Graduate Student Handbook

Introduction and Intent

Numerous resources exist that address student responsibilities at Vanderbilt (notably the Graduate student catalog and the general student handbook). This handbook supplements these general resources to include specific information applicable for the graduate (i.e. M.S. and Ph.D.) students of Civil & Environmental Engineering at Vanderbilt University. This handbook is intended to supplement and not replace direct, open, and frequent communication between students and their respective advisors, Directors of Graduate Studies, other faculty and staff, and the Department Chair.

This handbook covers information about degree requirements (broken down by program), department logistics (including key personnel), tips to navigating University resources, and a checklist of student responsibilities. Students are encouraged to ask questions and seek clarification of requirements and expectations set forth in this handbook or in any of the references cited herein.

The content of this handbook was developed by the Directors of Graduate Studies (DGSs) in concert with staff and current graduate students. It includes both information regarding degree requirements as well as day-to-day logistics that affect graduate students. The information in this handbook will be reviewed annually and updates will be communicated by the DGSs to the department.

Degree Requirements



Finance and Travel


Financial aid is awarded on a merit and availability basis to Civil & Environmental Engineering students and typically covers tuition, stipend, health insurance, and some incidental fees. All students, domestic and international, are considered on a merit basis. This financial aid can be in the form of Teaching Assistantship (TA) or Research Assistantship (RA).  Honors fellowships also may be awarded to students on a merit basis as a supplement to TA or RA support. The TA and RA support decisions are made for each student annually based on overall progress of the student towards completion of the degree sought, departmental needs and availability of funding. Students who receive Teaching or Research Assistantship at any point of their studies are not guaranteed funding through the remainder of their studies, and evaluated annually based on the above-mentioned considerations. Students are encouraged to apply for scholarships or fellowships sponsored by external governmental or private agencies like National Science Foundation, Department of Defense, Department of Energy, Department of Transportation, IBM and other organizations. See Tips section for resources on available scholarships & fellowships. Eligibility for external fellowships varies for foreign nationals.

The School of Engineering annually establishes a base stipend rate for full-time TA or RA enrolled in the PhD programs within the School of Engineering. Continuation of financial support after the first semester is dependent upon satisfactory progress toward the degree and performance of your assigned duties and responsibilities. Stipend increases beyond the base rate are at the discretion of your advisor and typically are based on performance and availability of external funds.

Foreign nationals should consult International Student and Scholar Services for employment eligibility.


TAs: The Associate Chair of the department works with the faculty to make TA assignments. The primary responsibility of the TA is to provide support to the professor in charge of the assigned class as per the requirements of the class (which may significantly vary from one class to another). Financial support as a TA obligates the recipient to 20 hours per week of service during the semester. While the specific tasks may vary depending on the course and the instructor, TAs are expected to perform the following tasks:

  • Grading of homework, exams or other class assignments in a timely manner,
  • Developing solutions for homework, exams or other class assignments,
  • Holding office hours, problem sessions or help sessions,
  • Recording and maintaining records of student performance (e.g., Brightspace updates and scan copies of graded assignments as needed for ABET/SACS requirements),
  • Facilitating communications with students (be sure to copy instructor on emails to students),
  • Posting course materials to the web or making them available through the Science and Engineering Library,
  • Setting up and assisting with laboratory experiments, 
  • Photocopying, typing or otherwise assisting with preparation of class materials, 
  • Respecting student privacy (including grades, photos, student IDs, etc. consistent with the FERPA specifications),
  • Meeting with the course instructor regularly,
  • Proctoring exams and quizzes, and
  • Attending the lectures associated with the class.

TAs should meet with the professor in charge of their assigned class or classes to discuss individual responsibilities and expectations as soon as notified of their assignments by the Associate Chair. TAs are encouraged to consult University resources to improve their teaching abilities (see Tips).

RAs: The primary responsibility of the RA is to work with a faculty member or members on academic research. RA responsibilities vary greatly and typically include, but are not limited to:

  • Developing and assisting with development proposals for external support,
  • Carrying out research as required by the scope of the research project(s) that are the source of support,
  • Carrying out all activities in the spirit of collaboration and support for research group members and the department as a whole, 
  • Responsible conduct of research, including but not limited to:
  • Carrying out literature reviews and detailed analysis of relevant prior research, 
  • Designing and executing agreed upon research,
  • Developing and validating research methodology, including (as appropriate to the specific research) experimental, analytical and computational methods,
  • Maintaining written records of all research, including a daily log,
  • Documenting and thoughtful analysis of all research results,
  • Developing and writing manuscripts for peer-reviewed publications, conference presentations, and reports for research sponsors,
  • Safe and responsible use of equipment and facilities including reporting issues,
  • Fulfill all required training and compliance,
  • Supporting the research group and department in hosting external visitors, project meetings, workshops, and other professional activities.

RAs shoud regularly meet with the faculty members in charge of the research to discuss additional specific individual's responsibilities and expectations. The Tips section contains various resources that can assist students with their RA responsibilities.


ALL personnel who travel on Vanderbilt business are required to have knowledge of and adhere to the University travel policy. All Vanderbilt business travel must be approved, in advance, by either paper or electronic form, which can be accessed through the VUSE’s travel page. All airfare must be booked through Concur, the system through which reimbursements are processed; failure to do so may result in denial of the claim for reimbursement. If, for some reason, you are unable to book airfare through Concur, you must call the University-approved travel agency, World Travel, at 877-271-9258 and provide a credit card to charge.  Training information for Concur (login using your VUNetID) is provided by Vanderbilt. Please check with the administrative staff to ensure you are compliant with these procedures prior to starting your travel.

All University-related travel must be pre-approved within 24 hours prior to traveling. The link for the on-line pre-approval is found here: Travelers are also expected to be familiar with Vanderbilt’s Travel page, where the latest information on travel are posted. If you are traveling abroad, please ensure that you are compliant with Vanderbilt’s International Travel Policy and Restricted Regions List. Visit the Tips section for suggestions on vaccines for Vanderbilt-related travel, business cards, funding sources, and other pertinent information regarding travel. Students should consult with their advisor regarding attendance to workshops, conferences, etc. 

Travel grants are available through the Graduate School for attendance at professional conferences and meetings. Graduate students are encouraged to apply. They must be submitted to the Graduate School 4 weeks prior to any travel. This is being enforced by the Graduate School effective immediately. You must attach an abstract to your travel grant application.

Attendance, Holidays, and Vacation

Graduate students are advised of the University calendar and closures including standard University holidays. Students are expected to consult with their research advisor before taking personal days or taking vacation time.  If the student does not have a research advisor, holiday and vacation leave should be approved by the DGS.  In keeping with the professional nature of the graduate student-faculty advisor relationship, students should inform their research advisor when they must be absent because of illness or an emergency.

Department Logistics

Key Personnel

Name and emailPrimary RoleHow they help graduate students...
Caglar OskayDepartment Chair, responsible for overall department administration and leadership.Assist with problem resolution.
Hiba BaroudAssociate Department Chair, assisting the department chair in overal department administration and leadership.Assist with problem resolution.
Maya NashabiSenior Departmental Administrative Officer, works with chair and associate chair to plan and manage department operations, and design, implement, and project budgetary guidelines. Responsibilities include administrative support for faculty; personnel and payroll administration; approval of purchasing, travel expenses, and other accounting functions at the department level.Assist with authorization and approval for any financial request involving departmental funds.
Jackie WhiteGraduate Program Coordinator for CEE. Assists DGSs and faculty with recruitment and admissions. Administers most (but not all) routine graduate student support for the department’s graduate student programs.Processes payroll, earnings distribution changes, enters scholarship data. Liaison to VUSE, Grad School, Student Accounts (scholarship only).
Charity BacksSenior Administrative Specialist with responsibility for planning and coordinating seminars and other meetings in the department. Maintains department website. Purchases office supplies for the department. First contact for scheduling use of conference rooms.Student webpages, assistance with event planning, trouble-shooting photocopier, fax machine, conference room equipment, room reservations.
Darlene WeaverAdministrative/executive assistant to David Kosson, plans and manages activities related to CRESP, LEAF, and Sterling Ranch.Assist in scheduling meetings with Dr. Kosson.
TBDAdministrative assistant for VECTOR group, plans and manages activities related to VECTOR.Assist in scheduling for VECTOR group.
Julie CanadaSenior Departmental Grants Manager with responsibility for preparing proposals to sponsors using university system (Coeus), receives notice of award and prepares budget transmittal form, monitors expenditures according to terms and conditions of award.Answer questions regarding funded projects and/or potential funding sources.
TBDAssistant Departmental Grants Manager with responsibility for preparing proposals to sponsors using university system (Coeus), receives notice of award and prepares budget transmittal form, monitors expenditures according to terms and conditions of award.Answer questions regarding funded projects and/or potential funding sources.
Rossane DeLappEnvironmental lab manager. Maintains and operates environmental analytical instrumentation on research projects and provides support to faculty, students, and staff in the areas of laboratory access, laboratory procedures, and purchasing/procuring laboratory equipment.Answer questions and assist with all environmental lab functions and uses.

Rossane DeLapp for ENVE Lab

Rich Teising for Structures Lab

Lab safety officer. Provides guidance regarding safety policies in the lab and workplace. Purchases lab supplies and equipment.Answer questions about department safety policies and purchase of lab supplies.
Rich TeisingStructures lab manager. Maintains and operates structural analytical instrumentation used in research and instruction; provides support to faculty, students, and staff in the areas of laboratory access, laboratory procedures, and purchasing/procuring laboratory equipment.Answer questions and assist with all structural lab functions and uses.
Barry TempletonVUSE Building manager. Maintains building function and operating systems, provides access to rooms upon approved request process.Answer questions regarding use of building, rooms; provide access as needed.
DTS EngineeringProvides IT support for VU computers and printers.Assist with troubleshooting computers and printers.

Dan Work (Civil)

Florence Sanchez (Environmental)

DGSs are: 1) the administrator of the policies, rules, and regulations of the Graduate Programs and the Graduate School, 2) the designated advocate of the graduate program and graduate students (both within the department and in the University), and 3) the initial advisor of all entering graduate students. The DGS reports to the Department Chair and is also responsible to the graduate faculty, to the graduate students of the department, and to the staff of the Graduate School.Monitor students’ progress towards degree, provide students with funding opportunities, and communicate impactful changes in policy to the graduate students.
Faculty AdvisorsAdvisors are responsible for assisting their students in the development of their research, monitoring progress toward their educational goals, and facilitating funding for their students.
Additional details regarding the responsibilities of faculty advisors are provided in Appendix A.
Answer questions regarding research progress, funding, general degree requirements, and professional development activities.
Civil & Environmental Engineering Graduate Student CouncilThe purpose of the Civil & Environmental Engineering Graduate Student Council is to promote social and professional interaction among the Civil & Environmental Engineering graduate students and to facilitate communication between the department students and faculty members.Facilitate queries regarding department logistics. Coordinate department events such as socials and poster symposia.

Offices and Common Use Areas

1.  Desk spaces:  The department has several rooms with carrel desk spaces which are designated for graduate student assignment.  Funded full-time Ph.D. students who are teaching assistants, research assistants, and fellowship recipients are given first priority for carrel desk assignment.  The room assignments for graduate students are made with an undergirding philosophy of balance and diversity and therefore, we strive to have a mix of civil and environmental students, male and female students, domestic and international students, and a blend of faculty mentorship in each room.  The new student desk assignments and any necessary adjustments to maintain balance are made in the fall semester.  Students matriculating in spring or summer will be assigned to temporary space until fall desk assignments are finalized.  The approval of desk assignments is made by the DGSs, subject to final approval by the department chair.

2.  Etiquette: Consult Appendix B for rules of conduct for shared office spaces. 

3.  Computers: Computers are provided at the discretion of the advisors. If you do not have a computer in your office space, then you might need to purchase your own computing device. The IT department may have extra computers so email them to see if you can borrow one. All students are expected to be compliant with Vanderbilt rules of conduct for computer use. Please see the Tips section for information about storing and backing up your research.

4.  Printers: The graduate offices each have a printer; please check with the students in the office for the appropriate IP address. Be sure to update your printer settings/preferences to enable double-sided printing! 

a.  For large print (research or teaching) jobs, please use the department printer in the CEE kitchen area (room 264) and room 296. To use the printers you will have to use your VU ID card. If you are not an RA or a TA then all print jobs will be charged to your VU card. The printers will not print anything until you are physically at the printer and scan your VU ID card. 

b.  Poster printing: Contact Charity Backs for current vendors for poster printing. 

5.  Phones and Fax: The department provides a single-line VOIP telephone as a convenience for use by occupants of each graduate office. The department maintains a fax machine (analog) for the convenience of departmental business. For sending or receiving faxes, please arrange with Charity Backs.

6.  Safety and Security: All faculty, staff, and students within the department play an active role in promoting saftey and security. Students are responsible for any personal property that they bring to campus. Neither the Department nor the University accepts any responsibility for loss or damage to student’s personal property. Students are encouraged to close open doors to unoccupied areas and report any suspicious persons to Campus Security. Visit the Vanderbilt University Police Department for additional security information. Emergency contact numbers while traveling on Vanderbilt business are provided in Appendix D.

7. Card Access: Graduate student carrel offices, and Rooms 264 and 296 Jacobs Hall are accessed via Vanderbilt identification card.  The department provides the names and room numbers to the building manager, who then programs the information into the card lock access system.  Initial access is granted only by department staff (Maya Nashabi, department business manager).  The building manager will not grant access at the request of a student.  If you lose your initial ID card or obtain a new card after your initial card, you may go directly to the building manager to have your original access restored.  In cases of lost or replaced cards, the building manager may, at his discretion, ask for verification from the department staff before restoring access.

8. Break Room: The break room is essentially open for use during regular business hours (approx. 7 a.m.-5 p.m.) for coffee service; outside of the business hours, graduate students can use their student ID to gain access to the room.  All users should be mindful of the premises and participate in keeping the area clean and neat.  Periodically, the room may be used to share donated food or leftovers from meetings.  Food should be discarded or otherwise removed after two hours, and in no case remain later than 4:30 p.m. Please see the list below for expectations for all break room users.

  • Immediately clean up spills, spatters, and overflows.
  • When using the microwave, cover any open container. A splatter shield is provided.
  • DO NOT take anything from the refrigerator that does not belong to you (even if there is no name).
  • DO NOT take items from the cabinets without prior permission (other than coffee and tea supplies).
  • Refill containers for sweetener, creamer, teabags, etc. from supplies located in upper cabinets near coffeemaker.
  • When using the coffeemaker, if you take the last cup during the morning, please make a new pot (see instructions).
  • Avoid making coffee after 4pm unless a group meeting is in progress.
  • Before leaving the building, assure coffeemaker is turned off and door is closed and locked.
  • Throw away any expired food items you may have stored in the refrigerator. 
  • Any food items offered for general consumption may be placed on the table near the coffeemaker. Person(s) who donate the items are responsible for clean-up and disposal.
  • Food items left on the counter or table must be consumed and/or cleared after 2 hours, all trash discarded, and dishes and utensils cleaned and stored.
  • Break room may NOT be used for collection site of charitable donations, per HR policy:
  • Break room may NOT be used to solicit for any non-Vanderbilt sponsored activity, per HR policy:
  • Outer door to Room 264 must be kept completely closed and locked between 5:00pm -8:00am on weekdays and at all times on weekends.
  • Contact Charity Backs with questions or concerns regarding break room supplies.
  • Contact Maya Nashabi with questions or concerns regarding access.
  • Failure to observe these rules and expectations will result in suspension of access for any individual who abuses the privilege. 
  • Card reader on the door will be monitored for activity during non-business hours.
Lab Information: Currently, lab assignments are determined by Drs. Adams, Sanchez, and Kosson with recommendations from laboratory staff and department faculty.  The spaces in the Environmental Lab are primarily for research.  The Structures Lab has spaces for research and instruction. Any use of lab space outside of research and instruction must be communicated to the lab managers to give them ample time to determine if space and resources are available.  Events that require lab use need to be planned well in advance since multiple users have ongoing research/projects/classes. Please contact the appropriate personnel for lab safety and procurement details.
If you will be working in the environmental labs please review the lab safety guidelines before you work in the labs. Below are a few rules to remember when working in the environmental labs.
  • Wear safety glasses in the lab. Wearing additional PPE (personal protective equipment) suitable to the task must be followed.
  • Label the contents of all containers. Also, label long-term experiments to include your name, research advisor's name, and contact information. 
  • Dispose of all chemical waste in approved VEHS containers with the pink VEHS waste tag. Place in a secondary container. Please do not dispose liquids, other than water, in the sink.
  • After items are cleaned in the sink, please return the item back to its original location. Keep shared spaces clean and free of obstacles.
  • If you borrow items from another professor's lab, please ask first and return the item in a timely manner.
  • At times you work alone, please let someone in your research group know if you plan to be in the lab after hours. It is preferred that another individual be present in case their is an emergency.
  • Secure your lab when you leave. Always keep primpary entrance/exit doors closed.

Safety training for new lab members. Once your VUNet account is activated, follow the link for the Vanderbilt University Learning Exchange and search for these two courses 1) Chemical and Physical Safety in the Lab and 2) Chemical Wasted Training for Labs. Complete the two courses and the test after each course. Then, save the certificates in pdf after completion and email them to our Rossane DeLapp.


Business cards: Upon request and approval from your adviser and their funding source, the department will order business cards for you with the official Vanderbilt logo and the School of Engineering designation.

Computing & Data Management.  Below are some resources available to you that may improve your research working environment.

  • Save all of your research on the university server, which is backed up routinely. To set up your system, submit an IT ticket.
  • Box is a cloud storage solution that allows you to store up to 50GB of files and share large files with collaborators.
  • Accre provides high performance computing and other services for Vanderbilt research projects.
  • Vanderbilt VPN allows you to access campus resources even when you are off-campus.


  • The enrollment bulletin contains information about YES, the course enrollment system.
  • Students with departmental financial support (e.g., TAs) may not register for more than nine credit hours each semester, or 18 credit hours during the academic year (Fall, Spring, and Summer terms). Registration for more than 18 credit hours may invalidate the departmental financial support. If a student registers for credit hours beyond the allowable, the student may be financially responsible for the tuition associated with the extra credit hours.
  • Students with external support (e.g., RAs or other support) should check with their research advisor about the number of allowable credit hours. Generally, students with external support are limited to 24 credit hours during the academic year (Fall, Spring, Summer). If a student registers for credit hours beyond the allowable, the student may be financially responsible for the tuition associated with the extra credit hours. 
  • If you are on campus doing research over the summer, then you must enroll for 0 research credit hours.
  • Enrollment in courses in schools other than Engineering will have to be coordinated by you with the course instructor and/or that school’s registrar and the Graduate School/University registrar.  For example, if you wish to enroll for classes in the Owen Graduate School of Management, you will first contact the instructor for “permission” (via email is best), then forward the approval to the Graduate School who will work with the University Registrar’s Office to add the enrollment.  
  • Independent Study and audits cannot be enrolled using YES.  They require forms, which can be downloaded from the Graduate School’s website
  • Online courses: CourseraedX, and various other platforms offer a range of courses online (often free or at nominal cost) that might be useful for your specific research areas. Please consult with your advisor about funds for fee-based courses prior to signing up.
  • DisabilitiesVanderbilt University is committed to equal opportunity for students with disabilities. If a student has a physical or learning disability, the student should contact the Equal Opportunity Development, Affirmative Action, and Disability Services Office for assessment and appropriate accommodation of student’s disability. The Opportunity Development Center will assist in notifying the student’s instructors of their evaluation and the necessary accommodations for class assignments, and exams. 

Dental Insurance. Some local providers offer discounts to Vanderbilt students - more information here

Department calendar. To ensure that all department members are apprised of the latest events in the department, we have a department calendar that is also hosted on department website. The calendar is maintained by Charity Backs - please contact her about adding events to the calendar. 

Diversity. Vanderbilt University is committed to promoting a diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment for all. Learn more about our EDI office and other resources committed to this cause here. A compiled list of resources offered by Vanderbilt at-large are provided in Appendix F. 

Family life. From the parental leave policy to childcare center information, you can find information about family life resources at Vanderbilt here

Graduate Catalog. This document contains a wealth of information regarding the full-time vs part-time status considerations as well as change periods in YES/grade change policy, academic probation, extenuating circumstances, student grievances & appeals, etc. We highly encourage you to become familiar with the content in the Graduate Catalog.

Grants. VUSE has compiled a list of fellowships that are of interest to engineering students (including the NSF). The Graduate School lists a couple of general databasesthat are available to Vanderbilt students interested in applying for outside funding; the school sometimes offers a Dissertation Enhancement Grant. The Pathways to Science database also contains valuable resources and enables you to filter your search based on Citizenship requirements. The Civil and Environmental Engineering has compiled a list of fellowships and scholarships that may be of interest for all graduate students in the Civil and Environmental Engineering department. 

International Students. The International Student and Scholar Services office has a lot of resources as well as activities tailored for international students. The English Language Center also offers services specifically targeted towards students who have a first language other than English. 

Literature Review

  • The librarians at Vanderbilt have compiled research guides to help you get started with literature searches.
  • Vanderbilt has an Interlibrary Loan service, where you can submit requests for academic literature for which Vanderbilt does not have primary access to.
  • Mendeley is a great, free tool to organize your articles. It allows you to take notes on the articles, share with group members, and to sync up on multiple devices. EndNote is another service that is available for paid subscribers.

Mail. You may arrange for a personal campus post office box by contacting the Station B post office in Rand Hall in which to receive bills, statements, boxes, or other shipments. It is recommended that you have all personal, non-Vanderbilt related mail sent to your local home address.

Professional Development. The Graduate School compiled a list of successful student practices that includes taking charge of your mentorship and developing a timeline of professional development. The Career Development office, in particular, is a great resource for getting advice on professional developmental plans, reviewing CVs, etc. 

Student Groups. There are numerous student organizations at Vanderbilt, through which you can explore your interests and continue to expand your skill sets. Many of our students are actively involved in Civil and Environmental Engineering Graduate Student Council (a departmental advisory body for all graduate students in the Civil & Environmental Engineering department) and the Graduate Student Council (an advisory body for all graduate students at Vanderbilt University). The full list of registered organizations are available on AnchorLink with some groups dedicated to diversity are provided on the Graduate school website. 

Software. As VUSE students, access to free software, including MATLAB and Microsoft Office. MATLAB can be obtained through VUSE. Be sure to check out the full list of software available here

Summer. Students in the department typically conduct research over the summer, either on campus or at other institutions (e.g., national labs, industry, and other universities). Please discuss summer opportunities with your advisor and your research colleagues during the fall semester. 

Taxes. While Vanderbilt cannot provide tax advice, they have compiled a list of resources to help navigate those requirements. Also, be sure to read your emails from the Graduate School since they often organize tax workshops for students during the beginning of the spring semester. 

Teaching. The Center for Teaching (CFT) offers various programs and resources (including a Certificate in College Teaching) to promote university teaching that leads to meaningful student learning. Their offerings are available to any members of the Vanderbilt community interested in developing their teaching practices. CFT also offers a Future Faculty Preparation Program (F2P2), a self-directed program of professional development for all Vanderbilt graduate students and postdocs interested in academic positions.


  • The Graduate School provides travel grant support for Vanderbilt-related travel.
  • Graduate students and/or faculty advisers sometimes request funds from the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department for the student to travel to a conference or professional meeting. The following guidelines are being adopted to enable to department to allocate its limited resources to respond to such requests in an equitable manner:
  • After completing at least one academic year at Vanderbilt, students may apply for a departmental travel grant.
  • Travel requests that promote the Department or to receive prestigious awards or participate in nationally recognized competitions will be prioritized.
  • Students are limited to two travel requests during their time in the department.
  • Faculty adviser will be first asked to support the travel.
  • If the faculty member cannot fund the travel but supports it, then students will be directed to the Graduate School to apply for a travel grant (Travel Application).
  • If the student cannot obtain a travel grant from the Graduate School (students are eligible for 3 travel grants during their graduate studies of up to $500 each), funds not to exceed $250 will be provided by the Department to the student to aid in covering travel expenses.
  • The student must follow all required travel policies for Vanderbilt personnel.
  • Funds are contingent on availability of departmental funds during a specific budget year.
  • The entire graduate student population is limited to three requests for assistance per semester (total of $1,500 per year).
  • International Travel: If you require vaccines for Vanderbilt-related travel, you can visit either Occupational Health or the Student Health Center; student health may charge you for vaccinations, but they will be free at occupational health.
  • Be sure to order business cards before your first conference trip; they are a great way to make yourself standout during network sessions.
  • Emergency contact numbers while traveling on Vanderbilt business are provided in Appendix D.
  • Rental cars should be used when they are less expensive than alternative means of transportation (e.g., taxi, Uber, train) or when convenience or safety issues justify the additional cost. Rental of up to a mid-sied car is reimbursable. Rental cars are to be booked through Concur. Pre-paid fuel options should be declined. Refuel the rental car prior to returning to the rental agency. The cost of business related fuel will be reimbursed. All business-related tolls and parking charges will be reimbursed. Tickets or fines associated with parking or travel violations, and charges for vehicle lockouts will not be reimbursed. For more information on rental cars for travel please see the Vanderbilt Travel & Business Exepnse Policy.

Well-being. Graduate school is not easy - it often affects your physical, emotional, and mental states. Please know that you are not alone. In additional to your colleagues, you also have multiple resources at the University level to help maintain your well-being.

  • The recreation center offers both group and individual training classes.
  • The police department offers a course on self-defense for those interested.

Writing Studio. At the Writing Studio, you have the opportunity to meet individually with trained consultants to talk about any (personal or professional) writing project or concern. Their services are free and confidential for any member of Vanderbilt’s scholarly community.

Student Responsibility Checklist

Review Vanderbilt University Campus Emergency Response Guides and School of Engineering Evacuation Protocol.Once
Responsible conduct of research required training. This training is mandatory for all M.S. and Ph.D. graduate students in the School of Engineering. The training is in 2 parts. The first is an online tutorial and quiz, which is to be taken during the Fall semester. The second is a day-long workshop, which is held on the first Friday in May each year. You must make yourself available for this workshop, which will become part of your official transcript. You will be notified via email when to register for both parts of this required training. See for complete information.Once
Fire safety training. You will be contacted via email by Vanderbilt Environmental Health and Safety (VEHS) about the completion of this module; mandatory requirement for everyone.Once
Enroll for direct deposit through Vanderbilt HR about the completion of this module; mandatory requirement for everyone.Once

Register for classes each term.

  • If you are being supported via Vanderbilt payroll over the summer, then you must enroll at the 0 hour level in the appropriate research course.
  • If you have completed your 72 hours, then enroll at the 0 hour level in the appropriate research course.
  • Every term
    Student progress reports. If you are a Ph.D. student, your DGS will contact you for information regarding your progress in the department (see Appendix C for general content that is included in each progress report). Each student is encouraged to schedule a time to meet with the DGS to address any outstanding questions or issues. The goal of the progress reports is to maintain focus on completion of graduate studies and provide early resolution to any difficulties that may arise.Annually
    Website. If you are a Ph.D. student in the department, please verify that the content of your web presence is accurate with Charity BacksAnnually
    Waive student health insurance in a timely manner if covered by a different policy.Annually
    Other Required Training: All undergraduate and graduate/professional students are now required to annually complete and educational module on protecting minors. For complete information and access to the training module go to the following website:
    Check your email! Your Vanderbilt email is the official communication for the department, graduate school, university registrar’s office, and office of student accounts. Ongoing
    Travel. Communicate vacation and/or travel with advisor and/or DGS. Maintain compliance with Vanderbilt travel policies. Be familiar with emergency contact information in Appendix D.Ongoing
    Honor code. Honor Code is in effect for all degree candidates in the Graduate Program. All homework and examinations are to be accomplished under the honor code rules, unless otherwise specified by the instructor. Violation of the Honor Code will be referred to the Honor Council and can result in the termination of degree candidacy. Ongoing

    Paperwork. Submit required forms to the Graduate School regarding degree milestones in a timely manner. Be sure to follow all guidelines on the paperwork, including submitting the paperwork to Karen Page so that a department copy can be made prior to being forwarded to the Graduate School.

    While every effort shall be made to inform students of impending deadlines, it is ultimately each student’s responsibility to see that they submit needed documents as required by the CEE Department and the Graduate School.

    Fulfilling the responsibilities required by your funding program (TA, RA, external source, etc.)Ongoing
    Attend seminars and other department events (such as students’ defenses).Ongoing
    Meet expectations of the faculty advisors and department staff (Appendix A)Ongoing
    Maintain compliance with codes of conduct and responsibilities for shared office spaces (Appendix B)Ongoing


    • Appendix A. Mutual Expectations of Faculty Advisors, Graduate Students, and Department Staff

      Our aspirational vision for educating Civil and Environmental Engineering graduate students at Vanderbilt is that they will be positioned to understand, articulate, and help solve the biggest civil and environmental problems facing our country and the world. Students graduating from Vanderbilt will appreciate the grand challenges facing civil and environmental engineers and scientists and the key role they themselves can play in addressing the challenges. Our graduate students will engage in research at the forefront of civil and environmental engineering and science and will publish their work in the highest quality journals. They will use and develop sophisticated quantitative methods and will be articulate in both written and spoken communication. They will experience the full cycle of research – proposal preparation, experimental design within a theoretical framework, modeling and simulation, analysis of data, and presentation of the results orally and in peer-reviewed publications. Students will adopt and embrace systems level thinking as a keystone of the approach to solving big problems.

      Achieving such a grand vision will require cooperation among faculty, students, and staff. Success will depend on making all of the day-to-day things that support the program run smoothly as well as ensuring a vibrant collegial intellectual atmosphere. It will be essential for all involved to be able to communicate and interact smoothly and efficiently with others who are engaged in the enterprise, even though different people have different roles to play. Listed here is a set of expectations that faculty, staff, and students should have for themselves and each other in pursuit of their mutual goals.

      Graduate Student Expectations –
      (1) From their Faculty Advisor:


      • Respect as a person, student, and professional employee
      • Recognition and respect for differences in culture, ethnicity, gender, and other dimensions of diversity
      • Commitment of time, effort, and assistance in securing financial support
      • Ability to communicate and express concerns without the fear of retribution
      • Understanding of commitments to coursework and assistantship responsibilities

      Open and clear communications

      • Mutually agreed upon expectations for frequency and format of communication
      • Clear communication about project timelines, funding, and research expectations
      • Timely review and feedback on research and academic progress


      • Integrity in every aspect of work as teacher, researcher and author
      • Fair award of authorship credit

      Guidance on research and degree completion

      • Guidance on planning and managing research projects from conception to publication
      • Reasonable expectations of the time to complete the dissertation or thesis
      • Proper training and resources to complete research projects successfully
      • Guidance on professional and ethical standards

      Guidance on career

      • Advice on advancing professional goals
      • Opportunities to participate in career development activities
      • Help in building professional networks

      (2) From the Department Staff:


      • Respect as a person, student, and professional employee
      • Recognition and respect for differences in culture, ethnicity, gender, and other dimensions of diversity
      • Commitment of time and effort

      Open and clear communications

      • Clear articulation of individual staff responsibilities within the department
      • Clear communication with regard to handling of employment, office space and facilities, and to the myriad of things required for students to function in the Department
      • Assistance with resolving issues associated with respective staff responsibilities


      • Integrity in every aspect of work as a Vanderbilt staff member

      Faculty Advisor Expectations --
      (1) From their Graduate Student Advisees:


      • Respect both as professor and person
      • Recognition and respect for differences in culture, ethnicity, gender, and other dimensions of diversity
      • Understanding that mentoring is tailored for each individual student and adjusted for progress in the degree program

      Open and clear communications

      • Mutually agreed upon expectations for frequency and format of communications
      • Regular progress reports including what the student has and has not done
      • Reasonable expectations of the time frame necessary to provide responses to input, and requests related to research activities
      • Early identification and discussion of academic, research and interpersonal difficulties with advisor first, before turning to other means for resolution

      Commitment & Productivity

      • Understanding of the expectations of the degree program, advisor and research team, and GRA/GTA/Grader responsibilities
      • Progress through the program, with progressively more independence
      • Commitment and steady effort to make progress; adhering to timelines and deadlines


      • Safe, ethical, and efficient use of resources
      • Abiding by professional and safety standards
      • Taking feedback seriously and revising in response
      • Maintaining good records and documentation that would allow replication of results
      • When graduating, leaving behind organized research materials and completing exit interview process


      • Working well with others; supporting and mentoring others
      • Carrying a fair share of responsibility
      • Understanding the common intellectual property principles involved in teamwork
      • Thoughtfully reviewing the work of others, including the advisor

      (2) From the Department Staff:


      • Respect both as professor and person
      • Recognition and respect for differences in culture, ethnicity, gender, and other dimensions of diversity

      Open and clear communications

      • Clear, open, and timely communication on all tasks related to graduate students


      • Integrity in every aspect of work as a Vanderbilt staff member

      Department Staff Expectations --
      (1) From Graduate Students:


      • Respect both as a staff member and person
      • Recognition and respect for differences in culture, ethnicity, gender, and other dimensions of diversity

      Open and clear communications

      • Reasonable expectations of the time required to accomplish tasks
      • Recognition that multiple tasks require scheduling of work ahead of time


      • Commitment to timelines and deadlines to provide needed information


      • Ethical use of resources
      • Considerate use of departmental resources (e.g., printers, break room)
      • Abiding by professional standards
      • Integrity in every aspect of work as a Vanderbilt student

      (2) From the Faculty:


      • Respect both as a staff member and person
      • Recognition and respect for differences in culture, ethnicity, gender, and other dimensions of diversity
      • Understanding that work must be scheduled, that requests for expedited service cannot always be met

      Open and clear communications

      • Clear, open, and timely communication on all tasks expected to be accomplished


      • Integrity in every aspect of work as a Vanderbilt faculty member
    • Appendix B. Department Codes of Conduct and Responsibilities of Shared Office Space

      1. Cleanliness - Food and Drinks

      • Do not leave food out or unattended on your desktop. Food should only be on your desktop while being consumed. Otherwise, it needs to be properly stored (covered and sealed) in the appropriate place (desk drawers or refrigerator).
      • Promptly and properly dispose of leftover food and waste (apple cores, used coffee cups, dirty dishes, plastic ware, etc.). If food or drink waste is particularly malodorous, please use trash receptacles located in hallways or restrooms rather than the shared office trashcans.
      • If you use the shared refrigerator and/or microwave oven, take your turn in cleaning these items. Promptly clean any spills to avoid making matters worse. If you spill something, it is your responsibility to clean it.
      • Be respectful of your officemates’ right to air that is neutral in odor. For example, if your food is highly odorous, be mindful that it would be considerate to eat it somewhere other than in the shared office environment.
      • If you are “saving” items for recycling (cans, bottles, papers), please recycle them in a timely manner (daily).

      2.  Cleanliness - Housekeeping

      • Do not encroach on your neighbor’s cubicle space.
      • Keep your desktop and visible floor space neat and orderly.
      • Do not use your cubicle for long-term storage. In particular, large stacks of paper and cardboard boxes are discouraged as they create environments attractive to bugs.
      • Do not leave used recreational clothing, shoes, or socks in the shared office at the end of the day.

      3.  Professional Atmosphere

      • The shared offices are to be treated as a professional working environment, not an extension of a dorm room or apartment. The purpose of shared offices is not to socialize. For casual socializing, use building common areas. Reserve conference rooms for formal meetings. Do not have spontaneous meetings in shared offices. Move a spontaneous meeting to a conference room or other building common area.
      • Courtesy is expected at all times. Work in such a way as to not disturb your officemates.
      • Use of profanity is prohibited.
      • Do not post pictures, posters, or décor that may be offensive to your officemates. If you are unsure if an item may be offensive to someone, then do not post it. If you are asked to remove an item by any of your officemates, faculty, or staff, you must do so immediately.
      • Everyone should be appropriately dressed at all times – think “casual Friday.”
      • Do not remove or borrow anything from your officemates’ cubicle spaces without their express permission.
      • If you use media in the shared office space, use of headphones is required. In addition, viewing media that is questionable or offensive is not allowed.
    • Appendix C. Graduate Student Progress Report Information

      Civil Engineering Progress Report:

      1. Date:
      2. Name:
      3. Primary faculty advisor:
      4. Program and degree sought (If M.S. is sought, include if this is a research based degree):
      5. Semester and year of initiating degree program:
      6. Anticipated degree completion (month/year):
      7. Research thesis or dissertation tentative title and abstract (title + 1 paragraph summary of research objectives and approach):
      8. Current research status (bulleted summary of progress to-date):
      9. Research milestones for next 6 months:
      10. Source of financial support:
      11. Status on course work requirements:
             a. Courses completed to date (number and title):
             b. Courses remaining to be completed for degree (number, title and semester to be completed):
      12. Publications and professional presentations (provide full citations on completed and upcoming publications and presentations based on your research or activities while at Vanderbilt):
      13. For Ph.D. students only:
             a. Month/year for (planned or completed) comprehensive exam:
             b. Month/year for (planned or completed) qualifying exam (proposal defense):
             c. Month/year for (planned) completion of draft dissertation:
             d. Dissertation faculty committee:

      Click here for Environmental Engineering Progress Report.

    • Appendix D. Emergency Contact Numbers When Traveling for Vanderbilt Business

      WORLD TRAVEL SERVICE (For faculty, grad students, staff)
      (877) 271-9258
      Office Hours: 7:00am to 6:00pm CT (Monday - Friday)
      For Concur travel booking support, email (7:00am - 5:00pm CT)

      WORLD TRAVEL SERVICE AFTER HOURS (For faculty, grad students, staff)
      (877) 271-9258 Domestic
      (865) 777-1600 International (collect calls accepted)
      Refer to code: W-7CD

      Vanderbilt University Police Department (For all as directed.)
      EMERGENCY - (615) 421-1911
      Non-Emergency - Call (615) 322-2745

      Faculty Adviser/Dept. Chair/Dept. Administrator
      Maya Nashabi - (work) 615-875-8996

      Senior Associate Dean Jansen - 615-322-3521

    • Appendix E. Resources at Vanderbilt for Promoting Diversity, Inclusivity, and Equity