Graduate studies in architectural engineering are offered through the Department of Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering. The department offers a PhD degree with study emphases in several major areas:

  • Building Energy Engineering
  • Illumination Engineering
  • Materials and Carbon
  • Construction Engineering and Management

For more information, visit the department's Graduate Studies webpage.


Course Requirements

A total of 30 credit hours of graduate-level coursework plus 30 dissertation credit hours are required for the program.

Focus areas include:

  • Building Energy Engineering
  • Illumination Engineering
  • Materials & Carbon
  • Construction Engineering & Management

There is no requirement for picking a specific focus area and students can select from courses under any of the four focus areas. Students must complete a minimum of 9 credit hours from the list of courses.

Core Courses
Required for all students with no AREN undergraduate degrees
AREN 5001Building Science and Engineering I3
AREN 5002Building Science and Engineering II3
General Courses 9
Suitable for any focus area
Sustainable Building Design
Compu Fluid Dynamics (CFD) Analysis for Built/Natural Envmnts
Architectural Engineering Special Topic (Building Systems Modeling and Simulation)
Data Science for Energy and Buildings
Construction Engineering and Management Fundamentals
Focus Area: Building Energy Engineering
Energy System Modeling and Control
Building Energy Audits
AREN 5060
Computer Simulation of Building Energy Systems
Optimizing Grid Connected Systems
Building Energy Systems Engineering
Building Electrical Systems Design 1
Special Topics (Data Analytics and Decision-making for Power Systems)
Special Topics (Renewable Energy Future of Power Grid )
Special Topics (Power Systems Planning and Optimizations)
Focus Area: Illumination Engineering
Optical Design for Illumination and Solid State Lighting
Illumination 2
Architectural Exterior and Landscape Lighting Design
Luminous Radiative Transfer
Adaptive Lighting Systems
Advanced Lighting Design
Focus Area: Materials and Carbon
Forensic Engineering
Special Topics for Seniors/Grads (Design of Wood Structure)
Embodied Carbon in Buildings
Special Topics for Seniors/Grads (Design of Masonry Structures)
Special Topics (Construction Materials)
Focus Area: Construction Engineering & Management
Legal Aspects of Construction
Engineering Risk and Decision Analysis
Construction Safety
Managing Construction and Engineering Projects and Organizations
Infrastructure Asset Management

Residency Requirements

For an entrant from another university, up to 21 hours of acceptable graduate courses may be transferred, leaving at least 9 hours of coursework to be completed at the University of Colorado upon the approval of their advisors. The transfer credits are transferable at the discretion of the research advisor, and students may be asked to take additional courses toward the completion of their degree. Work already applied toward a graduate degree received from the University of Colorado or another institution cannot be accepted for transfer toward another graduate degree of the same level at the University of Colorado. All courses accepted for transfer must be graduate-level courses. A course in which a grade of B- or lower was received will not be accepted for transfer. 

For students already in the MS program in the CEAE department, 30 hours of graduate coursework performed at CU is applicable towards the PhD degree upon the approval of their advisors. The PhD also requires that 30 hours of dissertation credit be taken, with a minimum residency of two years. After passing the comprehensive exam, PhD candidates are required to maintain continuous registration. Candidates must register for at least 5 hours of dissertation credits each semester.

Preliminary Examination

Each doctoral student shall take a preliminary examination as determined by the faculty of the specialty area in which the student is enrolled, normally not later than 24 months from the time the student is first enrolled in the doctoral program. Each CEAE group has a designated time for PhD students to take the exam. Students should discuss the schedule, date and format of the exam with their academic adviser.

Comprehensive Examination

Before admission to candidacy for the doctoral degree, students must pass a comprehensive examination, which shall consist of an oral examination in the field of concentration and related fields.  At the comprehensive examination, the student shall present a plan for the dissertation research to the Advisory Committee for approval.

PhD Dissertation

Students must write a dissertation based on original research conducted under the supervision of a graduate faculty member. The dissertation must fulfill all Graduate School requirements. After the dissertation is completed, an oral final examination on the dissertation and related topics is conducted by the student’s doctoral committee.

Time Limit

All degree requirements must be completed within six years of the date of commencing coursework.

Graduate Certificate in Global Engineering

Students admitted to the Graduate Certificate in Global Engineering program must fulfill the coursework and practicum requirements of that program. For AREN students, up to 6 credits of the required certificate coursework can count as coursework needed for the PhD degree.