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)

Four core, graduate-level chemical engineering courses.

CHEM ENG 421 Fluid Mechanics (typically Fall)
CHEM ENG 422 Heat and Mass Transfer (typically Winter)
CHEM ENG 408 Chemical Engineering Kinetics and Reactor Design (typically Fall)
CHEM ENG 404 Advanced Thermodynamics (typically Winter)

Two electives within the department, among those listed as a TGS course with the registrar.

Two out-of-department technical electives, among those listed as a TGS course with the registrar.

Two other technical electives, either within or outside the department, among those listed as a TGS course with the registrar.

out of department and 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

If students have not taken undergraduate courses in fluid mechanics, heat/mass transfer, and reactor engineering, they will be required to take the Northwestern courses before they take the graduate-level equivalent. Other courses may also be recommended. Alternately, students may take and pass (B or better) a comprehensive exam prior to the start of the relevant graduate course. Note that these additional courses will be graded, but they will not contribute toward other graduate degree course requirements, including the calculation of the 3.5 GPA required by the department. Note also that the formal continuation decision for these students may be delayed by one or more quarters, but it will not typically change other milestone dates for the student. Please see the PhD handbook for full details.