Carnegie Mellon University

PhD in Chemical Engineering

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree is the highest academic degree awarded by any university. Students pursuing the PhD 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.

What is a PhD Thesis?

The cornerstone of a PhD 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. The relationship between the Thesis Advisor and the PhD student is profound and unlike any other; it develops over years of close collaboration. 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.

Who should consider entering our PhD program?

The PhD program at any university is for students who want to direct their own comprehensive research project and to receive the ultimate license for a career in research in industrial, academic, or government laboratories.  The PhD 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 PhD 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 PhD 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.

How much does it 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 5 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.

How do I apply?

Applicants must follow the online application procedure. Admission is based on overall academic performance, recommendation letters, and standardized test scores (GRE and TOEFL 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 application will be December 15 (priority deadline) and January 15 (final deadline) for studies commencing in fall semesters, and September 15 for studies commencing in spring semesters.  The PhD program at Carnegie Mellon rarely admits students for any semester other than the fall semester.