PhD Program

The PhD degree in chemical engineering is a research-based doctoral degree program. The program requirements are designed to provide candidates with fundamental understanding of core chemical engineering principles and intensive original research experience. Research opportunities are available in advanced materials, catalysis and electrocatalysis, batteries, biological and medical systems, computational fluid dynamics, functional interfaces, optical materials and theory, simulations and artificial intelligence in well-funded, department-affiliated research groups.

While completing the program students are provided with an annual stipend of at least $32,000 starting September 1, 2023, free comprehensive health insurance, medical benefits, and full coverage of graduate tuition.

Students normally start in the fall and are encouraged to take graduate courses in other science and engineering fields to support the interdisciplinary nature of our program.

Graduates from the PhD program currently hold positions at corporations and institutions of higher education including: Global Foundries, Aerospace Corporation, Eastman Kodak, Intel, Imperial College London, NIST and Argonne National Laboratory.

Degree Requirements

As part of the PhD program students must:

  • Complete the core chemical engineering curriculum
  • Complete a total of 90 credit hours (30 must be formal coursework)
  • Serve as teaching assistant for two semesters
  • Pass their first-year qualifying exam
  • Pass their second-year proposal exam
  • Give a research presentation in their fourth year
  • Prepare a thesis on original research and its oral defense

The core curriculum in the PhD program consists of the following four courses (16 credits):

  • CHE 400: Applied Boundary Value Problems (fall)
  • CHE 441: Advanced Transport Phenomena (fall)
  • CHE 461: Advanced Kinetics and Reactor Design (spring)
  • CHE 485: Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics (spring)

For more information on the specific program requirements, see our graduate handbook. For an up-to-date list of currently offered courses and electives see our graduate courses page.


In the first semester on campus, the Graduate Student Committee will assign academic advisors to all PhD students. By the end of the first semester, students are expected to select a PhD thesis advisor, who will supervise and support their dissertation research. A series of presentations are scheduled during the first semester, during which, students learn about the available research opportunities.

Students should also individually contact faculty members to further learn about and express their interest in available research projects. By the end of the first semester, students will indicate their top three choices for an advisor. Faculty and students will be matched based on research interests and openings.

Students can be advised by any chemical engineering faculty or faculty from other departments having a secondary appointment in chemical engineering. It is also possible to be advised by faculty who do not hold an appointment in chemical engineering, but a chemical engineering-affiliated co-advisor is required.

How to Apply

Visit the applying page for information about applying for admission and for financial aid. Students should hold a BS in chemical engineering or a closely related discipline.