Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Information for Prospective Students

Required Background

The interdisciplinary nature of the program allows students with a variety of backgrounds to undertake studies in this field. Students with a background in engineering—particularly chemical, civil, environmental, and mechanical engineering—as well as scientists from biology, chemistry, environmental science, and physics, are encouraged to participate.

Students admitted to the program are expected to have had rigorous undergraduate exposure to a number of relevant subject areas including air quality, environmental chemistry, fluid mechanics, microbial processes, and reactor theory and design. The degree to which each student meets the program’s background requirement is determined by participating faculty at the time of admission. Students with an insufficient background who are offered admission will be required to take a set of appropriate prerequisite courses. Prerequisite work typically involves at least two and frequently as many as five or six upper-division, undergraduate courses each of which must be completed with a final grade of B or better. Occasionally, lower-division work in chemistry, mathematics, or physics is required. The student’s specific prerequisite course work requirement, if any, is stated in the letter of admission.

The background requirement establishes a common foundation for graduate study in the program. Not all students are required to take prerequisite course work; those who are may do so following matriculation in the graduate program. In addition, M.S. students may use a limited amount of upper-division undergraduate course work taken to meet the background requirement in partial fulfillment of graduate degree requirements.

Examples of commonly required prerequisite courses within each of the required background areas are as follows:

  • Air Quality and Energy: Engineering MAE110, MAE115, or MAE164
  • Environmental Chemistry: CEE162 or Earth System Science 102
  • Environmental Microbiology:CBEMS112 or CBEMS116/216
  • Fluid Mechanics: CEE170, CBEMS120A, or MAE130A
  • Reactor Theory and Design: CEE163 or CBEMS110

Degree options

Two options are available for M.S. degree students: a thesis option and a course work option. Both options require the completion of at least 48 units of study. Please see core requirements and Plan of Study for each option. In addition, thesis option requires completion of an original research investigation and a thesis, and approval of the thesis by a thesis committee. Please see graduate handbook for detailed requirements.

The Ph.D. in Environmental & Energy Systems requires the achievement of original and significant research that advances the discipline.