The Doctor of Philosophy Degree

The Ph.D. degree is for those students who have a major interest in developing deep knowledge of and performing independent, extensive research in their area of specialization, conducted in close collaboration with faculty. Students may apply directly to the Ph.D. program whether or not they have already obtained an MS degree, and many students start at UC Davis on the MS pathway and later transition to the Ph.D. program. Admission to the Ph.D. program is highly competitive, and requires the support of a faculty member. If you are interested in pursuing a Ph.D. degree, it is recommended that you contact faculty members who have research interests that align with yours.

View all PhD requirements here

Normative Time to Degree: 5.3 years

Measured from the time a student begins graduate study, with no prior graduate experience, the normative time to degree is approximately 5.3 years.

PhD Admission Requirements

Applicants for admission to Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) must meet the University of California minimum GPA requirement for admission (3.0 Undergraduate Cumulative GPA). Other requirements for admission include:

  • A Bachelor’s degree (or equivalent) from an accredited institution;
  • Three letters of recommendation;
  • Official Transcripts with translation, if needed;
  • TOEFL or IELTS: English proficiency examination for international applicants who have not studied at an institution where the language of instruction was in English. International applicants must meet minimum score requirement in the Graduate Studies Policy on the Implementation of Admission Requirements and Exceptions.
  • The GRE is NOT required or accepted as part of our admissions 

While not formally required, applicants are strongly encouraged to communicate with potential research advisors (major professors) prior to admission to the program. It is essential that prospective students contact faculty in the CEE Program whose laboratories are conducting research in areas of CEE that the student wishes to pursue, in order to introduce themselves and inquire about faculty willingness to accept a new student in this degree program. This process of communicating with potential major professors should begin in the Fall and prior to the relevant applications deadline. Applicants should take the initiative to inquire about future research directions of laboratories, exchange research ideas with potential major professors, and make every effort to identify viable possibilities. While formal acceptance into a research group cannot occur prior to admission, contacts should be sufficiently developed such that at least tentative identification of a research advisor can be made as soon after the time of admission as possible.

The priority deadline, fellowship deadline, general deadline, and space available deadline are all posted online, and updated each year on our page here. Applicants are encouraged to aim for the priority deadline. Admissions decisions are made on a case-by-case basis. 

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Application Fee Wavier and Fellowships

PhD Applicants are especially encouraged to review the Graduate Preparation programs Fee Waiver and the COE Equity Program Fee Wavier Programs.  CEE also offers Fee Fellowships to students from the CSU and UC Systems