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Graduate Student Handbook

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Revised November 2023

1. General Information

This publication is intended for current and prospective CEE graduate students to explain the procedures and forms necessary for successful completion of graduate-level degrees. Many of the forms discussed can be obtained from the department’s website or by contacting the Student Services Office located in:

Jerry Yang & Akiko Yamazaki Environment & Energy (Y2E2) Building 
473 Via Ortega, Room 316 (Third Floor, Red Atrium) 
Stanford, CA 94305

Completing and turning in all forms to the appropriate office in a timely manner is strictly the responsibility of the student and not of the faculty advisor or administrative staff.

CEE Student Services Contacts

Financial aid, stipends, assistantshipsNan Hwa Aoki  
CEE Director of Student and Academic Services  
Y2E2 Room 314  
nanaoki@stanford.edu  
650-725-2387
  
Student outreach and engagementMorgan Diamond  
CEE Assistant Director of Student Engagement  
Y2E2 Room 303  
mediamond@stanford.edu  
650-497-9217
Degree progress, graduating, courses, or   
changing programs or advisor
Jill Filice  
CEE Assistant Director of Degree Progress  
Y2E2 Room 316  
jill.filice@stanford.edu  
650-725-2386

 

The CEE faculty Co-Directors of Graduate Studies (DGS) are Profs. Ronaldo Borja and Nicholas Ouellette. They are responsible for overseeing graduate studies in the Department. They also provide an additional faculty resource for graduate students, in addition to their advisors and thesis committee members, regarding department policies and procedures.

This Handbook outlines department-level expectations and procedures. The Stanford Bulletin is frequently referenced along with other university-level web links, as it is not feasible for this CEE Handbook to cover every university-level policy or procedure. Students bear the responsibility for referring to and familiarizing themselves with and abiding by the most up-to-date information on University Policy and Procedures. If you have any questions about the information contained in this CEE Graduate Degrees Handbook, please see your academic advisor or the department’s Student Services Administrators listed above for clarification.

Useful Resources

Academic CalendarAcademic year events and key dates, including billing deadlines.
AxessAxess is a consolidated online platform used by the Stanford community to access information and record transactions related to Academic Advising; Teaching and Grading; Employment; Student Enrollment and Financials; Training; and Workflow-Enabled Administrative Processes.
Bechtel International CenterFor international students. Bechtel offers guidance and assistance in maintaining compliance with immigration regulations.
Graduate Academic Policies & ProceduresThe Graduate Academic Policies and Procedures handbook (GAP) is a compilation of university policies and other information related to the academic progress of Stanford graduate students, from their application and admission to the conferral of degrees and retention of records.
Graduate Life Office (GLO)GLO provides a source of comprehensive, impartial guidance and information related to all aspects of your life as a graduate student.
Graduate Student FormsForms pertaining to graduate studies.
HousingOn and off campus housing information.
I-9 FormsHow to submit an I-9 form.
Stanford News & PublicationsProvides the latest news about Stanford as well as information about upcoming events on campus.
Stanford BulletinStanford University's official catalog of courses (including time scheduling), degrees, policies, and University and degree requirements.
Stanford Bulletin: Explore CoursesBrowse for courses by subject and view previous academic year offerings.
Stanford Directory (Stanford Who)Directory of university community members with contact information.
Stanford Fundamental StandardThe Fundamental Standard is an aspirational statement of Stanford's ideal of civic and moral community.
Stanford Honor CodeThe Honor Code is the University’s statement about academic integrity. It governs student conduct in all academic endeavors and guides the relationship between students and faculty. All new graduate students must complete an online training module regarding the Honor Code during their first quarter at Stanford.
Student Services CenterLocated on the second floor of Tresidder Memorial Union. They provide a single point of service for answers to questions concerning administrative and financial issues.
CEE Student IntranetInformation for CEE students, including answers to frequently asked questions.
Office of the Vice Provost for Graduate Education (VPGE)The VPGE office works collaboratively across the University to ensure that every graduate student has the best possible education.

Registration (Filing a Study List)‌

Course Enrollment           
Graduate students must be registered in the Autumn, Winter, and Spring quarters of each academic year until conferral of the degree. Students who are receiving financial aid (including fellowships) must check with CEE Student Services to determine whether registration in the Summer is required. The course enrollment system opens approximately 1 month in advance of the start of a new quarter. As per University policy, all units for a graduate degree must be from courses at or above the 100-level.

Graduate students must enroll for at least 8 units per quarter in Autumn, Winter, and Spring quarters. Permission to enroll in fewer than 8 units in the last quarter before qualifying for terminal graduate registration (TGR) status or during the quarter of graduation may be granted by filing the appropriate e-form from the Registrar in Axess. Coterms are not eligible for Part-Time Enrollment Status if their undergraduate degree is active or has not been conferred.

Student Services forms can be found via the Student Services Forms Page 

Digital forms can also be found through Axess eForms

When enrolling in individual study or thesis/dissertation units, follow the Registrar’s step-by-step instructions.

Academic Deadlines          
Before the start of each quarter, you will receive an email from the Registrar’s office explaining the registration requirements and deadlines. The Registrar also posts deadlines in the Academic Calendar. If you miss a deadline, you may incur a fee or even lose student status.

Key academic deadlines include:

  • At-status enrollment deadline in order to receive stipend or financial aid refund by first day of term
  • Preliminary Study List Deadline (must be enrolled in classes)
  • Final Study List Deadline (must be enrolled in the classes you are taking the rest of the quarter, no more adding and dropping)
  • Change of Grading Basis Deadline
  • Course Withdrawal Deadline

 

Additional deadlines posted by the Registrar for each quarter in the academic calendar include:

  • Deadline to submit Leave of Absence for full refund
  • Term withdrawal deadline to submit Leave of Absence with a partial refund
  • Application deadline for current quarter degree conferral
  • Late application deadline for current quarter degree conferral (for a fee)

     

Petitions may be filed for missing deadlines, but they are not routinely accepted and will usually incur a fee. Failure to register or take an approved leave of absence results in cancellation of registration privileges. If a student wishes to re-enroll, an Application for Reinstatement in Graduate Study form must be filed.

Units, Grades & Academic Performance

Graduate Units and Residency Requirement        
Each graduate degree at Stanford has a unit-based residency requirement. The MS degree requires 45 units, the Engineer requires 90 units, and the PhD requires 135 units. Only completed course units may be counted toward the University residency requirement. A summary of these requirements as applied to CEE graduate degrees is shown in Table 1.

The CEE graduate degree programs place further restrictions on the specific course work or combination of course work, research, and thesis units required for each graduate degree. All units counted towards graduate degrees in CEE must be from courses at or above the 100-level. Units earned in courses below the 100-level may not be counted towards the minimum residency unit requirement for a CEE graduate degree.

Table 1.   Minimum units (residency) for CEE graduate degrees

DegreeMinimum Number of Acceptable UnitsMaximum Allowable Unitsof Stanford MS Units or Transfer Units
CEE-MS450
CEE-Engineer*9045
CEE-PhD**13545

*Units completed for a Master’s degree at Stanford may be applied to the 90-unit residency requirement for the Engineer degree.      
**Units completed for a Master’s degree at Stanford may be applied to the 135-unit residency requirement for the PhD degree. At least 90 units must be completed at Stanford and applied toward the PhD. Subject to CEE department chair approval, up to 45 units completed for the CEE-Engineer degree may also be used toward the 135-unit residency requirement for the PhD degree.

 

Transferring Residency Credit (for PhD or Engineer only)     
If you completed graduate-level course work or a Master’s degree at another school, you may apply for transfer credit after completing at least one successful quarter of work at Stanford. Up to 45-quarter units of residency credit may be granted towards your Engineer or PhD degree by submitting an Application for Graduate Residency Credit.

When completing this form, if your previous school was on the semester system, multiply your semester units by 1.5 to calculate quarter units. Admissibility of residency credit from a foreign university is also evaluated.

Note that only one Master’s degree (whether from Stanford or another institution) may count toward the PhD residency requirement.

Grade Type Requirement    
Courses taken to satisfy the requirements for a graduate degree normally should be taken for a Letter grade. Graduate School of Business (GSB) and Law School grading systems are considered to be graded units.

Credit/No Credit (not the same as S/NC)   
Some courses are offered with the option of enrolling for a letter grade or for a credit/no credit (CR/NC) option. No more than 6 units on a graduate degree program may be taken for CR/NC.  Additional courses may be taken to correct missing background knowledge, for example, if a student’s undergraduate major was in a different subject. These additional courses may be taken on a CR/NC basis if the advisor deems it appropriate, and if these courses are taken in addition to the prescribed unit requirements for a degree. Normally, the purpose of the CR/NC grading option is to encourage students to try courses outside of their major field of study and not to avoid a letter grade for a course within the major field.

The University deadline for signing up for the CR/NC option in a course is set by the Registrar (see Academic Calendar for deadlines). Because the availability of the CR/NC option is subject to the consent of the instructor, the instructor may set an earlier deadline. Students are advised to consult with instructors and advisors early in the quarter if considering a CR/NC option.

Academic Performance  
To be recommended for any graduate degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering, students must achieve an average Grade Point Average (GPA) of at least 3.0 in the Stanford courses counted toward their degree.

GPA is calculated as follows: A=4, B=3, C=2 and D=1; a plus (+) modifier adds 0.3 and a minus (-) modifier subtracts 0.3.

Graduate Study Minimum Progress in CEE

Course grades: Graduate students must achieve a minimum GPA of 3.0. Note: Students admitted to an MS program prior to Winter 2023 must achieve a minimum of 2.75.

Credit hours passed: Students enrolled for 11 or more units must pass at least 8 units per term that count toward their degree by the end of each term. Those registered for 8-10 units must pass at least 6 units per term that count toward their degree by the end of each term.

Notification of not meeting Graduate Study Minimum Progress in CEE: Students are responsible for ensuring that they are meeting the minimum progress requirements. Students who do not meet the requirements in a given quarter will receive a Below Minimum Progress Notification letter from the CEE Department Chair during the subsequent quarter. Students have the option to take a leave of absence after a quarter of not meeting minimum progress, and may wish to initiate this process before the subsequent quarter begins. A second leave of absence must be approved by the Department Chair and is only permissible for students who are meeting the minimum progress requirements.

Students who do not meet the minimum progress requirements for two consecutive quarters will receive a departmental hold on their enrollment. International students will not be granted an extension to their I-20’s. As informed in their first notification letter, students will have the option of taking a Voluntary Withdrawal from the Degree Program. If the student chooses not to withdraw from the program, a faculty committee will meet to review the student’s case for dismissal from the university and, if dismissed, the student will receive a Notification of Dismissal Letter.

Leaves of Absence

A student who wishes to interrupt their studies must obtain an approved leave of absence for any quarter(s) of the academic year in which they do not wish to be registered. Students are required to submit a Petition for a Leave of Absence prior to the first leave quarter by the date posted in the Academic Calendar. New graduate students may not take a leave during their first quarter, but are permitted to request a deferment of up to one year. Co-terminal students must register for graduate studies during the first quarter past 180 units.

The effective term of a student’s program will not be changed by the time spent on a leave of absence. For example, the M.S. degree program allows a term of 3 years (or 12 quarters) before it “expires”. A leave of absence of 2 quarters will leave the student with 10 quarters in which to complete the degree. Note that student visas for international students often expire after two years, which may limit the time allowed to complete the MS degree.

Use of University Facilities during a Leave of Absence

ResourceInformation
Library PrivilegesContact the Privileges Division, Green Library, to determine whether you may retain access and/or borrowing privileges while you are on leave.
Health Insurance

A Leave of Absence processed by the Registrar’s Office before the first day of instruction will cancel insurance coverage. Leaves processed after the start of classes will maintain health insurance fees and coverage for the quarter.

Contact Vaden Health Center (650-498-2336) for more information.

University Housing

University housing is generally not available to students on leave. Students with questions about room-and-board refunds should contact the Stanford Housing Assignment Services or the central office of the University Dining Services (for board refunds). Students with medical disabilities that require university medical services and birth parents on pregnancy leave may petition to remain in campus housing for one to two quarters while on leave. Pregnancy leaves must be registered with the Office of the VPGE. Approval requires good academic standing, department recommendation, and no outstanding financial obligations to Stanford.

 

Contact Housing Assignment Services (650-725-2810) for more information.

International Students

Nonimmigrant students and their dependents must maintain an appropriate visa status at all times. An absence from the U.S. of 5 or more months will result in termination of F-1 or J-1 status. If a student remains outside the U.S. for 5 or more months, a new I-20 or DS-2019 is necessary for re-entry.

Contact Bechtel International Center for more information.

Financial Aid

Prior to departure, students on Stanford fellowships should discuss the effect of a leave on their funding with their advisor and the CEE Director of Student and Academic Services. Promises of financial aid upon return are conditional on availability of funds.

Contact Financial Aid for more information regarding other forms of financial aid.

Loan Repayment

Students with outstanding loans should consider the effect of a leave on their loan status. The period of leave is counted by the lender as part of the total allowable grace period. If, during the leave period, the lender requests information on a student’s registration status, Stanford is required to report non-registration.

See GAP Section 5.3 for more information.

 

Extending a Leave of Absence  
In the event that a student cannot return to active status at the end of the requested leave, a request for extension of leave of absence must be filed before the end of the leave period. Students must petition for the approval of the Directors of Graduate Studies in CEE. Approval is typically not granted except for medical reasons.

Applying to Graduate

Graduation Quarter   
Graduate students who have completed all of the requirements for their Engineer or PhD degree program except the final submission of a project, thesis, or dissertation may be eligible for one quarter of Graduation Quarter status. This quarter allows the student to complete and submit a dissertation or Engineer thesis. There is a registration fee listed under the Graduation Quarter Status on the Stanford Student Services site. To qualify, students must have been registered as a full-time student in the preceding quarter. Graduate students who fail to complete their dissertation or Engineer thesis during the Graduation Quarter status will have to pay the applicable tuition for the following term(s) until the degree is awarded. To apply for Graduation Quarter status, students must submit a Graduate Student Graduation Quarter Petition in Axess.

Applying for Graduation Quarter status is separate from applying to graduate. All students who intend to graduate must notify the University by filing an Application to Graduate through Axess. You must be registered in the quarter you apply to graduate. Applications must be filed by the posted deadline.

Withdrawing or changing your application to graduate   
In the event that you decide to withdraw from graduating you must follow the procedures outlined in the GAP. To change any part of your application (e.g., an incorrect diploma name or distribution instructions), students should submit a help ticket with the Diploma Office as soon as possible. Students who withdraw their application to graduate or who fail to complete degree requirements must file a new application to graduate in a subsequent quarter.

If you have a reasonable likelihood of finishing your degree requirements, then you should apply to graduate. It is easier to withdraw an application than to petition and add your name to the recommending list (and pay a late fee) after the deadline.

Participation in the June Commencement Ceremony   
The academic year at Stanford University culminates with the yearly Commencement Ceremony at the end of Spring quarter in June. CEE students may participate in both the university-wide ceremony and a ceremony held by the CEE department. If there is a reasonable likelihood that you will complete all requirements and be able to graduate at the end of Spring Quarter, you should apply by the posted deadline (typically in April). You may withdraw your name any time after the deadline, without charge.

If you do not plan on completing your degree by the end of Spring Quarter but graduation is probable within the next year, you may choose to “walk-through” the commencement ceremonies (both the general ceremony and the departmental one). To be eligible to “walk- through,” MS students should have completed at least 36 units and have department and School of Engineering approval. Engineer and PhD students need department/school approval.

Walking through the ceremony is no different from attending the graduation ceremony after you complete your degree work. Diplomas will not be mailed until completion of your degree work.

To walk-through, students must submit both the CEE Commencement RSVP form and the CEE Walkthrough Request form by the deadlines posted on the Applying to Graduate page, usually mid to late May.

Diplomas, Transcripts, Degree and Enrollment Verification   
Be sure to check that your mailing address is correct on Axess. Diplomas will be sent out the week after Commencement. Please allow 6-8 weeks for diploma delivery; international shipping may take more time. There is no diploma pickup site on campus. Contact the Diplomas team for more information.

See Student Services for degree verification, enrollment verification, and transcripts. Third parties may be referred to the National Student Clearinghouse.

International Student Matters

Bechtel International Center   
The most current information for F-1 and J-1 students and scholars is available from Bechtel International Center.

Registration Requirement  
For new students, initial enrollment on Axess is blocked until the student attends one of the “Maintaining Legal Status” sessions held at the Bechtel International Center. Bechtel additionally coordinates a two-week orientation period with sessions about what to expect from life on campus. All graduate students holding F-1 or J-1 visas must register full time (8 units minimum) each quarter of the academic year (Autumn, Winter, Spring). However, students who complete three consecutive quarters (which may include Summer) at full-time status may take a later quarter as vacation or engage in CPT.

You should notify Bechtel International Center concerning any quarter out of sequence that you do not plan to register. Stanford University has a legal responsibility to notify the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) of any student who fails to register by the last day of registration.

English for Foreign Students (EFS)  
Some students receive a “To Do” Axess item to take the English Placement Test. Once all parts of the exam have been rated, the student will be sent a form listing any required or recommended courses, along with general advice regarding the timing and order of taking EFS courses. Required courses must be completed before graduation will be allowed. 

Extensions of Stay  
It is the student’s responsibility to keep track of matters concerning visas. Students holding F-1/ J-1 visas are required to apply for an updated I-20/DS-2019 and show proof of financial ability if they change their degree level or if their academic program cannot be completed by the program end date listed on their I-20/DS-2019 (consult Bechtel International Center for details).

Employment  
Students holding either an F-1 or J-1 visa may seek part-time (not to exceed 20 hours per week) employment on campus during the academic year (Aut/Win/Spr quarters). During vacation periods, they may work full-time on campus provided they intend to register the following quarter. J-1 students must obtain on-campus employment authorization via Axess prior to the start date of employment, including for RA and CA positions.

F-1 students are not permitted to work off-campus during the first 3 quarters of their studies in the United States. Students who would like to work off campus after the first 3 quarters may request work authorization (Curricular Practical Training (CPT) or Optional Practical Training (OPT)) from Bechtel. Working off campus without work authorization is a violation of immigration regulations. Spouses of those with an F-1 visa who hold an F-2 visa are not permitted to work in the U.S.

J-1 students must request off-campus work permission from their visa sponsor (in most cases, Stanford) prior to working off-campus. Permission must be given in writing from the visa sponsor.

A comparison of Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT) is available on the website of the Bechtel International Center. Students who wish to pursue CPT are required to obtain their CPT advisor’s consent, submit the online application in Bechtel Connect, and enroll in CEE 398 under their CPT advisor’s section number during the training period and report on the training to their CPT advisor. Students must notify their advisor and obtain their approval before enrolling in CEE 398.

Reporting a Change of Address  
The DHS requires all non-immigrant and permanent residents (including international students, scholars, and their families) to report any change of address. Reporting a change of address must be done within 10 days. The University must be able to track the whereabouts of international students per federal policy. As such the Bechtel International Center strongly recommends careful attention to this often-forgotten rule.

For more information see Bechtel's Address Update Guide.

Social Security Number  
The following students are eligible for a Social Security Number (SSN):

  • F-1 students who have on-campus employment or who are working off-campus on OPT or CPT
  • J-1 students who have a letter of permission to work from their sponsor. This could be Stanford or an outside organization such as Fulbright.
  • All J-1 Scholars
  • J-2 spouses with work permission (EAD card)
  • Employees in H-1B, TN or O-1 status

You will need two letters before going to the SSN office: one from the employing department, and one from Bechtel. CEE will only provide a SSN letter if your employment is within the CEE department and your employment period has begun. You can request a letter on this page. If you are a new F-1 or J-1 student, Bechtel will not provide a letter until at least 30 days after the I-20/DS-2019 program start date.

Taxes  
All incoming students on the F-1 or J-1 visa are considered non-residents for income tax purposes unless they have been in the United States previously. In general, payments to research and teaching assistants are subject to federal taxation. Tax treaties with different foreign countries may mitigate some of the tax liabilities. For advice about claiming tax treaty exemptions and other Payroll related questions, please contact the Stanford Payroll office by submitting a help ticket.

The State of California is a separate taxing authority and may impose a tax on non-resident students regardless of their federal tax status. Federal and state income taxes are due on April 15 for the previous tax year. Although staff at Stanford cannot provide professional tax advice, there are some tax-related resources here. For further guidance, students are advised to seek a professional tax advisor.

Environmental Health and Safety

The department is committed to a strong program of accident and injury prevention and to compliance with all relevant environmental and health and safety regulations. Everyone in the department has responsibilities for ensuring a safe and healthy environment.

Environmental Health & Safety Training Programs     
Safety regulations are stringent in industry and Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S) training is an important part of your preparation for a career in civil or environmental engineering. To ensure that everyone understands the importance and practical application of Stanford’s EH&S procedures, the department provides a three-tiered training program. A certification attesting to that training must be on file with the department. To receive 24-hour access to the Y2E2 building, students must complete the following EH&S Safety Training classes:

LevelTraining
Tier 1 and Tier 2

All new faculty, staff, students and visitors must complete both Tier 1 and Tier 2 training. 

Tier 1 concerns general safety issues such as emergency response, earthquakes, accident reporting, and safety information resources (General Safety/Emergency Prep, EHS-4200-WEB). 

Tier 2 training covers chemical handling, storage, compressed gases, and electrical safety and must be completed before using any labs (Lab Safety/Chem Hygiene , EHS-1900-WEB; Compressed Gases Safety, EHS-2200-WEB; Basic Electrical Safety, EHS-2800-WEB). 

CEE graduate students must fulfill the EHS-4200-WEB requirement online before arriving on campus. Information on completing the training is provided before the fall quarter starts and reviewed at the CEE New Graduate Student Orientation, which is held the week prior to the first day of instruction in Autumn Quarter.

Tier 3

This training is process- and site-specific and is required before the student is permitted to become actively involved in laboratory work. Tier 3 training must be documented.

The faculty advisor or a designee of the advisor generally administers this training.

 

What to do in the event of an accident/incident/exposure  
In the event of an accident/incident/exposure, students should seek medical attention immediately. There are four options, depending on the severity of the injury and when it occurred.

Injury TypeWhere to go
Minor InjuriesVaden Health Center at 866 Campus Drive East (at Cowell Lane) is the preferred health provider for relatively minor injuries because of its close proximity and because most (but not all) care at Vaden involves no charge to students. Injuries for which care is available at Vaden include, but are not limited to, minor abrasions and contusions, superficial lacerations (skin), limited thermal and chemical burns, and possible fractures. Vaden - Minor Injuries
Life-threatening InjuriesIn a life-threatening condition such as a major injury, loss of consciousness, convulsion, or difficulty breathing, call a paramedic and/or ambulance assistance at 9-911 on campus, or use a blue emergency phone. Call 911 if you are not on campus or are calling from your cell phone. Vaden - Immediate Medical Help
Serious and Emergency InjuriesStanford Hospital Emergency is the preferred health provider for serious injuries (e.g., cyanide poisoning, ingestion of chemicals and laboratory gases, head injuries with loss of consciousness or visual changes, significant thermal or chemical burns, significant lacerations and fractures, serious dislocations, major crush injuries). Stanford Healthcare - Emergency Help 
OtherPrivate caregivers, if in the immediate area.

Accident Reporting    
Please call the EH&S Incident Hotline at 650-725-9999 to report serious injuries (particularly anything requiring a hospital visit) and chemical spills that cannot be cleaned up safely.

In the event of an accident involving an employee, a student, or a visitor, an SU-17 Incident Investigation Report form from Environmental Health & Safety must be completed and filed with the Office of Risk Management whether or not the injured or exposed person received medical attention.

All graduate students, postdocs, staff scientists, etc. are eligible to go to the Occupational Health Center (OHC) for any work-related injury (ergonomic injuries, chemical exposures, trips and falls in the lab, etc.). Safety concerns can also be submitted (including anonymously) at the OHC. Please contact EH&S with any questions.

Only employees are eligible for Worker’s Compensation. If a student is injured while working as a University employee (e.g., as a teaching assistant, research assistant, post-doctoral fellow, food service worker, etc.), the University will assume on a case-by-case basis the costs of medical care and other benefits as required by Worker’s Compensation. When seeking medical assistance, the student should identify him/herself as an employee (not as a student) if employed by the University.

Counseling and Mental Health   
Stanford University’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). CAPS providers are here to support your mental health. The process is fluid and meant to respond to your individual needs. In order to connect with someone at CAPS, call 650-723-3785 on weekdays from 9am-4pm, or come by in person. After a brief conversation with CAPS staff, you will be matched to the most appropriate resource(s) and support. For urgent support, call the Confidential Support Team Hotline at 650-725-9955 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Emergency Numbers

Emergency (on-campus)9-911
Emergency (off-campus or from cell phone)911
Stanford Hospital Emergency650-723-5111

Counseling & Mental Health Resources

Campus Resources

 

Off Campus Resources

 

Office of Accessible Education (OAE)

The Office of Accessible Education (OAE) is the campus entity designated to work with Stanford students with disabilities, at both the undergraduate and graduate levels (including the professional schools). The OAE provides an array of support services, accommodations, and programs to remove barriers to access in the life of the University. 

In reaching its determinations about appropriate accommodations, the OAE considers factors such as the documentation from professionals specializing in the area of the student’s diagnosed disability, the student’s functional limitations, and the student’s input and accommodation history in regard to particular needs and limitations. The OAE then works with the student and relevant faculty and staff to achieve an accommodation that meets the needs of all parties. 

Students approved for academic accommodations through the Office of Accessible Education (OAE) are responsible for requesting accommodation letters via OAE | CONNECT, and sharing those letters with instructors as early in the quarter as possible.  

To initiate services with OAE, visit oae.stanford.edu

Fellowships & Assistantships

Financial aid administered by the department includes fellowships and assistantships for research and teaching. If you are receiving aid and have a question about the type or amount, you should speak with your faculty advisor.

For timely receipt of stipends (pay) on the first day of the term and/or disbursement of the tuition allowance, graduate students must enroll in a minimum of 8 units (or have TGR status) by the course enrollment deadline for each quarter. For the dates, please refer to the Academic Calendar.

Fellowship Funding    
Click for or details on fellowship funding

Assistantship Funding     
Click for details on assistantship funding

Additional help is available on the Graduate Student Funding Portal.

2. Master of Science

Degree Programs   
The Master’s degree is offered under the general regulations of the University as set forth in the Stanford Bulletin. The Master’s degree offered by the department is the Master of Science in Civil and Environmental Engineering, which has a focus in one of six areas of study (referred to as “subplans” in Axess): Atmosphere/Energy, Environmental Engineering, Mechanics and Computation, Structural Engineering, Sustainable Design and Construction, and Sustainable Engineered Systems.

General Requirements

Programs of Study   
Students admitted to graduate study with a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering (or its equivalent) from an accredited curriculum can normally satisfy the requirements for an MS degree by completing a minimum of 45 units of courses at Stanford following an approved program of study (Program Proposal for a Master's Degree) subject to the following conditions:

  • At least 30 units must be at the graduate level (courses numbered 200 or above) and at least 24 (of the 30) units must be from the School of Engineering. In addition, each of the CEE program areas has specific coursework and requirements designed to ensure the course of study has sufficient focus on appropriate CEE topics.

No thesis is required for the Master’s degree. Each program has limits on the number of non-graded units. Consult with your advisor as to the maximum units acceptable in your program for courses with the grade types of S/NC or CR/NC. Finally, your advisor and the department chairperson must approve your program of study (see Program Proposal for a Master's Degree).

The co-terminal MS in CEE or Engineering is subject to these same requirements. No course taken prior to Autumn quarter of sophomore year may be used as part of the required 45 graduate units.

Units earned in courses below the 100-level are not accepted toward the minimum requirements for the MS degree. Non-technical courses, such as remedial English-language instruction (those checked as required on the Report on English Screening), music courses, or physical education courses, may not be included in the 45 units of required course work. Students may take any courses they wish beyond the 45 program units.

If you do not have a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering (or its equivalent) from an accredited curriculum, you must complete those undergraduate courses that are considered important for entry into the CEE graduate program, including undergraduate courses that are prerequisites for the required graduate courses for your MS program. Each program outlines these requirements on their program websites. In meeting these requirements, you may need to enroll in more than 45 total units to obtain the master’s degree, as only a limited number of undergraduate prerequisite courses may be counted towards your MS degree. Graduate students are advised to confer with their academic advisor to review program course requirements as well to identify any deficiencies throughout their study. Any changes or adjustments to the program will require the advisor’s consent.

Finally, note that MS students must enroll in at least one course offered by the CEE department each quarter to remain in good academic standing. Exceptions to this policy can be made for students in the Atmosphere/Energy subplan when approved by their academic advisor.

Program Proposal for a Master’s Degree 
No degree can be recommended for conferral unless a Program Proposal for a Master’s Degree has been filed and represents an accurate program of study. Meet with your advisor during your first quarter of graduate study to agree upon a proposed program of coursework. Submit a Program Proposal for a Master’s Degree during this first quarter, regardless of how many quarters you plan to spend completing the requirements (45 units) for the degree, by filling out the Program Proposal for a Master’s Degree form.

List courses in the order in which they will be taken, grouped by quarter and including only the 45 units that should be considered for the degree. When your advisor and the department have approved this form, this list of courses becomes your official program of study for the master’s degree.

If your actual course work changes after submitting the Program Proposal for a Master’s Degree, you must complete a revised form that will be reviewed for approval by your academic advisor. This form must also be submitted before the end of the second week of the final quarter of your program of study to verify that no changes to the proposed coursework have been made. You should also discuss changes to your proposed plan with your advisor whenever they occur to ensure that your modified course of study still satisfies the program requirements.

Extending Your Program   
Per University policy, Master’s degree students have three years beginning with the first quarter of enrollment to complete their Master’s degree program. Exceptions are made for (1) honors cooperative students, who have five years from the beginning of their first quarter of enrollment in the program, (2) co-terminal students, who have three years after the quarter in which they have completed the 180 units for their undergraduate degree, and (3) international students with 2-year visas. Since the CEE MS program does not require research or a thesis, the U.S. Government does not allow our department to approve a request for a visa extension unless there is a documented medical reason for not completing the MS within 2 years.

These time limits are referred to as “program authorization” and are based on calendar years, not registration quarters. Leave of absences do not extend or expedite the expiration of the program authorization.

Review your situation with your advisor as soon as you realize that you may be unable to complete the requirements of your program of study within the prescribed time limits. If it is agreed that more time will be required, you must submit both an Application for Extension of Candidacy and a Master’s Program Proposal before your program authorization expires. This form may be used to request an extension of the time limits for completion of your Master’s degree program for up to one year. Extensions require a review of your academic progress and advisor approval. After obtaining your advisor’s signature, submit both forms to the Assistant Director of Degree Progress.

Second MS Degree   
Master’s students may apply for a second Master’s degree within the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering or in another department. The second MS degree is subject to the same general requirements as the first. None of the 45 units of course work used to complete the requirements for the first degree may be applied for the second MS degree program. Some seminars and directed study courses can be repeated if the subject matter is different during the second degree.

Each department has a different approach to admission for a second MS, so it is important to check with the appropriate Student Services Office.

3. Engineer

The Engineer degree is offered under the general regulations of the University as set forth in the Stanford Bulletin. This degree is recommended for students who expect to engage in a professional career in industry. The program is rigorous and should be undertaken only by students with the ability for independent work. It requires a minimum of 90 units beyond the Bachelor’s degree. Students must be admitted to candidacy and must complete a thesis. Most students take 2 or more years to complete their thesis.

Graduate students who lack adequate background in their area of degree specialization or who are not full-time students will likely need to enroll in more than 90 units. Engineer degree candidates should develop individually tailored expected-progress timetables in consultation with their program advisor.

Applying for the Engineer Degree as a Current MS Student  
If you are a current MS student at Stanford and wish to continue study for the department’s Engineer degree, you must submit a new application for the program through the Stanford application system in the fall quarter, which will be considered alongside all other applications. Details for how to apply can be found on the Civil & Environmental Engineering website.

Residency & Program Requirements  
A minimum of 90 units of graduate study is required for the Engineer degree. For most students, the Master’s degree supplies 45 of these units. If your Master’s degree was obtained at another school, you can apply to transfer up to 45 units of residency credit by completing an Application for Graduate Residency Credit. No units need to be transferred if you hold an MS degree from Stanford. Note that 45 units refers to units in a quarter system; you will need to convert semester units into quarter units if your previous Master’s degree is from a school on the semester system. Guidelines are given on the form.

The 45 post-MS units for an Engineer Degree in Civil & Environmental Engineering must meet the following requirements:

  • All 45 units must be 100+ level, and at least 23 units must be 200+ level.
  • No more than 6 out of these 45 units may be taken on a CR/NC basis. However, there is no limit on S/NC units.
  • No PE or MUSIC units may be counted as part of these 45 units.
  • All 45 units must be approved by your advisor as being relevant to your ENG studies.
  • At least 24 of the 45 post-MS units must consist of lecture- or laboratory-style classes. [Note: Your program or advisor may require more than this 24-unit minimum.] To qualify as lecture- or laboratory-style, these 24 units must meet the following constraints:
    • No independent study (INS), activity (ACT), or research (RES, RSC) classes may count. (Class type for each course is given in the Schedule pulldown on ExploreCourses)
    • No seminar-style classes may count. These are often (but not always) listed under the class type SEM or COL; the course title or description may feature words like seminar or colloquium. The CEE department defines a class as seminar-style if >50% of the class meeting time is devoted to guest speakers and/or student presentations. ENGR103 is the only exception.
    • 1-unit courses may count towards these 24 units only if they are CME workshops (WKS). No other 1-unit courses may count.
    • No EFSLANG courses may count.
  • The other up to 21 units in this category may include: 
    • INS, ACT, RES and RSC classes, and thesis units (e.g., CEE299, 300, 365A, 370A, 381).
    • Seminar-style classes and 1-unit courses.
    • EFSLANG courses, if required or strongly recommended on the English assessment form.
  • Your thesis research must be supervised by a Stanford faculty member and normally should begin during the first quarter of study after the Master’s degree.
  • Your advisor and the Department Chair must approve your program of study by signing the completed Application for Candidacy for the Degree of Engineer form.

Applying for Candidacy for the Degree of Engineer  
Review the requirements for the degree then meet with your Engineer Degree advisor during your first quarter of post-MS study to agree upon a proposed program of study. Before the last week of the second quarter of study, complete an Application for Candidacy for the Degree of Engineer (approved and signed by your academic advisor) and submit it to the CEE Assistant Director of Degree Progress.  The submittal of this form is a University requirement and admits the student into candidacy.

Changing your Academic Program  
If your actual course work changes after submitting the Application for Candidacy for Degree of Engineer you must submit a revised form approved and signed by your academic advisor to CEE Assistant Director of Degree Progress. This form is typically submitted only once, before the end of the second week of the final quarter of your program of study, when all changes to the proposed coursework have already been made. However, you must discuss changes to your proposed plan with your advisor whenever they occur to ensure that your modified course of study still satisfies the program requirements. With approval from your advisor and the department, the revised list of courses becomes your official program of study for the Engineer degree.

Extension of Candidacy  
If you are unable to complete the requirements of your Engineer degree program of study within five years, you must complete an Application for Extension of Candidacy form and have your advisor sign for approval. This form may be used to extend the time limits for completion of your Engineer degree program for up to one year. Extensions require a review of your academic progress and approval from the department chairperson. Email the completed form to the CEE Assistant Director of Degree Progress for the Department Chair’s signature and processing.

Submission of Thesis  
The acceptance of the Engineer thesis by the department and the university is the final step prior to degree conferral. Students should consult with the graduate degree progress officer in the Registrar’s Office to review format requirements for the thesis prior to submission. Guidelines and formatting regulations may be found here. Instructions and deadlines for thesis submissions to the Office of Graduate Degree Progress are found here.

Terminal Graduate Registration (TGR)  
Once certain milestones have been completed, Engineer Degree students may apply for TGR status, with reduced tuition payments. To be eligible for TGR status as an Engineer Degree student you must have:

  • Satisfactorily completed all courses on the Application for Candidacy for Engineer Degree form. If the program has changed a new form must be approved by your advisor and submitted to the CEE Assistant Director of Degree Progress. at least two weeks before your TGR start quarter.
  • Accrued 90 completed units of residency prior to the TGR start quarter and completed residency requirement for all active and completed degree programs.

Upon fulfilling these requirements, submit a Request for TGR Status e-form in Axess. Be sure to submit your e-form before the start of the first quarter in which you would like to have TGR status.

NOTE: Students with “required” or “strongly recommended” remedial English courses may not include those credits in the 45 degree-program-specific units on their Application for Candidacy for the Degree of Engineer; however, these units may be part of the overall total units. These requirements must be met before TGR status is requested.

Registration with TGR Status  
Students with TGR status should enroll in CEE 801 Thesis Project using the section number assigned to their principal advisor and should continue to enroll in CEE 801 every quarter until conferral of the degree, including the graduation quarter.

Each quarter, your principal advisor will evaluate your thesis work as a measure of continued academic progress, and you will receive a grade of either:

  • N or S, indicating satisfactory progress prior to the final quarter of TGR status and graduation.
  • N- indicating unsatisfactory progress prior to the final quarter of TGR status and graduation. In the final quarter of TGR status, in order to graduate, a grade of S should be given.

If you receive an N- grade for any quarter, you should meet with your advisor and agree on a satisfactory plan for completing degree requirements. Subsequent N- grades may be grounds for dismissal.

4. PhD

The Doctor of Philosophy degree is offered under the general regulations of the University as set forth in the Stanford Bulletin. This degree is recommended for those who expect to engage in a professional career in research, teaching, or technical work of an advanced nature in civil or environmental engineering.

Applying for the PhD Program as a Current MS or Engineer Degree Student   
If you are a current MS or Engineer student at Stanford and wish to continue study for the PhD, you must submit a new application for the program through the Stanford application system in the fall quarter, which will be considered alongside all other applications. Details for how to apply can be found on the Civil & Environmental Engineering website.

Residency and Program Requirements   
The PhD requires completion of a minimum of 135 graduate units, with a GPA of at least 3.0. These 135 units can be divided into three subgroups:

  1. 45 units that can be satisfied by an MS degree or its equivalent
  • For an MS degree from Stanford, the MS units are credited automatically.
  • To receive up to 45 units of credit for an MS degree from outside of Stanford, the student must fill out and submit a Graduate Residency Transfer Credit Application.
  • A PhD student admitted with no MS degree must take sufficient coursework each quarter, until the General Qualifying Exam (GQE) is completed, to satisfy the requirements for a CEE MS degree by the end of the 6th non-Summer quarter of their PhD studies.
  1. At least 12 post-MS units of lecture- or laboratory-style classes
  • All units must be 200+ level.
  • Independent study (INS), activity (ACT), or research (RES, RSC) classes may not count. (Class type for each course is in the Schedule pulldown on ExploreCourses)
  • Seminar-style classes may not count. These are often (but not always) under the class type SEM or COL; the course title or description may feature words like seminar or colloquium. The CEE department defines a class as seminar-style if >50% of the class meeting time is devoted to guest speakers and/or student presentations. ENGR103 is the only exception.
  • PE, MUSIC, or EFSLANG units may not count.
  • No 1-unit courses may count.
  1. Additional graduate coursework needed to reach a total of 135 completed units
  • All courses must be 100+ level.
  • Thesis units (CEE399 or 400) may be included.
  • Courses of all class types may be counted (including SEM, COL, INS, ACT, RES).
  • Additional CR/NC units may be counted.
  • Any units for a PhD minor not counted previously may be counted.
  • EFSLANG courses, if required or strongly recommended on the English assessment form, may be counted here, and must be completed before going TGR (or defending thesis).

 

Additionally, it is a general university policy that PhD students must complete 1 course of at least 3 units from each of 4 different Stanford Academic Council faculty members. These units can be counted toward any of the three subgroups above.

Requirements for Remaining in Good Academic Standing in CEE

  • PhD students must meet the minimum academic performance standards outlined in the general information section of this handbook.
  • PhD students are expected to conduct research supervised by a faculty member each quarter. Before aligning with a permanent dissertation advisor, this supervising faculty member must be appointed in CEE. An initial research advisor is specified in the admission letter to the PhD program. By mutual agreement, students may choose to continue research with the same faculty member or to work with a different CEE faculty member in subsequent quarters until aligning with a permanent advisor. 
  • By the end of the fourth quarter in the PhD program (generally the Summer quarter, for those who begin in the Autumn), students must reach a mutual agreement with a CEE faculty member to serve as a permanent dissertation advisor, and submit paperwork to CEE Student Services documenting this agreement.
  • By the end of the Winter quarter of year 2, students must complete and submit the General Qualifying Exam (GQE) form, scheduling the General Qualifying Exam (GQE). The deadline for passing the GQE is the end of the Spring quarter in year 2. Per university policy, leaves of absence, except for pregnancy and parental leaves and mandatory military leave, do not extend this deadline.
  • If a PhD student does not already have a Master’s degree, the student must take sufficient coursework each quarter, until completing the GQE, to satisfy the requirements for a CEE Master’s degree by the end of the 6th non-Summer quarter of PhD studies. This coursework may be either within a CEE MS program or for a general CEE MS (see next bullet). The student may fill out paperwork to have an MS degree conferred, but this is not required if they prefer not to obtain an MS. Units taken beyond these 45 may count towards the post-MS requirements (described above).
  • If the student chooses the general CEE MS requirements, the following requirements must be met:
    • 45 units of coursework in 100+ level classes 100+, with a coherent focus
    • Course of study must be planned in collaboration with, and with the approval of, your CEE PhD advisor
    • At least 36 units must be taken for a letter grade
    • At least 30 units must be graduate level (200+)
    • At least 27 units must be CEE courses
    • A maximum of 3 units may be seminars
    • A maximum of 6 units may be independent study or research courses
    • No remedial English language, physical education or language classes may count
    • None of these 45 units may be double-counted towards a PhD minor, or towards the post-MS requirements
  • All requirements for the PhD degree must be completed before candidacy expires. Candidacy is valid for five calendar years (through the end of the quarter in which candidacy expires), unless terminated by the department (for example, for unsatisfactory progress). The time limit is not extended by a student’s leave of absence, except for pregnancy and parental leaves and mandatory military leave.

     

Selecting a Research Area & Principal Advisor   
In most cases, students are admitted to the PhD program without a permanent dissertation advisor. To help students explore the range of research activities in the department and facilitate their alignment with a faculty member who will supervise their dissertation, the department requires students without a permanent advisor to conduct research rotations each quarter. The initial research advisor is stated in the admission letter to the PhD program. By mutual agreement, students may continue subsequent rotations with the same advisor or with a different CEE faculty member. To remain in good standing, all PhD students must align with a permanent advisor by the end of their fourth quarter in the PhD program (typically the Summer quarter).

On occasion, some PhD students are admitted with a permanent dissertation advisor already specified who will support the student’s funding and research immediately upon enrollment. In these cases, this arrangement will be specified in the admission letter. The letter will also specify any other explicit deadlines or requirements.

It is the student’s responsibility to find a permanent advisor. Faculty members are more likely to accept the responsibility of supervising the research of a student whom they have worked with during research rotations and whose abilities, initiative, and originality are fairly well known to them. Agreeing to work together on a dissertation research project is a serious commitment between a student and an advisor.

The Principal or Primary Doctoral Program or Doctoral Dissertation Advisor must be a CEE professor who is a member of the Academic Council. On occasion, a non-Academic Council member may serve as a co-advisor; however, this arrangement must be approved by the Department Chair.

Change of Advisor or Reading Committee Member   
If you wish to change your advisor or a reading committee member (see section below on Dissertation Reading Committee), email a Change of Dissertation Advisor or Reading Committee Member form to the CEE Assistant Director of Degree Progress. Failure to do so will result in a delay of approval for the dissertation until student records are correct. 

Note: This must be done before you apply for conferral of your degree so that your student records will be updated. Failure to file this form will result in conflicting information when signatures are being checked upon submission of your thesis or dissertation.

PhD Requirements: Three Courses + One Orientation

CEE379: Introduction to PhD Studies Seminar This one-unit seminar course, offered every Autumn quarter, will include faculty research presentations; presentations and discussion on career development; discussion on how to successfully conduct research during rotations; and the GQE requirements for all PhD students. Completion of this seminar course is required for all PhD students in Autumn quarter of Year 1 of their PhD.

Because pedagogy, teaching, and learning are important to the careers of PhD graduates, three required steps focused on these topics (one orientation and two 1-unit courses) are required for all PhD candidates.

  1. Orientation: The first step in the required educational process before serving as a teaching assistant (TA) is completion of the university’s 3-hr TA Orientation, offered at the beginning of each quarter by the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL).
  2. CEE200: Seminar on Teaching for TAs: This one-unit seminar, offered every Autumn quarter, introduces students to effective teaching practices and engineering pedagogy for Teaching Assistants. This course is the 2nd step in the required TAing educational process for all PhD students, and should be completed by Autumn of year 2.
  3. CEE200A or B or C: Teaching of Civil & Environmental Engineering: This one-unit class, offered Aut/Win/Spr, is the final step in this requirement. It should be taken concurrently with the first time serving as a teaching assistant at Stanford. PhD students cannot advance to TGR status until all 3 educational steps for TAing have been completed.

 

Entering Candidacy: General Qualifying Exam (GQE)   
Admission to the PhD program confers a student the status of being a PhD student but does not imply having been admitted to candidacy for the PhD degree. The designation of “PhD candidate” is reserved for students who have passed the department’s General Qualifying Exam and have submitted an approved program of PhD coursework on an Application for Candidacy for Doctoral Degree.

The general qualifying examination is designed to ensure that students have an in-depth understanding of the fundamental aspects of relevant graduate-level coursework, a thorough knowledge of the literature in their proposed area of research, a concrete research agenda, and the ability to communicate about their research effectively in both written and oral form. The GQE is an oral exam administered by a committee of at least three Academic Council faculty members lasting a total of no more than 180 minutes. It consists of a written literature review and research proposal that is presented to the GQE committee in private. This presentation is followed by a private questioning session from the GQE committee. Students must pass the GQE to advance to candidacy.

The key events leading to candidacy and granting of the PhD degree are:

  • Completing the Introduction to PhD Studies (CEE 379) seminar in the fall quarter of your 1st year as a PhD student
  • Obtaining approval from your identified primary advisor to sit for the GQE by filling out the General Qualifying Exam form, obtaining your advisor’s signature, and submitting the completed, signed form to the CEE Assistant Director of Degree Progress. The composition of the GQE committee must be approved by the CEE Department
  • Passing the GQE
  • Completing the TA educational requirements [previous section] and TAing at least 1 class  

 

Scheduling the GQE   
Stanford University expects PhD students to complete their GQE and advance to candidacy within 2 years of the start date for PhD studies. No extensions to this milestone are allowed by the university for leaves of absence, except for pregnancy and parental leaves and mandatory military leave. For most students, the GQE should be completed by the end of the student’s 6th non-Summer quarter as a PhD student at Stanford. Students should be aware that the GQE may be taken before these deadlines, and should consult with their advisor as to the most appropriate time for completing the GQE.

Paperwork needed for the GQE   
As a PhD student, you are the person empowered to keep track of GQE deadlines, to anticipate what deliverables must be prepared, and to remind your advisor about scheduling your GQE.

  1. At least one (1) quarter prior to the scheduled GQE examination date, you must submit to the CEE Assistant Director of Degree Progress.
    • The General Qualifying Exam form, with the top portion completed, listing your GQE exam date(s) and time(s), and the members of your GQE committee. Your principal advisor must have signed the signature line in the top half of the form to indicate their consent for you to sit for your exam. Your advisor will complete the rest of this form following the exam.
  2. At least two (2) weeks prior to the scheduled GQE examination date, you must submit to the CEE Assistant Director of Degree Progress.
    • A draft of your Application for Candidacy for Doctoral Degree (to allow your examiners to assess the adequacy of your proposed PhD coursework plan in supporting your proposed research). Prior to candidacy (that is, completion of the GQE), the University requires that at least 3 units of coursework must be completed with each of four Stanford Academic Council faculty members.
  3. A copy of your Program Proposal for the Master’s Degree if you received your MS from a different department at Stanford.

     

Format for the GQE 


Written Proposal   
The primary objectives of the written dissertation proposal are for the student to demonstrate a strong understanding of the field(s) relating to the potential focus of their thesis and the relationship between existing literature and the proposed research plan. Knowledge of the literature forms the basis for the work that the student proposes for the dissertation.

The written proposal portion of the GQE consists of a document outlining the proposed PhD research and a review of the relevant literature. The proposal is limited to a maximum of 15 pages of text (not including citations) that is similar in format to an NSF-style proposal. Details of the format should be discussed with the PhD advisor.

Although in many cases the candidate will have performed original research leading up to the dissertation proposal, it is not necessary to demonstrate this research in the proposal in its own section (i.e., a section on “Existing work”). If the student would like to present original research results to date, they should be discussed within the “proposed work” section of the proposal. In cases where the proposed research has already been published (or is awaiting publication), this research can be discussed in the literature review section. Work that has been submitted for publication should be included as an appendix to the proposal (and is not part of the 15-page limit).

Oral Presentation   
During the oral presentation portion of the GQE, the student will present the written proposal to the GQE committee in private. The presentation is then followed by questioning from the GQE committee. The total time of the exam may not exceed 180 minutes.

The examiners for the GQE will seek to ascertain that:

  • The content of the proposed research is relevant to an area of study approved by the advisor
  • The justification for the proposed research is adequate
  • The student has developed a suitable strategy for pursuing the subject
  • The student has a thorough knowledge of the relevant literature
  • The proposed research is original and will contribute to knowledge in the proposed area of study

In addition, the examiners may also ask the student to demonstrate their knowledge of coursework needed to pursue their proposed research.

During the GQE, the examiners may recommend adjustments to your proposed program of study, which should be discussed and incorporated into the final version of your application for candidacy.

Examiners for the GQE   
The GQE must be administered by at least three members of the Academic Council. A faculty member from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering must serve as either the primary advisor or co-advisor, and must be one of the examiners. The committee should have sufficient expertise in your area of research to examine you, and therefore the composition of the committee must be approved by the primary advisor.

On occasion, the department may approve permission for one of the three members to be an individual who is not on the Academic Council if that person is particularly well-qualified to consult on the dissertation topic and holds a PhD or foreign equivalent. Such approval must be requested on the Petition for Non-Academic Council Doctoral Committee Member form. Guidelines for non-Academic Council committee members are listed at the top of this petition. Petitions are not required for emeritus Stanford Academic Council members.

Advancing to Candidacy   
Students must pass the GQE to advance to candidacy. A decision on the outcome of the GQE will be given immediately upon completion of the private portion of the exam. The decision of passing or failing will be based upon all relevant information, including performance on the GQE and academic record to date as a PhD student. Passing the GQE signifies that a student may enter PhD candidacy and continue study toward the PhD degree. At the sole discretion of the committee, students who do not pass the exam may be permitted to retake it once. Regardless, the GQE must be successfully completed before the start of year 3, in accordance with university expectations.

To become an official candidate for a PhD degree, you must also complete and submit the final version of your Application for Candidacy for Doctoral Degree after passing the GQE. The proposed program of study must be typed or clearly printed using supplemental sheets as necessary. List only the 12 units of Post-MS course work. Do not list any of your anticipated thesis units (CEE300/CEE400) on this form. Be certain to indicate on the form the quarter in which you will complete your CEE 200A/B/C teaching requirement. Although it may change, an estimated date for completion of the PhD degree should also be given.

Changing your Academic Program   
If your actual course work changes after submitting the Application for Candidacy for Doctoral Degree, you must submit to the CEE Assistant Director of Degree Progress. a revised form approved and signed by your academic advisor. This form is typically submitted only once and it must be at least two weeks prior to either the Preliminary Study List Deadline/First Day of Instruction of your TGR start quarter (which is the university deadline for submitting your request for TGR status form) or your doctoral defense exam date. With approval from your advisor and the Department Chair, the revised list of courses becomes your official program of study for the Doctoral degree.

After obtaining your principal advisor’s signature, submit the form to the CEE Assistant Director of Degree Progress, for the department chairperson’s signature.

Extension of Candidacy   
If you are unable to complete the requirements of your PhD degree program of study within five years of admission to candidacy, you must complete an Application for Extension of Candidacy form. Be sure to review your situation with your advisor as soon as you realize that you will be unable to complete your PhD program within the specified time limits. You must submit this form before your candidacy expires. If you allow your candidacy to expire, your registration privileges will cease and you must apply for reinstatement to continue with your program.

The Application for Extension of Candidacy form may be used to extend the time limits for completion of your PhD degree program for up to one year. Extensions require a review of your academic progress and approval from the department chairperson.

After completing the form, which includes obtaining your advisor’s signature, submit it to the CEE Assistant Director of Degree Progress. The chairperson will then sign and CEE Student Services will enter the information in the university system.

Dissertation Reading Committee
A dissertation reading committee consists of three members: your principal dissertation advisor and two additional readers. At least two of the three Reading Committee members must be Stanford Academic Council members. At least one member must be from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. A reader may not be a University Chair for the candidate’s oral exam committee.

On occasion, the department may approve permission for one of the three members not to be on the Academic Council (AC) if that person is particularly well qualified to consult on the dissertation topic and holds a PhD or foreign equivalent. You must request approval by submitting a Petition for Non-Academic Council Doctoral Committee Member form to CEE Student Services at least two weeks prior to your exam date. Guidelines for non-AC committee members, including the requirement for a CV, are listed at the top of the reading committee form. Petitions are not required for former Stanford Academic Council members. All members of the reading committee must approve the completed dissertation.

As soon as your dissertation reading committee is established, complete a Doctoral Dissertation Reading Committee form and obtain each reading committee member’s signature. Submit the completed, signed form to the CEE Assistant Director of Degree Progress. The department chair will then review and sign the form after which CEE Student Services will process it in the university system.

Annual Dissertation Reading Committee Reviews   
Upon advancing to candidacy, PhD students must continue to demonstrate satisfactory progress in their PhD research. It is strongly recommended that progress should be evaluated at least annually by meeting with the members of the dissertation reading committee, either individually or as a group. As the PhD student, you are the person empowered to initiate meetings with your reading committee members, either annually, or more often if desired, in consultation with your advisor.

Terminal Graduate Registration (TGR)   
It is recommended to apply for TGR status as soon as you are eligible to reduce your tuition fees. To be eligible for TGR status as a Doctoral Degree student you must have:

  • Entered Candidacy by passing the department General Qualifying Examination
  • Satisfactorily completed all courses on the Application for Candidacy for Doctoral Degree Form; if the program has changed a new candidacy form must be approved by your advisor and submitted to the CEE Assistant Director of Degree Progress.
  • Completed 135 units of residency prior to TGR start quarter and completed residency requirement for all active and completed degree programs
  • Submitted the Doctoral Dissertation Reading Committee form to the CEE Assistant Director of Degree Progress.
  • Completed the PhD educational requirements (CEE200; CEE 200A, B or C taken concurrently with TAing a class; the university’s TA Orientation offered by CTL; and CEE379)

When you have fulfilled all preliminary requirements, complete a Request for TGR Status. Submit this request at least two weeks in advance of the posted deadline for your first quarter as TGR status. After obtaining your principal advisor’s signature, email the form to the CEE Assistant Director of Degree Progress.

Enrolling in 802   
Students with TGR status should enroll in CEE 802 Thesis Project using the section number assigned to their principal advisor and should continue to enroll in CEE 802 every quarter, including the graduation quarter, until conferral of the degree.

Each quarter, your principal advisor will evaluate your thesis work as a measure of continued academic progress, and you will receive a grade of either:

  • N or S indicating satisfactory progress prior to the final quarter of TGR status and graduation.
  • N- indicating unsatisfactory progress prior to the final quarter of TGR status and graduation. In the final quarter of TGR, in order to graduate, a grade of S should be given.

If you receive an N- or I grade for any quarter, you should meet with your advisor and agree on a satisfactory plan for completing degree requirements. Subsequent N- or I grades may be grounds for dismissal.

The University Oral Exam   
Passing a University Oral Examination is a requirement of the PhD program in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. The Oral Exam is a dissertation defense, presented either upon completion of a substantial portion of the dissertation work or upon completion of a pre-final draft of all dissertation work. The examination is intended to verify that the research represents your own original contribution to knowledge and to test your understanding of the research.

The candidate and the advisor prepare for the examination by identifying a committee chair and four examiners. In most instances, all five members are on the Academic Council (at minimum four of five). If the student will be receiving a PhD minor, one of these members must be from the student’s minor department. The participation of a single non-academic council member as an examiner may be approved by the department chair (Petition for Non-Academic Council Doctoral Committee Members) if that person contributes an important area of expertise not readily available from the department faculty.

The chair of a Stanford oral examination is appointed for this examination only to represent the interests of the university for a fair and rigorous process. The chair must be a member of the Stanford Academic Council and may be a Professor Emeritus. The chair of the examining committee may not have a full or joint appointment in the advisor's or student's department, but may have a courtesy appointment in the department. The chair can be from the same department as any other member(s) of the examination committee and can be from the student's minor department provided that the student's advisor does not have a full or joint appointment in the minor department.

Minimum CEE Faculty Participation   
At least two of the four examiners must be CEE faculty members on the Academic Council, including the student’s advisor or co-advisor in CEE. Including more than a total of 4 examiners will require proportional representation of the CEE faculty.

Other Conditions for the Oral Examination   
Candidacy must be valid and the student must be registered in the quarter in which the University Oral Examination is taken. At least two weeks prior to the exam date the candidate must email a University Oral Examination form to the CEE Assistant Director of Degree Progress.. Student Services will email the exam chair the university oral exam form and university guidelines for the exam.

The student must provide draft copies of the dissertation to members of the examination committee at least one week before the exam or at an agreed upon time between the student and the examination committee.

The examination normally begins with a presentation by the PhD candidate during which clarifying questions may be asked. This part of the examination is typically open to the public. After a brief recess, the examination continues in a private session, with only the candidate and members of the examining committee in attendance. The exam may not exceed three hours in length.

Dissertation Submission   
To prepare an electronic doctoral dissertation, please visit the Registrar's page on Preparing Dissertations for Submission. Please review the Format Requirements page.

If you have questions, please review resources available via Student Services or submit a help request.

When you are ready with a final draft of your dissertation, make an appointment to consult with a Graduate Degree Progress Officer at the Student Services Center at Tresidder Union (Second Floor) to review the completion of your PhD program and the strict formatting requirements for the dissertation.

Submit the final version of your dissertation to the Graduate Degree Progress Officer no later than the posted deadline for your degree to be conferred in the quarter you wish to graduate.

Requests for Deviation   
Requests for deviation from the requirements for granting of the PhD degree must be submitted in writing to both your primary advisor and the CEE Department at least one quarter prior to the planned deviation. Deviations must be approved by both your primary advisor and the CEE Department Associate Chair.

5. PhD Minor

A PhD minor is a program in another department that complements the student’s PhD program. A minor is not a requirement for any degree, but is available when agreed upon by the student and both the major and minor departments. The PhD minor is not available to students pursuing graduate degrees other than a PhD.

Each department offering a PhD minor establishes the core, elective, and examination requirements for the minor program. The major department determines acceptance of the minor as part of the student’s total PhD program. Approval from both the major and the minor departments must appear on the student’s Application for Candidacy for Doctoral Degree form. The minor department must be represented on the university oral examination committee.

A student desiring a PhD minor in Civil and Environmental Engineering must have a minor program advisor who is both a CEE faculty member and a member of the Academic Council. This advisor must be a member of the student’s University oral examination committee and on the reading committee for the dissertation.

The minor program must include at least 20 units of 200-level course work (excluding special studies and thesis) in CEE completed at Stanford University. Units taken for the minor cannot be counted as part of the coursework units for the PhD major. The list of courses must form a coherent program and must be approved by the minor program advisor and the CEE chairperson. An average GPA of at least 3.0 must be achieved in these courses to obtain the PhD Minor in CEE.