Environmental Engineering Overview


Minimum requirements for entry into the Environmental Engineering program consist of:

  • Math: equivalent of 2 years, including calculus, linear algebra and differential equations
  • Science: 1 semester of physics, 2 additional semesters of science (physics, chemistry, biology)

Additionally, we strongly recommend:

  • Experience with Matlab or other high-level programming language
  • Physics and/or chemistry coursework beyond the minimum listed above

We also consider the following classes to be additional prerequisites of the program. They can be taken during your graduate study, but if they are, they would not count towards your graduate degree:

  • Fluid Mechanics (i.e. CE 100)
  • Introduction to Environmental Engineering (i.e. CE 111)
  • Hydrology or Water Chemistry (1 can be taken as part of graduate program, i.e. CE 103 and CE 115)

Note: applications from non-engineering students are strengthened if engineering classes, particularly those considered prerequisite to the program, have already been taken at the time of application.

To see Berkeley course descriptions, visit the Guide; to go directly to CE courses, click here.


MS: Plan I

  • Thesis required
  • 4 semesters

MS: Plan II

  • A 3-hour written closed-book 4-question comprehensive examination is required or an individual project. The questions in one session cover fundamental subjects of Environmental Engineering such as those in CE 100 and CE 111 and one of those in CE 103 or CE 115. The questions in the other session covers core courses. Grades are either Pass or Not Pass. In the Not Pass case, the examination can be retaken one more time. 
  • 24 units with 12 in graduate Environmental Engineering (2 of these 12 can be CE 299) and 2 of the remaining 12 can also be CE 299 units for a maximum of 4 overall. Credit can be granted for CE 103 or CE 115. No credit is granted for IDS 140 and E 190.
  • Core requirement: at least 3 courses from the following list: CE 218A,  CE 200A, either  CE 202A or CE 203N, and either CE 211A or CE 211B (Although many students take both 211A and 211B, only one counts towards this core requirement).
  • Overall GPA of 3.0 (B) for upper-division and graduate courses with minimum of (C-) as passing grade in any course.
  • 2 semesters


  • A bachelor's or master's degree from an accredited institution or a recognized equivalent is required.  If you hold only a bachelor's degree, you must earn the master's degree while progressing towards the Ph.D.  A demonstrated superior level of academic achievement (minimum 3.5 GPA) in your graduate studies and support of a faculty research adviser are required to continue in the program.
  • Minimum GPA of 3.5 in the major and above 3.0 in the minor fields.
  • Each PhD student must have a graduate advisor to provide general academic guidance and to help with administrative matters, and a research advisor to supervise the student’s dissertation research and to assist in identifying funding paths.
  • Two minors where at least one minor must be outside CEE.
  • A minor containing courses in the College of Engineering (COE) must include at least 3 units of graduate courses.
  • A minor that contains no courses from the COE may consist entirely of upper-division courses.
  • No courses in Environmental Engineering may be used in a minor.
  • During the second year of residency, student must pass an oral preliminary examination focusing on the student’s ability to orally demonstrate mastery of and ability to apply core knowledge in the major area of research. Two chances are given to the student to pass the examination.
  • During the third year of residency, student must pass a qualifying examination with a committee of 4 faculty members (not including the research advisor), including at least 2 from Environmental Engineering and at least 1 from outside the Environmental Engineering program. The examination consists of oral presentation of research prospectus summarized in a written 5-10 pages and provided to the committee prior to the examination.
  • Dissertation committee of 3 faculty members (with 1 from outside the student’s major discipline) approves the dissertation.
  • Course work: a minimum of 30 units in the major and 2 minor fields with minimum of 12 in the major and 6 for each minor. The remaining 6 units can be satisfied by graduate-level major courses and/or minor courses at the graduate or upper-division level. Minor courses must consist of cohesive set of courses but not necessarily from a single department. At least 1 minor is outside CEE. At least 3 units in the minor are in 200-series in COE. Minor outside COE may consist entirely of 100-series courses. No courses in Environmental Engineering can be used in a minor.

See Detailed Requirements.