Construction Materials

The Construction Materials area of study gives students a comprehensive understanding of the composition, microstructure, and engineering behavior of materials used in civil engineering applications.

Degrees Offered

  • B.S. Degree in Civil Engineering (Construction Materials)
  • M.S. Degree in Civil Engineering (Construction Materials)
  • Ph.D. Degree in Civil Engineering (Construction Materials)

Learn More About the Construction Materials Program

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.

Construction Materials has long been a strength of CEE at Illinois. Faculty in this area are leaders in concrete research, and they work with O'Hare International Airport, the Federal Aviation Administration, and Illinois Department of Transportation. The Concrete Canoe competition, now famous at universities across the nation, was founded at the University of Illinois by CEE Professor Emeritus Clyde Kesler as a unique way to teach his students about construction materials.

The research interests of the Construction Materials faculty include:

  • composition and performance of cementitious materials
  • microstructure and nanostructure of cementitious materials 
  • shrinkage, creep and thermal change of concrete
  • non-destructive testing, sensing and imaging for construction materials and structures
  • performance of alternative binders
  • durability and sustainability of construction materials
  • rheologic properties of fresh mixtures 

CEE Construction Materials Curriculum

Undergraduate Program

Students wishing to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering must complete 128 credit hours of coursework. The first two years of study build the base needed for the civil and environmental engineering education; students take physics, math, chemistry, theoretical and applied mechanics, and some general engineering courses and other electives.

The last two years are dedicated primarily to civil and environmental engineering courses. Students choose a major and a secondary area of study from the eight areas of concentration within the department: construction engineering and management, construction materials engineering, environmental engineering, environmental hydrology and hydraulic engineering, geotechnical engineering, structural engineering, transportation engineering and sustainable and resilient infrastructure systems.

The construction materials engineering undergraduate curriculum provides a broad understanding of the composition, microstructure, and engineering behavior of various materials used in civil engineering applications. The curriculum has two required core courses for students who choose construction materials as their primary area of study:  CEE300 and CEE310. These courses serve as prerequisites for the required advanced technical electives CEE401 and CEE405, respectively. Additional core courses and advanced technical courses are recommended, as described in the CEE Undergraduate Handbook. Students who choose construction materials engineering as their secondary area of study are required to take CEE 300 and two of the recommended advanced technical courses. To view the current undergraduate primary and secondary requirements, please see the Undergraduate Handbook.

Graduate Program

Many positions within industry require an advanced degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering. Our department has been consistently ranked as a top program by U.S. News & World Report.

Visit the Graduate College admissions page for graduate application information.

The construction materials engineering graduate curriculum provides detailed understanding of composition, microstructure, and engineering behavior of various materials for civil engineering applications. The program especially focuses on concrete, although other construction materials are considered. The curriculum includes graduate courses from several within areas in CEE and from other departments at the University of Illinois. In addition, all registered graduate students are required to participate in the construction materials seminar series CEE595MA, offered every spring semester.

Masters program

The M.S. degree can be completed with or without a thesis. The M.S. degree requires 32 credit hours of graduate course credit (thesis option) or 36 credit hours (non-thesis option). The student must complete 400- or 500- level courses in two categories: construction materials (concrete, metals, polymers), and engineering behavior (mechanics, durability, and testing). For the thesis option, students must complete at least 24 hours of graduate level coursework and eight hours of thesis research, with 16 hours in the areas of construction materials and engineering behavior. For the non-thesis option, students must complete at least 36 hours of coursework, with 16 hours in the areas of construction materials and engineering behavior. Current students are required to submit a Plan of Study, which lists the M.S. requirements and recommended courses in greater detail.

Doctoral program

The Ph.D. program requires 8 additional units of coursework, a comprehensive research program and preparation of a dissertation. The student must complete 400- or 500- level courses in two categories: construction materials (concrete, metals, polymers), and engineering behavior (mechanics, durability, and testing). The student must complete at least 32 hours of coursework and 32 hours of thesis research. Current students are required to submit a Plan of Study, which lists the Ph.D. requirements and recommended courses in greater detail.

As described in the CEE Graduate Handbook, Ph.D. students must pass the qualification procedures set by their area of specialization. The procedures in the construction materials engineering area are that, during the first 12 months after acceptance into the CEE Ph.D. program (after the student has completed two courses in construction materials and two courses in engineering behavior, and after one of the construction materials faculty has consented to serve as advisor), the student shall submit to this advisor a written request for admission to the Ph.D. program. If the student has a GPA of 3.5 or greater, he or she is deemed to be qualified for Ph.D. studies; if not, the student's qualifications will be reviewed by the construction materials faculty and a decision made regarding the qualifications.

Remaining requirements for preliminary examination and final examination are described in the CEE Graduate Handbook.

Related Faculty

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Professor Emeritus
Adjunct Professor
Professor Emeritus

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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.

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