Course work, research thesis, and comprehensive oral examinations
4 years
Funding available

Program Overview

As a PhD student in the field of Civil Engineering, you can play a vital role in future developments in such areas as design of foundations, water quality, sediment transportation, pipeline flow, construction and rehabilitation of structures, and many other areas. Civil Engineering has a wide range of applications that contribute to modern life and its infrastructure. Graduate students and their work are an important part of an ongoing research process that provides the community with ways of understanding natural, cultural, imaginative, social, and technological phenomena.

The PhD program is a research-based program that also includes a thesis. It provides candidates with advanced knowledge, preparing them for a career in research in university, government, or industry sectors.

The minimum Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science Graduate Council requirements for the program beyond the master’s degree are 3 term-length graduate courses (or equivalent). Individual departments may require more than three courses. Only 1 course of the required 3 may be a combined undergraduate/graduate course (also known as a double numbered 400/800 course), research and thesis, and a comprehensive examination. The objective of the comprehensive exam is to establish to the satisfaction of the department that the student has a sound proposal for PhD research, an effective grasp of their main and related areas of study, and the ability to handle facts, new ideas, and concepts at the PhD level.

The exam must be completed within four to eighteen months of registering in the PhD program. Details of these comprehensive examinations are available upon request from the Graduate Assistant in the department.

All research students must successfully complete CIVL 801, a non-credit course in laboratory safety, at the first opportunity after their initial registration. This is a requirement to graduate.

Admission and Application

Master's degree in Civil Engineering. Applicants with a master’s degree in a cognate science may be admitted.

English Proficiency Requirements

For international students, if required, a TOEFL total score of at least 600 (paper-based) or TOEFL iBT minimum scores of: writing (24/30); speaking (22/30); reading (22/30); listening (20/30), for a total of 88/120. Applicants must have the minimum score in each test as well as the minimum overall score.

To begin your application or learn more about the process, please review the School of Graduate Studies Application Guide.

Application Deadline: March 1 to qualify for funding.
Notification of Acceptance: 2-3 months after we receive your full application.

Finding a Supervisor

We encourage you to identify an area of research interest and contact potential supervisor(s) before applying. Visit research groups and faculty profiles. When you find a faculty member with similar research interests to yours, contact them to let them know about your interest in graduate work, area of research and related experience. Please note, however, that contacting a faculty member does not guarantee acceptance and you will need to submit your full application in order to be considered.


Guaranteed Minimum for PhD students: $26,000

Qualified students in a research degree program can expect to receive competitive financial support during their graduate tenure, as long as they maintain acceptable academic standing. Departmental funding sources may include Graduate Research Fellowship, teaching assistantships, and Queen's Graduate Assistantship awards. First-class students are automatically considered for entrance into competition for Queen's Graduate Fellowships and Scholarships. We encourage you to apply for additional funding through external scholarships (NSERC, OGS, etc.). Entering PhD students who win federal government tri-council awards are automatically provided with a $10,000 top-up award by Queen's.


Areas of Research

Our researchers strive to address the challenges of modern society and contribute to societal change. We encourage and facilitate collaborative research. We have strong connections with other departments at Queen’s and with universities abroad. Travel opportunities are available based on research needs.


Career Opportunities

  • Consulting
  • Academia and Research
  • Public sector
  • Manufacturing
  • Policy and Governance
  • Civil engineering in the public domain
  • Law

Interested in learning more about becoming a postdoctoral fellow? Learn more through Queen’s School of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs.

Program Contact

Graduate Assistant
Debbie Ritchie
613-533-000 ext. 79359
Ellis Hall, Room 241