Environmental Engineering Graduate Degree Requirements
Environmental Engineering Graduate Degree Requirements
Two M.S. degrees are offered: the M.S. in Civil Engineering and the M.S. in Environmental and Water Resources Engineering.
The M.S. in Environmental Engineering is more closely aligned with the program’s roots in process engineering and therefore requires students to have taken at least one graduate level course in this area. The M.S. in Civil Engineering is the degree option that should be taken by students not wishing to study process engineering. In addition to the traditional 2-year research-based option, the program also offers a one-year coursework-based option. This is designed to be completed in 9 to 12 months and students in this program typically do not receive financial assistance from the Program. Students who have been admitted into the Program without an engineering baccalaureate must make up prerequisite coursework at the basic level of undergraduate engineering in order to be eligible for an MS degree; no graduate credit is granted for this basic level work. Please see your faculty advisor if you have any questions.
The graduate course requirements for students in the research-based MS in Environmental Engineering program are described below. All degree candidates must earn a minimum of 31 graduate credits.
The required course for an MS degree is:
The student is required to write a research report and present an oral defense before a Master’s Committee on a topic determined in consultation with the advisor. The content of the report normally derives from the research conducted by the student as part of their research assistant duties. Six (6) credits, taken as CEE 689, must be earned under the Master’s Project and are part of the 31 total credit requirement; more than 6 credits of CEE 689 may be earned, but only 6 credits apply to the 31 credit total required for the M.S .degree. The Master’s Committee consists of the student’s advisor and at least one other EWRE faculty member.
In addition to the Core Courses and Master’s Project, the student completes a minimum of twenty credits of electives taken in areas relevant to the student's professional objectives. All elective courses must be taken at the graduate level (500 level or higher). Students may take graduate level electives in other departments at the University; however, no more than 9 graduate credits taken outside the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department can be counted toward the 31 credit requirement.
No more than six graduate credits can be transferred from courses taken at another institution. These credits must be at the graduate level and must not have been utilized to have met prior undergraduate or graduate degree requirements.
This option is similar to the Research Option, but there are some significant differences It has a 31 credit requirement. Students are able to complete this degree in a 12 month period rather than the 18 to 24 month period which is typical for the research option for a student with a BS in Engineering. This shorter time frame is possible since students are not employed as teaching or research assistants. Financial aid is not offered for this option.
The core courses for the coursework option are the same as those for the research option as described above (total of 5 credits).
Electives and Transfer Credits
There are 26 credits of electives. All electives must be taken at the graduate level. As noted above, up to 9 credits of graduate level electives may be taken outside of the CEE Department. Also, up to six credits of graduate level coursework from other institutions may be formally transferred as long as those credits were not required to earn any prior degree.
Students with Non-engineering Baccalaureate
To be awarded the degree of Master of Science in Environmental Engineering, students without a BS in engineering degree must make up prerequisite coursework at the undergraduate level; this coursework does not receive graduate credit. The coursework can be completed prior to entering or during the student’s UMass MS program. A summary of these prerequisites is shown below and a form for documenting completion of the prerequisites is included in the Appendix of this document.
Required prerequisite courses/subjects for the MS degree program:
- Calculus I
- Calculus II
- Calculus III (multivariate)
- Differential Equations
- Probability & Statistics
- Engineering Economics
- Fluid Mechanics
- Introductory EWRE course(s)
Several of our graduate courses are offered in parallel in-person and online sections. In such cases, students in residence must take the ‘in-person’ section. On an ad hoc basis and with the approval of the student’s advisor, the course instructor, and the GPD, a student may take the online version to accommodate a unique circumstance.
In addition to the CEE Department regulations, the Environmental and Water Resources Engineering Program has requirements for the major area, minor area, and research skill that are greater and more comprehensive than the CEE Department, and a specific format for the Ph.D. Comprehensive Examination.
PhD Curriculum: Course and Credits
EWRE field. There are no specific course requirements. The student must demonstrate mastery of knowledge in the EWRE area. For example, courses taken in the MS degree may suffice, but in some cases, in consultation with the PhD Committee, the student may be required to take some additional courses.
Course Credits – General. For students entering the PhD program with an MS in a related field, the minimum coursework requirement is 18 credits. For students entering the PhD program without an MS degree, or with an MS degree in an unrelated field, the minimum coursework requirement is normally 43 credits (25 + 18). In addition, all PhD students are required to earn at least 18 dissertation credits. This is above and beyond the coursework credit requirements.
Course Credits - Supporting Area. Completion of a supporting program of 12 credits is required. The goal is for PhD students to support their research and career plans with this coursework. This may involve coursework in one or more academic programs outside of environmental engineering; examples include chemistry, chemical engineering, microbiology, public health, math, statistics, modeling, geology, etc..
Course Credits - Research Skill. Completion of 6 credits devoted to a "research skill" such as statistics, numerical methods or advanced computer programming is required. Other courses deemed appropriate by the PhD Committee may also be taken.
Dissertation Credits. The CEE Department and EWRE Program requirements are the same, but are described here for your convenience. A minimum of 18 Dissertation credits (CEE 899 Doctoral Dissertation) must be earned in addition to the minimum total of 18 credits of Minor Area and Research Skill courses specified above.
PhD Preliminary Comprehensive Examination.
To become a Ph.D. candidate, all Ph.D. students must pass a Preliminary Comprehensive Examination. This exam is offered each winter and summer (as needed) and consists of written and oral examinations. The Environmental and Water Resources Engineering Program requires a specific format for this exam as described below. For timelines and expected completion, see below.
Written Portion of the Ph.D. Comprehensive Exam
1 year (2 semesters) after start of PhD, students must take written exams. Students may defer this to a later date via agreement of the advisor.
Students answer 3 out of 6 written questions (below). Questions are designed to align with the ERE and WRE sub-disciplines and their content is assigned at the discretion of the EWRE faculty each year.
Questions are closed book, 90 minutes per question. Questions are completed in a single day, and exam materials are controlled by the coordinator. Students receive a quantitative grade, and receive written feedback on their exams at least 24 hours prior to an oral defense.
Examining Committee: Students may constitute the exam with any EWRE faculty, but should include their advisor. Traditionally, students choose the faculty who wrote the exam question as exam committee members.
Composition: A six hour, closed book, written exam in which the student answers three questions from the following six subject areas. The composition of the six questions is subject to change at any time.
- Biological Principles of EWRE
- Chemical Principles of EWRE
- Mathematical Methods in EWRE
- Treatment Processes
- Water Resource Systems
- Must pass each exam (total score > 70%)
- Exams are in-person, closed book, and taken on the same day.
Oral Portion of the Ph.D. Comprehensive Exam
Schedule: To be taken within two days to one week following completion of the written portion of the PhD Preliminary Comprehensive exam.
Format: The student will respond to oral questions from the committee about the content of the written exams The oral exam is expected to last about two hours. This exam must not be combined with a presentation and defense of the Dissertation Prospectus.
Preparing for oral exams: Students will have two hours to review all four of their written questions. Students must perform this review in a closed room under direct supervision of the exam coordinator. Students may take notes, but all note taking material must remain in the review room. Similarly, no photos or other means of preserving exam information is allowed during this time.
Passing the exams: A passing grade must be earned from all committee members for the overall comprehensive exam (oral and written). The committee may assign the following outcomes: pass, fail, or conditional pass. The committee will account for written and oral performance. If on the first attempt the student fails to pass, the committee will direct the student to re-take the entire comprehensive exam, or portions thereof, within a specified time period after the first attempt. If this second attempt ends in failure, the student will not be allowed to continue in the PhD program.
Doctoral Dissertation Committee, Prospectus, and Defense
The Doctoral Dissertation Committee consists of the student’s advisor, at least one other EWRE faculty member, and one graduate faculty member outside of the CEE Department. Note that faculty from other universities may serve on the committee, but do not count as ‘outside’ members unless they are appointed faculty of the Graduate School of UMass. The Dissertation Committee must approve the candidate’s Dissertation Prospectus and the final Dissertation. Note that the examination committee and the Dissertation Committee do not have to be identical.
One year (two semesters) after the Comprehensive Exam, the student shall defend their Prospectus. Students may defer this to a later date via agreement of the advisor. The Prospectus defense must occur at least seven months prior to the Dissertation defense per UMass policy.
There is no set format for the prospectus exam, and students must work with their advisor to set this format and understand any requirements. Common formats include an outline of the dissertation, a mock research grant proposal, or a hypothetical research paper, but these are not exhaustive. Typically, students prepare a presentation to the committee for the prospectus defense. After passing the prospectus defense, students become a Candidate for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.