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Graduate Degree Programs

Doctor of Philosophy Degree

The Ph.D. degree requires a student to reach a critical understanding of the basic scientific and engineering principles underlying their field of interest. In addition, the student must demonstrate the ability to conduct independently an intensive research project and document their results in the form of refereed publications, presentations, and a final thesis dissertation. Specifically, candidates for the Ph.D. degree must:

  • Complete a minimum of 48 credit hours of approved course work;
  • Pass a qualifying examination;
  • Present an acceptable dissertation prospectus to a dissertation committee;
  • Make an original contribution to the field of chemical engineering in the form of a dissertation suitable for publication; and
  • Defend the dissertation during a public presentation.

The Ph.D. degree requires 48 hours of approved graduate course work plus a thesis. These courses must include three core graduate chemical engineering courses:

  1. Modern Thermodynamics (CENG 7110);
  2. Advanced Transport Phenomena (CENG 7320);
  3. Either Advanced Reactor Design (CENG 7150) or Biomolecular and Cellular Engineering (CENG 6870)

Ph.D. candidates are also allowed 25 independent study credits toward the 48 credit requirement. Ph.D. candidates who have completed an M.S. at another institution will be potentially allowed to transfer a small number of credit hours toward the Ph.D.

Frequently, students without an undergraduate chemical engineering degree will enroll in the graduate program. To ensure that all students are familiar with the fundamental principles required of chemical engineers, students entering the graduate program with a bachelor's degree in an area other than chemical engineering will be required to take four undergraduate courses—Unit Operations I, II and III, and one of either Reactor Design, Process Control or Process Design. On the recommendation of the Graduate Committee, these requirements can be modified based on each student's specific background. These undergraduate courses do not count toward the total graduate-level credit requirement for the advanced degree. Graduate students may take these courses out of sequence and/or concurrently in order to expedite completion of this requirement.

Completing the Ph.D. requirements normally requires four to five years of full-time study beyond the B.S. degree. Students already possessing an M.S. degree in chemical engineering typically require one year less time. Financial aid is given to all full time graduate students working towards the Doctoral degree.

Master of Science Degree

The Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department offers both a thesis and non-thesis option for obtaining a master’s degree. Graduate students receiving financial support as research or teaching assistants can earn a M.S. degree only with the approval of Department Chair and SSE Associate Dean for Graduate Studies, and in general, a written thesis is required. For the thesis option, the student must complete 24 hours of graduate course work plus conduct a research investigation under the guidance of a faculty member. Typically, two years are required to finish the course work and thesis. Upon completion, the student must defend a thesis before a faculty committee, which is chosen as described for Ph.D. students. For the non-thesis option, a total of 30 hours of course work is required. For both degree options, three core graduate chemical engineering courses are required, as outlined in the PhD course work, with up to six independent study credits toward the 24/30 credit requirement. The remainder of the credits must be made with course work.

Master’s Degrees
Tenure is five years, although completion of all requirements for the degree for full-time students in two years is strongly encouraged.

Combined Degree

The Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and the Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences offers a combined degree program in which graduate students earn a M.S. degree in Biomedical Sciences and a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering. This interdisciplinary program was established in 1993 and provides graduate students with a strong theoretical and research background in both engineering and the sciences. It is at the interface between these two fields where many of the breakthroughs in bioengineering and biotechnology occur.
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4+1 Combined BSE/MS

The Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department offers the option for a combined 4+1 BSE/MS option wherein students earn their BSE and MS simultaneously in a five-year program. Students must complete 30 hours of graduate course work in their last two years of residency, i.e. year four of the BSE and year five. This program allows students enrolled in the undergraduate program to count six hours from any combination of the Advanced Elective, Advanced Engineering Elective, or Advanced Chemistry Elective slot of the BSE program, taken at the 6000 level, to count for both the BSE and MS degrees. The remaining twenty-four hours, to be completed in the last year of residency, are outlined below.

4+1 BSE/MS Option

Tenure is six years for both degrees, although completion of all requirements for the degrees for full-time students in five years is strongly encouraged.

Course Requirements

Six hours to be counted for both the BSE and MS degrees can be taken as 6000 level sections from any of the following slots in the BSE degree program

  • Advanced technical elective
  • Advanced engineering elective
  • Advanced chemistry elective

Students must also take

  • CENG 7320 (Transport Phenomena)
  • CENG 7110 (Thermodynamics)

Plus one of either

  • CENG 7150 (kinetics)
  • CENG 6870 (biomolecular and cellular engineering)

Beyond the above, students must take an additional 15 hours of coursework. This can be either 15 hours of formal coursework or 12 hours of formal coursework and 3 hours of directed studies.

Application window

Students must apply by April 15th of the academic year prior to when they plan to take their 6000 level electives to double count.