Graduate Admissions





Welcome to ChBE.

We are a vibrant, supportive community of chemical engineering scholars. Learn more from our current graduate students about what our department has to offer both in and out of the lab. 

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Innovation & Inclusion—that's the Power of I.

We invite you to become an integral part of our innovative, interdisciplinary community that is filled with leaders in catalysis and surface chemistry, biological and biochemical engineering, and soft materials and complex fluids. At Illinois, you'll discover engaged research advisors, supportive peers, full access to cutting-edge facilities and world-class research institutes, cultural resource centers, and much more. Join Illinois’ bright future and our legacy that includes legendary engineering scholars and leaders—such as Joan Brennecke (UT-Austin) and Fikile Brushett (MIT)—among many other alumni who still call our department home.

Our graduate program is consistently recognized among the top chemical and biomolecular programs in the country. The average annual salary for Illinois students with a Ph.D. in chemical and biomolecular engineering seeking jobs in industry and government is about $102,000. 

Questions about our PhD program or the admissions process can be directed to

Program Requirements

Our graduate students must complete the required coursework, write a Ph.D. thesis, and perform satisfactorily on their examinations to earn their doctorate in chemical engineering. We do not admit students into the program with the intention of earning a terminal master’s degree; however, students who have met the requirements may obtain a master’s degree as a milestone on the path to completing their Ph.D. degree. Students typically graduate within five years.

Download ChBE Graduate Student Handbook

Course Work

Course work for our Ph.D. students includes a minimum of four 500-level courses in chemical engineering and a minimum of four courses (including at least one 500-level course) in one or two other departments. For additional details on course requirements and selections, we refer interested students to the Graduate Student Handbook. Students who enter the graduate program with a B.S. in a subject other than chemical engineering typically take additional courses before the qualifying exam.

Qualifying Exam

The Ph.D. qualifying examination, taken at the beginning of the second year, comprises an oral presentation of the proposed research including a literature review and a 6- to 12-month research plan. Please note that our qualifying exam does not include a traditional written examination. 

Preliminary Exam

The preliminary examination, typically taken before the end of the third year, includes a written research proposal and oral presentation to the examination committee describing preliminary data, a detailed research plan, and a timeline for completion of the dissertation.

Final Exam

The final examination, or the dissertation defense, is a significant milestone in a graduate student’s career. This stage involves the student presenting their work to their doctoral committee and disseminating their work to the public. More information about the final exam/dissertation defense, including deadlines, thesis writing guidelines, and assembling a committee for the final defense is provided by the Graduate College Thesis Office.

Questions about the program and its requirements may be directed to our Graduate Program Coordinator

Research Opportunities

Discover the four research areas where you can concentrate your research efforts within our cutting-edge program.


Energy and Sustainability


Through catalysis and surface chemistry we are addressing societal challenges in the areas of energy conversion, production of commodity products and chemicals, and environmental protection. 

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Biomolecular Engineering


Our pioneering biomolecular research investigates biological processes to answer fundamental scientific questions and to engineer new energy, chemical, food, and pharmaceutical products.

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Soft Matter and Advanced Materials


We study of the process of how materials flow and deform to ensure chemical industry tasks can be completed quickly, efficiently, and with minimal material loss or process down-time.

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Computational Engineering


Our department leverages scientific computing and the modeling of complex chemical and biomolecular systems with the goal of elucidating the underlying design principles to improve efficiencies.

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Join our PhD program!

We've done our best to answer all your questions about the application process on our "Apply Now" page. We are looking forward to receiving your application and counting you among the change-makers in our graduate program.

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Ph.D. Program Brochure

Learn more about our Ph.D. program and the opportunities that await you at Illinois. 

Career Services

The School of Chemical Sciences Career Counseling & Placement Services Office helps our students find a job after graduation (whether in academia or industry). Our career counselors offer a number of services to assess your skills, interests, values, and experiences. They can help you prepare your CV and application materials, refine your interview skills, and negotiate offers.

Our program's dedicated Career Services support is unique to our program and helps ensure high placement (and salaries) among our graduates. 

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Student Life

A cornerstone of our program is our commitment to creating a welcoming and close-knit environment inside and outside the laboratory. Trust us—there's more to Champaign-Urbana than just our campus and cornfields, although Illinois is the pumpkin capital! You will soon discover that our unique, mico-urban community offers big-city living at an affordable price.

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Student Organizations

Our campus offers numerous student organizations to complement and enhance our chemical engineering curriculum. Get involved to expand your community on campus.

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We are committed to creating and maintaining a safe and welcoming environment for students, faculty, and staff to thrive. Learn more about our resources and diversity to support DEI.

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The department has a history of engaging in a variety of outreach programs for students of all ages and backgrounds, such as a summer camp for high school girls and an after-school program for underrepresented elementary students. We are also the departmental home for "Engineer Guy" Bill Hammack.

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Get to know us!

Our community is comprised of graduate students who are putting their unique passion and skills to work to create a better world. Discover the people who make our department impactful and the best place to call your academic home. 

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Visit Us

Meet Alma Mater, tour the historic Quad and other Illinois landmarks.

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Our Graduate Program Coordinator would be delighted to help you navigate the admissions process.