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M.S. Program Overview

The Department offers a graduate program leading to the M.S. degree in civil engineering with several areas of concentration, including coastal engineering, construction engineering management, environmental engineering, geotechnical engineering, hydraulics, structural engineering, transportation, and water resources. Here are the Admission Instructions. Administration of the M.S. program is by the Department Graduate Program Chair.

Students may choose either Plan A (thesis) or Plan B (non-thesis).  Students that do not possess a B.S. degree in civil engineering must fulfill the requirements listed below.

Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs) Expected

The student learning outcomes (SLOs) for the MS program describe a skill-set that students are expected to have at the time of graduation. Specifically, our MSCE graduates will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate in-depth technical knowledge in a sub-discipline of specialization.
  2. Evaluate critically and synthesize literature to inform engineering solutions.
  3. Present effectively technical work orally in a formal setting.
  4. Produce technical reports and/or publishable manuscripts; and,
  5. Perform engineering research or conduct projects that address open-ended problems.

Each sub-discipline establishes a sequence of courses to achieve SLOs 1 and 2. To achieve SLO 3, every student is required to take a seminar course, where they are required to make an oral presentation. Also, every student presents orally during the final examination of their thesis (Plan A) or project work (typical for Plan B). To achieve SLOs  and 5, each student must complete successfully either a research-oriented thesis (Plan A) or a research or practice-oriented project report (Plan B). Graduate student writing guidance is available to help students to achieve SLO 4.

Admission Requirements

Admission is controlled by the Graduate Division.  Any applicant from outside UH must submit BS transcripts, three letters of recommendation, GRE scores or evidence of passing the EIT or hold an FE license or PE license, and a statement of objectives, along with their application form.  English test scores of TOEFL or IELTS must be submitted for most non-native speakers.  Applicants should also review the requirements on the admissions website at

Minimum Prerequisites for Students Without a B.S. in Civil Engineering

The following list of courses (or equivalent) must be completed with a grade of “C” or better prior to advancement to candidacy in the selected area of concentration.

Required Required
General Course Additional Course
Environmental 330 431
Geotechnical 355 455
Transportation 361 461, 462, or 464
Construction 375 472, 473, 474, or 476
Structures 381 484, 485, or 486
Hydraulics / Coastal 320 421

Minimum M.S. Credit Requirements*

The following table spells out the essential M.S. program requirements in CEE, for both the Plan A (thesis) option and Plan B (non-thesis) option:

Plan A


Plan B


CEE Graduate courses – 600-level
(core courses excluding CEE 700 and seminars) **
12 credits 18 credits
Graduate and/or 400-level courses
9 9
Thesis – CEE 700
(thesis topic and title to be approved by student’s Graduate Committee)
9 N/A
Major research report – CEE 695 N/A 3
Seminar – CEE 691 or approved equivalent 1 1
Minimum Total Credits 31 31
Final examination Oral thesis defense Oral project presentation
Required course during semester degree is to be awarded CEE 700 CEE 600, if all other coursework is completed

*Additional courses may be required by the student’s Graduate Committee

** A max of one CEE 699 is allowed

Only courses which receive a C or better count towards the M.S. credits. Thus, a C course would have to be repeated or the student needs to take another class to meet the minimum credit requirements.

Transfer of Credits from Another Institution

Previous graduate credits (from unclassified status or from another institution) must be transferred during the first semester after being accepted as a conditional or regular student.    Up to 15 credits can be transferred from another institution.  Those courses should have a grade of C or better.

After joining UH, an M.S. student can take courses elsewhere and request to transfer up to nine (9) credits towards their M.S. degree.

Plan Selection

A graduate student should select Plan A (thesis option), nine (9) credits of CEE 700; or Plan B (non-thesis option), three (3) credits of CEE 695.

Courses to Take

A preliminary degree plan that lists the student’s intended courses should be developed in consultation with the advisor. The list of courses may be modified at a later date.

Form I: Pre-Candidacy Progress (Plans A and B)

The Form I identifies any deficiencies the student must attend to.  This form should preferably be completed in the first semester after the student’s enrollment.

Form II: Advance to Candidacy

Admission to candidacy is at the discretion of the Department and authorized by the Graduate Program Chair.  Generally, advancement occurs after one semester and 12 credits of acceptable graduate degree coursework with a GPA of 3.0 or higher.  All listed undergraduate deficiencies must be satisfied prior to admission to candidacy.  Note that conditional students can be transferred to regular status after completing 12 credits of approved graduate degree coursework with a GPA of 3.0 or better.

Form II must show the tentative title of the student’s project report or thesis, and be signed by all committee members.  Before a student can enroll in CEE 700, the Form II must be complete.

For Plan A, any CEE 699 that is intended to be transferred later to thesis credit must be taken as credit/no credit.

Student’s Advisory Committee

Incoming graduate students must be advised by an interim Graduate Faculty who is either assigned or requested by the student.  The graduate student’s committee consists of a minimum of three Graduate Faculty members.  At least two of them must be from the Department, one of which must be the chair, who serves as the academic advisor.  Note that the interim advisor does not have to be a member of the committee.  The student must create his/her own advisory committee in consultation with their advisor.

Form III: Defense

For Plan A, the student must satisfactorily pass an oral defense of their thesis.  For Plan B, the student must satisfactorily present their project report. All committee members must attend the oral defense and/or report presentation, either in person or virtually.

Residency Requirement

M.S. students are required to be in residency for two semesters of full-time work, defined as registering for 8 credits or more per semester.

Degree Time Limit

The maximum time allowed for a student to complete the M.S. degree and utilize all graduate degree credits is seven (7) years preceding the date upon which the degree is conferred.


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