The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree is the highest academic degree awarded by any university. Students pursuing the Ph.D. in chemical engineering become independent researchers equipped to apply chemical engineering principles as well as advanced analytical and experimental techniques to the solution of open-ended research problems. The education and training prepare students for academic, industrial, and governmental research careers.

The Ph.D. thesis

Ph.D. handbook

Download and review the Ph.D. handbook (.pdf).

The cornerstone of a Ph.D. education is a research-based thesis. The thesis research begins with the selection of a research area and a faculty mentor called the thesis advisor. The advisor guides the student’s development of a plan of investigation to advance the state of the art in the research area.

By the end of the student’s thesis research, the student must have assembled an expert’s level of knowledge in the topic area and must have demonstrated the ability to conduct an independent investigation. At that point, the student summarizes the knowledge generated through his/her research program in a doctoral thesis and presents the results to the public in an oral thesis defense. The knowledge generated is disseminated to the scientific and technological community through the publication of articles in the scientific literature and through presentations at scientific and technological meetings and symposia.

During the four to five years required to acquire the knowledge, form a plan, execute the plan, and communicate the findings, the doctoral student works alongside peers at the highest academic level both within and outside of the student’s research group.


2015 graduating class

Source: Chemical Engineering

Chemical Engineering graduates at Commencement

Ph.D. candidates

Ph.D.s in the world

Check out our post-graduation statistics.

The Ph.D. program is for students who want to direct their own comprehensive research project and receive the ultimate license for a career in research in industrial, academic, or government laboratories. The Ph.D. requires four to five years of work to acquire knowledge, form a plan, do the work, persist through the ups and downs of confronting the unknown, and learn to communicate the results.

The Ph.D. program is for students who want to join an elite global scientific and technological club whose members have both the privilege and responsibility to peer into the future and help shape it. The Ph.D. program in chemical engineering at Carnegie Mellon also is a living space where students meet and form lifelong bonds with like-minded peers within their research group and across the program. Our program features a strong graduate student association that provides an instant welcoming community.


Program costs

All full-time Ph.D. students accepted through the normal application process receive fellowships that pay tuition, fees, and a stipend for living expenses for up to five years, as long as sufficient progress is made toward degree completion. These awards are sufficient to cover all expenses for the year (including summers). Students are required to pay for books and course supplies. Off-campus housing is available within walking distance of campus.


Application process

Graduate application procedures

Learn about the graduate application procedures and apply now.

Applicants must follow the online application procedure. Admission is based on overall academic performance, recommendation letters, and standardized test scores, if applicable. Prospective students must have completed a regular four-year, undergraduate course in chemical engineering or a related discipline at a recognized university with better than a “B” average in chemical engineering courses and overall. The deadline for Ph.D. application is December 15 for studies commencing in fall semesters, and September 15 for studies commencing in spring semesters. The Ph.D. program at Carnegie Mellon rarely admits students for any semester other than the fall semester.


Ph.D. application deadline

Fall admission: December 15, 2020

Spring admission: September 15, 2020

Apply now