Overall program requirements

  1. Safety Training 06-608 Safety Issues in Science and Engineering Practice (3 units)
  2. Graduate Seminar 06-800 Seminar (1 unit) each semester of residence (does not count toward numerical unit requirements)
  3. Sufficient units of required and elective courses.
  4. Thesis Work 06-900 Doctoral Research (units variable)
  5. TA Courses: We ask our Ph.D. students to act as TA's for three courses during their residence at CMU. We try to limit the responsibility to 5 hours per week to afford maximum time for research related activity.
  6. The Qualifying Exam: An oral exam administered after one year of residency and based on research accomplishments and potential to that point. Students work hard on their thesis topic during the first spring and summer, and then present and defend their knowledge and accomplishments in a one hour interview consisting of a presentation (30%) and questions (70%).
  7. A Research Proposal: A two-hour oral exam/presentation of the proposed thesis topic with an update of accomplishments and a statement of the scope of the work. This exam is conducted by the Ph.D. students thesis committee consisting of four faculty including the Advisor(s)
  8. A Ph.D. Thesis: This extensive document describes the context, methods, and findings of the doctoral work. 
  9. A Public Defense of the Ph.D. Thesis:  This is typically a two-hour presentation of the findings and meaning of the work before the thesis committee and any members of the public who wish to attend.


Ph.D. required coursework

Courses in the Department of Chemical Engineering provide a sturdy and vital foundation for research. Courses are offered at various levels in the field of fluid mechanics; heat and mass transfer; reactions kinetics; surface chemistry and catalysis; thermodynamics; kinetic theory; process dynamics; control and synthesis; optimization; applied mathematics; engineering design; computational chemistry and molecular simulation; electrochemical engineering, semiconductor processing, polymeric materials; fermentation technology and biological process design; biomedical engineering; colloids and dispersions; and atmospheric chemistry.

First-year core graduate courses are designed to provide the student with a thorough knowledge of basic engineering science, advanced process analysis methods, and their applications. The courses beyond the first year expose students to advanced topics in specialized areas. The program gives latitude for emphasis of individual interests appropriate to the research area. Doctoral students entering the program with a bachelor's degree, known as “Direct Entry” students, usually fulfill all requirements in four years plus two semesters“Advanced Entry” students, those students entering the Ph.D. program with an M.S. degree in chemical engineering, should complete the Ph.D. program in four years or fewer.


Course requirements

Direct entry

Direct entry students are those who enter the Ph.D. program with a bachelor’s degree. Direct entry students in the Ph.D. degree program must complete a minimum of 96 units of course work as part of the 144 total units required for the Ph.D.

  • 4 Core Graduate
  • 2 Graduate (at least 9 units each)
  • 1 Outside Technical (at least 9 units)
  • 1 Graduate or Outside Technical (at least 9 units)
  • 1 Safety (06-608)

Advanced entry

Advanced Entry students are those who enter the PhD program with a master’s degree. Advanced entry students must complete a minimum of 48 units of coursework and a minimum of 48 units of thesis research.

  • 1 Core Graduate                        
  • 1 Graduate (at least 9 units)                              
  • 2 Graduate or Outside Technical (at least 9 units each)
  • 1 Safety (06-608)
  • Graduate: Any graduate level chemical engineering course, except the TA course 06-799A and graduate seminar 06-800.
  • PhD Core: The department has designated six of our Graduate courses as "PhD Core graduate courses;" these are Thermodynamics (06-705), Kinetics (06-702), Fluid Mechanics (06-703), Heat and Mass Transfer (06-704), Mathematical Techniques in Chemical Engineering (06-713), and Advanced Process Systems Engineering (06-720).
  • Outside Technical: A technical course having substantial engineering or scientific content offered by a different department and having a course number of the form xx-Mxx, where M ≥ 3.
  • Safety: We require that all graduate students take the Chemical Engineering safety course, 06-608.