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Underground Construction and Tunnel Engineering

Underground Construction and Tunnel Engineering

 Program Description

Underground Construction and Tunnel Engineering (UCTE) is an interdisciplinary field primarily involving civil engineering, geological engineering and mining engineering, and secondarily involving mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, geophysics, geology and others. UCTE deals with the design, construction, rehabilitation and management of underground space including caverns, shafts and tunnels for commercial, transportation, water and wastewater use. UCTE is a challenging field involving complex soil and rock behavior, groundwater conditions, excavation methods, construction materials, structural design flow, heterogeneity, and very low tolerance for deformation due to existing infrastructure in urban environments. Students pursuing a graduate degree in UCTE will gain a strong and interdisciplinary foundation in these topics.

The graduate degree program in UCTE is offered jointly by the Departments of Civil & Environmental Engineering (CEE), Geology & Geological Engineering (GEGN), and Mining Engineering (MN). UCTE faculty from each department are collectively responsible for the operations of the program. Participating students reside in one of these departments, typically the home department of their advisor.

Program coursework is selected from multiple departments at Mines (primarily CEE, GEGN, MN) and is approved for each student by the student’s advisor and graduate committee. To achieve the MS degree, students may elect the non-thesis option based upon coursework and an independent study report tied to a required internship. Students may alternatively select the thesis option comprised of coursework and a research project performed under the guidance of a UCTE faculty advisor and presented in a written thesis approved by the student’s thesis committee. 

PhD students are expected to complete a combination of coursework and novel, original research under the guidance of a UCTE faculty advisor and doctoral committee, which culminates in a significant scholarly contribution to a specialized field in UCTE. Full-time enrollment is encouraged and leads to the greatest success, although part-time enrollment is permissible for working professionals. All graduate students must complete the full-time, on-campus residency requirements described in the general section of the graduate catalog.

Additional program information is available at the Underground Construction and Tunnel Engineering website.

Doctor of Philosophy

  • Underground Construction and Tunnel Engineering

Master of Science

  • Underground Construction and Tunnel Engineering (Thesis and Non-Thesis options)


  • A bachelor’s degree in a science or engineering discipline and prerequisite coursework related to strength of materials (or mechanics of materials) and fluid mechanics.
  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE) with quantitative section score of 151 or higher (or 650 on the old scale). Applicants who have graduated from Mines within the past five years are not required to submit GRE scores.
  • For international applicants or applicants whose native language is not English, a TOEFL score of 79 or higher (or 550 for the paper-based test, 213 for the computer-based test) is required. In lieu of a TOEFL score, an IELTS score of 6.5 will be accepted.


Priority: December 15, 2018

International: March 1, 2019

Domestic: July 1, 2019

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