Laboratory
This laboratory contains universal testing machines with 150,000- and 300,000-pound capacity and test beds with MTS dynamic load equipment.

Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering Faculty

Abieyuwa Aghayere, PhD (University of Alberta). Professor. Structural design - concrete, steel and wood; structural failure analysis; retrofitting of existing structures; new structural systems and materials; engineering education.
A. Emin Aktan, PhD (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) John Roebling Professor of Infrastructure Studies. Professor. Structural engineering; health monitoring of large infrastructure systems; infrastructure evaluation; intelligent systems.
Ivan Bartoli, PhD (University of California, San Diego). Associate Professor. Non-destructive evaluation and structural health monitoring; dynamic identification, stress wave propagation modeling.
Robert Brehm, PhD (Drexel University). Associate Teaching Professor. International infrastructure delivery; response to natural catastrophes; risk assessment and mitigation strategies; project management techniques.
S.C. Jonathan Cheng, PhD (West Virginia University). Associate Professor. Soil mechanics; geosynthetics; probabilistic design; landfill containments; engineering education.
Peter DeCarlo, PhD (University of Colorado). Assistant Professor. Outdoor air quality, particulate matter size and composition instrumentation and measurements, source apportionment of ambient particulate matter, climate impacts of particulate matter.
Eugenia Ellis, RA, PhD (Virginia Polytechnic State University). Associate Professor. Extended-care facilities design, research on spatial visualization, perception and imagination.
Patricia Gallagher, PhD (Virginia Polytechnic Institute). Associate Professor. Soil mechanics; geoenvironmental; ground improvement; sustainability.
Patrick Gurian, PhD (Carnegie-Mellon University). Associate Professor. Risk analysis of environmental and infrastructure systems; novel adsorbent materials; environmental standard setting; Bayesian statistical modeling; community outreach and environmental health.
Charles N. Haas, PhD (University of Illinois-Urbana) L. D. Betz Professor and Department Head, Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering. Professor. Control of human exposures to and risk assessment of pathogenic organisms; water and waste treatment; homeland security.
Ahmad Hamid, PhD (McMaster University). Professor. Engineered masonry; seismic behavior, design and retrofit of masonry structures; development of new materials and building systems.
Y. Grace Hsuan, PhD (Imperial College). Professor. Durability of polymeric construction materials; advanced construction materials; and performance of geosynthetics.
Joseph B. Hughes, PhD (University of Iowa) Dean of the College of Engineering and Distinguished Professor. Biological processes and applications of nanotechnology in environmental systems.
L. James Lo, PhD (University of Texas at Austin). Assistant Professor. Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) and airflow simulation; Indoor Environmental Quality; Building control integration with building information management systems.
Roger Marino, PhD (Drexel University). Associate Teaching Professor. Fluid mechanics; water resources; engineering education; land development.
Joseph P. Martin, PhD (Colorado State University). Professor. Geotechnical and geoenvironmental engineering; hydrology; transportation; waste management.
James E. Mitchell, MArch (University of Pennsylvania) Associate Dean for Undergraduate Affairs. Professor. Architectural engineering design; building systems; engineering education.
Franco Montalto, PhD (Cornell University). Associate Professor. Effects of built infrastructure on societal water needs, ecohydrologic patterns and processes, ecological restoration, green design, water interventions.
Joseph V. Mullin, PhD (Pennsylvania State University) Associate Department Head. Teaching Professor. Structural engineering; failure analysis; experimental stress analysis; construction materials; marine structures.
Mira S. Olson, PhD (University of Virginia) Graduate Studies Advisor. Associate Professor. Environmental remediation; contaminant and bacterial transport in porous media and bacterial response to dynamic environments.
Michael Ryan, PhD (Drexel University). Assistant Teaching Professor. Microbial Source Tracking (MST); Quantitative Microbial Risk Assessment (QMRA); Dynamic Engineering Systems Modeling; Molecular Microbial Biology; Environmental Statistics; Engineering Economics; Microbiology
Christopher Sales, PhD (University of California, Berkeley). Assistant Professor. Environmental microbiology and biotechnology; biodegradation of environmental contaminants; microbial processes for energy and resource recovery from waste.
Yared Shifferaw, PhD (Johns Hopkins University). Assistant Professor. Computational and experimental mechanics; structural stability; optimization; health monitoring and hazard mitigation; sustainable structures; emerging materials; thin-walled structures and metallic structures.
Kurt Sjoblom, PhD (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). Assistant Professor. Laboratory testing of geomaterials, geotechnical engineering, foundation engineering.
Sabrina Spatari, PhD (University of Toronto). Associate Professor. Research in industrial ecology; development and application of life cycle assessment (LCA) and material flow analysis (MFA) methods for guiding engineering and policy decisions; specific interest in biomass and bioenergy, biofuels, and urban infrastructure.
Robert Swan Associate Teaching Professor. Geotechnical and Geosynthetic Engineering; soil/geosynthetic interaction and performance; laboratory and field geotechnical/geosynthetic testing.
Michael Waring, PhD (University of Texas-Austin) Associate Department Head for Undergraduate Programs; Director of Architectural Engineering Program. Associate Professor. Indoor air quality and building sustainability; indoor particulate matter fate and transport; indoor chemistry and particle formation; secondary impacts of control technologies and strategies.
Jin Wen, PhD (University of Iowa). Associate Professor. Architectural engineering; Building Energy Efficiency; Intelligent Building; Net-zero Building; and Indoor Air Quality.
Aspasia Zerva, PhD (University of Illinois). Professor. Earthquake engineering; mechanics; seismology; structural reliability; system identification; advanced computational computational methods in structural analysis.

Emeritus Faculty

Harry G. Harris, PhD (Cornell University). Professor Emeritus. Structural models; dynamics of structures, plates and shells; industrialized building construction.
Richard Weggel, PhD (University of Illinois) Samuel S. Baxter Professor Emeritus; Civil and Environmental Engineering. Professor Emeritus. Coastal engineering; hydraulics engineering; hydrology.
Richard Woodring, PhD (University of Illinois) Dean of Engineering Emeritus. Professor Emeritus. Structural engineering, reinforced concrete.
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