Doctoral Programs

Geotechnical Engineering Ph.D.

The field of Geotechnical Engineering, as a partial preparation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Civil Engineering, covers the subject matter decribed below. Although the requirement is defined in terms of a list of subjects and/or recommended reading, emphasis is placed on an understanding of the fundamentals of the areas studied, and on the ability to correlate and apply the acquired knowledge.

Minimum Preparation for Major Field Students

Students electing Geotechnical Engineering as their major field will be responsible for the body of knowledge contained in the courses C&EE120, C&EE 121, C&EE 128L, C&EE220, C&EE 221, C&EE 222, C&EE 223, C&EE 225, and C&EE 228L.

Topical Outline of the Geotechnical Engineering Major Field

*Numerals in parenthesis refer to textbooks in the reference list which follows.

1. Fundamental Principles of Soil Mechanics

* Soil as an engineering material (1,2,10)*, C&EE 120
* Soil formation (1,7,10), C&EE 120
* Composition, index properties and classification of soils (1,2,7,10) C&EE 120, C&EE 128L
* Effective stress principles (1,2,4) C&EE 120, C&EE 220
* Capillary action (1,2,3,10) C&EE 120
* Seepage and drainage (1,2,3,10) C&EE 120
*Numbers in parenthesis refer to references listed at the end of this document.

2. Engineering Properties of Soils

* Laboratory testing techniques (18,19) C&EE 120, C&EE 128L, C&EE 220, C&EE 222, C&EE 228L
* In-situ testing of soils (10) C&EE 121, C&EE 220
* Stress-strain behavior of soils, static conditions (1,7,10) C&EE120, C&EE 128L, C&EE220, C&EE 228L
* Stress-strain behavior of soils, dynamic conditions (5,10) C&EE 222, C&EE 225
* Shear strength (1,2,7,10) C&EE 120, C&EE 128L, C&EE 220, C&EE 228L
* Cyclic loading strength (18) C&EE 222, C&EE 225
* Compressibilty (1,2,3) C&EE 120, C&EE 128L, C&EE 220, C&EE 228L
* Permeability (1,2,3,10) C&EE 120, C&EE 228L

3. Applications of Geosynthetics

* Types of Geosynthetics (20) C&EE 121
* Geosynthetic functions and properties (20) C&EE 121
* Applications for filtration, separation, drainage and reinforcement (2) C&EE 121
* Reinforced soil retaining walls (8,20) C&EE 121, C&EE 223

4. Stability Analysis

* Slope stability and its analysis (1,2,3,4,8,12) C&EE 121, C&EE 220, C&EE 225
* Bearing capacity (1,2,3,4,8,12,15) C&EE 121, C&EE 221
* Retaining structures (1,2,6,8,12,15) C&EE121, C&EE 223

5. Foundation Design

* Theory of consolidation (1,3,4,10) C&EE 120, C&EE 220
* Compaction (1,2,8,10,12) C&EE 121, C&EE 221
* Stress distribution below loaded structures (1,3,8,9,10,15) C&EE 120, C&EE 221
* Settlement analysis (1,2,3,8,9,12,15) C&EE120, C&EE 121, C&EE 220, C&EE 221
* Shallow foundations (2,3,8,9,12,15) C&EE121, C&EE 221
* Piles and piers (2,8,9,12,13,14,17) C&EE 121, C&EE 221

6. Lateral Pressures

* Theories of earth pressures (1,2,4,8,9) C&EE 120, C&EE 121, C&EE 223
* Seepage pressures (1,2,8) C&EE 120, C&EE 121, C&EE 220, C&EE 223
* Rigid and flexible walls (6,8,9) C&EE 223
* Excavation support systems (1,2,6,8,9) C&EE 223

7. Soil Dynamics/Earthquake Engineering

* Behavior of soils under dynamic/cyclic loading (5,8,16,18) C&EE 222, C&EE 225
* Response of soil deposits to earthquake loads (5,11,16,18) C&EE 222, C&EE 225
* Seismic response of foundations, retaining structures, earth dames, and other earth structures, (16) C&EE 225
* Liquefaction (16,18) C&EE 222, C&EE 225

A written and oral examination on material encompassed by the above six areas will be required. Each student in this major field will be required to pass a written preliminary PhD exam consisting of a four-hour closed book examination followed by a four-hour open book examination given within the same day. Additional details are available from the Geotechnical Engineering PhD Field Committee.

Minor Fields

Students majoring in Geotechnical Engineering will be expected to complete two minor fields composed of three courses each, or one minor field composed of five courses selected in accordance with the requirements of the respective minor fields. Additionally, they will be expected to fulfill the requirements of the departments administering the minor fields.

Minimum Preparation for Minor Field Students

Students electing Geotechnical Engineering as a minor field will be held responsible for the body of knowledge contained in C&EE 220, C&EE 221, and C&EE 222 or C&EE 223.

Students electing Geotechnical Engineering as a minor field will be given a written examination on their preparation as described above. Minor field students will be exempted from this examination if they obtain a grade point average of at least 3.25 in their minor field courses.



1. Lambe, T.W. and R.V. Whitman, Soil Mechanics, Si Version, Wiley, 1979.
2. Terzaghi,K., R.B. Peck, and G. Mesri, Soil Mechanics in Engineering Practice, 2nd Edition, Wiley, 1996.
3. Taylor, D.W., Fundamentals of Soil Mechanics, Wiley, 1948.
4. Terzaghi, K., Theoretical Soil Mechanics, Wiley, 1943.
5. Foundations, Prentice Hall, 1970.
6. Tschebotarioff, G.P., Foundations, Retaining and Earth Structures, 2nd Edition, McGraw Hill, 1973.
7. Mitchell, J.K., Fundamentals of Soil Behavior, Wiley, 2nd Edition, 1993.
8. Fang, H.-Y., Foundation Engineering Handbook, Van Nostrand Reinhold, 2nd Edition, 1990.
9. Bowles, J.E., Foundation Analysis and Design, McGraw Hill, 1977.
10. Holtz, R.D. and W.D. Kovacs, An Introduction to Geotechnical Engineering, Prentice Hall, 1981.
11. Wiegel, R.L., Earthquake Engineering, Prentice Hall, 1970.
12. Liu, C. & Evett, J.B., Soils and Foundations, Prentice-Hall, 4th Edition, 1998.
13. Prakash, S. & H. D. Sharma, Pile Foundations in Engineering Practice, Wiley, 1990.
14. Tomlinson , M.J., Pile Design and Construction Practice, 4th Edition, Chapman-Hallm 1994.
15. Coduto, D.P., Foundation Design, Principles and Practice, Prentice-Hall, 1994.
16. Kramer, S.L., Geotechnical Earthquake Engineering, Prentice-Hall, 1996.
17. Poulos, H.G., & E. H. Davis, Pile Foundation Analysis and Design, John Wiley & Sons, 1980.
18. Ishihara, K., Soil Behavior in Earthquake Geotechnics, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1996.
19. Bardet, J.P., Experimental Soil Mechanics, Prentice-Hall, 1997.
20. Koerner, R.M., Designing with Geosynthetics, Prentice-Hall, 3rd Edition, 1994.

Journals and Proceedings

The list below contains journals that included topics of interest to students in Geotechnical Engineering.

1. ASCE Journal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering, ASCE.
2. Geotechnique, England
3. Canadian Geotechnical Journal
4. Soils and Foundations, Japan
5. Geotechnical Testing Journal, ASTM
6. International Journal for Numerical and Analytical Methods in Geomechanics
7. Computers and Geotechnics
8. International Journal of Earthquake Engineering and Soil Dynamics
9. Earthquake Spectra, EERI
10. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, SSA
11. Proceedings of the International Conferences on Soil Mechanics and Foundation Engineering
12. Proceedings of the Panamerican Conferences on Soil Mechanics and Foundation Engineering
13. Proceedings of the European Conferences on Soil Mechanics and Foundation Engineering
14. Proceedings of the ASCE Geotechnical Engineering Division Specialty Conferences
15. Proceedings of the International Conferences on Numerical Methods in Geomechanics
16. Special Technical Publications, ASTM and other relevant journals and specialty conference.