Earth and Environmental Engineering Doctorate Degree (DES)

Online Program Overview

Degree Level
Doctorate Degree
Total Credits
72 total. 30 credits earned from previously obtained MS, 30 credits of DES coursework, and a minimum 12 credits of research.
Partially Online
Contact Us
Minimum GPA
Qualifying Exam
GRE Required

The Doctor of Engineering Science is a variant of the doctorate that has identical academic requirements to the PhD program. The Doctor of Engineering degree is officially designated Eng.Sc.D., but in practice is typically referred to as DES.

The DES can be completed partially online. Students in the program can complete some of their courses online. Students also perform research on campus with a faculty advisor.

The most significant difference between PhD students and DES students is that DES students are permitted to be part-time and are expected to work for an employer who funds their tuition and other expenses related to their program; DES students receive no funding from Columbia.  Even though part-time, SEAS still imposes a maximum time to degree of seven years.  Applicants must already hold a masters degree in a related field to be admitted to the DES.  There are also some differences in registration for PhD vs. DES students. The DES does not require teaching/TAing or community service.

The Earth and Environmental Engineering (EEE) doctoral program encompasses projects that include Earth/environmental objectives and involve research in the following areas:

  • Developing a better understanding of the impacts of industrial and other human activities on the environment (e.g. sources and transport of contaminants in water bodies; application of geochemical or physical principles in environmental assessment)
  • Reconfiguring of industrial activities so as to reduce adverse impacts on the environment (e.g. alternative materials/processes; implementation of cogeneration and distributed power generation; advanced technologies for solar power generation; advanced landfill engineering)
  • Mitigation of past environmental damage (constructed wetlands; management of contaminated sediments; bioremediation of contaminated land)
  • Earth system and industrial ecology studies (analysis of materials flow; advanced methodologies for LCA; technology/policy interactions)

Core Scientific Directions of EEE Research

  • Material Flows through the Economy and the Environment: Environmentally sustainable extraction and processing of materials, recycling of used materials, management of residues
  • Management of Water Resources: a) Basic understanding and prediction of the processes that govern the availability and quality of water resources; b) vulnerability of water resources to unbridled use and to industrial activities, such as mining, and associated management and public health problems; and c) necessary actions for mitigation/remediation of environmental impacts of human activity (multidisciplinary projects in coordination with Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Civil Engineering, School of Public Health, School of Public Affairs, Economics)
  • Contaminants in the Environment: Soil-water decontamination, bioremediation (coordination with Environmental Molecular Science Institute)
  • Energy: Mitigation of environmental impacts of energy production; resource recovery from waste materials; energy efficient systems; new energy sources; carbon sequestration strategies (coordination with Mechanical Engineering, Lamont-Doherty)

More information about faculty at the department can be viewed here

"I have been pleasantly surprised by the quick response, attention, and patience the professor and TA have given me through personal and class emails."
Henry Lin, Lucent

Admissions Requirements

Degree required for admission: All DES applicants must possess a master's degree in engineering, science, mathematics, computer science or other stem-related field from an accredited academic institution. The MS grants incoming DES students advanced standing of 30 points of credit.  To earn the DES, each student must complete an additional 30 credits of coursework and a minimum of 12 credits of research. Applicants should have a strong academic record to be competitive for admission. 

Applicants to the doctoral program must find a research advisor who would be willing to direct them for the research component of the degree. A listing of current faculty members and their research interests is available in the department's Faculty Research Guide

Other application requirements: 3 recommendation letters, GRE, transcripts, resume, and a personal-professional statement are required.  If you have not earned a degree from an undergraduate or graduate institution in which the instructional language was English, you may be required to take the TOEFL/IELTS. All application requirements in the Graduate Application must be completed as specified in the application. 

The requirements for the Doctor of Engineering Science degree must be completed in no more than seven years. The seven-year time period begins at the time the student becomes a candidate for the doctoral degree and extends to the date on which the dissertation defense is held.


The EEE doctoral program is by its very nature interdisciplinary as it seeks to bridge the divide between natural systems and engineered systems. Thus, instead of a single advisor a doctoral student may have an advisory committee, chaired by his/her principal advisor and including up to three other faculty from other departments and schools. Also, student advisors ensure that students are linked to other disciplines by means of taking courses and including faculty of other departments in the advisory team.

The prospective doctoral candidate follows a program of study closely formulated in consultation with a advisors to meet the professional objectives of the candidate. The program requires coursework beyond the master's degree, research and a final dissertation as outlined below. After completing required coursework, the doctoral candidate pursues research and residency requirements as specified by the faculty advisor. EEE doctoral candidates can also work on cross-disciplinary Earth engineering projects such as: policy and economic effects on resource extraction, processing, transport, and disposal; and modeling of the environmental impacts from industrial activities at different scales.

Departmental requirements include comprehensive written and oral qualifying examinations. Thereafter, the student must write a dissertation embodying original research under the sponsorship of the principal advisor and submit it to the department. If the department recommends the dissertation for defense, the student applies for final examination, which is held before an examining committee appointed by the Dean. This application must be made at least three weeks before the date of the final examination. A student must have a satisfactory grade-point average to be admitted to the doctoral qualifying examination. Candidates should consult the department for additional details.

The candidate for the degree of Doctor of Engineering Science must submit evidence that his or her dissertation has been filed in compliance with requirements set by the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science.

The defense of the dissertation constitutes the final test of the candidate's qualifications. It must be demonstrated that the candidate has made a contribution to knowledge in a chosen area. In content the dissertation should, therefore, be a distinctly original contribution in the selected field of study.

Course List

Doctoral Research Instruction:

The following research requirements must be met by candidates for the Doctor of Engineering Science program:

  1. At the time the student begins doctoral research, the student is eligible to register for E9800 (3, 6, 9, or 12 points of credit). Twelve points must have been accumulated by the time the student is to receive the degree.
  2. Registration for E9800 must be according to the schedule prescribed above.
  3. Although 12 points of E9800 are required for the doctoral degree, no part of this credit may count toward the minimum requirement of 30 points (or 60 points beyond the bachelor's degree).
  4. If a student is required to take course work beyond the minimum requirements, the 12 points of doctoral research instruction must still be taken in addition to the required coursework.
  5. A student must register continuously through the autumn and spring terms. Registration is also available during the summer session.

Completion of Requirements:

The requirements for the Doctor of Engineering Science degree must be completed in no more than seven years. The seven-year time period begins at the time the student becomes a candidate for the doctoral degree and extends to the date on which the dissertation defense is held.

Tuition & Fees

2023–2024 Tuition & Fees

Please note that all tuition and fees are in U.S. dollars and are estimated. Tuition and most fees are prescribed by statute and are subject to change at the discretion of the Trustees.

CVN Credit Tuition: $2,462.00 per point (Credit Hour)
CVN Fee: $395 non-refundable fee per course
Transcript Fee: $105 non-refundable one-time fee
Tuition Deposit: $1,000 (More information on our Resources page)

Estimated cost of one nondegree course: $7,886.00
Estimated total cost of certification (four courses): $31,229.00

Estimated total cost of MS (ten courses): $77,915.00
*Estimated total cost of DES (ten courses plus a minimum of 12 research credits): $108,249.00

Graduate Admission Application Fee: $85 non-refundable one-time fee 
Certification Program Application Fee: $85 non-refundable one-time fee 

Late Registration Fee: $100 non-refundable fee

CVN Withdrawal Fee: $75, plus prorated tuition and all non-refundable fees
For example: A three-credit course would be $7,781 + transcript fee $105 (one-time) + CVN fee $395 = $7,886

*Assumes DES student enrolls in two six-credit research courses.

For Drop/Withdrawal fees and dates, refer to the Academic Calendar for the current term.

Please note: CVN no longer offers courses for audit.

Payment should be mailed to:

Attn: Shewanna House
Accounting & Business Management
Senior Student Services Rep
Payments & Deposits
210 Kent Hall, Mail Code 9205
1140 Amsterdam Avenue
New York, NY 10027

Before you mail your check or money order, please take careful note of the following requirements to ensure the timely processing of your payment:

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