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Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Civil Engineering California Institute of Technology




Course info


The Ph.D. degree in civil engineering is focused on research. Study and research programs for the Ph.D. degree are individually planned to fit the interests and background of the student. A comprehensive research project resulting in an original contribution to the field which is documented by a thesis is required. Institute requirements for the Ph.D. degree are described in the section on degree requirements. A minimum of three academic years in residence as a graduate student are required by the Institute, and two or more additional years are usually needed for preparation of the thesis.


  • Civil engineering core subjects (45 units). Course work in a minimum of two core civil engineering subjects, minimum of 18 units each of two subjects, spanning at least two broad areas listed below. Most students prepare for the subject candidacy exam by taking the recommended set of courses listed below in Areas 1-3, plus math. These units may also be used in the student's program for the master's degree. Examples of suitable courses are given in parentheses.

Core CE Subjects

Area 1

Fluid Mechanics (Ae/APh/CE/ME 101 abc)
Mechanics of Structures and Solids (Ae/AM/CE/ME 102 abc)

Area 2

Dynamics & Vibrations (AM/CE 151ab)

Area 3

Structural & Earthquake Engineering (CE 160ab)
Seismology (CE181ab, Ge 162)

The student may petition the mechanical and civil engineering Option Representative to accept alternate subjects or areas. These changes should retain core civil engineering knowledge, should not be a sub-specialty of one of the listed areas, and should represent sufficient breadth. The approval is not automatic; such petitions are submitted rarely and many have been denied in the past. The petition must be submitted to the option representative and approved before the student registers for the course.

  • Additional engineering or science courses, with a course number 101 or above (63 units). Pass with a grade of at least C, courses that pertain to the student's specialty and are approved by the thesis advisory committee.
  • Advanced mathematics or applied mathematics. Pass with a grade of at least C, chosen in consultation with the adviser from the following list: ACM/IDS 101ab or higher, CDS 232, CDS 233, Ma 108 or higher, Ph 129. The requirement in mathematics is in addition to the requirements above.
  • Graduate engineering seminar (6 units). Pass six terms of AM/CE/ME 150abc, within twelve terms, 3 years, in residence at Caltech.
  • Research (54 units). Successfully complete at least 54 units of research and demonstrate satisfactory research progress.

The requirement of a minimum grade of C will be waived for an advanced course which is offered only pass/fail. The faculty will evaluate the student's research progress, class performance, adviser's input, and oral candidacy exam results to determine whether a student will be admitted to or be able to maintain candidacy for the Ph.D. degree.

Course options

Here are the different ways in which you can study Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Civil Engineering.

Full Time (Minimum of 195 units)

Tuition fees

$52,506.00 (37,71,506) per year

Under current Internal Revenue Code stipends are subject to income tax, but the tuition portion of an award is not taxable




Division of Engineering and Applied Science

1200 East California Blvd,



91125, United States

Entry requirement for international students

Applicants must have completed a bachelor's degree or the equivalent before beginning graduate study.

Applicants whose native language is not English and those who have had no formal instruction in English will be required to take a test to evaluate English proficiency.

California Institute of Technology*

Find your nearest IELTS test centre and test dates

* Please check with your chosen school for the exact entry requirements for your programme.

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