Transportation Engineering Detailed Program Requirements

The program welcomes applicants with undergraduate degrees in any scientific or engineering discipline.


See prerequisites and statistics/linear algebra diagnostic


Course Requirements for Degrees other than the MEng

To assure programs of study of sufficient breadth and depth, we require students to take classes in several different groups.  The groups are defined below:

Group 1 Fundamentals: CE 251, CE 252, CE 262
Group 2 Policy: CE 250N/CRP 217, CE 256, or some other course by petition
Group 3 Modal Electives: CE 153, CE 253, CE 255, CE 259, CE 260
Group 4 Analysis Electives: CE 254, CE 258/IEOR253, CE 261, CE263, CE 264, CE 290I,CE 291F,
Group 5 Systems Electives: CE 290I, CE 271, CE 291F

Course requirements by group are specified below in Table 1. They vary slightly based upon the track chosen by the student and whether the student is in the MS/MCP program.

Table 1 Course Requirements for Degrees other than the MEng

  Group 1 Group 2 Group 3** Group 4** Group 5
Transportation Engineering 3 1 1 1 0
Transportation Systems 3* 0 1

1 (may not double count Group 5 class)

1 (may not double count Group 4 class)
Transportation MS/MCP 3 0 1 1 0

*All the graduate courses in Groups 3 and 4 require CE 251 and CE 252 as prerequisites, although these prerequisites may be taken concurrently.

**CE 153 is strongly recommended if your undergraduate degree is not in engineering.

Master of Science

  • Plan I

See Transportation Engineering requirements. There are two tracks--Transportation Engineering Track and Transportation Systems Track.

A thesis is required and 8 units of the required 20 must be in graduate credit in your major (transportation). Of these 8, at most 2 units can be in individual study, CE 299. The remaining 12 units (made up of graduate and advanced undergraduate courses) can include at most 2 units of CE 299.

Preferably before the end of the first semester, you should identify the professor who will be your thesis supervisor.

Normal time for this degree is 2 semesters of full time study.

  • Plan II

See Transportation Engineering requirements. There are two tracks--Transportation Engineering Track and Transportation Systems Track.

At a 1-hour comprehensive examination is required. This is a 1 hour examination by a committee of the faculty.  It should be scheduled for the end of the semester in which the class requirements for the MS degree in Transportation Engineering are completed.  (Any exceptions must be arranged with your graduate advisor and approved by the TE Faculty.)

12 units of the required 24 must be in graduate credit in your major (transportation). Of these 12, at most 2 units can be in individual study, CE 299. The remaining 12 units (made up of graduate and advanced undergraduate courses) can include at most 2 units of CE 299.

Normal time for this degree is 2 semesters of full time study.

Master of Engineering (MEng)

Intelligent Transportation Systems Track

Expanded surveillance, communication and computing technologies are enabling unprecedented opportunities for developing and deploying innovation that benefit managers, service providers and system users. This program prepares you to use a mix of technical and business skills to capitalize on the opportunities in the transportation infrastructure.

Engineering core leadership courses (6 units):
  • E 271: Engineering Leadership I
  • E 272: Engineering Leadership II

Two required technical elective courses (6 units):
  • CE 251: Transportation Operations
  • CE 252: Transportation Systems Analysis

Two technical electives chosen from below options (6 units):
  • CE 253: Intelligent Transportation Systems
  • CE 255: Highway Traffic Operations
  • CE 259: Public Transportation Systems
  • CE 260: Air Transportation
  • CE 264: Behavioral Modeling

Additional coursework includes a minimum of 5 units of Integrative Capstone Projects complementing the core leadership curriculum (E 296 MA/MB) and one unit each semester (for a total of 2 units) of the capstone integration course (E 295).

For more information about the professional MEng, see Fung Institute. The website includes information on part-time/full time enrollment, curriculum models, and possible career paths of graduates.

Concurrent MCP/MS with City and Regional Planning

This 5 semester (60 unit) program of study integrates the engineering aspects of transportation with land use, environmental, and social planning. It leads to the dual degrees of Master of City Planning (MCP) and Master of Science (MS) in Engineering, which separately would require 72 units of course work.

The Transportation requirements are the same as for the MS Degree (Plan II). You will need to work with an advisor in City Planning to make sure that the city planning degree requirements are satisfied.

Normal time for this degree is 5 semesters.

An application for graduate study may be sent to either department (Civil and Environmental Engineering or City and Regional Planning) indicating interest in the concurrent degree program. Once you are admitted and enrolled for graduate study, you then add the second degree objective by petition. You must satisfy admission and degree requirements of both departments. Please note that a joint student will be assessed City and Regional Planning's prorated professional degree fees.


If you are interested in this joint degree program, you will apply through the Graduate Division online application under the City and Regional Planning and Civil and Environmental Engineering MCP/MS degree. It is one application for the joint degree.

Students in CRP not previously admitted to the joint program should submit an application the CEE Transportation Engineering Admissions Officer that includes:

  • the transcripts used to gain admission to the CRP graduate program
  • the most current UC Berkeley transcript
  • a brief statement of purpose
  • a proposed plan of study that details the transportation engineering courses to be taken and the proposed sequence

Second year applicants may have to spend an extra semester to complete the degree requirements.


A doctoral degree in Transportation Engineering usually involves 2-4 years of post-MS work, including a year of original dissertation research. See Transportation Engineering requirements.

You are expected to have taken a broad variety of courses in transportation (policy, operations, systems and design) in addition to the basic core courses (CE 250, CE 251, CE 252). Your degree program should include a special emphasis in an area of interest and you need to complete 2 minors. You are also expected to be proficient in probability/statistics at the level of Stat 134 and Stat 135 or CE 262, and maintain a 3.5 GPA in the major field.

Your plan of study should be chosen in consultation with either a graduate advisor, a guidance committee, or the thesis advisor. To help develop a tentative plan of study, you should fill out the Tentative Program of Study for Doctoral Candidates (the "blue form"), which is available from the CEE Academic Affairs Office in 750 Davis Hall. Have the blue form signed and returned to the AAO during your first semester of study.

Once the course work has been completed, you must file with the AAO the Program of Study for Doctoral Candidates (the "white form") describing your final study program. At this point, you are ready for the Oral Qualifying Examination.

Examinations and other requirements

Earning the doctoral degree requires passing 3 examinations. After passing the third and final exam, you will meet regularly with faculty on your thesis committee. Doctoral work culminates in an informal thesis defense.

Preliminary examination

This is an oral examination similar to the Master's Plan II comprehensive examination, but with certain distinctions. The PhD preliminary exam is a 90-minute exam that serves as an early assessment of your potential for independent creative work.

Effective Spring 2011, the 90-minute prelim will be changed so that the entire 90 minutes is devoted to assessing technical competence, and in particular mastery of the TE core curriculum as well as other TE courses you have taken over your first year. The prelim will take place at the end of the spring semester of the first year.

If you have earned your MS degree in Transportation Engineering at Berkeley, you must take the preliminary exam before your new PhD degree goal is approved. (The preliminary exam can also satisfy the requirement for a comprehensive exam in the MS Plan II.)

If you have a master's degree from an institution other than Berkeley and you have been admitted directly into the Berkeley Transportation Engineering PhD program, you must take the preliminary examination either at the end of the second semester in residence or at the beginning of the third semester.

Note: It is the your responsibility to request from the lead graduate advisor that the preliminary examination be scheduled.

Written Qualifying Examination

At or near the completion of your coursework, you must take the written qualifying examination. This examination is administered by a committee or 4 instructors chosen by the faculty, and will include your research advisor. The examination consists of 4 sets of questions, 1 set from each member of your committee. Two of the sets of questions will pertain to your main area of interest. The other 2 will cover other areas within transportation. The purpose of the latter is to assess the breadth of your knowledge of the transportation field.

Effective Fall 2011, the written qualifying exam will be at the end of the fall semester of the second year. This will be a take-home, multi-day, exam, in which you are asked to review and critique research papers or reports chosen by members of the exam committee. The review will address both the technical aspects of the paper and the significance of its scholarly contribution. The exam will involve the review of 3 papers and you will be given 4 days to complete it.

It is recommended that you meet with the members of your committee prior to the exam date in order to obtain a general idea of the nature of the questions that will be asked and the evaluation criteria that will be applied.

The committee will complete an evaluation of your performance on the exam within 1 week of the end of the exam week. The exam committee chair will then notify you of the result. You will pass the exam if at least 3 members of the committee approve. You may also be given a conditional pass, contingent on completion of additional work to be determined by the committee. If you do not pass on the first try, you may be required either to redo questions on the original exam, or take a second written exam with questions from all or some of the members of the original exam committee. Normally, you will not be allowed to take the exam more than twice.

Transportation Engineering Program faculty consider this examination a necessary step toward eligibility for the University qualifying examination that is described below.

Oral Qualifying Examination

Within 6 months of the written qualifying examination, you must take the Oral Qualifying Examination.

Effective Spring 2012, the oral qualifying exam will normally be at the end of the spring semester of the second year. The exam committee will include 3 TE members and 1 outside member. The exam will assess your potential to perform original research, based on a PhD thesis proposal and a presentation. If you demonstrate such ability, you will pass the exam, even if the proposal requires substantial revision and refinement before it can serve as the basis for a thesis.

If you fail to pass the oral examination on a first attempt, a second examination may be scheduled no later than 6 months after the original attempt and no sooner than 3 months.

Upon passing the oral qualifying examination, you need to request the formation of a 3-person committee to guide you in the thesis research. These individuals must approve the thesis document before it can be filed. Thesis work should be completed within 3 years of the written qualifying examination. If you exceed this limit, you are subject to termination.

Workshop(s) with Thesis Committee

Upon passing the oral qualifying exam, you will meet with your 3-person thesis committee at least once every 12 months until completing the dissertation. These meetings will have a workshop-like format whereby you may provide a formal presentation of your research progress, solicit committee guidance, and receive feedback. The actual agenda for each workshop can be formulated by you, in consultation with your primary thesis advisor. Others outside of the 3-person committee can also be invited to a workshop, as determined by you and your primary advisor.

It is your responsibility to schedule the first workshop within 12 months of having passed the oral qualifying exam and any subsequent workshops at intervals not to exceed 12 months.

Thesis seminar

You are required to present your thesis work, before completion, in the Transportation Science seminar series.