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PhD Programs

UIC CME is home to two doctoral programs: the PhD in Civil Engineering and the PhD in Materials Engineering. Both programs are designed to develop students into the next generation of progressive, innovative scholars in their fields. Graduates of our doctoral programs move on to a diverse range of prestigious firms, key roles in government agencies, and postdoctoral research or tenure-track positions at universities all over the world.

The sections below explain each of our doctoral programs in detail.

New opportunity: GAANN Fellowships Heading link

The UIC civil, materials, and environmental engineering department now offers GAANN Fellowships, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education. PhD students who are interested in structural engineering or materials engineering may be eligible to apply.

Learn more

PhD in Civil Engineering Heading link

Civil engineering is a broad-based discipline that encompasses many specialties in the areas of structural engineering and mechanics, environmental engineering, geotechnical engineering, and transportation engineering. Part of the doctoral education process is determining your specific interest in the field and crafting a research agenda tied to that interest.

Students pursuing the PhD in Civil Engineering typically find that their area of inquiry falls into one of these broad areas of research, in which the CME faculty demonstrate particular strength:

PhD in Materials Engineering Heading link

Materials—including metals, intermetallics, polymers, ceramics, composites, and electronic materials—are critical to modern industrial society. Materials engineering is an expansive field that encompasses many specialties and offers rich opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration.

Materials engineering addresses the design, manufacture, and characterization of materials for specific applications. Materials development is an enabling step to the production of advanced engineering devices. Materials selection is a key element in the design, manufacturing, and quality control of structures and devices.

Because UIC and many other universities do not offer an undergraduate program in materials engineering, it is common for students with degrees in relevant subjects other than materials engineering to pursue this degree, even at the PhD level, and enter the field. We help our PhD students in materials engineering to design an individualized academic program that makes use of the strengths in their background and that capitalizes on the research expertise of our faculty. This individualized program often emphasizes one of the following areas:

PhD Degree Requirements Heading link

The requirements for our doctoral programs vary based whether the student enters the program with a master’s degree or with only a bachelor’s degree.


Students earn 56 credits from coursework toward the PhD. Students who enter our program with an MS degree may transfer up to 32 credits of coursework from their master’s program. Students who enter the program with only a bachelor’s degree must earn all 56 coursework credits as a PhD student.

At least 28 hours of PhD coursework must be at the 500 level, of which 16 hours must be in the CME department, excluding CME 596 and CME 599. Courses with the codes CME 496, CME 497, and CME 599 do not count toward the coursework requirement. Students who are entering the program with a prior master’s degree may apply 12 credits toward this 28-hour 500-level requirement.


PhD students in civil and materials engineering are required to take and pass a qualifying examination and preliminary examination before moving on to the dissertation phase and defense.

The qualifying examination typically is taken after the third semester of full-time doctoral study.

Dissertation Research

Students earn 52 credits from dissertation research, which are registered under the course code CME 599.

To see topics that our recent PhD students in civil and materials engineering have studied, please visit our dissertations page.

The most rewarding parts of doing research at UIC have been learning a variety of experimental techniques relevant to my work using the institution’s facilities and recovering from failures with a greater understanding of problems encountered in research.

Joshua Adkins  |  PhD anticipated '22

Learn about PhD program admissions