Graduate Programs

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Graduate Programs

Master of Science - Civil and Environmental Engineering

The Master of Science in Civil and Environmental Engineering program is designed to provide students with the technical and professional knowledge necessary to develop their abilities to seek creative solutions to complex problems in their field of interest. Students specialize in one of four areas: Environmental/Water Resources Engineering, Geotechnical Engineering, Structural Engineering, or Transportation Engineering. MS students must complete a thesis or research project conducted under the supervision of a faculty member. 

The MS program consists of two options:

  1. The thesis option consists of a total of 45 credit hours including 6-9 hours of thesis credits plus successful completion of a final oral examination covering the thesis. Coursework may include up to 6 hours of CE 501 Research, CE 504 Internship, CE 505 Reading and Conference or CE 506 Projects. 
  2. The project option requires completion of 45 credit hours including 4 credit hours on a research project that produces a report and technical presentation. The project option requires completion of 45 credit hours including 4 CE 501 Research credit hours on a research project that produces a report and technical presentation. Coursework may include up to 8 hours of CE 504 Internship, CE 505 Reading and Conference or CE 506 Projects. 

Both options can typically completed in 1.5 – 2 years. 

Degree Requirements

The complete degree requirements are described in the PSU Bulletin published online and found here.


Master of Engineering - Civil and Environmental Engineering

The Master of Engineering in Civil and Environmental Engineering program is a non-research based professional degree. MEng students may be full-time or part-time while working in the engineering field.  These students complete an advanced degree without a thesis/project requirement. Students specialize in one of four areas: Environmental/Water Resources Engineering, Geotechnical Engineering, Structural Engineering, or Transportation Engineering.

A total of 48 graduate credits are required for the MEng program. The degree can typically be completed in 1.5-2 years.

Degree Requirements

The complete degree requirements are described in the PSU Bulletin published online and found here.


Ph.D. - Civil and Environmental Engineering

The PhD in Civil and Environmental Engineering program offers advanced courses in the areas of structural analysis and design, water resources and environmental engineering, transportation engineering, and geotechnical engineering. This program aims to educate technical experts to meet challenges related to enhancing infrastructure and the environment. Students learn about conducting research and solving technical problems that have an impact both regionally and globally. The PhD program culminates in a written dissertation representing an original contribution to knowledge in the field, significantly enlarging, modifying or reinterpreting what was previously known. Students work closely with their advisor, but PhD research is an original, independent investigation of the chosen research topic.

A PhD student must complete the following departmental requirements:

  1. Complete a minimum of 51 credits (including coursework and dissertation credits) beyond the M.S. degree;
  2. Complete an approved program of study, which includes a minimum of 24 hours coursework. Coursework may include up to 8 hours of CE 601 Research, CE 604 Internship, CE 605 Reading and Conference, or CE 606 Projects;
  3. Meet the University's residency requirement;
  4. Pass the comprehensive examination;
  5. Present and pass a proposal defense for advancement to candidacy;
  6. Complete 27 credit hours of dissertation credit (CE 603) leading to the completion of a doctoral dissertation;
  7. Present and pass the final oral dissertation defense; and
  8. Submit the written dissertation in compliance with University guidelines and deadlines.

Degree Requirements

A complete list of the requirements are published in the PSU Bulletin online at this link.

Upcoming events

MS Thesis Defense Announcement: Bernadel Garstecki

The CEE Department is pleased to announce Bernadel Garstecki's MS Thesis Defense: "Modeling Cyanotoxin Production, Fate and Transport in Surface…
Add to my Calendar 2021-05-05 09:30:00 2021-05-05 10:30:00 MS Thesis Defense Announcement: Bernadel Garstecki The CEE Department is pleased to announce Bernadel Garstecki's MS Thesis Defense: "Modeling Cyanotoxin Production, Fate and Transport in Surface Waterbodies" Date: Wednesday, May 5th, 2021 Time: 9:30 AM - 10:30 AM Location: join us virtually on Zoom using the following link: https://pdx.zoom.us/j/83224701776 Advisor: Dr. Scott Wells Abstract: Cyanobacteria exist throughout the world and are frequently associated with forming toxic blooms.  Modeling the production and movement of these toxins is an important step in limiting exposure to them and evaluating management strategies to mitigate their impact.  The research provided here offers an overview of some of the environmental factors and cyanobacteria species that are associated with toxin production and describes preliminary models that were developed for the transport and fate of cyanotoxins.  Cyanotoxins can be either intracellular or extracellular and a model for each was developed.  The models were first tested using published data from laboratory experiments, and then the models were incorporated into the two-dimensional (longitudinal and vertical) hydrodynamic and water quality model CE-QUAL-W2.  The toxin models were tested using a model of Hagg Lake (Oregon).  Additional research was done to improve the water quality predictions of the CE-QUAL-W2 model of Hagg Lake that had previously been developed.  This even will be hosted on Zoom using the following link: https://pdx.zoom.us/j/83224701776 CEE Staff at ceedept@pdx.edu CEE Staff at ceedept@pdx.edu America/Los_Angeles public

MS Thesis Defense Announcement: Ariadna Covarrubias-Ornelas

The CEE Department is pleased to announce Ariadna Covarrubias-Ornelas' MS Thesis Defense: "Using Quantitative Stereology on High Resolution SEM…
Add to my Calendar 2021-05-06 11:00:00 2021-05-06 12:00:00 MS Thesis Defense Announcement: Ariadna Covarrubias-Ornelas The CEE Department is pleased to announce Ariadna Covarrubias-Ornelas' MS Thesis Defense: "Using Quantitative Stereology on High Resolution SEM Images to Estimate Diatom Percentages" Date: Thursday, May 6th, 2021 Time: 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Location: join us virtually on Zoom using the following link: https://pdx.zoom.us/j/7246286959 Advisor: Dr. Diane Moug Abstract: Diatoms are single-celled organisms of various shapes and sizes typically found in aquatic environments. When they die, the organic material decomposes, and the outer skeletons settle and accumulate as sedimentary deposits. These soils, called diatomaceous soils, exhibit nontraditional geotechnical behavior since the diatom particles are typically hollow skeletons composed of amorphous silica with intricately patterned and abrasive surfaces. Although the percentage of diatom particles relates to geotechnical properties, there are currently few published correlations to quantify diatom percentage. This research uses quantitative stereology on high resolution images captured using scanning electron microscopy (SEM) to characterize diatom percentages in samples from southern and central Oregon. Then these percentages are compared to measured soil properties to evaluate how diatom percentage relates to soil properties for these natural diatomaceous soils.  Virtual meeting on Zoom: https://pdx.zoom.us/j/7246286959 CEE Staff at ceedept@pdx.edu CEE Staff at ceedept@pdx.edu America/Los_Angeles public

Friday Transportation Seminar: Transportation and Gentrification…

We are committed to making decisions that promote the success and well-…
Add to my Calendar 2021-05-07 11:30:00 2021-05-07 12:30:00 Friday Transportation Seminar: Transportation and Gentrification: Impacts on Low-income Black Households in Portland We are committed to making decisions that promote the success and well-being of our campus community. Until further notice, all live events hosted by TREC will be online only. Friday Transportation Seminars at Portland State University have been a tradition since 2000. You can join us online at 11:30 AM. REGISTER HERE THE TOPIC Portland’s Black population has been heavily impacted by gentrification in the historic Albina community. Nearly half of Portland’s Black population lives in the area east of 82nd Ave, known as East Portland. This has had substantial impacts on both Black households that can continue living in Albina and those living in East Portland. The suburban-esque built environment of East Portland makes it difficult to get around and reach basic necessities. Those living in Albina have taken on exorbitant rents. Both groups suffer from a geographic divide that has made it difficult to rely on family and friends for basic needs like childcare and fulfilling social needs. This seminar will walk through those difficulties as found through a qualitative study of 27 low-income Black households in Portland. It also highlights the difficulties those households faced using various modes of transportation, why they chose the modes they did, and how they coped with their mode choices. KEY LEARNING OUTCOMES Learn about the need to consider all a household’s needs when planning transportation; Learn about the experiences of low-income Black households on various modes of transport; Learn about how even a 5-10 mile geographic divide can impact low-income Black household’s ability to make ends meet and how transportation is a large part of that. THE RESEARCH Supported by a fellowship from the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC), Steven Howland of Portland State University focused his doctoral research on examining the impacts of gentrification on transportation and social support for black working-poor families in Portland. Read more about the project: Suburban Black Poverty in East Portland: The Role of Transportation in Making Ends Meet. SPEAKER  Steven Howland, Portland State University Steven Howland has a Ph.D. in Urban Studies from Portland State University where he focused on economic development, housing, and their intersection with transportation. Currently, Steven is an Assistant Economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. At the Federal Reserve, he conducts research for the community development team with a focusing on housing, jobs, digital divide, entrepreneurship, and access to credit. PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT This 60-minute seminar is eligible for 1 hour of professional development credit for AICP (see our provider summary). We provide an electronic attendance certificate for other types of certification maintenance. LEARN MORE Photo by Cait McCusker Sign up for our newsletter to receive monthly updates. The Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC) at Portland State University is home to the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC), the Initiative for Bicycle and Pedestrian Innovation (IBPI), and other transportation programs. TREC produces research and tools for transportation decision makers, develops K-12 curriculum to expand the diversity and capacity of the workforce, and engages students and professionals through education. Register on Zoom: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_76iOSQAPRFCOkxDytXqBmw asktrec@pdx.edu asktrec@pdx.edu America/Los_Angeles public

MS Thesis Defense Announcement: Thomas Torkelson

The CEE Department is pleased to announce Thomas Torkelson's MS Thesis Defense: "Estimating Kinematic Demands on Pile-Supported Wharves Due to…
Add to my Calendar 2021-05-07 12:00:00 2021-05-07 13:00:00 MS Thesis Defense Announcement: Thomas Torkelson The CEE Department is pleased to announce Thomas Torkelson's MS Thesis Defense: "Estimating Kinematic Demands on Pile-Supported Wharves Due to Liquefaction-Induced Lateral Ground Deformations" Date: Friday, May 7th, 2021 Time: 12:00 PM Location: join us virtually on Zoom using the following link: https://pdx.zoom.us/j/89455058671 Advisor: Dr. Arash Khosravifar Abstract: Past earthquakes have shown that kinematic demands from lateral soil deformations can be a major cause of damage to maritime and highway transportation structures such as wharves, ports, and bridges. Lateral ground deformations can be caused due to liquefaction and cyclic softening and degradation of foundation soils due to seismic loads.  Design of pile foundations under kinematic lateral ground deformations is commonly performed by estimating free-field soil displacements profiles with depth, adjusting the free-field displacements for the restraining effects of pile foundations (i.e. pile pinning effects) and applying the pile-restrained soil displacements to the end-nodes of p-y springs. In this research, data from 5 centrifuge tests on pile-supported wharfs with varying degrees of liquefaction-induced lateral ground deformations were used to evaluate the accuracy of Newmark Sliding Block Analysis and Caltrans pile pinning method to estimate the kinematic demands on piles. Join us virtually on Zoom using the following link: https://pdx.zoom.us/j/89455058671 CEE Staff at ceedept@pdx.edu CEE Staff at ceedept@pdx.edu America/Los_Angeles public