Skip to content Skip to navigation

PhD Degree

The PhD is offered under the general regulations of the university as set forth in the Graduate Degrees section of the Stanford Bulletin. This degree has a strong research focus and is recommended for those who expect to engage in a professional career in research, teaching or advanced technical work.

The PhD program requires a total of 135 units of graduate study, at least 90 units of which must be completed at Stanford. Up to 45 units of graduate study for an MS degree, completed either at Stanford or other schools, can be counted towards the 135 units. PhD students must maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0 in post-MS course work. All candidates for the PhD degree are required to complete CEE 200 in conjunction with a one-quarter teaching assistantship/course assistantship to gain training and instructional experience. Further information on PhD requirements and regulations is in the department handbook.

The program of study is arranged by the prospective candidate with the advice of a faculty committee whose members are nearest in the field of interest to that of the student. The chair of the committee serves as the student's interim adviser until a member of the faculty has agreed to direct the dissertation research. Insofar as possible, the program of study is adapted to the interests and needs of the student within the framework of the requirements of the department and the University.

By the end of the second year of graduate study (or by the end of the first year for students who enroll at Stanford with an MS), the student is expected to pass the department's General Qualifying Examination (GQE) to be admitted to candidacy for the doctoral degree. The purpose of the GQE is to ensure that the student is adequately prepared to undertake doctoral research and has a well-planned research topic. The exam may take the form of a written and/or oral general examination of the candidate's major field, a presentation and defense of the candidate's doctoral research dissertation proposal, or a combination research proposal and general examination.

The GQE is administered by an advisory committee consisting of at least three Stanford faculty members, including a chair who is a faculty member in Civil and Environmental Engineering. All members are normally on the Stanford Academic Council. A petition for appointment of one advisory committee member who is not on the Academic Council may be made if the proposed person contributes an area of expertise that is not readily available from the faculty. Such petitions are subject to approval by the department chair. When the primary research adviser is not a member of the CEE Academic Council faculty, the committee must consist of four examiners, with two members from the CEE department.

Details of this degree program are published in graduate handbook.