The Structural Engineering Program welcomes applications from highly qualified candidates for the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees. Structural Engineering graduate students are a diverse group and come from all over the U.S. and from all around the world. We seek graduate students that exemplify the highest standards of academic achievement and are motivated to become future leaders in industry and in academia.
Graduate students can pursue an M.S. or Ph.D. degree in the area of Structural Engineering. Application procedures and deadlines are described at:
As described at this site, the application is submitted online using the Cockrell Graduate Application. When completing this application, choose “Civil Engineering” as the major. In the section on Educational Background, enter “Structural Engineering” in the section on specific area of interest.
To be considered for admission as a graduate student at the University of Texas at Austin, applicants must meet minimum requirements of the Graduate School, as described at:
Criteria for graduate admission to Structural Engineering are significantly more stringent than the minimum requirements of the Graduate School.
All applications are considered individually by admissions committees of Structural Engineering faculty and careful examination of all credentials is carried out. This includes assessment of previous academic work, GRE scores, TOEFL scores (for international applicants), letters of recommendation, statement of purpose, evidence of extracurricular activities and work experience, and other factors. No specific criteria for admission for any of these factors can be stated, as all of these factors are considered together in a holistic manner when arriving at admissions decisions. Nonetheless, graduate admission to Structural Engineering is highly competitive and successful applicants generally have a strong portfolio of grades, exam scores, letters of recommendation and other credentials.
A limited amount of financial aid is awarded by the faculty in Structural Engineering to outstanding students. The types of financial aid available include Research Assistantships, Teaching Assistantships, Fellowships, and grading positions. Research and Teaching Assistantships as well as grading positions require students to work typically 10 to 20 hours per week.
The availability of financial aid is limited, and is not sufficient to cover all of the highly qualified applicants that we admit. A small number of financial aid offers are made each year to applicants prior to their enrollment in the program. Some financial aid offers are also made to students after they have been enrolled in the program for one or more semesters.
There is no separate application for financial aid for Structural Engineering graduate students. All students who apply for admission are also considered for financial aid. If you do not require financial aid or do not wish to be considered for financial aid, please provide this information in your Statement of Purpose.
Applicants are cautioned that financial aid opportunities are increasingly competitive due to tightening research budgets and a decline in available funding for Teaching Assistantships and grading positions. It is important to note that admission to the M.S. or Ph.D. program in Structural Engineering by no means assures the availability of financial aid.
Applicants are encouraged to explore other options for financial aid, such as Fellowships that are awarded by the National Science Foundation and other organizations. Information on such opportunities is available at:
Frequently Asked Questions
- 1. How long does it take to complete an M.S. degree in Structural Engineering?
- The time required to complete an M.S. degree depends on a number of factors. These include whether the student is pursuing the thesis option or coursework-only option for the M.S. degree, whether the student is employed while pursuing the degree, the number of courses registered for each semester, and other factors. In general, however, most full-time M.S. students complete the degree requirements in 18 to 24 months. For students pursuing the thesis option, the time required to complete the M.S. degree can be more variable, as the degree is not awarded until completion of a high-quality thesis approved by the student’s research supervisor and a second reader.
- 2. How long does it take to complete a Ph.D. degree in Structural Engineering?
- The time required to complete a Ph.D. degree varies greatly. The Ph.D. program includes extensive coursework, examinations, and the completion of a major research study culminating in the Ph.D. dissertation. Ph.D. programs of coursework and research are highly individualized, and the time needed to complete the degree requirements varies significantly. However, as a guide, most full-time Ph.D. students require on the order of three to five years beyond the M.S. to complete the Ph.D. degree. In some cases, however, students have taken more than five years to complete the Ph.D. degree.
- 3. Do you admit graduate students in the Fall semester only?
- No. Graduate students in Structural Engineering are admitted in both the Fall and Spring semesters. However, the majority of our graduate students start in the Fall semester.
- 4. What are the typical credentials of successful applicants?
- As described earlier, admissions decisions are based on a holistic assessment of all credentials of an applicant, and so no minimum criteria for GPA, GRE scores, etc. can be stated. Nonetheless, as a general guide, most successful M.S. applicants have an upper-division (junior and senior year) GPA of 3.5 and higher, and normally have excellent grades in their undergraduate structural engineering courses. Successful Ph.D. applicants typically have a GPA in their upper-division undergraduate and M.S. work close to 4.0.
- On the GRE exam, applicants whom we admit typically have a quantitative score of at least 160, an analytical writing score of at least 4.0 and, for those whose native language is English, a verbal score above 155. The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is required of all students whose native language is not English, unless they have received a degree from a U.S. university. Successful applicants typically have scores of at least 95 on the Internet Based TOEFL.
- Letters of recommendation play a strong role in admissions decisions. Successful applicants typically have very strong letters of recommendation.
- It is very important to note that the information provided above is only a guide. Each year, we receive a very large number of strong applications and our program only has space to accommodate a fraction of these applicants. Consequently, applicants with GPA and GRE scores well above the numbers described above may be declined admission due to a limited number of openings in the program. Further, admissions decisions are based on qualitative assessment of letters of recommendation, statement of purpose, work experience, extra-curricular activities, and other non-quantitative factors. In some cases, applicants with GPA or GRE scores below the numbers described above are admitted based on such non-quantitative factors.
- 5. Who should I choose to provide letters of recommendation?
- Letters should come from people familiar with your abilities and accomplishments. In general, academic references are strongly preferred. These can include professors from whom you have taken a class, and preferably one or more professors from whom you have taken a structural engineering class. If you have conducted research under the supervision of a faculty member, either as an undergraduate or as a M.S. student, a letter of recommendation from that faculty member would be beneficial. More specifically, if you are applying to the Ph.D. program and have conducted research as part of your M.S. program, we would expect to receive a letter of recommendation from your M.S. research faculty supervisor. Letters of recommendation from employers can also be useful in our admissions decisions, particularly for applicants that have been out of school and working for some time. You are certainly welcome to provide letters of recommendation from anyone that can provide input on your potential for success in graduate studies. However, as noted above, academic references generally are most useful to us in making admission decisions.
- 6. What type of information should be included in my Statement of Purpose?
- The Statement of Purpose should describe why you are interested in pursuing graduate studies in Structural Engineering or in Civil Engineering Materials. It can also provide a description of your activities, accomplishments, goals, and research interests (to the extent known).
- You are free to include any information you wish to support your application. This can include a description of special accomplishments or experiences that may not be apparent from your other application materials. The Statement of Purpose can also be used to explain any special circumstances or challenges that you have overcome in your life and in your career. For example, we are interested to know if you worked while going to school, if you were involved in athletics or other time-demanding activities, if you believe your grades or GRE scores are not a good indicator of your future academic performance as a graduate student, etc.
- 7. Can I receive a preliminary assessment of my chances of admission and/or financial aid prior to formally submitting an application for admission?
- No. Because we receive such a large number of informal requests and admission applications each year, and because of the large number of factors involved in admissions decisions, we cannot provide a preliminary or informal assessment of an applicant’s credentials.
- 8. Can I be admitted directly to the Ph.D. program in Structural Engineering with only a B.S. degree?
No. We require a student to complete an M.S. degree, or equivalent, before pursuing the Ph.D. Applicants that do not have an M.S. degree, but show the Ph.D. degree as the first degree sought on their application, will normally be required to first successfully complete M.S. degree requirements in Structural Engineering before continuing on to Ph.D. studies.
Under rare circumstances, we will allow a student without a formal M.S. degree to pursue a Ph.D., if they present evidence of additional coursework and/or research experiences that are substantially equivalent to an M.S. degree in Structural Engineering.
- 9. I am planning to apply to the Structural Engineering graduate program for an M.S. or Ph.D. degree, but financial aid is very important to me. Should I send emails to the faculty in Structural Engineering to inquire about the availability of Research and Teaching Assistantships?
- In general, we discourage potential applicants from sending emails to faculty with inquiries about the availability of Research or Teaching Assistantship positions, unless they have a very strong interest in working with a particular faculty member. Structural Engineering faculty members typically receive hundreds of such email inquiries each year, and generally do not have the time to respond to these. Thus, if you have a very strong and genuine interest in a faculty member’s specific research area, you are certainly welcome to contact that faculty member. Otherwise, however, sending out a large number of emails to faculty is not likely to improve your chances of financial aid.
- 10. If I am admitted as a graduate student in Structural Engineering, but do not receive a financial aid offer prior to enrollment, are there still opportunities for financial aid after I enroll?
Yes. Many of our graduate students do not receive financial aid offers prior to enrollment. This is because the amount of financial aid is limited, and because we often do not know of the availability of research funds, or funds to support Teaching Assistants or Graders in time to make early commitments to applicants.
A number of our graduate students are able to find some financial aid after they enroll and after they have completed one or more semesters in the program. This may be in the form of a Research Assistantship, a Teaching Assistantship, a grading position, or a Fellowship. However, the amount of financial aid available to students varies from year to year, and is generally quite limited. Consequently, even outstanding students are sometimes unable to obtain financial aid.
While there are opportunities for students to obtain financial aid after enrollment in our program, the availability of such aid is by no means assured. Consequently, students should be prepared to financially support their graduate education.
- 11. I do not have an undergraduate degree in Civil or Architectural Engineering. Can I still be admitted to the graduate program in Structural Engineering?
- The majority of our applicants have an undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering or Architectural Engineering. However, exceptional candidates with other undergraduate degrees can be considered for admission to the graduate program in Structural Engineering. If admitted, such students are usually required to take additional undergraduate courses before beginning graduate level work. The courses required will depend on the student’s background and educational goals. Each student's required courses are evaluated on an individual basis but, as a minimum, the following undergraduate courses generally are required before graduate courses can be taken.
12 hours Mathematics (calculus or higher) 8 hours Physics 3 hours Chemistry 3 hours Statics 3 hours Dynamics 3 hours Mechanics of Solids 3 hours Computer Programming 3 hours Engineering Materials 3 hours Fluid Mechanics 12 hours Civil engineering – including at least one course in structural analysis, one course in design of steel structures, and one course in design of reinforced concrete structures.