Notre Dame Signs Historic Agreement For Graduate Studies in Civil Engineering and Geological Sciences

Author: Mary Hendriksen

The University of Notre Dame has signed an agreement with the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile for a dual graduate degree in civil engineering and the geological sciences. It is the University’s first graduate dual degree. Gregory E. Sterling, Dean of the Graduate School at the University of Notre Dame, and Joannes Westerink, Chair of the Department of Civil Engineering and Geological Sciences at Notre Dame (CEGEOS), traveled to Chile for the signing ceremony. Two other professors in the CEGEOS program, Patricia Maurice and Rob Nerenberg, were also present for the historic occasion.

Greg Sterling, Dean of the Graduate School, and Pedro Pablo Rosso, Rector, Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile sign the historic dual degree.

“We are pleased to enter into this relationship with one of the leading universities in Latin America,” said Dean Sterling. “In addition to top-ranked faculty and graduate students at both institutions, the PUC provides access to the natural laboratory we know as Chile; we, in turn, provide access to Notre Dame’s state-of-the-art equipment and facilities.”

PUC faculty have extensive experience in the problems that face Chile—including seismic events, coastal ocean circulation, wind wave environments in the vicinity of narrow continental shelves, mountain meteorology, tsunamis, groundwater flow, and mine leaching,” added Prof. Westerink. “Many of these problems are precisely what we focus on in CEGEOS, with our four priorities of environment, infrastructure, energy, and water. We all look forward to many promising synergies to be developed by the diverse faculty between our two institutions.”


The agreement between Notre Dame and the PUC provides that students are to be accepted first by one institution and then nominated to attend the other. They must complete the standard admission process for both universities and, once accepted at both, will be considered enrolled at both universities. Students will be in residence at the partner institution from 12 to 24 months and, typically, take two or more classes in addition to engaging in research. They will be required to fulfill all the requirements of doctoral students at the partner institution—for example, holding a teaching assistantship and completing written comprehensives, oral examinations, and a dissertation defense. Once all requirements are fulfilled, they will receive a degree from both institutions.

Peter Kilpatrick, Dean of the College of Engineering issued the following statement on the occasion of the signing: “The PUC is a wonderful match with Notre Dame, as the engineering colleges of both institutions have strengths in structural engineering, hydraulics, geological sciences, and environmental engineering. In addition, we have a common mandate from our Catholic heritage to be a force for good in the world through our mutual commitment to social justice. I look forward to the research collaborations the agreement will foster between faculty at both institutions.”