Ph.D. - Civil Engineering 

There are two basic requirements for an applicant to meet:

  1. An applicant must exhibit unmistakable evidence of penetrating mastery of a rather broad major field; such evidence is ordinarily provided by a Qualifying Examination, after which the applicant is fully admitted to the Ph.D. program.

    The individual’s PhD committee must notify the student in person and by email following passing the qualifying exam and copy the Chair and Graduate Programs’ advisor in Civil and Environmental Engineering Department of the requirements of the committee regarding paper publications as a result of the dissertation. The students will adhere to these requirements before Final Defense can be scheduled.
    The expectation of the committee may be addressed for example as follows: The committee will require at least one manuscript related to the PhD research of the student to be accepted by a peer-reviewed journal prior to the final PhD defense. A copy of the letter from the journal to the corresponding author of that acceptance must be submitted to the Graduate Program's Advisor prior to the scheduling of the Final Defense.

  2. A candidate must prove an ability to complete a significant program of original research by preparing a dissertation embodying creative scholarship, dissertation proposals are generally approved by passing the General Defense. The dissertation must add to the sum of existing knowledge and it must be presented with considerable literary skill, evaluated by a rigorous and comprehensive Final Doctoral Defense. 

All students are strongly encouraged to review and follow the PhD in Civil Engineering Program Checklist.

Qualifying Examination

The qualifying examination is to be scheduled preferably by the end of the first year of full time study, and definitely by the start of the second year. A Qualifying Examination consists of a written examination and/or an oral examination administered by the Ph.D. Advisory Committee to test the student's knowledge and capacity to pursue a doctoral degree in their respective research area. Generally, a graduate student is not formally admitted into the departments Ph.D. program until a qualifying examination has been passed. The Qualifying Exam should be requested through the department via form G105. This is a two-part form. Once the exam request is approved by the Civil Engineering Graduate Programs Committee (CEGPC), the student may move forward with scheduling the exam. After conclusion of the exam, the committee will complete and sign the second half of the G105 and the student will submit it for final approval by the CEGPC.

Advisory Committee

The student’s advisory committee is charged with administering all phases of the student’s Ph.D. program towards the doctorate degree. The student, in consultation with the major professor, will recommend the members of the advisory committee to the department via form G101: Graduate Degree Program.

In forming the advisory committee, the following requirements apply:

  • The advisory committee must comprise at least three (3) members of the graduate faculty, including the major professor, who acts as chair or co-chair and who must have a minimum of a 25% appointment in the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering.
  • If either an adjunct or a non-tenure track faculty member is the major professor, a full-time tenured or tenure-track graduate faculty member must co-chair the committee.
  • At least one-half (1/2) of the graduate faculty on doctoral committees must be full-time tenured or tenure-track faculty at LSU A&M. A minimum of two (2) of those faculty members must be from the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering and at least one (1) of whom must be a full member (also listed as "Seven Year Member") of the LSU graduate faculty.
  • The remaining members may be from the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering or may be from outside the department if pertinent to the student’s area of concentration, with the proviso that at least one (1) of the remaining members must be a full member of the graduate faculty.
  • Any declared outside minors require representation, either from among the first three members of the committee or by additional appointments to the committee
  • No more than one (1) non-graduate faculty requiring Administrative Approval can serve on a student’s Advisory Committee.
  • The Dean of the Graduate School appoints a member of the graduate faculty to serve on doctoral general and final defense committees (Dean's Representative). The name and contact information of this Dean's Rep will be communicated to the student prior to the date of the General Defense. The student is then responsible for contacting the Dean's Rep.

To view the list of the graduate faculty at LSU A&M, please visit If you know that one of your committee members will require Administrative Approval, please contact the Graduate Programs Coordinator as soon as possible to begin the approval process. 

Graduate Degree Program Form

Upon successful completion of the Qualifying Exam, students should work with their faculty advisor to map out their course work. To do this, students must complete and submit the G101: Graduate Degree Program for approval by the CEGPC.

A student's plan of study is subject to the following requirements:

  1. Students with a bachelor's degree and without a master's degree are required to earn a minimum of forty-two (42) credit hours of course work plus one (1) credit hour for the CE 7750 seminar course, exclusive of thesis and dissertation credit. These should be graduate credit courses taught by members of the graduate faculty (for a list of civil engineering graduate faculty, go to the Graduate School website). Not less than 21 credit hours of these hours should be in civil engineering subjects. At least one-half (1/2) of the minimum required graduate course work must be at or above the 7000 level. Full time graduate students should register for the one (1) credit hour seminar class (CE 7750) each and every semester. Part-time graduate students are required to register for this seminar only in their graduating semester (note: CE 7750 is not offered in the summer. Therefore, part-time students planning to graduate in the summer should take CE 7750 in the spring semester). Only one (1) hour of CE 7750 may be applied to satisfy the course requirements.
  2. Students entering a Ph.D. program with a Master's degree from LSU or another institution must take a minimum of eighteen (18) credit hours of course work plus one (1) credit hour for the CE 7750 seminar course, exclusive of thesis and dissertation credit. Not less than nine (9) credit hours of these hours should be in civil engineering subjects. Subject to approval of the advisory committee and the CEGPC, students transferring from doctoral programs of other institutions can transfer a maximum of twelve (12) credit hours of course work.
  3. Students should also select six (6) hours of graduate work to provide them with a tool such as computer science, mathematics, geology , etc.
  4. Students should select an area of concentration in one of the traditional areas of civil engineering (i.e., environmental engineering, water resources, geotechnical engineering, structures, mechanics of materials, transportation).
  5. A maximum of 6 credit hours of CE 7700 and 6 credit hours of CE 7701 can be counted toward a student's degree. 
  6. After the student's advisor and committee has approved and signed both parts of the G105 and the G101, the student should submit the forms to the Graduate Coordinator for approval by the CEGPC. 

General Defense and Doctoral Degree Audit

  1. This defense will be administered only after the candidate has satisfactorily prepared the dissertation proposal.
  2. The Request for Doctoral General Defense form is to be filed with the Graduate School via the Graduate Program Coordinator at least three (3) weeks prior to date of the defense. This form can be found on the Graduate School website.
  3. A dissertation proposal with G103 cover page should be submitted to the Graduate Coordinator at the same time of the Request for Doctoral General Defense (see information below regarding preparing the proposal).
  4. The general defense will be both written and oral. Part of the oral presentation will be the student's proposal for their dissertation.
  5. The student's advisory committee will decide the results of the defense (pass, fail, or retake) and no more than one member of the committee should be dissenting in deciding the acceptance of the student for candidacy.  


Dissertation and Final Doctoral Defense

A principal part of the students Ph.D. program is the dissertation. Each candidate must meet the following requirements:

  1. Submit a formal proposal no later than the time of the general defense. Preparation and typing of the dissertation proposal is the responsibility of the student. Dissertation proposal format should include:

    Cover Page (Form G103)
    Abstract (not more than 200 words)
    Literature Review
    Scope of Study (state limitations)
    Work Plan and Schedule

    It is expected that an informative dissertation proposal showing students interest, background and general grasp of the project will not be less than 5 and not more than 20 double spaced typed pages. Dissertation research proposals, for unfunded research, must include an estimate of computer and/or other costs associated with fulfilling the objectives of the project. Students should review this matter with their advisers so that a reasonable estimate of the cost can be included in the proposal. The dissertation proposal will be considered for approval at the time of the general defense.
  2. Students should plan to review the progress of their dissertation research periodically with their advisory committee.
  3. The Request for Final Doctoral Defense form (found on the Graduate School website) is to be filed with the Graduate School via the Graduate Program Coordinator at least three (3) weeks prior to the date of the Final Defense or by the date listed on the Graduate School calendar if the student intends to defend in the same semester in which they will graduate. At the time the student submits their defense request they should also submit their Application for Degree. Both forms should be routed through the Graduate Coordinator.
  4. Copies of the dissertation must be in the hands of the student's committee at least three (3) weeks prior to the scheduled defense.
  5. Upon successful completion of the final defense, the student should submit their final dissertation to the Graduate School, following the instructions listed on the Graduate School's website. The student is responsible for providing a finalized bound version of the dissertation to the members of their advisory committee. 

An "S" or "U" will be awarded as the final grade for the dissertation. This grade is not averaged into the students semester or cumulative average.


  1. Qualifying Examination: Only under the most unusual circumstances may the student be permitted to retake the qualifying examination, and then only once.
  2. General and Final Defense: Both written and oral parts of the general and final defense can be repeated once and re-takes are conducted at the discretion and under the proviso of the student's major professor and committee.