Graduate Requirements

Prerequisites

There are no formal prerequisites. Each application is considered on its individual merits. Applicants normally will have completed (or will be nearing completion) an undergraduate or advanced degree in Civil Engineering or related field, with emphasis on Structural Engineering, Mechanics, or Materials. We recommend that students with a Structural Engineering emphasis take a course in matrix structural analysis (CE 121 or equivalent). However, applicants with other backgrounds are sometimes admitted based on special considerations.

  • 2 years of college-level calculus (e.g. Math 1A, 1B, 53, 54 or equivalent)
  • 1 year of college-level physical science (e.g. Physics 7A/B or equivalent)
  • 1 semester of probability and statistics (e.g. Stat 20 or CE 93 or equivalent)
  • 1 semester course in matrix structural analysis (e.g. CE 121 or equivalent)

Course descriptions

See Berkeley Academic Guide for all CEE course descriptions.

Berkeley Graduate Division's Degree Policy

All UC Berkeley graduate degree programs must conform to minimum requirements established by Graduate Division.  See Degrees Policy.

Degrees

The Master of Science (MS) program stresses application of fundamental principles of science and engineering to the formulation and solution of complex engineering problems.

Master of Science: Plan I

  • thesis required
  • 20 units with 8 units in graduate courses in SEMM and the remaining 12 units from approved graduate or advanced undergraduate courses. Up to 2 units of the 8 units SEMM and up to 2 units of the remaining 12 units (a total of 4 units) may be taken in the form of Individual Study or Research (CE 299). Units in CE 298 do not count toward the minimum unit requirement
  • maintain a minimum 3.0 grade point average
  • 2 semesters (plus an optional summer) or 3 semesters for those working as Graduate Student Instructors

Master of Science: Plan II

  • Comprehensive Examination of either:
    • Passing a written closed-book examination in 2 areas chosen from the following: Mechanics of Solids; Properties of Materials; Structural Design; Structural Dynamics; and Theory of Structures. The examination is offered only once a year in the second half of April. You must be advanced to candidacy before you can take this exam. If you fail the written examination, you will be re-examined orally by a committee of 2 faculty members named by the SEMM Graduate Examinations Committee.
      or
    • Presenting a written report based on at least 2 units of CE 299 and approved by a committee of at least 2 faculty members. The written report can be based on independent study or as an extension of a project in a graduate course with an agreement of the instructor.
    • See samples of past comprehensive exams
  • 24 units with 14 units in SEMM graduate courses and the remaining 10 units from approved graduate or advanced undergraduate courses. Up to 2 units of the 14 units in SEMM and up to 2 units of the remaining 10 units (a total of 4 units) may be taken in the form of Individual Study or Research (CE 299). Units in CE 298 do not count toward the minimum unit requirement.
  • maintain a minimum 3.0 grade point average
  • 2 semesters (plus an optional summer) or 3 semesters for those employed part time as Graduate Student Instructors or Graduate Student Researchers

Joint Master of Science in Structural Engineering and Master of Architecture (MArch/MS)

The MArch/MS degree program broadens the design concerns for engineers and provides architects with better expertise in the area of structures.

The MArch/MS takes advantage of courses that may be credited towards both degrees, yielding a time savings varying from 1 semester to 1 year depending on the individual's undergraduate preparation. You can obtain both a Master of Architecture and a Master of Science in Structural Engineering for 24 fewer credits than if you were to pursue each degree separately.

Both degrees are conferred concurrently after all requirements have been met.

Contact Professor Filip C. Filippou with questions about the Joint MArch/MS.

Planning for the Joint MArch/MS degree as an undergraduate

The MArch/MS degree is completed most efficiently if an undergraduate in CEE or Architecture takes courses in the other department that are necessary for future admittance to that other department.

If you are an Architecture undergraduate with a minor in Structural Engineering, then upon graduation, you are eligible for admittance to the SEMM graduate program. If you are a CEE undergraduate with a minor in Architecture, then you could use the credits from that minor and apply for the 2-year Master of Architecture program rather than the 3-year program.

Admissions

To apply for the MArch/MS submit one application on the online application.  As the Major, select Architecture and Civil and Environmental Engineering (MArch/MS with a Structural emphasis) as the dual program. Applications are reviewed and decisions are made separately by each department. Notifications of decisions are also sent separately by each department. 

Note: It is possible to be admitted to one program and not the other.

Note: an MS/MArch student will be assessed Architecture's prorated professional degree fees.

If you are admitted, and enrolled, into one program and then later decide you would like to add the second program, you must add the second degree objective through a petition.

MArch/MS degree requirements

The considerable economy that is realized by the joint graduate program is possible because course requirements for one program can be used as electives in the other.

  • Master of Science Degree in Structural Engineering
    • This degree requires 24 units, of which 14 must be graduate course units in SEMM
    • The remaining 10 units are electives. Courses required for MArch degrees such as Arch 200 A-B or Arch 201 can be used to fulfill this requirement.
    • See requirements above for the SEMM Master of Science
  • Master of Architecture Degree

PhD in Structural Engineering or Mechanics

  • 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 PhD.  
  • Minimum GPA of 3.5 in the major and above 3.0 in the minor fields are required but does not guarantee admission.
  • If you are a CEE master's level student planning to continue for the doctorate, understand that the transfer to the doctoral program from the master's program is not automatic. It is essential that you have a superior grade point average (exceeding 3.5) in the basic courses. However, a grade point average exceeding 3.5 does not automatically ensure admission. Decisions are based on an overall evaluation of the academic record. Your application for admission into the doctoral program must be filed in the Academic Affairs Office by the end of the second week of classes in the semester you plan to complete your master's degree.
  • Support of a faculty research adviser is required for admission to the PhD. program.  UC Berkeley students are also required to have faculty support prior to petitioning for the PhD.
  • Each PhD student must have a graduate adviser to provide general academic guidance and to help with administrative matters, and a research adviser to supervise the student's dissertation research and to assist in identifying funding paths.
  • Final programs are individually formulated through consultation with a faculty guidance committee.
  • A minimum of 21 units within SEMM and 2 minor areas (of at least 9 units) appropriate for the student’s area of research. The first minor is mathematics or statistics and the second minor should provide breadth of the student’s technical base and background for research.
  • Pass a written closed-book Preliminary Examination to assess academic preparation. The examination consists of 4 areas, 1 of which must be mathematics and the 3 additional areas may be selected from Theory of structures; Structural dynamics; Mechanics of solids; Properties of materials; and Structural design. The student may petition to substitute 1 of these 3 areas with another bearing a relation to SEMM. See samples of past Preliminary Exams.
  • Pass a Qualifying Examination to test the candidate’s ability to synthesize the factual information and training in techniques absorbed through coursework and seminar research. Testing the student’s mastery of the field is regarded as an essential part of the examination.
  • Complete a thesis describing research related to SEMM Program with guidance from a committee of 3 faculty members.

Minor in Mathematics or Statistics

The first minor is mathematics or statistics. Another field can be approved in special cases by petition through the major field adviser. No course offered by departments of engineering can be included in this minor.

This minor consists of a group of 3 courses, including 2 graduate courses in mathematics or statistics. For numerical analysis, 4 courses including only 1 graduate course will be permitted to satisfy the requirement. These courses are selected from the following course groupings:

  • Traditional Mathematics: Math 104; Math 185 or Math 121A-B; Math 222A-B; Math 224A-B
  • Modern Mathematics: Math 104; Math 202A-B
  • Numerical Analysis: Math 110; Math 128A-B; Math 221; Math 228A-B
  • Statistics: Math 110; Stat 200A-B

Second Minor

The second minor consists of a group of 3 related courses outside of SEMM (may be within CEE), including 2 graduate courses. (If only 1 graduate course is taken, the total number of courses needed is 4.)  Students may petition for variances to these rules.

Examples of minors that might be considered by petition are: 1) a minor combining experimental mechanics and control; or 2) a minor combining stochastic methods with statistics. An example that is usually not accepted even by petition is a minor that combines 1 or more earthquake engineering courses taught as part of the SEMM program with 1 or more courses outside SEMM. 

Petitions should be submitted in writing to the SEMM Program leader. 

Special Requirements for a Second Minor in Computer Science

Four fields of study are appropriate as a minor for SEMM doctoral students interested in computer science:

  • databases
  • computer graphics
  • software engineering
  • artificial intelligence

Computability (algorithms, finite state automata), language theory, and hardware design generally are not appropriate as minor fields.

Motivated SEMM students should be able to enter the computer science program at the upper division level. Prerequisites, however, to upper division and graduate courses are CS 61B Data Structures and/or CS 61C Machine Structures. (The reason for the "and/or" is that some, but not all, of the upper division CS courses listed below require that the student takes CS 61C.) After satisfying these prerequisite(s), a student could take:

  • Databases: CS 162; CS 186; CS 286; CS 287
  • Computer Graphics: CS 184; CS 284; CS 285
  • Software Engineering: CS 162; CS 164; CS 269; CS 287
  • Artificial Intelligence: CS 188; CS 283; CS 288; CS 289

The current minimum requirement for a second minor in computer science is 3 courses, including at least 1 graduate course. CS 61B and CS 61C do not count towards the 3-course requirement. Determination of a minor in computer science should be based on your academic goals and research interests, in consultation with your major and minor field advisers.

Preliminary Examination

A written Doctoral Preliminary Examination is given to all prospective candidates for a PhD degree. This examination is a supervised written examination (closed book) covering fundamentals in Structural Engineering, Mechanics, and Materials. See samples of past Preliminary Exams.

Prior to taking the examination, the prospective candidate must select 4 areas in which to be examined, 1 of which must be Mathematics.The 3 additional areas are selected from the following categories: Theory of Structures; Structural Dynamics; Mechanics of Solids; Properties of Materials; and Structural Design. The prospective candidate may petition through the major field adviser to substitute one of these 3 areas with another area bearing a relation to Structural Engineering, Mechanics, or Materials. The Doctoral Preliminary Examination is administered once each semester.

The mechanics course offerings have changed in recent years, making it more appropriate that the focus of the exam be materials covered in CE 231 (effectively the first 10 weeks of the course) with reading material from the textbook and an alternate book. The revised reading list is posted. 

The prospective candidate must to take the examination no later than the second semester of his/her doctoral study. Continuing students are strongly encouraged to take the examination the first semester of doctoral study.

A prospective candidate who fails the examination, in whole or in part, ordinarily (but not automatically) is given a chance to repeat it in the following semester. Two failures constitute cause for dismissal from the doctoral program.

Qualifying Examination

Before advancement to candidacy, each doctoral student must pass a Qualifying Examination administered by a committee approved by the Graduate Division. This committee consists of at least 5 members, 2 of whom must be outside the field of the major and represent the 2 minor fields. One member of the committee must come from outside CEE, and one member must be designated as the chair. The committee may include the thesis supervisor but the thesis supervisor is not permitted to serve as committee chair.

The prospective candidate normally should take the examination during the semester following completion of all course requirements.

In addition to the minimum university requirements for the Qualifying Examination, SEMM requires that, prior to taking the examination, the prospective candidate must complete at least 3 units of CE 299 Individual Study (or equivalent), culminating in a written report. This CE 299 report need not be part of the prospective candidate's doctoral thesis. The SEMM members of the Qualifying Examination Committee take the report into account in evaluating the prospective candidate's research potential. The usual manner to satisfy this requirement is to initiate this Individual Study after successful completion of the Preliminary Examination and prior to taking the Qualifying Examination. However, the prospective candidate has the option of submitting for evaluation a research report done at the masters level; any other research report may be submitted for consideration. The research report must be submitted to each member of the committee 2 weeks prior to the oral examination.

If an individual fails the examination the first time, and a second examination is recommended, it must be given no earlier than 3 months after the first examination. Two failures in the Qualifying Examination constitute cause for denying the prospective candidate the privilege of continued studies in the SEMM program.

Application for Advancement to Candidacy

After the passing of the Qualifying Examination, an Application for Advancement to Candidacy can be obtained from the Academic Affairs Office. In no case should advancement to candidacy be made later than the semester following the one in which the Qualifying Examination is passed.

Dissertation Committee

The major-field adviser recommends a Dissertation Committee that is approved by the Dean of the Graduate Division. The Dissertation Committee will consist of 3 members, all of whom must be members of the Berkeley Academic Senate. (If the student wishes to include someone who is not a Berkeley Academic Senate member, that person will be the fourth committee member.) Two of the 3 committee members need to be CEE faculty. The third member needs to be from outside CEE and preferably from outside of the College of Engineering.

PhD in Structural Materials (SM)

    The PhD in Structural Materials offers an advanced degree in the materials used for design and construction of structures, with emphasis on concrete, structural steels, composite materials, and timber. Contact Professor Paulo Monteiro with questions about the PhD in Structural Materials.

    The objective of the program is to provide a basic understanding of the performance of important structural materials under different conditions to develop skills in the selection of materials and in writing materials specifications for design and construction of structures to impart an ability for critical appraisal of new materials.

    • A master's degree from an accredited institution or a recognized equivalent.
    • If you are a CEE master's level student planning to continue for the doctorate, understand that the transfer to the doctoral program from the master's program is not automatic. It is essential that you have a superior grade point average (exceeding 3.5) in the basic courses. However, a grade point average exceeding 3.5 does not automatically ensure admission. Decisions are based on an overall evaluation of the academic record. Your application for admission into the doctoral program must be filed in the Academic Affairs Office by the end of the second week of classes in the semester you plan to complete your master's degree.
    • You must have a graduate adviser to provide general academic guidance and to help with administrative matters, and a research adviser to supervise your dissertation research and to assist in identifying funding paths. Final programs are individually formulated through consultation with a faculty guidance committee.
    • Two units of CE 299 (individual study or research) during your first semester of residence. Coursework should satisfy a major within SEMM and 2 minor areas appropriate for your area of research. One minor may be in SEMM and the other minor has to be outside of CEE.
    • The minors are subject to the approval of the Vice Chair for Academic Affairs. 
    • A minor in math is not required.
    • Pass an oral preliminary examination to assess academic preparation. The oral preliminary exam consists of a presentation given by the candidate in his/her field of research, followed by a question-and-answer session related to the proposed research area.
    • Pass a qualifying examination to test your ability to synthesize the factual information and training in techniques absorbed through coursework and seminar research. Testing your mastery of the field is regarded as an essential part of the examination.
    • Complete a thesis describing research related to SEMM program with guidance from committee of 3 faculty members.

    Courses (SM)

    • Structural Materials: CE 140 Failure Mechanisms in Civil Engineering Materials; CE 165 Concrete Materials and Construction; CE 240 Civil Engineering; Materials; CE 241 Concrete Technology
    • Solid Mechanics, Structural Analysis and Design: CE 124 Structural Design in Timber; CE 193 Engineering Risk Analysis; CE 220 Structural Analysis Theory and Applications; CE 231 Mechanics of Solids; CE 236 Microstructured Materials; CE 244 Reinforced Concrete Structures; CE 245 Behavior of Reinforced Concrete; CE 246 Prestressed Concrete Structures; CE 247 Design of Steel and Composite Structures
    • Supporting CEE courses: CE 267B Advanced Concrete Construction; CE 268D Essentials of Construction Project Control; CE 270A Advanced Soil Mechanics; CE 281 Engineering Geology
    • Supporting Courses offered in other departments:
      • Mechanical Engineering: ME 223 Polymer Engineering; ME 224 Mechanical Behavior of Engineering Materials; ME 225 Fracture of Engineering Materials; and ME 227 Mechanical Behavior of Composite Materials
      • Materials Science and Mineral Engineering: MSE 102 Bonding, Crystallography and Crystal Defects; MSE 104 Materials Characterization;
        MSE 112 Corrosion (Chemical Properties); MSE 202 Crystal Structure and Bonding; MSE 204 Theory of Electron Microscopy and X-ray Diffraction; MSE 210 Advanced Rock Mechanics; MSE 212 Deformation, Fracture and Fatigue; MSE 213 Environmental Effects on Materials Properties
      • Environmental Science, Policy, and Management: ESPM 220 Advanced Soil Chemistry; ESPM 222 Surface and Colloid Chemistry of Natural Particles; ESPM 285 Wood Formation and Structure; ESPM 288 (Special Topics)

    Faculty (SM)

    Principal CEE faculty:  P. Monteiro, C. Ostertag;  P.K. Mehta (emeritus)

    Supporting CEE Faculty: F. Armero; A. Astaneh; A. Der Kiureghian (emeritus); F. Filippou; S. Govindjee; J. Lubliner (emeritus); S. Mahin, J. Moehle; C. Monismith (emeritus); K. Mosalam; R. Seed (emeritus), N. Sitar; G. Sposito (emeritus)

    Supporting MSE faculty: T. Devine; F. Doyle; R. Gronsky (emeritus); J. W. Morris; R. Ritchie

    Supporting ME faculty: H. Dharan

    Supporting ESPM faculty: F. Beall

    Qualifying Examination

    Before advancement to candidacy, each doctoral student must pass a Qualifying Examination administered by a committee approved by the Graduate Division. This committee consists of at least 5 members, 2 of whom must be outside the field of the major and represent the 2 minor fields. One member of the committee must come from outside CEE, and one member must be designated as the chair. The committee may include the thesis supervisor but the thesis supervisor is not permitted to serve as committee chair.

    The prospective candidate normally should take the examination during the semester following completion of all course requirements.

    In addition to the minimum university requirements for the Qualifying Examination, SEMM requires that, prior to taking the examination, the prospective candidate must complete at least 3 units of CE 299 Individual Study (or equivalent), culminating in a written report. This CE 299 report need not be part of the prospective candidate's doctoral thesis. The SEMM members of the Qualifying Examination Committee take the report into account in evaluating the prospective candidate's research potential. The usual manner to satisfy this requirement is to initiate this Individual Study after successful completion of the Preliminary Examination and prior to taking the Qualifying Examination. However, the prospective candidate has the option of submitting for evaluation a research report done at the masters level; any other research report may be submitted for consideration. The research report must be submitted to each member of the committee 2 weeks prior to the oral examination.

    If an individual fails the examination the first time, and a second examination is recommended, it must be given no earlier than 3 months after the first examination. Two failures in the Qualifying Examination constitute cause for denying the prospective candidate the privilege of continued studies in the SEMM program.

    Application for Advancement to Candidacy

    After the passing of the Qualifying Examination, an Application for Advancement to Candidacy can be obtained from the Academic Affairs Office. In no case should advancement to candidacy be made later than the semester following the one in which the Qualifying Examination is passed.

    Dissertation Committee

    The major-field adviser recommends a Dissertation Committee that is approved by the Dean of the Graduate Division. The Dissertation Committee will consist of 3 members, all of whom must be members of the Berkeley Academic Senate. (If the student wishes to include someone who is not a Berkeley Academic Senate member, that person will be the fourth committee member.) Two of the 3 committee members need to be CEE faculty. The third member needs to be from outside CEE and preferably from outside of the College of Engineering.