Doctorate in Civil Engineering

Doctorate in Civil Engineering

Student working in engineering lab

The graduate programs at Drexel University engage students in learning and research at the forefront of civil engineering. Students graduate prepared for careers in academia, industry, or research.

What is a Civil Engineering PhD program?

A civil engineering doctoral program prepares professionals for taking on emerging topics in design, construction, and advances in the many areas falling under the umbrella of civil engineering. As a student you will address the continuing challenges placed on engineers relating to managing and retrofitting aging infrastructures, adopting new sustainable construction materials in constructed systems, designing, building, and rendering the built environment resilient to climate change, addressing issues such as pollution, water and storm management and indoor and outdoor air quality. A PhD has you investigate ideas that seek to address ways to make an impact through engineering improvements.

The PhD program in Civil Engineering has the following major aims:

  • Deliver education covering the breadth and depth of the most current and advanced knowledge in civil engineering through in-depth study of the chosen field of specialization.
  • Develop top research capabilities through discovery, faculty guidance and research training.
  • Prepare leaders in the field in careers in academia, research, and industry.


  • On-campus
  • Full-time
  • The PhD in Civil Engineering will take four to six years to complete on a full-time basis.

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Why choose Drexel for your PhD in Civil Engineering?

As a Carnegie R1 research institution, Drexel is in the top tier of research output and one of only 34 US institutions with that designation. Drexel’s doctoral degree program in civil engineering deepens knowledge of the building engineering design process and implementation through rigorous analysis and exploration. Students emerge prepared to take on the demands of industry, research or academia in civil engineering and its related disciplines.

The Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering (CAEE) faculty direct thriving research that supports PhD students and postdoctoral researchers in a variety of activities. In 2021, the department received nearly $3.5 million dollars in awards and over $3 million in research expenditures. Drexel PhD students shape the field through pioneering research that often leads to commercialization and entrepreneurship. Just in 2021 alone, the College of Engineering faculty have garnered 16 US patents, three license agreements and has produced a new startup company. 


Faculty in CAEE are experts with industry experience or are at the forefront of research and teaching. Our CAEE faculty have garnered many awards and numerous notable achievements — a few of these include:

  • Amir Farnam –2017 Drexel University Office of the Provost Research Award 2018 Drexel University Faculty College of Engineering Summer Research Award, 2021 Drexel University College of Engineering Outstanding Early-Career Award; Has received over $3 Million in Research Funding.
  • Patricia Gallagher – 2020 Drexel University College of Engineering Outstanding Teacher Award, 2019 Drexel University Evidenced-Based Teaching Award in STEM


The city of Philadelphia and the surrounding metro area are home to multiple industrial research and production facilities that attract advanced civil engineering talent. Learn more.

Curriculum and Requirements

Both in research and in curriculum, the Drexel civil engineering PhD program emphasizes a combination of fundamentals with topical specialization and interdisciplinary training.

At least 90 credits are required for the PhD degree. You will choose a doctoral thesis topic after consultation with the faculty early in the program. An oral thesis presentation and defense are scheduled at the completion of the thesis work.

For students entering the PhD program with a prior MS degree:

  • 45 credits of graduate courses out of which 18 credits are graduate courses exclusive of independent study and dissertation.

For students entering the PhD program with a BS degree without a master's degree:

  • The master’s degree is not a prerequisite for the PhD
  • 90 credits of graduate courses. 45 of these 90 credits must satisfy the MS in Civil Engineering degree requirements.

Graduate advisors will guide your course selection and scheduling of core and elective courses. Visit the Drexel Catalog for more information or learn more about our admissions requirements.


All students in the civil engineering PhD program engage in research as part of their degree. Candidates are encouraged to base their thesis on some aspect of faculty research.

Department research competencies touches areas of great importance to our society, including building performance, clean environment and green energy, environmental health, and indoor air quality. Funding comes from organizations such as the NSF, Federal Highway Administration, Burlington County Bridge Commission, Compass Mineral America and others.

Examples of current faculty research covers areas such as:

  • Restoration and repair of society's infrastructure
  • Water needs and quality
  • Green design
  • Sustainability in construction
  • Development of sustainable construction materials
  • Recycled materials in geotechnics
  • Structural health monitoring and non-destructive evaluation
  • Green infrastructure planning and modeling

Visit research areas for more about other research activity at the College of Engineering.

Funding Opportunities

The vast majority of incoming graduate students are funded by research assistantships, so we encourage you to contact faculty whose research interests you.

In addition, you may wish to investigate the following funding opportunities:

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