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This archived information is dated to the 2011-12 academic year only and may no longer be current.

For currently applicable policies and information, see the current Stanford Bulletin.

Programs of Graduate Study in Civil and Environmental Engineering


The Atmosphere and Energy program in Civil and Environmental Engineering combines atmospheric science with energy science and engineering. The main goals of the program are to educate students and the public, through courses, research, and public outreach, about the causes of climate, air pollution, and weather problems and methods of addressing these problems through renewable and efficient energy systems. In addition, students learn about feedbacks between the atmosphere and renewable energy systems and the effects of the current energy infrastructure on the atmosphere.

Major focus areas of energy research include examining the resource availability of renewable energies, such as wind, solar, and wave, and studying optimal methods of combining renewable energies together to match energy supply with instantaneous demand. This type of work is generally done through a combination of data analysis, three-dimensional atmospheric computer modeling of wind, solar, wave, and hydroelectric power resources, and transmission load flow computer modeling. Other energy research, performed through three-dimensional computer modeling, focuses on the effects, for example, of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles on air pollution and the ozone layer and the effects of ethanol and diesel vehicles on air quality and climate. Studies also examine the feedback of wind turbines to the atmosphere and the effects of climate change on wind and solar energy resources.

Atmospheric research in the program generally involves laboratory work, field measurements, or three-dimensional computer modeling of the combined atmosphere, ocean, and land surface. An example of laboratory work includes measuring the properties of organic particulate matter that forms in the atmosphere. Examples of fieldwork include measuring exposures to secondhand smoke, allergens, and emissions from building materials.

Computer modeling is performed at a variety of spatial scales, from the globe down to the size of a building or smaller. Some examples of modeling studies include examining the effects of air pollution particles on clouds, rainfall, water supply, ultraviolet radiation, the stratospheric ozone layer, and climate, simulating the dispersion of toxic contaminants in an urban street canyon, studying the effects of aircraft exhaust and biomass burning on climate, studying the effects of carbon dioxide domes over cities on air pollution mortality, and studying the leading causes of global warming and their impacts.


Environmental and water studies include subprograms in environmental engineering and science and environmental fluid mechanics and hydrology, which includes environmental planning. Course offerings permit study in a single area or interrelated study between areas. Programs are flexible to foster interaction among students and encourage the development of individual programs. The Stanford laboratories for water quality control and environmental fluid mechanics are well equipped for advanced research and instruction.

Courses from other programs and departments complement our programs' course offerings. Examples include Computer Science (numerical methods), Geological and Environmental Sciences (geostatistics, hydrogeology), Mechanical Engineering (applied math, experimental methods, fluid mechanics, heat transfer), Energy Resources Engineering (reservoir engineering, well-test analysis), and Statistics (probability and statistics).

The major areas of specialization in the two subprograms, environmental engineering and science, and environmental fluid mechanics and hydrology, are described following. Admission to these subprograms are handled separately; prospective students should indicate their preference on their application.


The Environmental Engineering and Science (EES) subprogram emphasizes the chemical and biological processes involved in water quality engineering, pollution treatment, remediation, and environmental protection.

Course offerings include: the biological, chemical, and engineering aspects of water supply; the movement and fate of pollutants in surface and ground waters, soil, and the atmosphere; hazardous substance control; molecular environmental biotechnology; and water and air pollution. Companion courses in the Environmental Fluid Mechanics and Hydrology Program (EFMH) include environmental planning and impact assessment, and environmental fluid mechanics, hydrology, and transport modeling.


The Environmental Fluid Mechanics and Hydrology (EFMH) subprogram focuses on understanding the physical processes controlling the movement of mass, energy, and momentum in the water environment and the atmosphere. The subprogram also considers environmental and institutional issues involved in planning water resources development projects.

Environmental fluid mechanics courses address: experimental methods; fluid transport and mixing processes; the fluid mechanics of stratified flows; natural flows in coastal waters, estuaries, lakes, and open channels; and turbulence and its modeling. Hydrology courses consider flow and transport in porous media, stochastic methods in both surface and subsurface hydrology, and watershed hydrology and modeling. Atmosphere courses deal with climate, weather, storms and air pollution and their modeling. Planning courses emphasize environmental policy implementation and sustainable water resources development.

The research of this group is focused in the Environmental Fluid Mechanics Laboratory, which includes the P. A. McCuen Environmental Computer Center.


The Sustainable Built Environment programs include subprograms in construction engineering and management, design-construction integration, structural engineering and geomechanics, and sustainable design and construction. These programs focus on educating practitioners and researchers to plan, design, build, and operate more sustainable buildings and infrastructure.

The Construction Engineering and Management (CEM) subprogram prepares students for careers with progressive construction firms worldwide, interested in building more sustainable buildings and infrastructure using advanced modeling and visualization methods and tools known as virtual design and construction.

The Structural Engineering and Geomechanics (SEG) subprogram educates designers and researchers who want to progress beyond traditional life safety code-based design, to develop and disseminate performance-based structural and geotechnical engineering methods and tools that maximize the lifecycle economic value of facilities.

The Design-Construction Integration (DCI) subprogram combines courses from CEM and SEG to educate and prepare students for design construction firms that provide integrated design-build project delivery, construction management, and pre-construction services.

The Sustainable Design and Construction (SDC) subprogram provides courses in sustainable, multi-stakeholder design methods and tools that incorporate lifecycle cost analysis, green architectural design, lighting, and energy analysis, to educate students interested in promoting more sustainable development of buildings and infrastructure.

Admission to these programs are handled separately; prospective students should indicate their preference on their application.


The Construction Engineering and Management (CEM) subprogram prepares technically qualified students for responsible engineering and management roles in all phases of the development of major constructed facilities. It emphasizes management techniques useful in organizing, planning, and controlling the activities of diverse specialists working within the unique project environment of the construction industry, and it covers construction engineering aspects of heavy, industrial and building construction.

The CEM subprogram offers courses in: building systems, construction administration, construction law, project finance, accounting, real estate development, structural design, HVAC design and construction, equipment and methods, estimating, international construction, labor relations, managing human resources, planning and control techniques, productivity improvement, and project and company organizations. Additional related course work is available from other programs within the department, from other engineering departments, and from other schools in the University such as Earth Sciences and the Graduate School of Business.

The CEM program allows students substantial flexibility to tailor their program of study for careers with general contractors, specialty contractors, real estate, or infrastructure developers or facility owners and operators.


The Design-Construction Integration (DCI) subprogram prepares students for multidisciplinary collaborative teamwork in an integrated design and construction process. The subprogram extends a student's design or construction background with core courses in each of these areas and develops the background needed to understand the concerns and expertise of the many project stakeholders. It includes a comprehensive project-based learning experience.

The subprogram in Design-Construction Integration is open to applicants with backgrounds in engineering and science. Applicants should also have a background in the planning, design, or construction of facilities by virtue of work experience and/or their undergraduate education. Knowledge in subjects from the traditional areas of civil engineering is necessary for students to receive the degree and to satisfy prerequisite requirements for some of the required graduate courses.

Students with an undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering, and who expect to pursue careers with design or construction firms that emphasize design-build, EPC, or turnkey projects should consider DCI.


The Structural Engineering and Geomechanics (SEG) subprogram encompasses teaching and research in structural design and analysis, structural materials, earthquake engineering and structural dynamics, advanced sensing and structural health monitoring, risk and reliability analysis, computational science and engineering, and geotechnical engineering including geomechanics. The SEG subprogram prepares students for industrial or academic careers.

Students can balance engineering fundamentals with modern computational and experimental methods to customize programs to launch careers as consultants on large and small projects, designers, and engineering analysts.

Structural design and analysis focuses on the conceptual design of structural systems and on computational methods for predicting the static and dynamic, linear and nonlinear responses of structures.

Structural materials research and teaching focuses on the design and analysis of high-performance as well as low-environmental impact materials.

Earthquake engineering and structural dynamics addresses earthquake phenomena, ground shaking, and the behavior, analysis, and design of structures under seismic and other dynamic forces.

Reliability and risk analysis focuses on advanced methods for structural safety evaluation and design, including methods for loss estimation from damage and failures of structures and lifeline systems.

Computational science and engineering emphasizes the application of modern computing methods to structural engineering and geomechanics and encompasses numerical, structural, and geotechnical analysis, including finite element analysis and boundary element methods.

In the area of geomechanics, students focus on the application of the principles of applied mechanics to problems involving geologic materials including theoretical soil and rock mechanics, computational methods, and analysis and design of foundations and earth structures.


The Sustainable Design and Construction (SDC) subprogram prepares students for careers in planning, designing, building, and operating sustainable buildings and infrastructure to maximize their lifecycle economic value, their net contribution to environmental functions and services, and their social equity.

The subprogram offers courses in: project finance; sustainable multidisciplinary, multi-stakeholder planning and design processes; green architecture; performance-based structural design; building energy systems; and sustainable construction processes and materials. Classes on strategy, economics and organization design for new businesses, and corporate or governmental initiatives focusing on enhancing the sustainability of buildings and infrastructure round out the subprogram.

This subprogram is intended for students with undergraduate degrees in architecture, engineering, science, construction management, economics or business who wish to pursue careers that enhance the sustainability of the built environment.

Potential employers include architectural or engineering design firms, sustainability consultants, construction firms focusing on green buildings, green-tech start-ups, and green-tech venture funds.

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