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University of Pittsburgh    
2023-2024 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog 
  Jun 12, 2024
2023-2024 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog

Chemical Engineering, PhD

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The following special regulations pertain to the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering. For additional requirements, review the school-wide information in the Doctor of Philosophy Programs section as well as the Regulations Pertaining to Doctoral Degrees.

Entry to the PhD Program

In order to enter the PhD program, a student must have completed an MS degree and passed the PhD oral qualifying preliminary examination. Especially well-prepared students, with consent of the department faculty, may be granted permission to obtain the PhD degree directly without obtaining an MS degree. This eliminates the required completion of the MS thesis. All MS-level course work is still required.

During the summer of the first year as a graduate student in the department, the student wishing to continue into the PhD program must take the oral preliminary examination. Failure to take this examination at this time will forfeit one of two  opportunities to pass this examination. The structure and content of the PhD oral qualifying examination is subject to change in order to meet the requirements of the faculty and PhD program.

PhD Course Requirements

A student’s course series will be designed by the student and his/her thesis advisor, approved by the PhD committee, and signed off by the graduate coordinator. This sequence should include courses in the student’s research area as well as courses not related to his/her research area. Forty-two credits beyond the MS degree are required and must include the following courses:

Additional course requirements may include the following, if the student has not previously completed courses in these areas at the master’s level:


Students must also register for one credit in PhD research methodology and one credit of CHE 3001 - GRADUATE SEMINAR  each term. A minimum of 72 graduate credit hours, including MS courses and thesis credits, are required. All full-time students must fulfill a two-term teaching requirement during their course of study; this requirement is three terms for students starting their PhD from a BS degree.

Dissertation Requirement

A dissertation topic should be selected after passing the PhD oral qualifying examination. This is done by submitting a formal request in writing to the departmental graduate faculty for appointment of a faculty advisor (or advisors). Preliminary work (at least 18 credits) can be done on the dissertation by registering for CHE 3990 . After being admitted to PhD candidacy, the student should concentrate on the dissertation, registering for CHE 3999  (minimum 12 credits).  Most students complete more than 30 credits of these courses.

PhD Comprehensive Examination and Proposal Conference

This is an oral examination covering chemical engineering at the PhD level and is based upon a written dissertation proposal. If this examination is passed, a doctoral committee will be officially appointed. This exam should be taken at least 18 months before completion of the dissertation and preferably within the first year beyond the MS.

PhD Final Oral Examination

A final review (defense) of the thesis must be conducted by the dissertation committee in order to determine the acceptability of the dissertation.

Off-Campus Research

Occasionally, a research program can be conducted at a government or industrial site. In those situations the student should submit a proposal for such research to the Vice Chair for Graduate Education for approval by the faculty. The faculty advisor must be actively involved in the research.

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