PhD in Civil Engineering


Program Description

civil eng

The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Program aims at developing 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 Ph.D. 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 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; and
  • Transformative: cities designed for empowering 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 and 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 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.

civil eng

Admission requirements

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

i. 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.

ii. 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: 60 (total scores for Reading, Listening and Writing sections)
  • IELTS (Academic Module): Overall score: 6.5 and All sub-score: 5.5

* refers to the total score in one single attempt

Applicants are not required 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.

For more program information, please refer to

Last updated Oct 2020

About the School

Located at the Clear Water Bay of Hong Kong, the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) is a research-focused institution that ranks first among top young universities in the world (Ti ... Read More

Located at the Clear Water Bay of Hong Kong, the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) is a research-focused institution that ranks first among top young universities in the world (Times Higher Education Young University Rankings, 2020). With an international outlook and global reputation, the university aims to be a leading university, both locally and internationally, through excellence in teaching and research. With the unprecedented demand for high-end talent in support of the development of Hong Kong and the world, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (Guangzhou) (HKUST(GZ)) will be set up in Nansha, south of Guangzhou, to synergize with its Clear Water Bay (CWB) counterpart, nurturing talents and facilitating collaboration amongst Hong Kong, the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA) and beyond on education, research and knowledge transfer. Read less