Graduate Program Admissions

Thank you for your interest in our program!

Welcome!  The CEE Graduate Program at UC Davis provides a setting in which students can develop their full potential to solve problems and become leaders in civil infrastructure and environmental engineering through individual and collaborative integration of research, education and professional service. We are a highly-ranked, vibrant program where students can develop knowledge through topical classroom experiences and with faculty and students who together carry out innovative research that aims to improve society. Our program values diversity as a core component of excellence. We believe that a diverse graduate student population enriches our research, scholarship, teaching, and the overall academic experience for all our students.

Students in CEE focus on one or more of five areas of specialization: Environmental Engineering, Geotechnical Engineering, Structural Engineering and Structural Mechanics, Water Resources, and Transportation Engineering.

Below are requirements and guidelines for admissions to our program and information about each aspect of the application. We thank you for your interest in our program, and we look forward to hearing from you.

Applications for the 2019-20 academic year are now open. You can find further information on how to apply here or can start your application here.

Degrees Offered

The CEE Program offers graduate M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Civil and Environmental Engineering. You can find about specific faculty research interests here and a list of the courses offered in the CEE department here. More information about specific degree requirements is available here.

The MS Degree

There are two pathways to achieve an MS degree. These are:

  • MS Plan I – Thesis: The MS I pathway requires that, in addition to 27 units of graded coursework, students engage in substantial, independent research that culminates in the writing of a Thesis. The MS I degree pathway is for students who have a strong interest in gaining or expanding their research experience. The ability to participate in the MS I pathway requires concurrence of a faculty member, either prior to or after arrival at UCD.
  • MS Plan II – Exam or Project: The MS II pathway requires students take 34 units of graded coursework, predominately at the graduate level. In addition, as a culminating experience students will take either a written comprehensive exam or complete a project (developed in consultation with their Major Professor). The MS II pathway is for students who are interested in expanding their knowledge in their area of specialization. Students on the MS II pathway may, with the support of a faculty member, transfer to the MS I (thesis) pathway.

The Ph.D. 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 UCD 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.

Application Process

All applicants must indicate an area of specialization on the application from among:  Environmental Engineering, Geotechnical Engineering,  Structural Engineering and Structural Mechanics, Water Resources, and Transportation Engineering.

Required Application Materials for Fall 2018:

1. Graduate Application, Statement of Purpose and Personal History

2.  Application Fee:  $105 Domestic, $125 International. Note: students who have participated in or are affiliated with certain programs (e.g. CAMP, LSAMP, UC LEADS, McNair Scholars) may be eligible for a fee wavier. See the Grad Studies website for details.

3.  GRE Scores

4.  Transcripts from all post-secondary institutions attended

5.  Three Letters of Recommendation

6.  TOEFL or IELTS score (for nationals of non-English-speaking countries) Note:  minimum score required is 550 on paper-based TOEFL, or 80 on internet-based TOEFL, or 7.0 on IELTS.

Application Guidelines

  • The application fee is $105 for the domestic application and $125 for the international. The fee may be paid by Visa, Mastercard or e-check. The fee must be paid before the application will be considered as complete, and the fee must be paid for each application submitted.
  • Transcripts: UC Davis requires academic records from each college-level institution you have attended.  You will be instructed to upload scanned copies of your transcripts after you have submitted your online application.  For more details visit
  • GRE scores must be sent electronically to Institution code 4834. A specific department code is not necessary.
  • TOEFL scores must be sent electronically to Institution code 4834 and Department code 65.
  • Letters of Recommendation must be submitted electronically by the referee through the online application. Please do not have recommenders send letters in hard copy, but rather to submit all recommendations online through the online service. The online application will automatically notify the referee and provide instructions on how to submit the letter.

Domestic applicants are strongly urged to submit a completed FAFSA during the application process.  This form is used to assess your eligibility for financial assistance from  federal sources.  It should be submitted even if you are not applying for any federal grants yourself, as the department sometimes has fellowship aid from federal sources that you might be eligible for. Failure to file the FAFSA by its deadline automatically disqualifies you from receiving any federal aid.

Please be sure to read through our Frequently asked questions page. If you still have further questions please send them to the Civil and Environmental Engineering Staff at

Deadlines and Admission Schedule

It is the policy of UC Davis to only admit graduate students for first enrollment in the Fall Quarter.  Early application is encouraged; initial admission decisions begin in January and admissions are limited.
Application deadlines:

Priority Deadline – 12/15/2018
Prospective Student Fellowship Deadline – 12/15/2018
General Deadline – 2/1/2019
Space Available Deadline – 6/1/2019

*Applicants who apply by the Space Available Deadline (but after the General Deadline) are not guaranteed to have their application reviewed by the graduate program. Their application will be reviewed only if the graduate program determines that they have additional space available.

After gaining admission for the Fall, it is sometimes possible to request a deferment of enrollment until the Winter or Spring Quarter, if circumstances prevent you from starting in the Fall.  Approval is not automatic; a sound reason must be given. Under rare circumstances, the department will accept applications after the deadlines. Your chances for late admission increase if a faculty member in the department has expressed an interest in you joining the program or their research group. No applications will be accepted after the space available deadline.

Admission Criteria

Admission is competitive. All aspects of your application will be considered in our evaluation. This includes your Statements of Purpose and Personal History and Diversity statements, your letters of recommendation, potential research or work experience, your undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or better, your graduating institution, your GRE scores and (if applicable) your TOEFL or IELTS scores. Your overall application will all be evaluated by a committee of faculty in the department, including at least one professor from your area of specialization.  While all of these components of your application are important and we aim to take a holistic approach, there is no substitute for a strong undergraduate GPA. For those students interested in the MS I (Thesis) or Ph.D. degrees, research experience is a definite plus.

Occasionally, the admissions committee will recommend admission for an applicant whose GPA and/or GRE scores would not normally warrant admission.  This may happen if other aspects of the applicant’s  background which are not reflected in the GPA and/or GRE scores  strongly indicate a potential for success in our graduate program. A typical example is extensive and relevant work experience with excellent performance.  Under these circumstances, the student may be admitted on a “Course Work Only” (CWO) basis initially. While in CWO status, the student may not hold an academic appointment (i.e. a Teaching Assistantship or a Research Assistantship).  During the quarters spent in CWO status, the student must fulfill an agreement with the department that is made upon admission. This agreement usually involves a specified level of performance in a list of courses.

Applicants who already have an MS degree in civil engineering from another institution can only be admitted to pursue a PhD degree. Admission into our PhD program is based, in part, on the availability of a faculty member to serve as the student’s major professor in the area of specialization proposed by the applicant.

Financial Support

Financial support for first-year graduate students may take one or more of four forms:  Fellowships, Graduate Student Research positions (GSR), Teaching Assistantships (TA), and Readerships.

All graduate applicants who are US citizens, permanent residents or immigrants should file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as early as possible. This form, submitted directly to the Federal Student Aid Program Office, Iowa City, Iowa, is used to determine financial need only, a component of the eligibility criteria for many fellowships, and for all forms of financial aid.  The FAFSA can be obtained from the Financial Aid Office or by accessing the free FAFSA Web site .

Fellowships are highly competitive and vary widely with regard to stipend and/or tuition support they offer.  In addition, UC Davis offers a special graduate opportunity program for qualified minority and/or economically disadvantaged students that offers a twelve month stipend based on financial need, as determined by the Financial Aid Office.

Graduate Student Research positions are based on research grant funding, and are arranged with individual faculty members. Applicants interested in a GSR position should make early contact with individual faculty members in their areas of interest (see faculty web pages) to discuss possible research funding opportunities. GSR positions are primarily available to MS I and Ph.D. students. Graduate Student Research positions provide full remission of the in-state fees and the non-resident supplemental tuition (NRST).

Teaching Assistant positions are allocated by the department, include partial remission of instate fees, and for entering students are normally awarded only to domestic students.  Readerships involve marking homework solutions submitted by students, and are arranged with individual instructors prior to the beginning of each quarter.  Readerships are hourly positions, and include partial fee remissions for in-state fees.  Readership positions should not be considered as a sole means of support.

For international and non-California students, non-resident tuition often poses the greatest financial difficulties. TAs, Readerships and regular fellowships do not necessarily include support for out-of-state tuition.  Full or partial Non-Resident Tuition Fellowships (NRTF) may be offered by the department. US citizens and permanent residents are expected to become California residents after one year of study.  For international students there is a waiver of the non-resident tuition for three years following advancement to candidacy for the PhD degree (after completing the qualifying exam).

Additional questions can be directed to

Last updated on August 15, 2018