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    South Dakota School of Mines & Technology
  Sep 24, 2017
2017-2018 SDSM&T Academic Catalog

Civil and Environmental Engineering, Ph.D.

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Contact Information

Dr. Marc Robinson
Associate Professor and Graduate Coordinator
Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE)
Phone: (605) 394-2563
Office: CM 243


Professors Kenner and Stone; Associate Professors Robinson, Capehart, Benning, and Gadhamshetty; Assistant Professors Lingwall, Shearer, Whitaker, Geza, and Waterman; Instructor Bienert.

Background and Requirements

The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering offers a Ph.D. degree in civil and environmental engineering (Ph.D. CENE) in the following emphasis areas: environmental, geotechnical, water resources, materials, and structural engineering.

All SD Mines Graduate College admissions requirements apply to the Civil and Environmental Engineering (CENE) Ph.D. program. In addition, a GPA of 3.00 or better is required, as is the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) for all applicants except SD Mines graduates.

Incoming students should have completed the courses listed below. Deficiencies in these areas must be remedied by taking the necessary coursework prior to enrollment in the doctoral program.

Calculus I, II, and III
Differential Equations
Probability and Statistics
Chemistry I and II
University Physics I

All CENE doctoral students are also expected to have completed the appropriate background courses for their intended research emphasis area (refer to the CENE Ph.D. Program Handbook: Additional subjects may be required by the student’s graduate committee. These requirements will be documented as a formal component of a student’s Program of Study.

Qualifying Exam

All CENE Ph.D. students must pass a qualifying examination, normally to be taken within the first two years of enrollment. The “Qualifying Exam” is a course-work based exam to test and demonstrate the doctoral student’s proficiency in the foundational material of his or her discipline. 

Comprehensive Examination and Admission to Ph.D. Candidacy

When the student’s program of coursework has been substantially completed, she or he will undertake the comprehensive examination for admission to candidacy. The “Comprehensive Exam” is a wide-ranging exam to test and demonstrate the doctoral student’s readiness to pursue doctoral research. It includes a defense of a written dissertation proposal, and may also include additional written or verbal exam components to demonstrate the student’s proficiency in his or her field of study based on the student’s coursework as a PhD student.


The dissertation is expected to advance knowledge and demonstrate the candidate’s technical mastery of the field of study. The research results are expected to be of publishable quality. The student’s major advisor may specifically require submission and/or publication of one or more peer-reviewed journal articles. In lieu of the conventional dissertation format, the dissertation may consist of a compilation of published and/or submitted journal manuscripts that are derived from the candidate’s doctoral research and are either authored or co-authored by the candidate. Dissertations submitted in this form must have an introduction and conclusion to tie the journal papers into a cohesive manuscript.

Dissertation Defense

The dissertation defense will be scheduled at any time after the student has completed the required coursework and after the graduate student advisory committee is satisfied that the dissertation is an acceptable manuscript, in terms of both technical quality and proper expression. A schedule of exam and defense deadlines is provided on the Graduate Education web page.

For additional information regarding exams and dissertation requirements refer to the CENE PhD Handbook at


The curriculum consists of a minimum of 72 credits for students entering with a BS degree (Table 1) and a minimum of 42 credits for those students entering with an MS degree (Table 2). The student’s graduate advisory committee will assess the student’s academic transcripts and approve a combination of required (Table 3) and elective coursework and dissertation credits that meets all degree requirements.

Table 1. Curriculum Requirements for Students Entering with a Bachelor’s Degree

Curriculum Requirement Credit Hours
Required Courses 9
Dissertation Research 21 - 33
Elective Courses1 30 - 42
Total Curriculum Credits 72


Table 2. Curriculum Requirements for Students Entering with a Masters Degree2

Curriculum Requirement Credit Hours
Required Courses 9
Dissertation Research 15 - 27
Elective Courses1 6 - 18
Total Curriculum Credits 42


Table 3. Required Coursework

Prefix & Number Course Title Credit Hours
*MATH 447/547   Design of Experiments 3
CEE 808 /AES 808   Fundamental Problems in Engineering and Science 3
CEE 790 /AES 790 /GEOE 790 /MES 790/890   Seminar (1 credit hour per academic year)3 3


Curriculum Notes

1Elective courses are subject to approval of the major professor and advisory committee.

Students entering with a M.S. degree in Civil or Environmental Engineering or a closely related discipline may apply a maximum of twenty-four (24) course credit hours toward elective course requirements and a maximum of six (6) credit hours toward the research credit requirements, subject to approval of the CENE graduate committee.

Course taken for credit 3 times for a total of 3 credits. CENE Ph.D. students are expected to attend and participate in the CENE seminar series whether they are taking it for credit or not.

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