Civil Engineering Plan of Study Procedures - Written Instructions for Residential Students

Each graduate student admitted to a degree program must file a Plan of Study (POS) with the Graduate School. MSCE students should have the POS fully approved by Civil Engineering by the end of their second semester. Note that MSCE students that plan to complete their degree in two semesters will need to complete their POS in their first semester. PhD students should have the POS fully approved by Civil Engineering by the end of their third semester. The POS may be modified as necessary after it is approved, with allowable coursework, and should be kept updated throughout your student career as things change. Summer semesters are considered in this count if the student is registered in the summer.

A plan of study is an academic contract among a student, the faculty members on the advisory committee, and the Graduate School, and guides a student’s academic progress. All departmental and Graduate School policies related to the filing of a POS must be adhered to explicitly.

How to create your Plan of Study (POS)

You can find general instructions from the Graduate School here.

You can find the Civil Engineering Plan of Study Workshop slides here.

  • Filing the plan of study is done electronically. Login to myPurdue with your Career Account user-id and password.
  • Under “Graduate Students” click on “Graduate School Plan of Study”
  • The Graduate School provides access to the POSG (Plan of Study Generator) through the “Graduate School Intranet Database” link (this is usually available after the second week of classes)
  • A new browser window will open with the POSG login screen; login again with your Career Account user-id and password to proceed.
  • Click on the Plan of Study Generator link, then “Create new plan of study” link.
  • Refer to the “Help” buttons located on each page if you need assistance. You do not need to complete the entire form at one log in; you may save your plan of study and return to it later

Student and Degree Information and Research Area and Concentration Sections

  • Enter your name and identification number as it appears in the admission letter.
  • Student email should be your Purdue email.
  • Degree Campus should be West Lafayette (Main Campus)
  • Admitted Program should be Civil Engineering
  • Degree title should be Master of Science in Civil Engineering (Thesis or Non-thesis) or Doctor of Philosophy
  • Program should be Civil Engr-MS-CE or Civil Engr-PhD
  • Date Degree Expected is an estimation of when you expect to complete all degree requirements
  • Concentration Area:
    • For students in the Professional Masters concentration, please select “CIV Engr With Ldrship Entr Mgmt” as the first concentration.
    • Students in the following areas (that will meet the area curriculum requirements), please select your area as the second concentration:
      • Architectural Engineering
      • Construction Engineering
      • Environmental Engineering
      • Hydraulic & Hydrologic Engineering
      • Geomatics Engineering
      • Structural Engineering
      • Trans & Infra Sys Engr (TIS)
    • Non-Thesis MSCE students in other areas should list their area in the “Research Area” field.
    • Thesis Option MSCE and PhD students can list their working research title in the “Research Area” field
    • There are two interdisciplinary concentrations available: Computational Science and Engineering (CSE) and Ecological Science and Engineering (ESE).  If the program is completed, the concentration will appear on your transcript; there is no diploma or certificate awarded.  But, as with all concentration programs, you must apply and be admitted to the program, before listing it as a concentration on your POS.   If admitted, please send a copy of your admittance email to
  • Language Requirement: skip this part

Coursework Section

There are four areas in this section:

  1. Courses currently being taken or those previously taken at Purdue.
    1. You need to select those courses that you will use to meet the requirements for your degree. You do not have to list every course that you have taken.
    2. If a course that you have taken previously or are currently enrolled in, does not populate in this section, just add it as a course to be taken in the future (see item #3 in this list) using the actual semester you completed the course.
  2. Transfer courses and courses taken as excess undergraduate credit
    1. Include courses from other universities that you are transferring to your program
    2. Undergrad excess courses must be graduate level, earned a B or better grade and cannot have been used to meet the requirements for your undergrad degree. There should be some notation on your transcripts that mark the courses as available for grad credit.
  3. Courses to be taken in the future at Purdue
    1. List the course titles as they show in the course look-up in myPurdue
    2. Use the course number not the CRN
  4. Purdue Combined Degree courses
    1. For students in the BSCE+MSCE program, list your two double counted courses in this section. The courses must be graduate level and have earned a B or better grade

Primary Area: Courses should have a reasonably close relation to the core subject.  Courses in the primary area can come from other departments other than CE.  At least one course must be designated as Primary.

Related Area: Courses would be outside the primary area but still contribute significantly to the knowledge base of the student.  These courses may come from CE or from other departments. 

You can also review the area appendixes of the CE Grad Student Handbook to find area coursework requirements. Please note that you can take any course you would like (undergrad or graduate level) for your own professional/personal development, but they may not be eligible to count toward your degree requirements. Please consult with your faculty advisor/committee to determine which courses would be allowable on your plan of study.

Only letter-graded courses that have been deemed allowable to meet CE degree requirements can be on a CE POS.   Courses taken as audit, or pass/no pass, or research credits cannot be added to a CE POS. Research hours are recorded on your transcripts.

Make sure to select courses that are offered at the Purdue West Lafayette campus.  Do not select courses only offered at a regional campus as you will not be able to register in them.  Make sure your course title, subject abbreviation and course number, match what is in the system, or your grades will not automatically pull in, when completed.  For example, use ‘MA’ as subject abbreviation for the math courses, not ‘MATH.’

Please do not complete the column “B or better”, unless directed by your major professor.  Completing this column, means you have to receive a B or better, or the course will not count toward your degree requirements.

Once you have completed the plan of study and feel it is ready for review:

  • Save the Plan as draft (students should already have discussed your course selection with your major professor/advisory committee.)
  • The POS will be reviewed by the POS coordinator who will advise you of revisions or will let you know that you can submit as Final to move the POS forward in approvals.
  • The plan will then begin the full approval process and will be electronically routed, reviewed, and if approved, signed by the departmental POS coordinator, your advisory committee, the Civil Engineering Graduate Chair and the Graduate School.
  • You may check the status of your plan at any time by returning to the POSG and click on “View”.
  • Once the Graduate School has approved your plan of study, you should check it each semester to monitor your academic degree progress, and update as changes are made.

Advisory Committee

Advisory Committee section of the CE Grad Student Handbook.  Each committee can have one chair or two co-chairs.  An advisory committee cannot have a Chair and a Co-chair.  It’s suggested that you request a meeting with the potential faculty member or contact them via email to ask them to serve on your committee. Be sure to give them your draft list of courses and provide them with your educational goals. 

  • MSCE students must have a minimum of three committee members
  • PhD students must have at least four committee members
  • Although it is acceptable to have more, please keep in mind that all committee members must be available to attend defenses, sign off on paperwork, etc, and it sometimes becomes difficult to schedule when the committee is larger.

Other Notes

We highly recommend that you do not add more coursework than required by your degree program, unless directed by your major professor; at which point, please add a supplemental note on your POS so we are aware.  As the POS is an academic contract, if you add more than the required credit hours, you will be expected to complete those credit hours before your degree will be awarded.  You can take additional courses, we just ask that they not be added to the POS, unless directed by your major professor and a supplemental notation is added.

Graduate level courses taken during an undergraduate program at Purdue may be included on a POS, provided they were not used to meet baccalaureate degree requirements and have grades of B or better. Only the credit hours, not the grade, will be counted. This does not apply for students in the BS/MS program.

One 300 or 400 level course, taken while in Graduate Status, may be used on a MSCE or PhD plan of study. The course must have earned a B or better grade.  The credit and grade for this course will be counted for your graduate program only after the POS is fully approved, with the undergraduate course on the plan.

Changes to the POS

Courses listed on the POS must be completed with grades of "C-" or better before certification for graduation can be granted.  Changes to the POS are completed through myPurdue.  You can submit a change to your POS for changes in advisory committee members, delete/add courses, or change the choice of Masters non-thesis or thesis options. You POS will need to be fully up to date within 30 days of the start of the student’s graduation semester.

A course on the POS with a grade lower than "C-" must be retaken.