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Frequently Asked Questions

How big is the Department?

How do I contact the Department?

Where can I find more information about your faculty?

Where can I find more information about your laboratory facilities?

What degree programs do you offer?

Why should I study civil engineering, environmental engineering, or environmental earth sciences?

What will be my contribution to society?

Why kind of career paths can I pursue?

What is the projected growth in employment?

What percentage of your graduates find immediate employment?

Why should I pursue my undergraduate degree at Notre Dame?

How do I apply?

What is the undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio in the Department?

What courses would I take?

Will I be able to supplement the required curriculum with elective courses?

Are there opportunities for hands-on learning?

Are there opportunities to help people while I study?

Are there opportunities for semester abroad programs?

Are there opportunities for field trips?

Are there opportunities to learn from professionals in my field?

How many students live off campus?

Why should I come to Notre Dame for my graduate studies?

How big will my incoming graduate student class be?

Do Ph.D. students get a Master’s degree too?

How do I apply?

Are there minimum GRE scores required to apply?

How can the GRE scores be sent directly to Notre Dame?

Do I have to take the TOEFL?

Can I be admitted to the Department if I don't have an undergraduate degree in civil engineering?

How do I pick my advisor?

What kind of exams are there and when do they take place?

Health insurance?

Cost of living expenses?

Notre Dame is a Catholic school, so are all the students Catholic?

How many students live off campus?

Are many students married and/or do many have children?

What is the ratio of male to female students?

What is the ratio of international to domestic students?

How long does it take to get a Ph.D.?

How many students stop at Master’s degree?

How many classes do I have to take?

How much does it cost for athletic facilities?

Can I get football, basketball or other sporting event tickets?

When do I need to arrive on campus?

General FAQ

How big is the Department?
As of Fall 2015, there are 27 faculty, 12 postdocs, 90 graduate students and 160 undergraduates.

How do I contact the Department?
Our contact information can be found here.

Where can I find more information about your faculty?
More information about our faculty can be found here.

Where can I find more information about your laboratory facilities?
More information about our laboratory facilities can be found here.

Undergraduate Program FAQ

What degree programs do you offer?
We offer undergraduate degree programs in Civil Engineering, Environmental Engineering, and Environmental Earth Sciences.

Why should I study civil engineering, environmental engineering, or environmental earth sciences?
Engineers and scientists are the doers of society. Every corner of life benefits from the works of civil and environmental engineers and earth scientists, from clean water supplies to levees and dams, skyscrapers to amusement parks, shopping malls to roads and bridges. See more on our Big Questions website.

What will be my contribution to society?
Ask yourself what the World will look like when you are 30. Can we solve our energy issues? How serious is our water challenge? Is it possible to repair or replace our aging urban infrastructure in light of the needs and challenges of megacities? How do we protect our populations from natural hazards and climate change? How do we work in concert with our natural Earth systems? You can begin to be a part of the solution and really make a difference on these major societal challenges by studying civil and environmental engineering and earth sciences.

Why kind of career paths can I pursue?
Civil engineers, environmental engineers, and earth scientists work as designers, consultants, and managers for corporations, construction firms, government, universities, research, laboratories, insurance companies, not-for-profit organization, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). See personal career stories from some of our alumni here.

What is the projected growth in employment?
According to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau Statistics, employment of civil engineers and environmental engineers is expected to grow 15-20% by 2022. This is faster than average for all other occupations.

What percentage of your graduates find immediate employment?
Over 98% of our students have accepted full-time positions or are enrolled in graduate, professional, military, or service programs upon graduation.

Why should I pursue my undergraduate degree at Notre Dame?
A Notre Dame education is an incredibly valuable investment – and not simply because of the quality, rigor, and access of the education you’ll receive. In addition to a world-class academic environment, you’ll experience the communal and spiritual landscape that makes our University truly unique. This is a place for students dedicated to improving their minds, hearts, and spirits. In line with this vision, the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences has very innovative and exciting undergraduate programs that synergize classroom teaching with research, field trips, lecture series and hands on experiences that expose students to the realities and professionals in their field. Beyond the campus, Notre Dame offers one of the widest and most influential alumni networks in the world. See here for more information about our undergraduate programs.

How do I apply?
Applications are all done online. Click here to begin.

What is the undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio in the Department?
Our student-to-faculty ratio is about 6, which allows for close relationships to develop between students and faculty and effective learning environments in smaller groups.

What courses would I take?
See here for our curricula and here for our course descriptions.

Will I be able to supplement the required curriculum with elective courses?
Yes, students take a number of technical as well as general electives to enrich their education.

Are there opportunities for hands-on learning?
Yes, there are many opportunities for hands-on learning through laboratory courses, student club activities (for example, the American Society of Civil Engineers student club), national student competitions (e.g., Big Beam contest), and volunteer and service activities (for example, NDSEED, EWB and E2E).

Are there opportunities to help people while I study?
Notre Dame's founder, Father Sorin, expressed his vision for the University by saying, "This College will be one of the most powerful means for good in this country." Professions in civil and environmental engineering and earth sciences line very strongly with this vision. Therefore, our Department has a deep tradition of serving people and society and our programs strongly emphasize tackling critical societal problems. You can be a part of many service-oriented programs engaged by our students. Click here to learn more.

Are there opportunities for semester abroad programs?
Yes, see here for our semester abroad programs.

Are there opportunities for field trips?
Yes, see here for our field trips.

Are there opportunities to learn from professionals in my field?
Yes, see here for our Challenges and Innovation seminar series.

How many students live off campus?
Over 80% of the university's 8,000 undergraduates live on campus in one of 29 single-sex residence halls.

Graduate Program FAQ

Why should I come to Notre Dame for my graduate studies?
Our focused graduate programs with close one-to-one faculty-student relationships and our tightly-knit collegiate environment between students and faculty ensure success at all levels. See here for more information about our graduate programs.

How big will my incoming graduate student class be?
We typically enroll about 15 - 22 students each year.

Do Ph.D. students get a Master’s degree too?
A Ph.D. student may receive a Master's degree without completing a thesis if the student has completed the course requirements for the Master's degree, passed the university candidacy examination for the doctorate, and been first or second author on a research manuscript accepted for publication or published in a refereed technical/scientific journal.

How do I apply?
Applications are all done online. Click here to begin!

Are there minimum GRE scores required to apply?
No. All applications are reviewed. Click here to view recent admissions statistics, such as number of applicants, diversity of applicants, and average GRE and GPA scores.

How can the GRE scores be sent directly to Notre Dame?
Use the institution code 1841 to send the scores directly through ETS. If you need to upload new scores after you have submitted your application, please send them to gradapp@nd.edu. Unofficial scores can be uploaded until the official scores are available. Official scores are required upon admittance.

Do I have to take the TOEFL?
The TOEFL can be waived for applicants whose first language is not English if the applicant has completed or is completing a degree at a U.S. institution.

Can I be admitted to the Department if I don't have an undergraduate degree in civil engineering?
Yes. Depending on your background, you may need to take some undergraduate courses during your first year in residence to ensure adequate preparation for graduate courses. Your individual course requirements are worked on between you, your advisor, and the Director of Graduate Studies.

How do I pick my advisor?
The first step in selecting a research advisor is for the student to become familiar with the faculty and their research activities. Shortly after student input has been received, the Director of Graduate Studies, in consultation with the Department Chair, will assign the research advisor. The assignments will be made based on information received from the students and faculty according to mutual interest.

What kind of exams are there and when do they take place?
The Master’s degree requires a comprehensive oral defense of the candidate’s research. The Ph.D. requires successful completion of a set of four written exams, an oral candidacy exam, and comprehensive oral defense of the candidate’s research. Complete details can be found in the Graduate Student Handbook.

Health insurance?
The Graduate School provides full subsidy of the full student health insurance premium cost for full-time, fully funded students who purchase the University sponsored health insurance plan. Additional information on the plan and the cost for spouses and dependents can be found here.

Cost of living expenses?
The cost of living is very low in the South Bend area, so your stipend dollars go a long way. According to www.salary.com, the cost of living in South Bend is lower than that in Atlanta by more than 10%, lower than that in Minneapolis, Seattle, and Chicago by more than 20%, and lower than that in Boston and Los Angeles by more than 50%!

Notre Dame is a Catholic school, so are all the students Catholic?
Notre Dame welcomes students and faculty of all religious backgrounds and beliefs. Our graduate students come from all over the U.S. as well as from all around the world, and have a wide range of creedal affiliations. Notre Dame's founder, Father Sorin, expressed his vision for the University by saying, "This College will be one of the most powerful means for good in this country." The mission of Notre Dame is to advance knowledge and pursue the truth. This is best done in a climate that supports diverse views and freedom of inquiry.

How many students live off campus?
Most graduate students end up living off campus in apartments or rental houses. A few students even purchase their own homes (see cost of living question!). Some students, especially in their first few years of graduate school, choose to live on campus in graduate housing. Single students can live in the Fischer or O'Hara-Grace residences, while married students or students with children can live in the Cripe Street apartments or University Village. Details on these housing options, along with information on meal plans, can be found here.

Are many students married and/or do many have children?
Perhaps 20% of the graduate students are either married when they enter graduate school, or get married during graduate school. Of these, a fair number also have children.

What is the ratio of male to female students?
About one-third of our current graduate students are female.

What is the ratio of international to domestic students?
The ratio of domestic to international students varies, but currently almost 37% of our graduate students are international and come from 10 different countries.

How long does it take to get a Ph.D.?
The range is typically 4-5 years.

How many students stop at Master’s degree?
About 11% of our graduate students enter the University as Master’s intents with the remaining 89% entering as Ph.D. intents. Almost all of the Ph.D. intents complete their Ph.D. program in full, with less than 3% stopping at the Master’s degree. Conversely, out of the Master’s intents, about 87% end up continuing for their Ph.D.

How many classes do I have to take?
The Master's program normally consists of 16 to 24 credit hours earned by course work while the Ph.D. requires a minimum of 18 course credit hours. These minimum course credit requirements can typically be satisfied through six graduate level courses, each with 3 credit hours. Complete details can be found here.

How much does it cost for athletic facilities?
Graduate students have free use of all facilities on campus with a student ID. Also, various graduate, faculty, and staff sport leagues are available.

Can I get football, basketball or other sporting event tickets?
Yes, you may purchase season tickets for any sport. American football is very popular at Notre Dame. Graduate students may purchase football tickets during the beginning of the fall semester at a discounted price and through a lottery. Information will be given to you soon after your arrive on campus.

When do I need to arrive on campus?
Non-U.S. citizens need to arrive on campus in time for the mandatory International Student Orientation, which is usually during the week prior to the start of classes. U.S. citizens should arrive in time for the Graduate School Orientation and the departmental orientation, which are usually the Friday and Monday before the start of classes. You will receive more detailed information and exact dates via email as soon as they are available.