Environmental Engineering

The Environmental Engineering program at Howard University is designed to provide a comprehensive knowledge of the fundamental science and engineering principles necessary to solve environmental problems.  Graduates of this program are well equipped to continue in a doctoral program or immediately work in the public or private sector.  The program of study involves a core group of courses in physical/chemical processes, microbiological processes, unit operations and water quality.  Students can then choose electives from a multidisciplinary group of courses from the departments of chemistry, biology, chemical engineering and civil engineering.

Graduate Program Admission

Students admitted to the program usually will have a bachelor's degree in engineering (civil, mechanical or chemical) from an accredited engineering program. Admission is based primarily on the achievement of a 2.75 or better grade point average (out of 4.0) in all undergraduate engineering courses, and a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or better. Applicants holding an undergraduate degree in arts and sciences from an accredited university and who have completed chemistry, physics and mathematics courses required for a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering at Howard may be admitted on a one-year special program of "course work only" in preparation for transfer to the master's degree program. A grade point average of 2.75 (out of 4.0) in all environmental engineering courses is required for students in this program. Students applying to the Environmental Engineering Program must obtain an application for admission from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Deadlines are March 1 for the fall semester. November 1 for the spring semester and March 15 for the summer sessions. A complete application consists of

  1. the application form; two copies of official undergraduate transcripts; a vitae; three letters of recommendation; the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores;
  2. scores of Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) for foreign students whose native language is not English.

To obtain information on applications, tuition, financial aid, or housing, visit the web site for Howard University's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

We encourage prospective students to visit our beautiful campus and meet with our distinguished faculty and students. Feel free to contact us with further questions or to schedule a visit.


Master’s Degree (Thesis Option)

A minimum of 24 semester hours (of which 18 must be in the student’s major area), exclusive of thesis and research, with an average of at least ‘B’ in courses approved for graduate credit, is required.  The student is also required to register for six (6) semester hours of research and thesis work.  Upon completing thesis work, each student must successfully pass a final oral examination on the thesis.  The minimum number of hours required for the degree is 30. 

Master’s Degree (Non-Thesis Option)

Students selecting this option are required to take a minimum of 30 semester hours of approved courses and maintain a ‘B’ average.  Upon successful completion of course work, each student is required to pass a comprehensive examination in his area of specialization.  The non-thesis option is generally not available to students who receive financial support from research grants or from the university. 

In addition to the above requirements each student is required to: 

  • Obtain approval from his/her advisor for the courses to be included in the program of study no later than the start of the second semester in residence.  Failure to obtain prior approval may result in a course not counting toward degree requirements.

  • Participate in the graduate seminar course for two semesters.

No foreign language is required, however students who are research oriented or intend to pursue further study are encouraged to take a foreign language pertinent to their field of study. 

Other Degree Options 

In addition to the traditional MS degree, students can obtain a MS degree through an Internet-based curriculum based on distance learning.  This option is ideal for students who work full time or are not in the immediate vicinity of Howard University.  This option will be especially suitable for employees of government agencies (EPA, DOE, etc) who may take web-based courses.   

Unique Attraction of the Program 

Howard’s faculty members include the largest gathering of African-American scholars anywhere in the  world.  Its more than 10,000 students come from all 50 states and from 108 foreign countries

A typical course of study in environmental engineering would be as follows:

Undergraduate Courses

Number   Course  
CIEG-207   Introduction to Environmental Engineering  
CIEG-328   Unit Operations in Environmental Engineering  
CIEG-439   Water and Wastewater Treatment Plant Design  

Graduate Core Courses

Number   Course  
CIEG 501   Biological Processes  
CIEG 502   Physical/Chemical Processes  
CIEG 505   Transport Phenomena  
CIEG 506/BIO 424   Environmental Microbiology  
CIEG 511/CHE 232   Environmental Chemistry  
CIEG 557   Advanced Hydrology  


Number   Course  
CIEG -566   Hazardous Wastes  
CIEG - 601   Special Topics in Environmental Engineering
CIEG – 560   Groundwater Hydrology  
CHE - 295   Atmospheric Chemistry  
CIEG – 531  Environmental Health Engineering  
CIEG 527   Hydromechanics  


Joseph N. Cannon
Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering
Ph.D. (Chemical Engineering),  1971, University of Colorado

Dr. Cannon’s research interests have  focused mainly on mathematical modeling and experimental studies of  processes involving momentum, heat and mass transfer, and on the  treatment of hazardous organics in soils. During the past five years,  he has been a co-investigator on projects funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Los Alamos National Laboratory, the  Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Department  of Energy. 

Ramesh C. Chawla
Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering
Ph.D. (Chemical Engineering) 1978 Wayne State University

Dr. Chawla has 30 years of experience in teaching, research and industrial consulting in the fields of chemical and environmental engineering. He has authored or co-authored over 100 technical papers and made numerous technical presentations of his work in these fields at national and international conferences. His publications have included research studies in the areas of air pollution, biological treatment of hazardous wastes, surfactant and co-solvent assisted bioavailability enhancement, combustion and incineration chemistry and kinetics, kinetic modeling, measurement and monitoring of low level organic pollutants in air and water, photochemical smog formation, disinfection of water and wastewater, and hazardous waste treatment in aqueous and soil systems. Dr. Chawla is Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Chemical Engineering.

Charles Glass
Assistant Professor, Department of Civil Engineering
Ph.D. (Civil Engineering), 1997, University of Colorado

Dr. Glass is currently building an externally funded research program focusing on the microbiological treatment of municipal, industrial, and hazardous waste. Past research has focused on the investigation of the effects of pH control, toxicity, and adaptation of activated sludge microorganisms for enhancement of denitrification of high nitrate wastes, in bench-scale Sequencing Batch Reactors. Dr. Glass has also studied the anaerobic digestion of municipal solid waste from a patented autoclave process.  His research interests are focused on the study of microbial growth and activity in engineered systems.   

S.K. Dutta
Professor, Department of Biology
Ph.D. (Biomedical Genetics), 1960, Kansas State University

Dr. Dutta and his group have been  working on identification of genes capable of on-site biodegradation  using DNA probes. Two current grants (Great Lakes Mid-Atlantic MSRC  and Martin Marietta), are currently funding work for PCR application of known DNA probes for genes to biodegrade halogenated organic and  aromatic compounds. One long-term objective of the group is the  insertion of genes into microbes for degradation of specific compounds. He has been the recipient of nearly $2 million as  principal investigator on various grants. Dutta has received the College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Research Award.  He is listed  in the Hall of Fame of Molecular Genetics and in Who’s Who of USA and the World.  He has published more than 100 peer-reviewed articles and  is author of six books.

Lorraine Fleming, P.E.
Professor and Chair, Department of Civil Engineering
Ph.D. (Geotechnical Engineering), 1985, University of California, Berkeley

In 1990, Dr. Fleming received the Distinguished Young Faculty Award from the Department of Energy. Her current research  includes the behavior of soils subjected to cyclic freezing and thawing, use of a finite element and heat, mass transfer code to  simulate the movement of contaminants in the vadose zone, and the use  of surfactant, and a surface load for soil washing.

James H. Johnson, Jr., P.E., DEE
Professor and Dean, College of Engineering, Architecture and Computer Sciences
Ph.D. (Applied Sciences), 1982, University of Delaware

Dr. Johnson’s current research  concentrates on using composting technology to remediate PAH, TNT and BTEX-contaminated soils and the use of biological granular activated carbon systems to treat a BTEX-contaminated ground water. Current and recent funding  sources include the Great Lakes and Mid-Atlantic HSRC, U.S. EPA, DOE  and the Mobil Oil Corporation. He is the author of over 30 scholarly  works including coeditor and contributing author of a textbook on  hazardous waste. 

Kimberly L. Jones
Associate Professor, Department of Civil Engineering
Ph.D. (Environmental Engineering), 1996, The Johns Hopkins University

Dr. Jones’ current research interests include investigating novel methods for optimizing membrane processes to be used in water and wastewater treatment. The focus of much of her work is on developing methods to reduce membrane fouling and increase rejection of target contaminants. Specific membrane processes that are being studied are microfiltration, ultrafiltration, nanofiltration and pervaporation. Other projects involve biomedical applications of membranes, physical-chemical processes for water and wastewater treatment, and fate and transport of contaminants in the environment. Dr. Jones is the Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Civil Engineering.

Vernon Morris
Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry
Ph.D. (Geophysical Sciences), 1990, Georgia Institute of Technology

Dr. Morris is a founding faculty member of the Howard University Graduate Program in Atmospheric Sciences. He has published over 30 papers, ranging from quantum chemistry to the impacts of lightning in tropical Africa, and has given over 40 invited talks and national conference presentations. Since coming to Howard University in 1994, Dr. Morris has raised over $6M in research funding.  Dr. Morris has served as Deputy Director of the Center for the Study of Terrestrial and Extraterrestrial Atmospheres (CSTEA) at Howard University since 1996.  This research center has an operating budget of approximately $2.5M year and fifteen co-principal investigators working on a variety of projects in earth and space sciences.  One of Dr. Morris’ principal interests is the in-situ measurement of species that play pivotal roles in tropospheric and stratospheric chemistry and the impacts of human activities on global atmospheric chemistry.  

John Tharakan
Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering
Ph.D. (Chemical Engineering), 1986, University of California, San Diego

Dr. Tharakan’s research interests and expertise span environmental biotechnology, biochemical engineering and environmental education and policy. Environmental biotechnology research focuses on the biodegradation of recalcitrant xenobiotics, the total analysis and design of synergistic biological remediation processes to enhance biotransformation efficiency, and research to ensure that the products of biotransformation do not result in increased environmental stresses. In biochemical engineering, his research has focused on the analysis, design and development of bioreactors for the production of mammalian cells and biological therapeutics, and on protein purification processes. In environmental education, he has developed and taught graduate and undergraduate courses on the fundamentals of environmental engineering, applications of novel treatment technologies and seminars on environmental justice


The  environmental engineering program within the College of Engineering, Architecture and Computer Sciences has several thousand square feet of laboratory space available for experimental and pilot scale research in seven (7) separate laboratories. All laboratory space is divided into work stations for students to conduct experiments and into dedicated microbiology, incineration, membrane, and instrumentation (2) laboratories. The incineration laboratory is vented and has sole use of the building stack and discharges to the atmosphere directly several stories high. The incineration laboratory is equipped with a Shirco Infrared Incinerator equipped with sampling trains for volatile and nonvolatile chemical emissions and a bench scale fluidized bed combustor. 

Two new laboratories have recently been constructed.  One is an analytical laboratory housing the 2 LC/MS instruments and providing a unique analytical capability in this area.  The second new lab is a pilot scale research laboratory being used for engineering analysis for treatment technologies.  The pilot lab has a separate water supply and waste disposal, is 2 stories high to accommodate columnar testing facilities, and wide access doors.  A special laboratory is an appropriately designed facility for hazardous and radioactive compound research.  The lab is separately air conditioned, has a separate air supply venting to the outdoors, may be entered without entering the building proper, and is provided with a locked separate storage area for research materials.  The microbiology laboratories contain the necessary equipment for isolating, testing and identifying microorganisms and determining microbiological behavior. The instrumentation laboratories major pieces of analytical equipment include Perkin Elmer 403 and 3030 atomic absorption spectrophotometers, a Milton Roy Spectronic 601, a Waters 840 High-Pressure Liquid Chromatograph (HPLC), a HP 1050A Series Liquid Chromatograph, a Dionex Quaternary Gradient Ion Chromatograph, Hewlett Packard 5971A Gas Chromatograph /Mass Spectrometer, and Liquid Chromatograph /Mass Spectrometer.  In addition, several gas chromatographs (some equipped with sample concentrators) are located in work station areas and are dedicated to specific projects. The membrane technology laboratory is equipped with a UV spectrophotometer and several bench-scale membrane systems, including cross-flow.

Additional resources are also available in the Departments of Chemistry, Biology and Botany, including full chemical, biological and air quality control research facilities.


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