Postgraduate Programs 2018/19
Master of Philosophy and Doctor of Philosophy Programs in Civil Engineering
Award Title

Master of Philosophy in Civil Engineering
Doctor of Philosophy in Civil Engineering

Program Short Name


Mode of Study

Both full- and part-time

Normative Program Duration

Full-time : 2 years
Part-time : 4 years

Full-time : 3 years (with a relevant research master’s degree), 4 years (with a bachelor’s degree only)
Part-time : 6 years

Program Advisor

PG Programs Coordinator:
Prof Ilias DIMITRAKOPOULOS, Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering

The Master of Philosophy (MPhil) Program focuses on strengthening students' knowledge in certain areas of Civil and Structural Engineering and exposing them to the issues involved in the conception, design, construction, maintenance, and use of structures and facilities. A candidate for an MPhil degree is expected to demonstrate knowledge in the discipline and to synthesize and create new knowledge, making a contribution to the field.


The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Program aims to help students develop the skills needed to identify issues related to Civil Engineering and the ability to formulate and propose solutions to a problem in an independent manner. A candidate for a PhD degree is expected to demonstrate mastery of knowledge in the chosen discipline and to synthesize and create new knowledge, making an original and substantial contribution to the discipline.

The programs are offered by the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering with the following research foci and state-of-the-art facilities. The programs aim to provide students with the knowledge at the forefront of the field, so as to help minimize environmental hazards and improve the quality of people’s lives.


Research Foci

GREAT Smart Cities

One major research focus of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at HKUST is on GREAT Smart Cities. The acronym GREAT stands for:

  • Green: cities planned with due considerations for life-cycle environmental impacts, natural resources consumption (e.g. air, water, energy, materials) and wastes generation and treatment

  • Resilient: cities developed with infrastructure capacities and system redundancies to manage disruptions without severely affecting their essential functioning

  • Empowering: cities designed for people, empowering well-being, efficiency, innovation, and productive partnerships

  • Adaptable: cities designed with their infrastructure and systems adaptable to changes in new technology (e.g. autonomous vehicles) and global warming.

  • Transformative: cities designed for enabling their institutions and citizens to define and reposition their growth directions and strategies.

Our objectives are to develop and apply smart tools for the context of GREAT infrastructure planning and development. Through the establishment of a broad platform for developing large-scale projects and inter-disciplinary collaborations, jointly we will do GREAT things for future cities.


Infrastructure Development and Planning

Building-system design and analysis, monitoring and analysis of highway bridges, wind and seismic engineering, geotechnical engineering and soil-structure interaction, construction materials, transportation system modeling and operation, integrated risk and reliability assessment, and infrastructure system enhancement.


Green Building and Sustainable Development

This is an interdisciplinary area, with projects including the development of green building design standards, eco-friendly materials and technologies, recycling of construction materials, green retrofit and renovation technologies, and optimization of energy and water usage.


Intelligent Construction Materials

Development of advanced composite materials, cement-based functional materials and sustainable cementitious materials, application of composite materials for infrastructure repairs, and nanotechnology in concrete design.


Environmental and Water Resources Studies 

Innovative physical, chemical and biological water and wastewater treatment processes, environmental quality management, remediation of contaminated soils and groundwater, mixing and transport phenomena of pollutants in natural and man-made systems, water resources management and engineering, stochastic optimization of water quality and resources, environmental fluid mechanics.



The Department supports an excellent range of facilities comprising laboratories for structural engineering, construction materials, geotechnical engineering, environmental engineering, fluid mechanics, intelligent transportation systems, computation, and surveying. All are equipped to the highest standards with advanced instrumentation available. The Geotechnical Centrifuge Facility is equipped with a hydraulic biaxial shaking table and a 4-axis robotic manipulator. The CLP Power Wind-Wave Tunnel Facility, which assists projects in construction industry and environmental studies, is also managed by the Department’s professors.

The University’s central facilities include an electronic support shop, instrumentation pool, machine shop, CAD/ CAM laboratory and the Materials Characterization and Preparation Facility. HKUST also maintains state-of-the-art computing facilities.

  1. Minimum Credit Requirement

    MPhil: 12 credits
    PhD: 24 credits

  2. Credit Transfer 

    PhD students with a master’s degree may be granted credit transfer of up to 12 credits, subject to approval.

  3. Required Courses

    MPhil: 12 credits of approved coursework
    PhD: 24 credits of approved coursework

PhD students are required to obtain a GGA of 3.150 for graduation.


  1. School Requirements on PhD Programs

In addition to the program requirements, all full-time and part-time PhD students are required to complete the school requirements, which aim to help students gain a wider exposure to multidisciplinary areas, and attain all-rounded learning by broadening their knowledge base.

PhD students are required to take at least a 3-credit course at 5000-level or above outside their programs offered by the School of Engineering. The 3 credits may be satisfied by courses from other Schools upon approval.

In some exceptional cases where students can provide sufficient justifications and obtain prior approval from their supervisors, PG Coordinators, and Heads of Department/Program Directors or designees, they are allowed to take the 3-credit course within their home departments/programs but the course must be in areas outside their specialty.

Details of the requirements are available on the website of the School of Engineering.


  1. Professional Development Course Requirement

PDEV 6770

Students are required to complete PDEV 6770. The 1 credit earned from PDEV 6770 cannot be counted toward the credit requirements.


PhD students who are HKUST MPhil graduates and have completed PDEV 6770 or other professional development courses offered by the University before may be exempted from this requirement, subject to prior approval of the School.


  1. English Language Requirement

LANG 5000

Full-time RPg students are required to take an English Language Proficiency Assessment (ELPA) Speaking Test administered by the Center for Language Education before the start of their first term of study. Students whose ELPA Speaking Test score is below Level 4, or who failed to take the test in their first term of study, are required to take LANG 5000 until they pass the course by attaining at least Level 4 in the ELPA Speaking Test before graduation. The 1 credit earned from LANG 5000 cannot be counted toward the credit requirements.

LANG 5001

Full-time students are required to complete LANG 5001. Students can be exempted from taking LANG 5001 with the agreement of the Department Head and PG Coordinator. The 1 credit earned from LANG 5001 cannot be counted toward the credit requirements.


  1. Postgraduate Seminars

CIVL 6050
CIVL 6060


Full-time students are required to take and pass CIVL 6050 at least twice, and CIVL 6060 at least once.


Full-time students are required to take and pass CIVL 6050 at least four times. All students, regardless of study mode, are required to take and pass CIVL 6060 at least twice.


  1. PhD Qualifying Examination

To become a doctoral candidate, a student must pass a qualifying examination. Full-time PhD students are expected to pass the qualifying examination within 18 months of initial registration while part-time PhD students are expected to pass the qualifying examination within 36 months of initial registration. A maximum postponement of 3 months may be allowed, subject to prior approval from the departmental PG Committee.


The qualifying examination consists of both written and oral examinations. The written examination evaluates the student’s comprehension of scientific and engineering principles and engineering synthesis, and the student’s preparation for postgraduate study. Prior to undertaking the examinations, each PhD student will have prepared a written thesis research proposal, and will orally present and defend it. In addition, the student will answer questions of a general civil engineering nature and questions relevant to the proposed research.


Following the above, the Qualifying Examination Committee will recommend that (1) the student has passed the qualifying examination and is a candidate for the degree; or (2) the student should undertake further studies to rectify deficiencies uncovered in the examination but may continue with the research component without another written or oral examination, and upon successful completion of these further studies, the student will automatically become a candidate for the degree; or (3) the student should undertake further studies and must repeat the written and/or oral component within 6 months; or (4) the student has failed and must withdraw from the PhD program.


Students who fail the qualifying examination for the second time will be required to withdraw from the PhD program or, with the special approval of the departmental PG Committee, be allowed to transfer to the MPhil program.


  1. Thesis Research

CIVL 6990
CIVL 7990


  1. Registration in CIVL 6990; and
  2. Presentation and oral defense of the MPhil thesis. 


  1. Registration in CIVL 7990; and
  2. Presentation and oral defense of the PhD thesis.


Each student shall submit a thesis demonstrating competence in engineering research. The work described must have been substantially completed subsequent to enrollment for the degree. The thesis should reach a satisfactory standard of expression and presentation, and consist of an account of the student’s own research. The student may not submit as the main content of the thesis any work or material which has previously been submitted for a university degree or some other similar awards.


Last update: 31 July 2018

  1. Energy Technology Concentration

In addition to the existing program requirements, students who opt for the Energy Technology concentration are required to:

  1. Take one ENEG course.
  2. Complete ENEG 6010 for one term. They can use ENEG 6010 to replace one term of registration of CIVL 6050.
ENEG 6010


  1. Conduct research in energy area.


  1. Nanotechnology Concentration

In addition to the existing program requirements, students who opt for the Energy Technology concentration are required to:

  1. Take one NANO course.
  2. Complete NANO 6010 for one term.
NANO 6010


  1. Conduct research in nano area.


  1. Scientific Computation Concentration

In addition to the existing program requirements, students who opt for the Scientific Computation concentration are required to:

  1. MPhil:
    Complete a minimum of 7 credits from the following course lists.
    Complete a minimum of 10 credits from the following course lists.

    The credits earned under the concentration will be counted toward the total credit requirements of the programs.

    Core Courses
    MPhil: at least 3 credits
    PhD: at least 6 credits

    All students must take MATH 6915 and MATH 6916. Credits earned from MATH 6915 can be repeated for up to 2 credits.
COMP 5112
CIVL 5390
orMECH 5930
CSIC 5001
CSIC 5011
CSIC 5031
MATH 5311
MATH 6915
MATH 6916


Elective Courses

CHEM 5210
CHEM 5220
CIVL 5510
COMP 5212
COMP 5213
COMP 5331
COMP 5421
CSIC 5190
ELEC 5140
ELEC 5810
LIFS 4320*
MATH 5312
MATH 5350
MATH 5411
MATH 5431
MECH 5230
MECH 5280
MSDM 5004
PHYS 5120
PHYS 5310
PHYS 5410
* LIFS 4320 can be counted as an elective course subject to approval of the Scientific Computation Concentration.


  1. Conduct research in the area of scientific computation.


Last update: 29 August 2023

To qualify for admission, applicants must meet all of the following requirements. Admission is selective and meeting these minimum requirements does not guarantee admission.


1. General Admission Requirements of the University
  • Applicants seeking admission to a master's degree program should have obtained a bachelor’s degree from a recognized institution, or an approved equivalent qualification;

  • Applicants seeking admission to a doctoral degree program should have obtained a bachelor’s degree with a proven record of outstanding performance from a recognized institution; or presented evidence of satisfactory work at the postgraduate level on a full-time basis for at least one year, or on a part-time basis for at least two years.

2. English Language Admission Requirements

Applicants have to fulfill English Language requirements with one of the following proficiency attainments:

  • TOEFL-iBT: 80

  • TOEFL-pBT: 550

  • TOEFL-Revised paper-delivered test (effective from 2018/19 admission): 60
    (total scores for Reading, Listening and Writing sections)

  • IELTS (Academic Module): Overall score: 6.0 and All sub-score: 5.5

Applicants don't need to present TOEFL or IELTS score if

  • their first language is English, or

  • they obtained the bachelor's degree (or equivalent) from an institution where the medium of instruction was English.