Beyond the bachelor of science, PhD students typically complete the program in five years. Beyond the bachelor of science, PhD students typically complete the program in five years.

Graduate Study
  /  
Chemical & Biological Engineering (PhD)
Curriculum & Requirements

Graduate students holding BS or BE degrees in chemical engineering must complete 10 courses according to the distribution below. Students entering with a MS or graduate coursework in chemical engineering or a related field may have some course requirements waived or be allowed to substitute, on a case-by-case basis. If you entered with a BS or BE in another engineering or science discipline, then see “Non-chemical engineering BS students” below. For more information about the PhD in chemical and biological engineering, download the following PDF:

PhD in chemical and biological engineering handbook

Requirements

Our department’s course requirements for the PhD degree are:

Courses in the department (six total, no P/N allowances)

Two transport phenomena courses. Choose from:

  • CHEM ENG 421 Fluid Mechanics
  • CHEM ENG 422 Heat and Mass Transfer
  • CHEM ENG 437 Selected Topics in Fluid Mechanics
  • CHEM ENG 462 Viscoelasticity and Flow in Polymer Systems

One reaction engineering/kinetics course. Choose from:

  • CHEM ENG 408 Chemical Engineering Kinetics and Reactor Design
  • CHEM ENG 409 Advanced Reactor Design
  • CHEM ENG 410 Principles of Heterogeneous Catalysis
  • CHEM ENG 414 Modern Analytical Techniques for Chemical Engineering
  • CHEM ENG 463 Polymerization Reaction Engineering

One thermodynamics course. Choose from:

  • CHEM ENG 404 Advanced Thermodynamics
  • CHEM ENG 406 Selected Topics in Thermodynamics

Two electives

Electives must be taken in the department.

Other electives (four total, with three P/N allowances)

At least two must be non-departmental electives: Choose from 300- or 400-level courses in other science and engineering departments. Note that most 300-level courses required for the BS degree at Northwestern in other science and engineering departments cannot be taken for credit toward a graduate degree. CHEM ENG 341 Process Dynamics and Control is the only exception, if this course does not duplicate a course taken for a previous degree.

Non-chemical engineering BS students

You will have to take up to six additional undergraduate chemical engineering courses for credit: CHEM ENG 210 or 212; 211, 307, 321, 322, and 323; in order to prepare you for the required courses listed in (a). These graded classes will not contribute toward your other graduate degree course requirements.