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PhD Admissions Overview

Our Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) program is open to all applicants who have completed a bachelor’s degree or will have completed one before matriculating as a graduate student at Stanford.

A degree in civil or environmental engineering is not required to pursue a PhD, but applicants should be familiar with key concepts and their applications. This typically means applicants have degrees in other science and engineering disciplines. We are looking for students who have completed coursework or have other experiences that demonstrate use of higher-level mathematics (e.g., linear algebra, partial differential equations, statistics) and recommend the completion of core civil engineering courses (e.g., solid mechanics, structural analysis, structural dynamics, fluid mechanics, project management). An MS degree is not a prerequisite for admission to our PhD program or for PhD degree conferral.

All applicants must complete an official application, using the university's online forms and procedures, and following the directions from the Office of the Registrar, Graduate Admissions. Please visit the Graduate Admissions website for more information about our graduate admissions process at Stanford University and to apply for graduate admission.

IMPORTANT: Regardless of whether you are currently obtaining or already have an undergraduate degree or an MS degree, if you are applying to Stanford with the expectation of earning a PhD, you should apply to the PhD program in your application. Those students who do not already have an MS degree will most likely be admitted to the MS program. Provided that you are able to identify a faculty member to supervise your doctoral work, advancement to the PhD cohort is then made during the last quarter of MS work.

At the PhD level, CEE offers a degree program in the disciplines of Structural Engineering and Geomechanics (SEG), Sustainable Design and Construction (SDC), Environmental Engineering (EnvEng), and Atmosphere and Energy (A/E). As you consider applying, please visit each program's website to learn more about the faculty, and their research, within these exciting programs.

Our admissions committee carefully considers all completed applications to Civil and Environmental Engineering's advanced degree programs. Decisions are based on the student’s academic record and experiences, letters of recommendation, statement of purpose and standardized test scores. Applicants are usually informed of their acceptance to a degree program in either March or early April. All offers of financial aid (e.g., fellowships, assistantships) will made by early April, most often through a separate letter offering financial aid. While most applicants to our advanced degree programs have traditional civil engineering backgrounds, we do accept applications from students in other related fields. Those with non-traditional backgrounds should expect, if admitted, to spend some additional time acquiring the background necessary to complete a graduate degree in civil engineering. For reference, the requirements for a Stanford BS in civil engineering can be found in the Handbook for Undergraduate Engineering Programs.

A number of departmental committees, comprising civil engineering faculty members, make all decisions regarding admission to our advanced degree programs. Decisions are based on thorough evaluations of all aspects of completed applications, which are considered within the context of the program pool. Hence, final decisions are not made on a rolling basis, but rather when the pool is complete, after the deadline date.

IMPORTANT for admitted PhD applicants who are seriously considering Stanford: Admitted PhD applicants will be invited to participate in our Civil and Environmental Engineering Visit Day held during the spring. Admitted PhD applicants will be notified of the CEE Visit Day timeline in their letter of acceptance. Those seriously considering Stanford for their doctoral work should reserve that date for their visit.

Applicants are requested not to send individual faculty members or staff informal documents and appeals for informal evaluations. We are unable to provide informal recommendations or evaluations on the basis of partial information such as a CV, test scores, or a transcript. Inquiries and materials sent to individual professors will be redirected to administrative staff. We encourage potential applicants to consider discussing their issues with faculty recommenders who know them well and could give better, individualized academic advice.