Two doctoral degrees in engineering are offered within the department: the doctor of engineering science, administered by The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, and the doctor of philosophy, administered by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. The EngScD and PhD programs have identical academic requirements with regard to courses, thesis, and examinations, but differ in residence requirements and in certain administrative details.

Concentrations and specializations of study are the same as listed for the master's degrees in civil engineering and engineering mechanics.


Program Details

A student must obtain the master’s degree (MS) before enrolling as a candidate for either the PhD or EngScD degree. Application for admission as a doctoral candidate may be made while a student is enrolled as a master’s degree candidate. The minimum requirement in course work for either doctoral degree is 60 points of credit beyond the bachelor’s degree.

Coursework Requirements

Doctoral candidates must complete a minimum of 30 credits of coursework during their studies. Selection of appropriate courses inside and outside the Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics department is determined in consultation with the faculty adviser. Doctoral candidates must take at least two graduate-level mathematics courses during their first two years. In addition, students may count up to six credits of research with their faculty adviser (CIEN E9101 Civil Engineering Research) towards the 30 required credits. Doctoral candidates must maintain a minimum GPA of 3.25 during their first two years.

Residency Requirements (for PhD candidates)

Candidates for the PhD degree must complete six residence units. A master’s degree from an accredited institution may be accepted in the form of advanced standing as the equivalent of one year of residence (30 points of credit and two residence units) for either doctoral degree. An application for advanced standing must be completed with the department during the first semester of study. PhD candidates will register for a residence unit during each of their first four semesters at Columbia.

At the end of the second year, doctoral candidates will take the qualifying exam, which will consist of a written research proposal and an oral research presentation to a committee of three faculty members. At least two of the committee members must be from the Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics department. Further information about the format will be provided by the Graduate Admissions and Student Affairs Officer.

Doctoral candidates must write a dissertation embodying original research under the sponsorship of the faculty adviser. The defense of the dissertation constitutes the final test of the candidate’s qualifications. It must be demonstrated that the candidate has made a contribution to knowledge in a chosen area. In content, the dissertation should therefore be a distinctly original contribution in the selected field of study. In form, it must show the mastery of written English which is expected of a university graduate.

PhD candidates may consult the University's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) Student Guide for information concerning the process of distributing and defending the dissertation.

Doctor of Engineering Science candidates may consult the department’s Graduate Admissions and Student Affairs Officer for assistance with dissertation defense application.

A Doctor of Engineering Science candidate is required to do the following:

  1. At the time the student begins doctoral research, the student is eligible to register for CIEN E9800 Doctoral Research Instruction (3, 6, 9, or 12 points of credit). Twelve points must be accumulated by the time the student is to receive the degree.
  2. Registration for E9800 at a time other than that prescribed above is not permitted, except by written permission of the dean.
  3. Although 12 points of E9800 are required for the Doctor of Engineering Science degree, no part of this credit may count toward the minimum residence requirement of 30 points (or 60 points beyond the bachelor’s degree).
  4. If a student is required to take coursework beyond the minimum residence requirements, the 12 points of doctoral research instruction must still be taken in addition to the required course work.
  5. A student must register continuously through the Fall and Spring terms. This requirement does not include the summer session.

The requirements for the EngScD degree must be completed in no more than seven years. The seven-year time period begins at the time the student becomes a candidate for the EngScD degree and extends to the date on which the dissertation defense is held.

Extension of the time allowed for completion of the degree may be granted on recommendation of the student’s sponsor and the department chairman to the dean when special circumstances warrant. Such extensions are initiated by submitting a statement of work in progress and a schedule for completion together with the sponsor’s recommendation to the department chairman.

As part of the annual assessment, for students who exceed 6 years in the program, the PhD advisor, in coordination with the student, is required to provide milestones for completion of thesis, the composition of the thesis committee, and a prospective defense date.