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Civil and Environmental Engineering

FAQs for Prospective Students


Q. What graduate degrees are offered?

We offer Master of Engineering (M.Eng.), Master of Science (M.S.) and Doctoral (Ph.D.) degrees in Civil Engineering and M. Eng., M. S. and Ph.D. degrees in Environmental Engineering. We offer a separate M. Eng. degree in Civil Engineering with Construction Management focus. The M.Eng. degree in Risk, Reliability and Resilience offered by the Vanderbilt University School of Engineering is also closely affiliated by the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department.

Q. Can I apply directly to your Ph.D. program without having a M.S.?

Yes, if you obtain your Bachelor's degree at an institution in the United States, or at an international institution where the official language of instruction is English.

Q. I am not an engineering major. Can I still apply to your graduate program?

The Civil and Environmental Engineering Ph.D. programs are engineering-oriented. However, if you have a strong mathematical or science background, you may be successful in our program. You could also be admitted and required to take undergraduate engineering courses. These undergraduate courses would not count toward your graduate degree, and are not covered by scholarship. The Directors of Graduate Studies and admissions committee will make this determination for applicants without an engineering major.

Q. If I am interested in a Ph.D. in Environmental Science studies, how do I apply?

We have partnered with Vanderbilt's Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences to offer a Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering with focused studies in Environmental Science. This program is part of the Environmental Engineering Graduate Program and applications must be made to Environmental Engineering.

Q. Do you have a distance-learning or online graduate program?

No, our graduate courses are taught on campus and research is conducted on campus or at nearby research facilities.

Q. Can part-time students apply for and pursue a Ph.D.?

Our program is designed for full-time students and full-time participation – typically starting in the fall semester of the year you are admitted. Occasionally a student is offered admission with the intention of part-time studies, understanding that their part-time status will require them to advocate for their non-traditional, part-time involvement in the program. Part-time students are challenged to be creative and flexible in how they can achieve the courses/hours required, and must work closely with their advisor to maintain this status.


Q. What are the minimum qualifications I need to apply to your graduate program?

A minimum 3.0/4.0 GPA. However, we take all aspects of an application into consideration. This means that the strength of letters of recommendation and statement of purpose, as well as GPA, will be part of the overall consideration.

Q. What percentage of applicants are admitted?

That varies with the total number of applicants and the amount of financial aid available to support Ph.D. students. Typically, the percentage is low as we have many highly qualified applicants and a limited number of positions to offer. Admission is highly competitive.

Q. What is the admissions deadline?

January 1.

Q. Do you make "early" admission decisions? If I get my application in before the deadline, does that give me an advantage?

We do not make early admission decisions and every qualified applicant whose application is complete and officially submitted by the deadline will receive equal consideration.

Q. Should I contact a faculty member and solicit him or her to be my mentor before I apply?

Individual faculty members are not empowered to make graduate admission offers to prospective students. Admission decisions are made by the faculty as a group after reviewing all qualified applicants.


Q. Will I be able to transfer credit from my current Master's degree program toward a Ph.D. at Vanderbilt?

Yes, if the degree program is comparable to our program, at an accredited four-year college or university, and you have received a grade of A or B.

Q. How much credit can be transferred?

A maximum of 6 hours can be transferred towards the M.S. degree. A maximum of 48 hours can be transferred towards the Ph.D. degree. The credit transfers are subject to the approval of the Director of Graduate Studies of the relevant degree program, must be relevant to the graduate program (as judged by the relevant DGS). The credit transfers are allowed from comparable programs and academic institutions with grades of B or higher. 


Q. What kind of financial aid is available?

For PhD students: 

  • Full-Time Teaching Assistantships - a monthly stipend, 100% tuition scholarship, 100% health insurance scholarship, and 100% activity and recreation fees scholarship.
  • Full-Time Research Assistantships -  a monthly stipend, 100% tuition scholarship, 100% health insurance scholarship, and 100% activity and recreation fees scholarship.

For MS/MEng students: A $10,000 tuition scholarship ($2,500/semester for four semesters) is given to all Master's students. 

For MEng-Construction Management students: 50% tuition scholarships are available.

Q. Does everyone who is admitted get a financial aid package?

Our goal is to provide the most complete financial support package possible and we are usually able to provide this. We do occasionally admit an applicant as an "alternate for aid," which means that they are qualified academically, but will only receive aid if a funded position becomes available.


Q. I am an international applicant whose first language is not English. Will I be considered for admission?

Yes, with a satisfactory English test score on one of the following:

  • TOEFL score of 89
  • IELTS band score of 7.0
  • Duolingo score of 110


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