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

Ph.D. candidates

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.

Our Ph.D. graduates 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.

Ph.D. thesis

The cornerstone of a Ph.D. education is a research-based thesis. First, candidates select a research area and choose a faculty mentor called a thesis advisor. The advisor then guides the student as they develop a plan of investigation to advance the state-of-the-art in the selected 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 demonstrate the ability to conduct an independent investigation. At that point, the student summarizes the knowledge generated through their 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 by publishing articles in the scientific literature and through presentations at scientific and technological meetings and symposia.

During the program, candidates form a plan, execute the plan, and communicate the findings alongside peers at the highest academic level.

Program cost

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 being made toward degree completion. These awards are enough to cover all costs 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.

Admissions requirements

Admission decisions are 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.

Learn more about the Ph.D. program’s admissions process and apply!

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Pursue a Ph.D. degree in chemical engineering from Carnegie Mellon University