skip to content
UT Austin
Grad Catalog 01-03


Graduate Study

Admission and


of Study

Members of
Graduate Studies




Civil Engineering

Degrees Offered
Master of Science in Engineering
Doctor of Philosophy


The objectives of the graduate program in civil engineering are excellence in engineering education, research, and professional service. The program seeks to educate students to assume leadership positions in engineering practice, research, and education. The program also seeks to advance the state of the art and of the practice of civil engineering at both fundamental and applied levels through extensive research programs, and to disseminate this research through professional and scholarly activities. The program encompasses such disciplines of civil engineering as architectural engineering (including construction engineering and project management, construction materials, and structural engineering), environmental and water resources engineering, geotechnical engineering, ocean engineering, and transportation engineering, as well as interdisciplinary areas of study.

Facilities for Graduate Work

The Department of Civil Engineering occupies eight floors in Ernest Cockrell Jr. Hall, which also houses the McKinney Engineering Library and computer facilities for use by civil engineering students. In addition, the facilities and services of Academic Computing are available to students working on problems in any of the areas listed below. Laboratories are equipped and staffed to provide for both instruction and research.

Architectural engineering. The program and facilities in architectural engineering are described in the section "Architectural Engineering."

Construction engineering and project management. The construction laboratories include a well-equipped computer cluster on the main campus and a high-bay laboratory for construction automation research at the J. J. Pickle Research Campus. The computer cluster is networked and connected to the World Wide Web. It includes Intel-based and Macintosh personal computers as well as UNIX workstations. Various output devices are available. Software includes three-dimensional computer-assisted drafting and modeling packages, statistical packages, construction project management software, office suites, discrete modeling and simulation packages, and software developed through research. The automation laboratory at the J. J. Pickle Research Campus includes a large-scale hydraulic robot test bed, a large rectilinear manipulator, and many computer workstations; at any one time, several full-scale prototyping projects are underway. Facilities for education and research in construction engineering and project management also include time-lapse photography equipment and a methods improvement laboratory. Samples of many construction materials are available.

Several specially developed management programs are employed in graduate courses and for research. The University's Office of Planning Services conducts field trips to University buildings under construction and assists with graduate student research studies conducted with these sites.

Environmental and water resources engineering.
Program. This program is designed to educate engineers who will solve environmental and water resources problems by applying fundamental principles from the natural sciences, mathematics, mechanics, economics, and other underlying disciplines. To achieve this objective, the program offers a breadth of possible research and study areas. The faculty is one of the largest and most diverse in the nation, with expertise ranging from fluid mechanics to water resources planning and from pollutant transport to treatment processes. The major areas of emphasis are treatment process engineering, air resources engineering, environmental remediation, water quality, water resources engineering, and ocean engineering. Because the program requires no specific courses, each student's education can be designed to meet his or her goals. The faculty offers a wide variety of courses, and students may choose courses in many other fields. A list of these courses is available from the graduate adviser. Once a student chooses a particular study area, he or she works closely with the faculty member or members conducting research in that area. Each student's program of study includes a balanced combination of coursework, seminars, and research. Well-equipped research laboratories, state-of-the-art instrumentation, and superb computation facilities support the graduate program, as do cooperation and coordination with research faculties and laboratories in physical, chemical, biological, and social sciences and other engineering disciplines.

Facilities. Environmental and water resources engineering laboratories are well-equipped for both basic and applied state-of-the-art research in virtually all environmental and water resources areas. On campus, the program has twenty thousand square feet of space on three floors of Ernest Cockrell Jr. Hall for physical, chemical, and biological analyses and for research on water, wastewater, and hazardous waste treatment processes. Facilities include a clean room for metal or particulate analysis, four laboratories with temperature and humidity control, and numerous hoods for the safe handling of hazardous chemicals. Special equipment may be built in the civil engineering machine shop. Additional analytical equipment is available in other departments on the main campus.

The Computational Hydrodynamics Laboratory in Ernest Cockrell Jr. Hall has a range of personal computers and workstations. These provide the necessary platform for solving nonlinear flow problems about complex geometries (involving cavities or free surfaces) and for performing advanced propeller blade design using nonlinear optimization techniques.

The Air Resources Engineering Program maintains five thousand square feet of laboratory space in five laboratories at the Center for Energy and Environmental Resources. These laboratories are equipped for laboratory-scale analysis of biological air filtration systems and other air pollution control devices. The laboratories also include facilities for studying outdoor sources of volatile organic compounds and indoor sources and sinks of volatile chemicals. A wide range of instrumentation is available for field monitoring in both indoor and outdoor environments.

The Center for Research in Water Resources is located at the J. J. Pickle Research Campus. Computational research focuses on applications of geographic information systems using Arc/Info and ArcView, simulation of pollutants in soil and groundwater, and assembly and synthesis of historical water quantity and quality information. There is a Windows NT network supporting eighteen computers, a disk server, regular and large-size printers and plotters, a CD-ROM writing and replicating facility, and two Sun Unix workstations. The experimental research uses scaled physical models, models of innovative wastewater treatment facilities, and field monitoring of water quality. The twenty-four-thousand-square-foot laboratory includes general- and special-purpose fixed and tilting channels and instrumentation and data acquisition systems for laboratory and field studies.

Geotechnical engineering. This program is designed to offer students a broad range of activities with a solid basis in the core areas of geotechnical engineering. Graduates have the opportunity to obtain the strong background in the basics that serves as a foundation for a successful engineering career. Moreover, the program includes students in research activities that are at the forefront of developments in the field.

The geotechnical engineering laboratories are located in Ernest Cockrell Jr. Hall. The laboratories provide workstations for conducting all standard geotechnical tests, including index tests, flexible wall permeameter tests, one-dimensional and triaxial consolidation, direct shear tests, and triaxial shear tests.

Specialized equipment used in teaching and research includes a simple shear apparatus, cyclic simple shear, and a servohydraulic cyclic triaxial device. The soil dynamics laboratory has extensive facilities for combined resonant column and torsional shear testing. Large-scale multimode equipment is available for dynamic laboratory testing with specimens up to 0.3 meters in diameter. A large-scale calibration chamber is also available for testing 2.1-m cubical samples under three-dimensional states of stress for dynamic, cyclic, and static conditions. A second calibration chamber is available for testing in situ tools and model foundations. For model studies of offshore foundation systems, two other large test tanks are available. For field testing, the program has a broad array of equipment for measuring in situ stress wave velocities using borehole and surface wave methods, as well as vane, cone, and dilatometer devices. A vibroseis truck, which is capable of applying static, cyclic, and dynamic loads up to fifty thousand pounds, is available for field measurements at geotechnical, foundation, and pavement sites.

The geotechnical engineering group has extensive computer facilities, including a number of data acquisition systems, personal computers, and workstations. A separate computer laboratory is devoted to research in the area of geotechnical reliability.

Ocean engineering. Students interested in ocean engineering and in offshore structures may develop an appropriate course of study in consultation with the faculty. These programs are typically interdisciplinary, including work in hydrodynamics, structural analysis and dynamics, steel design, soils and foundations, and numerical methods. Students may also participate in the work of the Offshore Technology Research Center.

Structural engineering and construction materials. Most of the experimental studies in structural engineering are conducted in the Phil M. Ferguson Structural Engineering Laboratory, located at the J. J. Pickle Research Campus. Ferguson Laboratory is one of the largest, best-equipped structural research facilities in the world. Multistory structures and full-size multigirder bridge structures have been tested. The laboratory contains three test slabs, 40' x 80', 40' x 60', and 30' x 60'. One of the test floors surrounds a 600-kip universal test machine that permits testing full-size plate girders. In addition, a unique three-dimensional test facility consisting of a 44' x 32' test floor, combined with two perpendicular vertical walls, each nineteen feet high, permits three-dimensional loading. Fatigue testing capabilities permit study of full-size components under random amplitude and frequency to simulate actual service conditions. A number of closed-loop servocontrolled loading systems are available. Cables, such as those used in cable-stayed bridges, can be tested in fatigue up to loads of three million pounds in the cable testing facility. A materials-testing facility is also located in Ferguson Laboratory. Data acquisition systems are available that are suitable for static, dynamic, and fatigue loading programs. The systems are controlled by the laboratory's own computer systems. Direct access to the main University computer facility is also available.

At the J. J. Pickle Research Campus there is also a polymer concrete laboratory that has facilities for testing under a variety of conditions, including fatigue, creep, and controlled temperature.

Transportation engineering. The immediate proximity to the headquarters of governmental transportation agencies provides ready access to the facilities and records of these organizations by graduate students who are involved in planning, geometric design, and operation of airports, streets, and highways and of transit and nonmotorized transportation systems. The Center for Transportation Research administers an extensive cooperative research program with the Texas Department of Transportation and the United States Department of Transportation, as well as a spectrum of sponsored projects with other agencies.

Equipment for specialized and routine testing of materials used for constructing and maintaining transportation facilities is available. The bituminous materials laboratory includes constant temperature baths, ovens, aggregate handling facilities, mixers, compactors, and special viscometers.

Facilities are provided for studying traffic operations, including traffic volume counters, speed meters, motor-driven movie cameras, video cameras and recorders, projectors, portable delay recorders, and other special measuring and recording equipment.

The University's Cray supercomputers allow research on the analysis and design of large-scale transportation networks. State-of-the-art graphics workstations and microcomputers are available for teaching and research in computer-aided engineering and design. Hardware and software are also available to support research in artificial intelligence approaches to transportation and infrastructure system problems.

Libraries. In addition to the Perry-Castaneda Library and libraries in physics and mathematics, geological sciences, life sciences, and chemistry, a complete library of books, periodicals, and society proceedings in civil engineering is housed in the McKinney Engineering Library.

Areas of Study

Civil engineering majors may specialize in architectural engineering, construction engineering and project management, construction materials, environmental and water resources engineering, geotechnical engineering, ocean engineering, structural engineering, or transportation engineering. In addition, the Department of Civil Engineering offers the Master of Science in Engineering with a major in environmental and water resources engineering, which is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology as an advanced program. This program is described above. The requirements for both majors (civil engineering and environmental and water resources engineering) are given under the heading "Degree Requirements" below.

Graduate Studies Committee

The following faculty members served on the Graduate Studies Committee in the spring semester 2000-2001.

Neal Earl Armstrong
Oguzhan Bayrak
Chandra R. Bhat
John Edward Breen
Ned H. Burns
Randall J. Charbeneau
Richard L. Corsi
Michael D. Engelhardt
Kevin J. Folliard
David W. Fowler
Karl H. Frank
G. Edward Gibson Jr.
Robert B. Gilbert
Earnest Frederick Gloyna
Carl T. M. Haas
Ben R. Hodges
Edward R. Holley
W. Ronald Hudson
James O. Jirsa
Loukas F. Kallivokas
Lynn E. Katz
Thomas William Kennedy
Spyros Athanasios Kinnas
Kerry Ann Kinney
Richard E. Klingner
Kara M. Kockelman
Michael E. Kreger
     Desmond F. Lawler
Katherine A. Liapi
Howard M. Liljestrand
Raymond C. Loehr
Randy B. Machemehl
Hani S. Mahmassani
David R. Maidment
Joseph Francis Malina Jr.
Lance Manuel
B. Franklin McCullough
Daene C. McKinney
James T. O'Connor
Roy E. Olson
Calin M. Popescu
Ellen M. Rathje
Alan F. Rauch
Gerald E. Speitel Jr.
Kenneth H. Stokoe II
John L. Tassoulas
Richard L. Tucker
C. Michael Walton
Dan L. Wheat
Eric B. Williamson
Sharon L. Wood
Stephen G. Wright
Joseph Andrew Yura
Zhanmin Zhang

Admission Requirements

A Bachelor of Science degree from a program in engineering accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology is the general prerequisite for admission to a graduate program in civil engineering. An applicant whose training does not meet this prerequisite may be accepted but will be required to pass a sequence of courses stipulated by the Graduate Studies Committee that will make up the deficiencies in undergraduate preparation. A list of the required courses is available from the graduate adviser.

Degree Requirements

Full-time students, and both teaching and research assistants, are required to register for nine semester hours of coursework during each long-session semester. These nine hours may include special problems, seminar, thesis, and dissertation courses.

Master of Science in Engineering

Students who follow the thirty-semester-hour plan with thesis must complete a major in civil engineering consisting of eighteen to twenty-four semester hours, including the thesis course, and a minor of six to twelve semester hours outside the area of concentration. Included in the major and minor must be at least eighteen semester hours in engineering. The courses must be logically related and the individual program must be approved by the graduate adviser.

A thirty-three-hour and a thirty-six-hour degree plan are also available. The thirty-three-hour plan includes a report prepared in Civil Engineering 398R according to procedures set by the Graduate School; the thirty-six-hour plan includes a report prepared in Civil Engineering 398D according to procedures set by the Graduate Studies Committee. Both plans provide for more coursework in both the major and the minor than does the thirty-hour plan.

Majors for the master's degree may be chosen in any area or combination of areas listed under "Areas of Study" above.

Doctor of Philosophy

To be admitted to candidacy for the doctoral degree, the student must pass a preliminary (qualifying) examination administered by a committee, appointed by the graduate adviser, of at least three members of the civil engineering faculty, two of whom may be in the major area. This examination must be taken before the student registers for the second semester beyond the Master of Science in Engineering degree. The student must also submit a Program of Work that is approved by the chair of the civil engineering Graduate Studies Committee and the graduate dean. All students must demonstrate proficiency in English.

When the student has been admitted to candidacy, a dissertation committee is appointed by the graduate dean. When the student has completed most of his or her coursework, the dissertation committee administers a comprehensive examination in the major.

The defense of the dissertation is the final examination of the Doctor of Philosophy degree program. This examination is scheduled after the members of the dissertation committee have received a final draft of the dissertation that has been approved by the supervising professor.

Joint Degree Program

Master of Science in Engineering/Master of Public Affairs

The Department of Civil Engineering and the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs offer a joint program leading to the degrees of Master of Science in Engineering and Master of Public Affairs. The program is designed to prepare qualified students for careers at any level of government and in public policy-related areas of the engineering profession.

The program is structured so that students can earn the degrees simultaneously. Students must complete the core courses in both programs, including at least thirty semester hours to be counted toward the civil engineering major and at least thirty-six hours to be counted toward the major in public affairs. In general, at least three years are required to complete the joint program.

A student seeking admission to the joint degree program must apply through the Graduate and International Admissions Center. He or she must be accepted by each individual program in order to be admitted to the joint program. Like all other graduate applicants, the student is responsible for submitting any additional information required by the Graduate Studies Committee for each program.

For More Information

Campus address: Ernest Cockrell Jr. Hall (ECJ) 4.200, phone (512) 471-4921, fax (512) 471-0592; campus mail code C1700

Mailing address: Graduate Program in Civil Engineering, Department of Civil Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas 78712-1076



Top of File     

Civil Engineering Courses: C E



Graduate Catalog

Chapter 1 - Graduate Study
Chapter 2 - Admission and Registration
Chapter 3 - Degree Requirements
Chapter 4 - Fields of Study
Chapter 5 - Members of Graduate Studies Committees
Appendix - Course Abbreviations

Related Information
Course Schedules
Academic Calendars
Office of Admissions

Office of the Registrar
University of Texas at Austin

26 July 2001. Registrar's Web Team

Send comments to