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.
PhD in Civil Engineering
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:
Graduate studies in construction engineering and management mainly focus on best practices in Integrated Construction Project Management (IPM).
Students learn how to optimize construction projects in the face of multiple and varied constraints, such as budgets, schedules, risk, quality requirements, human resources, communication channels, procurement practices, and stakeholder management.
Students in this concentration explore the interdisciplinary connections that exist between construction engineering and other areas of society and economics. Examples include:
- Construction financial planning
- Cultural considerations in managing engineering project teams of diverse and multinational backgrounds
- Engineering entrepreneurship
- Health, safety, and sustainability initiatives
- Game-theory applications in construction management
- Litigation and construction claims
- Managerial strategic planning
- Organizational behavior
The environmental engineering concentration at UIC is broadly conceived, extending beyond the traditional boundaries of the field.
This concentration covers topics such as:
- Evaporation and other interactions between the land surface and the atmosphere
- Geoscience aspects of waste disposal
- Groundwater contamination and transport
- Management of stored and spilled hazardous waste
- Surface and groundwater hydrology and hydraulics
- Other environmental science and water resources problems
Courses in this concentration draw on the expertise of faculty from several other UIC departments, such as biology, chemical engineering, chemistry, environmental and occupational health sciences, geology, mathematics, and mechanical and industrial engineering. The involvement of these faculty members in our program allows students to explore a wide range of topics in the water resources and environmental engineering field.
The geotechnical and geoenvironmental engineering area of concentration encompasses classical geotechnical engineering—analyzing and designing foundations, retaining structures, and underground structures—as well as environmental geotechnics, such as designing waste containment systems and performing remediation studies.
Students are able to work with faculty whose research addresses a variety of subjects in this area, including environmental geotechnics (e.g. the characterization, containment, remediation, and performance of contaminated materials), earthquake engineering, pavement analysis, and geomechanics.
MS students in the structural engineering and structural mechanics concentration learn static and dynamic analysis of linear and nonlinear structures including modal analysis, the behavior of structural materials, and the design of structural systems in concrete and steel.
Students examine both current and potential problems in structural engineering. Topics covered include, but are not limited to:
- Bridge rehabilitation and rating
- Concrete fracture, damage, and creep
- Failure process of concrete structures
- Linear and nonlinear finite element analysis
- Microstructures of materials
- Structural dynamics and seismic response of structures
This curriculum provides a strong foundation for advanced work in professional practice, research, and teaching. It lays the groundwork for careers in private consulting or construction firms, industrial and governmental research laboratories, and universities, among others.
The transportation engineering concentration is oriented toward methods for the planning, design, and operation of surface transportation systems.
Through their coursework and research, students work alongside faculty to learn about and develop solutions to problems related to surface transportation facilities (infrastructure) through the application of optimization and simulation methods, as well as knowledge-based systems. In recent years, the faculty has also engaged in the design and evaluation of intelligent transportation systems.
PhD in Materials Engineering
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:
Topics of focus in the materials processing and characterization concentration include:
- Crystallography and x-ray diffraction
- Materials synthesis and processing
- Polymer science and engineering
- Principles of deformation processing
- Processing and properties of ceramic materials
- Structure and properties of composite materials
Topics of focus in the mechanics of solids concentration include:
- Continuum mechanics
- Finite elements
- Fracture mechanics
- Mechanics of composite materials
- Wave propagation
PhD Degree Requirements
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.
The qualifying examination typically is taken after the third semester of full-time doctoral study.
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.