Appendix B - Construction

Graduate degrees with specialization in Construction Engineering are available through Lyles School of Civil Engineering to qualified post-baccalaureate students who have obtained engineering or science degrees. A diversity of course offerings and faculty research interests provides flexibility in formulating a program of study attuned to a student’s career goals. Both master’s and PhD degrees are available. The official title for the master’s degree is Master of Science in Civil Engineering, or MSCE. The general prerequisite to the admission into the PhD program is an earned master’s degree in a related engineering field. High quality PhD applicants who do not have a master’s degree might be placed in the master’s program and can continue as PhD students upon the satisfactory completion of the master’s degree.

Master’s Options in the Construction Engineering Specialization

At the master’s level, both a thesis and a non-thesis option are available. Every master’s student must satisfactorily complete 30 credit hours to earn a master’s degree. In the case of the thesis option, the 30 credits must include 9 research credit hours and 21 course credit hours. In the case of the non-thesis option, all 30 credit hours are course credit hours.

Thesis Option

Within the first semester of the student’s enrollment, a master’s student choosing the thesis option selects three faculty members who will serve on the student’s examination committee. The committee is chaired by the student’s major professor(s). At least one member of this committee must be a faculty member outside of the Construction Engineering area. This committee will review and approve the student’s Plan of Study (POS) and conduct the final exam. The final exam generally consists of a presentation by the student on his/her thesis work, discussion of the thesis, and a question-and-answer session. The exact format of the final exam remains the discretion of the examining committee.

Non-Thesis Option

A master’s student choosing the non-thesis option selects three faculty members who will serve on the student’s examination committee. The Construction Engineering graduate representative will, by default, serve as the chair of the committee. At most one faculty member can be outside of the Construction Engineering area.

A master’s student with the non-thesis option will take a minimum of 30 credit hours of coursework towards their degree (courses to be included in the POS) using the courses listed in the following groups.

Group 1. Required: Four foundational courses - CE520, CE 521, CE 522, CE 523

Note: Students who join the graduate program in Civil Engineering at Purdue with the equivalent of one of the four required courses can substitute one of the required courses with any course in Group 2 or Group 3.

CE 52000 - Construction Project Controls
CE 52100 - Construction Business Management
CE 52200 - Computer Applications in Construction
CE 52300 - Selection and Utilization of Construction Equipment

Group 2. A minimum number of three courses from the following prescribed list:

Note: Group 2 includes eligible CE and CEM courses offered by Construction faculty. The list below is updated in 2021 and will be continuously updated as new courses are added and some of the 497/597 courses receive permanent course numbers.

CE 52400 - Legal Aspects in Engineering
CE 52700 - Analytical Methods for the Design of Construction Operations
CE 59700 – Built Environment Modeling
CE 59700 - Sustainable Building Design, Construction and Operation
CE 59700 - Advanced Modeling and Visualization of Construction Operations
CE 59700 - Virtual Reality Technologies for Construction
CE 59700 - Trenchless Technologies for Infrastructure Renewal
CE 59700 - Advanced Project Management
CE 59700 - Smart Construction
CE 49700 - Building Information Modeling
CEM 53100 – Facilities Engineering and Management
CEM 53200 – Infrastructure Planning
CEM 53300 – Infrastructure Analytics
CEM 59700 – Asset Management for Buried Pipelines
CEM 59700 – Developing Underground Space
CEM 59700 - Pipeline Condition Assessment and Integrity Management (PCA & IM)
CEM 59700 – Construction Productivity
CEM 45500 – Design of Temporary Structures
CEM 49700 - Construction Means & Methods
CEM 49700 – Critical Thinking in Construction Engineering
CEM 49700 – Highway and Bridge Construction

Group 3. Remainder of the courses from Graduate Offerings in CE, STAT, MATH, IE, NUCL, ME, MGMT, EE, ABE, ENE, CHME, ECON, CS


A Professional Masters Concentration (CE-LEM) is also available in the MSCE Program.  You can find more details about the concentration and the required coursework at:


PhD Program

If not already decided upon the entry into the PhD program, students should aim to select an advisor/major professor no later than the end of their first semester at Purdue. During the first semester of residence of a student admitted to the Ph.D. program, the major professor, in consultation with the student, will appoint a Dissertation Committee which will have the responsibility of reviewing and approving the student's plan of study and providing guidance toward the completion of the requirements for the degree.  The Guidance Committee will consist of at least four members; three should be faculty members. The advisor will be a member of the Construction Engineering faculty and will act as the chair of the Guidance Committee.

Any students enrolled in the PhD program must satisfactorily complete 90 credit hours, of which a minimum of 48 credit hours are of course work beyond the bachelor’s degree and a minimum of 42 credit hours are of PhD research work. At least 9 credit hours must be from outside Civil Engineering. Up to 30 credits of a master’s degree program may be applied towards the PhD degree. At least one-third of the total credit hours used to satisfy degree requirements must be earned (while registered for doctoral study) in continuous residence on the Purdue campus where the degree is to be granted. A student must have an overall grade point average of not less than 3.0 in all courses taken while a graduate at Purdue and every course taken at Purdue University must be completed with a grade no lower than “C.”

In addition to satisfying the course work and credit hour requirements, a PhD student must satisfy the following requirements to earn the PhD degree.

a) Pass a Ph.D. qualifying examination no later than the second semester of residence in the Ph.D. program. Based on the review of the student’s qualifications and on the recommendation of the student’s Guidance Committee, the qualifying exam may be waived.

b) Pass a Ph.D. preliminary examination consisting of written and oral portions, and present a Ph.D. dissertation proposal to be admitted to candidacy.

c) Pass a final examination in defense of the dissertation, and complete other Graduate School requirements regarding the deposit of copies of final dissertation.

d) Submit a petition for the degree.

All requirements for the Ph.D. degree must be completed within four years from the end of the semester in which the student passes the Ph.D. preliminary examination. In special cases, based on petition by the student to the Head of the School of Civil Engineering, this time limit may be extended. The total elapsed time of a completed Ph.D. degree program at Purdue University, from admission to completion of the final examination, shall be no more than eight calendar years.

Doctoral students are advised to review the guidelines provided by the Graduate School catalog, and also the Manual for Preparing Graduate Theses.

The PhD Dissertation Committee

The duties of the Dissertation Committee shall be:

a) To meet with the student during the first semester of residence to develop a plan of study.

As part of the meeting, the student will prepare and present a resume of his/her background.  This resume will also include courses and grades for those courses taken at Purdue and elsewhere which are to be credited towards the coursework requirements for the Ph.D.  Courses not yet taken or completed but included in the program of study should also be shown. Satisfactory completion of the approved plan of study will constitute the fulfillment of the Ph.D. course work requirements.  Receipt of a failing grade (e.g. "F") in any course on the program of study will constitute unsatisfactory performance and may result in the student being dropped from the program.

b) To approve or otherwise act on requests for change in the plan of study.

c) To review the student's progress on a regular basis.

The student shall be informed as to whether or not satisfactory progress is being made. In the event of continued unsatisfactory performance, the Dissertation Committee may recommend to the Graduate Committee that the student be dropped from the Ph.D. program. In such a case, the Civil Engineering Graduate Committee shall review the recommendations and submit their findings to the School Head of Civil Engineering who shall make the final decision.

Qualifying Examination

The purpose of the qualifying examination is to determine if the student meets minimum requirements for continuing the Ph.D. program.  The examination will be given during the first or second semester following admission to the Ph.D. program.  The examination shall be administered by the faculty in the CEM area. The type of examination (oral, written, oral/written) shall be determined by the guidance committee. The student shall be informed beforehand concerning the type and scope of the examination. This examination typically covers basic material relating to Civil and Construction Engineering and Management subjects.

A majority vote of the guidance committee with not more than one dissenter will be required to pass the examination.  If a student fails his/her first qualifying examination, a second examination may be given only upon the recommendation of the guidance committee no sooner than one month nor later than six months from the date of the first examination.  If the guidance committee does not recommend a second examination, or if the student does not pass the second examination, he/she will be informed he is being dropped from the Ph.D. program.

The Ph.D. Preliminary Examination

In order to be formally admitted to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree, a student should have passed the preliminary examination, and must have submitted a Ph.D. dissertation proposal. The preliminary examination covers subjects and material which are germane to the student’s dissertation area and topic.

The student must complete all requirements for admission to candidacy at least two semesters prior to taking the final Doctoral Examination in defense of the dissertation. A student must be registered for at least two semester between the semester the preliminary exam is held and the semester the final Doctoral Examination is held. Thus, a student who holds the preliminary exam in the spring semester may take the final Doctoral Examination in the spring semester of the following calendar year as long as he/she has registered in both the summer and fall semesters.

The Preliminary Examination shall consist of two parts as follows: a) A written component, and b) An oral exam. The Examination will be administered by the Guidance Committee. The student in consultation with his/her dissertation advisor will decide when the preliminary examination may be taken.  The majority of the course work should have been completed prior to the examination.

A majority vote of the Dissertation Committee, with not more than one dissenter, will be required to pass the examination.  If a student fails his/her first preliminary examination, it must be taken no sooner than one semester nor later than one year after the first attempt.  If a student fails to take a second examination or fails the second examination, he/she will be informed that he/she is being dropped from the Ph.D. program.  A student who passes the preliminary examination is admitted to candidacy.

The Doctoral Examination

If the Dissertation Committee finds the dissertation to be satisfactory, the student will be called for a final oral Doctoral Examination covering the subject matter of the dissertation. The examination will be conducted by the Dissertation Committee subject to the approval of the School Head of Civil Engineering and the Dean of the Graduate School. A majority vote with no more than one dissenter is required to pass the examination.

At least three weeks before filing the request for the Doctoral Examination, the Dissertation Format Approval process has to be completed.  The Dissertation Format Approval is filed with the request for the Doctoral Examination.  Typically, the request for Doctoral Examination will be reviewed by the Graduate School and approved within three weeks of receipt of the request (refer to Graduate School Guidelines for information pertaining to deadlines).

The Doctoral Examination must be given no earlier than two semesters after the student completes all requirements for admission to candidacy. The student must be registered for at least 3 credit hours during the semester in which the final oral examination is given.

A notice of the Doctoral Examination including time and place shall be sent to all Civil Engineering faculty members, at least two weeks prior to the examination date. The examination shall be open to interested faculty, staff and students. Every member of the Dissertation Committee must receive a copy of the dissertation at least two weeks before the date of the doctoral examination. In the case of a failure on the final oral examination, one additional examination will be permitted, if recommended by the Dissertation Committee. The second examination will be scheduled at a time set by the Dissertation Committee, no earlier than one semester after the first attempt, but within one year of the first attempt.

Summary of Requirements to PhD Degree

The following steps, not necessarily in order, must be completed prior to the awarding of the Ph.D. degree.

a) Have a Ph.D. Guidance Committee appointed and develop a program of study.
b) Pass a qualifying examination (no later than the second semester of residency).
c) Pass Preliminary Exam (written and oral + presentation of dissertation proposal).
d) Complete research on dissertation topic and submit dissertation
e) Successfully defend thesis before Dissertation Committee.
f) Follow the current process of dissertation deposit to submit required copies of the dissertation in the required format to Library Thesis Deposit office and the Graduate school.