How do I Earn a Chemical Engineering PhD?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 07 December 2018
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A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) is the highest degree you can pursue in the chemical engineering field. To earn this degree, you'll typically have to venture far beyond high school. Many PhD programs require applicants to finish high school and then go on to earn bachelor's and master's degrees. Many programs also require applicants to take pre-admissions standardized tests and secure recommendations from college professors or employers. Once you gain admission to a chemical engineering doctorate program, you may spend about five years working toward this degree, though some people may earn this degree in less time.

The requirements you'll face when you want to enter a chemical engineering PhD program may vary from school to school. Many chemical engineering PhD programs have similar requirements, however. For example, most chemical engineering PhD programs require candidates to hold bachelor's degrees before enrolling in the program. Many also require applicants to hold master's degrees in a related field. This is not always the case, however, and some schools accept students who only hold bachelor's degrees, especially if the students are very talented and have high grade point averages.


Besides meeting requirements for previous education, many chemical engineering programs require prospective students to submit official transcripts from every higher education institution they've ever attended. You may also have to get letters of recommendation and have them submitted to the program of your choice as part of the admissions process. You may be required to write a personal statement of goals, which is basically an essay that explains why you want to earn a chemical engineering PhD and what your goals are for the program and your career after your earn your credential. Additionally, you may have to submit scores from pre-admission testing.

Each school's chemical engineering PhD program is a little different, so the courses you'll have to take may vary, depending on where you choose to get your education. Generally speaking, however, you'll likely have to take a core of courses on chemical engineering topics, including subjects such as chemical kinetics and thermodynamics, as well as classes in advanced mathematics. Your PhD program may also include electives, independent study, and research. Many programs will require you to pass examinations, some of which may be given orally. Additionally, you may have to present a seminar or two and complete and defend a dissertation as part of the process of earning a chemical engineering PhD.



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