Master of Science (MS)
Ideal Preparation for Professional Practice or Doctoral Study
The Duke CEE Master of Science (MS) in Civil and Environmental Engineering provides a solid foundation of rigorous training and research experience to propel your career, focused on discovery and engineering of improved materials, processes, phenomena and devices.
We offer significant support for competitive applicants—typical scholarships range from $20,000-$30,000.
"The Duke CEE faculty understood the vision I had for my career, believed in my potential and supported my goals."
Bryce Dickinson MS'08
Read Bryce's Story »
Driven by the ever-expanding breadth and depth of technical knowledge required for the engineering of complex systems, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) believes the master’s degree to be the basic preparation for professional practice.
We will prepare you for your career.
Your faculty advisors provide mentorship and Duke offers career services—preparing you to seek a career in industry or enter a doctoral program.
Our MS comprises technical coursework and a thesis or project in a chosen discipline. Students explore cutting-edge research in these study tracks:
- Computational Mechanics and Scientific Computing
- Geomechanics & Geophysics for Energy and the Environment
- Systems, Risk and Decision
- Hydrology and Fluid Dynamics
- Environmental Health Engineering
How to Apply
At Duke, you become part of a close-knit community of faculty who are tackling the tricky, messy problems that don't fit neatly inside traditional disciplines. Our research, teaching, and hallway discussions focus on pushing the boundaries.
We offer significant support for competitive applicants—typical scholarships range from
The CEE Master of Science (MS) degree requires 30 course credits:
- 6 credits in the department courses
- 9 credits in study track specific CEE core courses
- At least 9 credits from other approved graduate courses, with preference for engineering courses.
- 6 research credits to support their MS thesis. The student takes an oral exam on the thesis.
- Participation in the Graduate Colloquium
- Completion of the rubric form (thesis or non-thesis)
A maximum of 12 of the total 30 credits may be earned via transfer of earlier graduate credits under rules of The Graduate School at Duke.
Each study track is associated with a sequence of core courses that parallel the research interests of our faculty. The study track courses are taught regularly.
The Master's Thesis should follow the format defined in Guide for Preparation of Theses and Dissertations, and should include the following items:
- An abstract with objectives and clearly stated unique contributions,
- A survey and discussion/synthesis of pertinent literature,
- Discussions of the completed research tasks, including theory development, data collection, analysis, and documentation, and
- A set of conclusions that emphasize new theoretical, modeling, or experimental contributions; or novel applications of existing theories.
The quality of the Master’s Thesis should allow the material to be published in a peer-reviewed journal. Here is some more information on the master's thesis from Duke's graduate school website.
Upon the completion of the written thesis, the student must defend it orally. The thesis Advisor must approve the thesis for the defense before its final submission to the Faculty Committee. In a letter to the Graduate School, the Advisor states that he/she has read the thesis and that it is complete and ready for defense. The defense takes place no less than one week after the student has submitted the thesis to the Graduate School and presented copies to the Faculty Committee members. The oral presentation is public and shall be announced by the DGS. The Faculty Committee generally examines the candidate in a closed meeting following the open oral presentation. During the defense, the Faculty Committee may examine the student on both the content of the thesis and on the content of the student's previous course work.
The possible outcomes of the Master's Examination are:
- The student passes. A majority of supporting votes are required, in addition to the approval of the Advisor.
- The student passes conditionally, contingent on specific changes made in the Thesis. These changes must be approved by the advisor and the Faculty Committee, who may then pass the student.
- The student fails. Re-examination might be permitted upon the recommendation of the advisor and the approval of the Director of Graduate Studies.
In addition to the course credits listed and discussed above, each graduate student in the department is required to participate in the departmental seminar called Colloquia on Mechanics and the Environment. This colloquium is a series of about 18 seminars scheduled when classes are in session during the eight-month academic year. The faculty of the university, visiting scientists, and senior graduate students give the seminars.
The minimal seminar participation requirements are as follows:
- Each degree candidate needs to register for CE 701(301) (Fall) or CE 702(302) (Spring) and is expected to attend at least 75% of the seminars in a given semester. Attendance is recorded. Although no grades are assigned in CE 701(301)-702(302), student transcripts will show that the courses have been completed and thereby that the requirement has been satisfied. Students having scheduling conflicts should inform the Director of Graduate Studies.
- Each candidate for an MS degree shall register for CE 701(301)-702(302) for at least one academic year. Some candidates for an MS degree with a thesis may be asked to present a seminar on their research. Such seminar does not replace the oral defense of the thesis.
- A degree candidate does not need to be registered in CE 701(301)-702(302) in the semester that he or she presents a seminar.
- The faculty encourages all graduate students to attend as many Graduate Colloquium seminars as possible, as exposure to novel ideas, research methodologies, and results from broadly or even remotely related fields is enriching and stimulating and helps to develop a critical sense of what constitutes an effective presentation.
The Pratt School of Engineering requires a minimum GPA of 3.2 from an undergraduate program in order to gain admission to the Master of Science (MS) program. A minimum TOEFL score of 90 on the Internet-based test is also required. Average GRE scores and UGPA of recent admitted applicants were:
- GRE Quantitative: 169
- GRE Verbal: 149
- UGPA: 3.7
Scholarships and Cost of Attendance
We offer significant support for competitive applicants – typical scholarships range from $20,000-$30,000.
For details on the cost of attendance before Duke CEE scholarships, go to The Graduate School at Duke website »
Financial Aid and Fellowships
For costs after scholarships, many students take out loans and believe there will be an excellent return on investment when they get out into the work force.
Limited additional financial aid is available to highly qualified candidates—with an emphasis on increasing diversity within the program.
For MS, limited financial aid is available to highly qualified candidates through academic scholarships with an emphasis on increasing diversity within our master's degree programs.
Underrepresented minorities may receive up to 50 percent per year in tuition scholarship through our Diversity Scholarships. Additionally, up to $10,000 per year may be allocated for the student to gain experience in a research setting under the direction of a principal investigator (PI).
Externally Funded Scholarships
For MS students, we also offer support to recipients of select competitive externally funded scholarships, such as:
- National Science Foundation (NSF) Fellowships
- Fulbright Scholar Program
Some departments will occasionally provide some reduced-tuition assistance, but most of Pratt’s masters students pay through a combination of loans and their own money.
Also see Duke Graduate School Master Student Financial Aid web page.
Federal Loan Programs
Duke University offers the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Programs for graduate students, including Stafford unsubsidized loans, Graduate PLUS, and Carl Perkins loans. Each of these loans has different terms and conditions, but they are generally deferrable until after graduation or until the student is enrolled for less than half-time.
These federal loans are available only to United States citizens. Visit the Duke Financial Aid website for more information and application procedures for student loans.
While enrolled in the program, many students work in a variety of places, such as campus libraries and various departments within Duke. Teaching assistantships are available in various departments, and some departments have research assistantships as well.
These positions are paid an hourly rate, and most students work between 10 to 20 hours per week. Positions are generally posted and filled just a week or two before classes begin each semester.
The MS program provides outstanding career support to Duke CEE students. Our career services include:
- Academic job search strategy sessions
- Non-academic job search strategy sessions for industry and governmental positions
- Resume review and critiques
- Interview skills training for international students