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Ph.D. in Civil Engineering

engineers with tablet in a factory

Program Information

The Rowan Experience
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The Ph.D. in Civil Engineering is a terminal degree program designed to meet the needs of researchers and scholars, whether in academia, industry, or government. The program offers a highly flexible multidisciplinary structure that gives students the freedom to pursue a wide range of graduate elective courses while ensuring their proficiency in civil engineering principles, technical writing, advanced mathematics, and research. The changes described in this proposal will help harmonize our program with other major research universities and facilitate continuous curricular improvement in the continuously evolving civil engineering environment. 

Student Learning Goals: 

  • Candidates will obtain a level of technical proficiency in advanced mathematics, civil engineering principles, and a breadth of technical subjects that prepare them to face complex challenges in real-world civil engineering applications. 

Student Learning Outcomes: 

  • Students will be able to apply advanced mathematical principles to solve engineering problems. The student will get direct education in this area in their required graduate-level mathematics class and will have it reinforced in all civil engineering core courses, their TA experiences, and most graduate electives. 
  • Students will have an in-depth understanding of the terminology and processes that are core to the field of civil engineering. The student will be required to take five civil engineering graduate courses and pass each with a B- or higher.  
  • Students will have the ability to read, understand, analyze, and critique research papers with advanced Civil Engineering content. This topic will be developed throughout the research experiences of the student, including preparation for the proposal defense, and will culminate with an appropriate and detailed literature review in the dissertation.   
  • Students will develop a level of technical writing proficiency sufficient for them to produce quality manuscripts, grant proposals, and a meaningful dissertation.
    • Students will demonstrate their ability to explain complex topics in written formats. Students will have this skill developed in their required technical writing course and reinforced throughout their education, including the writing of literature reviews, experimental methods, technical reports, and ultimately, a dissertation.
    • Students will be able to write effective external documents, including manuscripts for journal submissions and grant proposals. Graduate students will be expected to produce manuscripts for publication in peer-reviewed journals as they progress through their research and to provide data and assistance in subsequent external funding requests.
  • Students will learn to identify and approach unsolved problems in civil engineering, formulate a hypothesis on how to solve such a problem, design and execute experimental or analytical methodologies to test the hypothesis, analyze results, and draw meaningful conclusions. 
    • Students will demonstrate their ability to conduct independent research. Students will be required to propose, execute, and defend a dissertation that addresses a novel problem with meaningful real-world implications. Their skills will be developed through group meetings, meetings with their advisors and dissertation committees, and participation in the departmental seminar program. Student progress will be assessed at the dissertation proposal and, ultimately, the dissertation defense. 
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The Rowan University Ph.D. in Civil Engineering program requires the completion of coursework, Qualifier Exam, research requirements, dissertation, and dissertation defense.

If you possess a bachelor’s degree, a minimum of 72 semester hours of graduate-level work will be required.

If you possess a master’s degree in a related field, a minimum of 42 semester hours (credits) of graduate-level work beyond your master’s degree will be required. Up to 30 of the credits earned in pursuit of your master’s degree may be transferable. Typically 21 course credits and 9 research hours credits. The student’s Advisory Committee (or the advisor) will decide which credits will be transferred into the Ph.D. in Civil Engineering program.

The following courses make up the Ph.D. in Civil Engineering program. 

  • 72 Semester Hours
    • Required Courses: 21 Semester Hours
    • Graduate Elective Courses: 15 Semester Hours
    • Research Courses: 36 Semester Hours
  • Foundation Courses: No
  • Graduation / Exit / Thesis Requirements: Yes


Ethical and Responsible Conduct of Research training (including human/animal subject training when applicable). All Ph.D. students will be required to complete all research compliance training required by the University for any research-active employee.

Graduate Seminar: Regular attendance and participation in (0-credit) graduate seminars (ENGR 01700 Graduate Seminar: Civil Engineering) will be required for students for each Fall and Spring semester they are in the program. This course will be graded on a Pass/Fail basis.

Ph.D. Qualifier Examination: All students in the program will be required to pass the Ph.D. Qualifier Examination. This exam should be taken within the first four regular semesters (not counting summer) of study in the program. Students transferring into Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering program from another recognized Ph.D. program where they have already passed a comparable qualifier examination may be exempt from the Qualifier Examination based on the recommendation of the student’s Advisor and subject to the approval of the Graduate Coordinator and the Department Head.

Ph.D. Candidacy (Proposal) Examination: Ph.D. Students will be required to pass a Candidacy Exam, within 18 months of completing their Qualifier Examination. The Candidacy Examination is where the students propose their Ph.D. Dissertation topic. The Candidacy Exam will be an oral examination, designed to assess the originality, importance, technical, scientific and intellectual merits of the student’s dissertation topic, adequacy of student’s preliminary work as well as his/her ability to undertake the proposed work. The Candidacy Examination will be conducted and evaluated by the student’s full Ph.D. Advisory Committee. Students who pass their Candidacy Examination will be given the title “Ph.D. Candidate.”

Career Preparation and Readiness Experience (CPRE): CPRE requirements are designed to prepare for the real-world environment they are likely to face upon graduation, and consist of teaching, grant writing, publishing and service. Students will be required to complete all CPRE components, the details of which are given below.

Ph.D. Dissertation Defense: The Ph.D. in Civil Engineering program will culminate in the Candidate’s oral defense of their dissertation topic. This exam will be conducted and evaluated by the student’s full Ph.D. Advisory Committee, who will assess the work for its completeness, technical and scientific accuracy, intellectual merits and broader impacts. The student will be expected to have completed the CPRE requirements before taking the Ph.D. Dissertation Defense. The portion of the exam that includes the Candidate's presentation shall be open to the public (unless there are intellectual property considerations previously discussed with the Office of Research).


Course Number Title S.H. (Credits)
Required Courses: 36 S.H.
  Graduate Civil and Environmental Engineering Courses (500 and above) 15
  Graduate-Level Writing Course (500) 3
  Graduate-Level Math Course (500) 3
  Graduate Elective Courses 15
Required Thesis Courses: 36 S.H.
ENGR 01799 Doctoral Research and Dissertation*  3/6/9

*Students must register for this course multiple times at 3 S.H., 6 S.H., or 9 S.H. until the total 36 S.H. are completed. After that, the 1-credit ENGR-01798 Doctoral Dissertation Continuation course should be taken, until the thesis defense is successfully conducted. Total number of Doctoral Research and Dissertation semester hours may vary.

**All 36 credits of coursework must be completed with grades of B- or higher. A graduate course may be retaken once, but a second retake must be approved by the student’s dissertation committee and the civil engineering graduate coordinator.



Transfer Credit Evaluation Policy

The Ph.D. in Civil Engineering will replace the current Ph.D. in Engineering with a Specialization in Civil Engineering. Students who are currently enrolled in the Ph.D. in Engineering with a Specialization in Civil Engineering will be given the option of transferring into the Ph.D. in Civil Engineering. All coursework completed toward the Ph.D. in Engineering will be counted toward the requirement of the new Civil Engineering Ph.D. degree.

Admission Requirements
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The following is a list of items required to begin the application process for the program. There may be additional action or materials required for admission to the program. Upon receipt of the materials below, a representative from the Rowan Global Admissions Processing Office will contact you with confirmation or will indicate any missing items.


  • Completed Rowan Global Application Form
  • $65 (U.S.) non-refundable application fee
  • Bachelor's degree in Civil Engineering or related field from an accredited institution of higher learning. 
  • Official transcripts from all colleges attended (regardless of number of credits earned)
  • Current professional resume. Applicants should include a statement on the professional resume that verifies evidence of applied skills including research proficiency.
  • Typewritten statement of professional objectives and research interest
  • Minimum undergraduate cumulative GPA of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale). 
  • Three letters of recommendation
    • While the official Recommendation Form is required, an actual letter from the recommender is additionally preferred.
    • Applicants with Master’s degrees completed within the past 5 years should include as one of their recommenders an instructor from their Master’s program.
  • Interview (Applicants will be contacted directly by the Faculty Admission Committee regarding this interview. The interview can be in person or via telephone/)
  • TOEFL Language test (International)
  • WES evaluation (International)
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