EWES MS/PhD Program

This cross-cutting program focuses on providing and supporting sustainable solutions for the exploration, production, delivery and use of energy, and their intersection with water and the natural and built environment.The civil and environmental engineering discipline, which lies at the intersection of natural + built environments + water + energy, offers unique expertise to meet these grand challenges. The program is intended for students interested in obtaining a cross-disciplinary civil and environmental engineering graduate education focusing on the application of scientific principles, engineering processes, and systems analyses to address society’s growing energy needs and its nexus with water and the environment. 

A flexible curriculum is available to accommodate students with varied backgrounds and interests from different areas of civil and environmental engineering as well as other engineering disciplines. The curriculum is designed to prepare students to address engineering challenges related to both EWES and the broader civil and environmental engineering field by combining two key aspects:

  1. a common set of core courses emphasizing process and systems level analysis of energy and water sustainability issues to serve as a foundation connecting students in the program; and
  2. advanced technical electives selected from one of the existing areas of civil and environmental engineering that will provide further specialization according to the individual student’s interests and backgrounds.

This will also facilitate connection between EWES students and other students in the research groups of EWES faculty members. Combination of these two aspects provides students with a solid foundation in civil and environmental engineering to address emerging areas of the field, including energy production and conversion, management of water resources and water quality, energy- and water-efficient infrastructure, mitigation and adaptation to climate change, geologic energy systems (energy resources, extraction, and carbon sequestration), energy and water in transportation systems, and systems analysis of the energy-water nexus.

Masters degree students in the EWES program are also expected to either (a) complete a research thesis or (b) enroll in the College of Engineering’s graduate certificate program in Energy and Sustainability Engineering (EaSE, ease.illinois.edu). PhD students are expected to complete the requirements of the EaSE certificate program if they have not already done so when completing their MS degree requirements.

Students will have the option of obtaining their graduate degrees in either Civil Engineering or Environmental Engineering. The specific degree designation will be selected in consultation with the student’s adviser. Additional curriculum requirements for students choosing the environmental engineering degrees are outlined below. Ph.D. students are also required to complete the interdisciplinary Ph.D qualification exam in CEE. Specific course requirements and recommendations are listed below.

Required and Recommended Courses

A. Required Courses

Core CEE courses

All students are required to take a common set of core courses: 

  • CEE 493 Sustainable Design of Engineering Technologies (4 hours)
  • CEE 595EWS Energy and Water Sustainability Seminar (0 hours; all semesters enrolled in the program)

EaSE Program Certificate Requirements (for non-thesis MS students and PhD students)

To meet the requirements of the College of Engineering graduate certificate program in Energy and Sustainability Engineering (EaSE), students must take the following two courses:

  • ENG 471 Seminar on Energy & Sustainable Engineering (1 hour)
  • ENG 571 Theory of Energy & Sustainable Engineering (3 hours)

and must take two courses in a chosen area of specialization (from a sub-category within the specialization), and third course from a different area of specialization. At least one of the three courses shall be from outside of the student’s home department (a cross-listing out of department does not qualify). See ease.illinois.edu for a complete listing of the specialization categories and sub-categories.

B. Elective Courses

Students should select remaining elective courses in consultation with their adviser to create an organized plan leading to the desired specialization as well as program breadth. In addition to advanced electives in CEE, a variety of courses are available across campus that are related to energy-water-environment sustainability that can be used to partially fulfill the remaining required credit hours for the MS and Ph.D.  Students may also select other courses not listed in agreement with their adviser. It is expected that students specializing in EWES will also obtain depth in one of the traditional areas of civil and environmental engineering to complement their expertise in energy and water sustainability. This is an important issue that EWES students should discuss closely with their academic adviser.

View a list of electives

C. Elective Requirements for Environmental Engineering Degrees

Students interested in earning environmental engineering degrees instead of civil engineering degrees should select their electives in consultation with their academic adviser so that the electives also meet the following requirements.

Masters Degree in Environmental Engineering

  • Either CEE 442 (Env Eng Principles, Physical) or CEE 451 (Environmental Fluid Mechanics)
  • One of the following courses: CEE 443 (Env Eng Principles, Chemical), CEE 444 (Env Eng Principles, Biological), or CEE 447 (Atmospheric Chemistry)
  • At least one of the following additional principles courses: CEE 443, CEE 444, CEE 434 (Environmental Systems I), CEE 440 (Fate Cleanup Environ Pollut), CEE 441 (Air Pollution Sources, Transport and Control), CEE 447 (Atmospheric Chemistry), CEE 450 (Surface Water Hydrology), CEE 453 (Urban Hydrology and Hydraulics), CEE 457 (Groundwater)
  • At least one 500-level course selected from the EES or EHHE programs

PhD Degree in Environmental Engineering

  • Student must meet the requirements of the MS program outlined above or have previously received the MS degree in environmental engineering
  • Student will take the CEE interdisciplinary qualifying exam
  • The student must include at least one EE faculty member on the qualifying exam committee and the PhD final exam committee



Areas of Study and Research

Construction engineers manage and direct construction operations. They analyze the labor, materials, and equipment for each job to determine the proper quantity of each and ensure availability at the appropriate time and place.

Learn More

Civil engineers are often responsible for specifying, designing and manufacturing the materials with which they build their structures.  Studies in construction materials are intended to make structural, transportation and foundation engineers aware of the fundamental properties of the materials they use.

Learn More

Interdisciplinary program

The program in Energy-Water-Environment Sustainability (EWES) is a cross-cutting program focused on providing and supporting sustainable solutions for the exploration, production, delivery and use of energy, and their intersection with water and the natural and built environment. The program focuses on integrating scientific principles, engineered processes, and systems analyses to address diverse challenges related to society's growing energy needs and their nexus with water and the environment.

Learn More

Environmental engineers help solve problems of air, land and water contamination.  They design, construct and operate systems that purify water for drinking, industrial use and recreation.  They develop and implement air-purification devices and protocols for solid and hazardous waste management.

Learn More

Geotechnical engineers use soil, rock and geosynthetics as engineering materials.  They design earth- and rock-filled dams, tunnels, landfills and foundations for structures of all types.

Learn More

Interdisciplinary program

The Societal Risk Management (SRHM) program is a cross-disciplinary program that focuses on the development of a secure and safe society. The program concentrates on risk determination, risk evaluation and risk management for natural and human-made hazards, and disaster response and recovery.

Learn More

Structural engineers design economical structures that resist forces induced by wind, earthquakes, blasts and heavy traffic.  The tools of the structural engineer include physical testing, mathematical modeling and computer simulation.

Learn More

Interdisciplinary program

The interdisciplinary program Sustainable and Resilient Infrastructure Systems (SRIS) addresses emerging approaches to infrastructure systems focusing on resiliency and sustainability of inter-connected infrastructure, for example, structural, geotechnical, and water interactions in urban environments. The program aims to prepare new generations of civil engineers who are ready to address pressing societal issues while developing needed infrastructure. 

Learn More

Transportation engineers use technological and scientific principles to improve movement of people, goods and services by land, air and water. They plan, design, build, operate and maintain railway, highway, airport, marine, pedestrian and industrial facilities for safety, efficiency, economy, resilience and sustainability.

Learn More

Water resource engineers help solve complex water challenges, including providing society with safe and reliable water supplies, managing impacts of floods and drought, and enhancing environmental quality. They plan, design, manage and operate surface water and groundwater systems that are sustainable and adaptable to changing climate and human activity.

Learn More