Doctoral Admissions

Program Requirements

Our Ph.D. students must complete the required coursework, write a 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.

If you are interested in pursuing a terminal master’s degree, please see to learn about the Master of Engineering in Chemical Engineering Leadership program requirements. This master’s degree is not a prerequisite to earning a Ph.D. degree.

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. 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.

Course Reference Numbers (CRNs) for CHBE 598 (Research Seminar) and CHBE 599 (Thesis Research) are available here: CHBE 598/599 CRNs

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 Office

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

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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Research Information and Resources

Here's an overview of some of the research facilities and services at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign where our faculty and students have access to cutting-edge resources and multidisciplinary collaborators to realize their research goals. Our department is committed to ensuring that our students have access to the equipment and expertise that they need to be successful. 

Our department is nested within the School of Chemical Sciences (SCS), which provides unrivaled services and resources to support our students and faculty. This dedicated research infrastructure sets our program apart. SCS created a Center of Research and Educational Support (CORES) endowment to perpetually provide our researchers with the best equipment and support staff required to achieve the frontier research objectives of our faculty and students.

Download CORES Brochure

Characterization facilities

High-throughput Screening Facility
Microanalysis Laboratory
Mass Spectrometry Laboratory
NMR (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance) Laboratory
X-Ray Diffraction Laboratory


Cell Media Facility
Computer Applications and Network Services and Computer Electronics Electrical Services
Graphic Services
SCS Human Resources
SCS Business Office


Glass Shop
Machine Shop

The Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology is a community of scholars and a physical space to foster interdisciplinary collaboration, inspire bold scientific risk-taking, and nurture new ideas and discoveries. The Beckman Institute is home to two core research facilities: the Biomedical Imaging Center and the Imaging Technology Group

The Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology (IGB) is where science meets society—an interdisciplinary institute dedicated to transformative research and technology in life sciences using team-based strategies to tackle grand societal challenges. IGB's Core Facilities—conveniently located in the concourse level of the building—provide a variety of services to the campus community.  

Core Facilities at the IGB

Core Facilities is your resource for biological microscopy and image analysis. The facility is meant to encourage innovation—try new techniques and approaches to achieve your research goals without a significant investment in instrumentation or time. The Core Facilities offers high-end equipment, user training, ongoing support (including experimental design and data interpretation), and 24-hour access.  The Core is a ZEISS Labs@location partner, enabling us to provide both beta instrumentation and advanced training to the campus. The Core Facilities offers a computer lab with memory and processing power for high-throughput research. The computers are equipped with Amira and Imaris software. 


Biocluster is the HPC service for the IGB, a mix of compute nodes and the distributed filesystem mentioned above to help solve essentially every Bioinformatics need.  Compute fees are based on the type of node, resources, and amount of time utilized. Twice a semester the Computer and Network Resource Group (CNRG), along with HPCBio (see below), offers classes on how to use HPC services, with a focus on Biocluster.  If you are interested, please ask CNRG for the next date or watch the weekly announcements for the schedule.

The Holonyak Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory (HMNTL) is one of the country’s largest and most sophisticated university facilities for conducting photonics, microelectronics, biotechnology, and nanotechnology research. HMNTL’s 15 class 100 and 1000 cleanrooms, 46 general purpose labs, and 2,500 square foot biosafety level-2 bionanotechnology complex contain all the tools researchers need to conduct their work.


The Materials Research Lab (MRL) fosters interdisciplinary research at the forefront of materials science by bringing together world-class faculty, staff, postdocs, students, and industry in materials science, condensed matter physics, and materials chemistry in a highly-collaborative, progressive research environment. The MRL hosts over 140 instruments valued at over $40 million. 

The National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) is a hub of trans-disciplinary research and digital scholarship. NCSA was the home of Blue Waters—one of the fastest supercomputers in the world—that ended its role as the NFS track 1 supercomputer after 6.75 years of production. At its launch, Delta will be the most performant GPU computing resource in NSF’s portfolio, making it a prime destination for advanced scientific research. 


Discover More Resources

We have a multitude of facilities and services that will be at your disposal as a graduate student at Illinois.

Facilities and Services

Find Your Research Lab

Learn more about our faculty's research efforts to find a lab that aligns with your research interests and goals. 

Faculty Research Profiles

Institutes and Collaborations

Check out cutting-edge interdisciplinary research projects and collaborations that you could be a part of at Illinois. 

Institutes and Collaborations


Graduate Concentration in Computational Science and Engineering

The CSE Transcriptable Graduate Concentration is designed to provide graduate students at both the Masters and Ph.D. levels with a solid base in problem-solving using computation as a major tool for modeling complicated problems in science and engineering.  This concentration requires students to complete 16 graduate credit hours. Courses taken toward this concentration will count towards the student’s graduate degree if permitted by the curriculum of their major and the concentration will be listed on their transcript upon graduation. The graduate concentration is only available for students enrolled in participating graduate degree programs. 

CSE Transcriptable Graduate Concentration  Approved CSE Concentration Courses

We are a vibrant, supportive community of chemical engineering scholars.

Learn more from our current graduate students about what we offer both in and out of the lab. 

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