PhD Degree Requirements


The Ph.D. degree indicates attainment of an original and significant research contribution to the state-of-the-art in the candidate’s field, and an ability to communicate advanced concepts to a non-specialized audience. All students must complete a core curriculum consisting of eight courses from Civil Engineering, Economics, and Social Ecology plus the graduate colloquium. Students may apply to the Director of Enrollment and Graduate Academic Affairs for exemption from specific courses based upon the evidence of prior course work. Students also must successfully complete at least six courses from among the four specialization areas: (1) Methods and Analysis; (2) Transportation Systems Economics; (3) Traffic Analysis; and (4) Planning and Policy Analysis. At least four of these six courses must be from one specialization.

Students must complete the following general theory core courses:

Civil Engineering: CEE220A (Travel Demand Analysis I), CEE225A (Transportation Planning Models I) or CEE225B (Transportation Planning Models II).

Urban Planning: Planning, Policy, and Design PP&D202 (History of Urban Planning) or PP&D212 (Transportation Planning); Planning, Policy, and Design PP&D223 (Regional Analysis) or PP&D242 (Regional Development Theory).

Economics: Economics Econ105A-B (Intermediate Economics I-II), Econ123A-B (Econometrics I-II), and Econ282A-B (Transportation Economics I-II).

Transportation Science: Econ285A-B-C (Colloquium for Transportation Science I-II-III).

It is expected that all students will have sufficient background in one of the core disciplines to be exempted from some of the courses. Substitutions may be approved by the program director.


In addition to the General Theory Core Courses, students must take at least six additional courses chosen from among the four specialization areas below.

Methods and Analysis Specialization: CEE220B (Travel Demand Analysis II), CEE223 (Artificial Intelligence Techniques in Transportation), CEE224A-B (Transportation Data Analysis I-II), CEE225A-B (Transportation Planning Models I-II), CEE227A (Transportation Logistics I: Introduction to Logistics and Supply Chain Management), CEE228A (Urban Transportation Networks I), CEE283 (Mathematical Methods in Engineering Analysis); Economics Econ220A-D (Statistics and Econometrics I-II-III-IV), Econ223A (Discrete Choice Econometrics), Econ224A (Time Series Econometrics); Planning, Policy, and Design PP&D206 (Microeconomic Analysis for Urban Planning), PP&D223 (Regional Analysis), PP&D237 (Introduction to Geographic Information Systems), PP&D238 (Advanced Geographic Information Systems), PP&D242 (Regional Development Theory); Social Science 201A-B (Descriptive Multivariate Statistics I-II), 201C (Sampling Techniques and Estimation Methods); Social Ecology SocEcol264A-B (Data Analysis I-II), SocEcol266A (Structural Equation Modeling), SocEcol266B (Applied Logistic Regression).

Transportation Systems Economics Specialization: Economics Econ210A-B (Microeconomic Theory I-II), Econ241A-B (Industrial Organization I-II), Econ281A-B (Urban Economics I-II).

Traffic Analysis Specialization: CEE221A-B (Transportation Systems Analysis I-II), CEE226A-B (Traffic Flow Theory I-II), CEE227A (Transportation Logistics I: Introduction to Logistics and Supply Chain Management), CEE228A-B (Urban Transportation Networks I-II), CEE229A-B (Traffic Systems Operations and Control I-II).

Transportation Planning and Policy Analysis Specialization: CEE222 (Transit Systems Planning), CEE225A-B (Transportation Planning Models I-II), Planning, Policy, and Design PP&D202 (History of Urban Planning), PP&D207 (Development Control Law and Policy), PP&D212 (Transportation Planning), PP&D235 (Geographic Information Systems Problem Solving in Planning), PP&D242 (Regional Development Theory), PP&D244 (Land-Use Policy), PP&D252 (Issues in Environmental Law and Policy), PP&D253 (Site Planning), PP&D275 (Special Topics in Urban Planning).

For details about these courses, please consult the UCI general catalog (

Other requirements include a replication project, in which students replicate the empirical work of a published paper from a major transportation journal; the qualifying examination, which consists of the oral defense of the student’s dissertation proposal; and completion of the dissertation.

The normative time for advancement to candidacy is three years. The normative time for completion of the Ph.D. is five years, and the maximum time permitted is seven years.


Prior to preparing a dissertation proposal, each student who has not completed a master's thesis (or otherwise independently published) must replicate the empirical work of a published paper from a major transportation journal, chosen by the student and approved by the advisor. This replication may involve the collection of new data, the use of better statistical techniques, additional simulations, or the identification and correction of theoretical errors. Through the replication project, students gain direct experience in reducing a general problem to a manageable research project, in using data, and in carrying out a research project.


Upon completion of the core theory courses, the specialized area courses, and the replication requirements, each student must develop a dissertation proposal defining the research problem, related literature, research methods, and data resources. The Ph.D. qualifying examination consists of an oral defense of that proposal before a candidacy committee chosen according to normal campus regulations ( Typically, this committee has five members, including at least three members of the Transportation Science faculty and at least one faculty member who is not associated with Transportation Science.


Following advancement to candidacy, the dissertation is supervised by a doctoral committee ordinarily consisting of three members of the candidacy committee. The dissertation must demonstrate the student's ability to originate interesting and significant research problems, to investigate such problems both broadly and deeply, and to write scholarly material of publishable quality. Certification of the dissertation will be by the student's doctoral committee. Dissertation research units should be in the department selected by the chair of the candidacy committee (e.g., CEE297, Econ290, or PP&D296).