Your application begins here.

The Graduate College oversees the application process for the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Applications will be reviewed on a continuous basis, and applicants are strongly encouraged to submit their complete applications by December 15. The final deadline is December 31. Applications that are incomplete after that date will not be considered.

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.

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Successful Applicants

Students applying to the Ph.D. program in chemical and biomolecular engineering should have a baccalaureate degree from an accredited university and an exceptional academic record with three references who can supply a letter of recommendation. We do not require GRE scores for admission. 

Outstanding students with degrees in areas other than chemical and biomolecular engineering (such as chemistry, materials science, bioengineering, and biomedical engineering) are welcome to apply but may be required to take additional courses as determined by the graduate program committee.

We seek to recruit a diverse group of highly motivated graduate students. Students with backgrounds and identities too little represented in academia are encouraged to apply. Our department offers a variety of programs and resources to help every student succeed. Learn more about our commitment to diversity. 

Admission Procedure

Complete the application for Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering (10KS0300PHD) through the University of Illinois Graduate College. On the Graduate Admissions page, you will be asked to create an application account and fill out an electronic application. Please review the application instructions before contacting the department with general application questions.

Provide the following supporting materials electronically via the Graduate College online application; we are not allowing anything to be mailed in at this time. Incomplete applications will not be fully evaluated until any missing items have been submitted.

  • Transcript: Unofficial transcripts are acceptable, but students must request their official transcripts be sent to the Graduate College before they begin the program.
  • Personal statement
  • Three letters of recommendation (to be submitted by your recommenders)—instructions provided by the Graduate College
  • Passport (for international applicants only)
Additional requirements:
  • For applicants whose native language is not English: we request that the Educational Testing Service (ETS) send your official TOEFL score to the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Our institution code is 1836; please leave the department code blank. Note: All students will be required to teach three to four semesters as teaching assistants. If the Spoken English section of your TOEFL score is 23 or below, you are urged to retake this test prior to joining our program to meet the teaching requirement.
  • For international students: after you are accepted into our program, you may need to provide a Declaration and Certification of Finances form for your visa application through the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).

Additional Information

Our admissions committee evaluates the overall application when considering an applicant for admission. The committee will carefully consider an applicant’s letters of recommendation, research experience, publications, research interests, and personal statement.

We provide some general guidelines that are not meant to dissuade potential applicants from applying. A successful applicant may be weak in one area, but strong in all other areas of their application. For example, a student who may not have good grades, but who has good research experience with strong letters of recommendation, could still be considered for admission.

The application fee is required and must be paid via credit card prior to the submission of the application.

  • Domestic applicants: $70
  • International applicants: $90

Domestic applicants may be eligible for an application fee waiver. International applicants are not eligible for waivers.

  • FreeApp Applicants: FreeApp (download flyer) is designed to increase access to graduate education for students who possess qualities and experiences that enhance the diversity of the intellectual, cultural, and social environments at universities that are part of the Big Ten Academic Alliance. Through this program, prospective students can request a graduate application fee waiver at participating universities if they meet the following requirements:
    • Awarded a bachelor's degree by the August preceding enrollment in the graduate program
    • Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
    • Have a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 (4.0 scale)
    • Have a serious intent to pursue an academic and/or research career 
  • United States Military Service: If you have previously or are currently serving in the United States Military, you are eligible for an application fee waiver. You will be prompted to upload documentation of your service on this page. 
  • Allied Agencies Applicants: You may be eligible for a fee waiver if you are affiliated with one of our allied agencies. You will be prompted to upload documentation of your affiliation with this allied agency on this page. 

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All applicants are required to upload a copy of their transcripts directly into the Graduate College online application program. If the transcripts are illegible, we will ask you to submit them again. Please include the grading legend if it appears on the reverse side of the transcript. Transcripts should include degree conferral, where appropriate.

For evaluation purposes, we will accept unofficial transcripts; however, if you are admitted, you will be asked to provide an official transcript showing degree conferral. ChBE will not accept copies of web-based listings of courses available to students as official transcripts.

*An official transcript is obtained directly from the institution in a sealed envelope with the stamp/signature of the registrar on the transcript and the envelope.  

Three letters of recommendation are required for each applicant.

Recommenders are strongly encouraged to send their letters electronically via the Graduate College online application system. If the recommender chooses not to send their letters electronically, the recommendation letter must be on the official stationery of the school or institution, bearing a masthead and watermark. Photocopies of letters or letters with mastheads printed out from a personal computer will not be accepted. The recommendation form accompanying the letter must also bear the original signature (not a rubber-stamped signature) of the person writing the recommendation letter as well as their name, title, address, phone number, and email address.

If applicants are unable to send the recommendation form to the person writing the letter, the recommender may submit an official letter of recommendation directly to the ChBE office, as long as it is on official letterhead, bears an original signature, and contains all the information on the recommendation form (name, title, phone number, email and mailing address). In rare circumstances, the ChBE office will accept an email from a recommender with the official letter sent as an attachment (preferably in PDF form).

All applicants are required to upload a statement of purpose with their application.

There are no formal format requirements or page limits, however, we suggest that the length is no more than three pages with double-spacing.

Successful applicants typically have an overall grade point average (GPA) above 3.0 on a 4.0 scale (equivalent to a ‘B’ average) from their undergraduate studies. Grades received in science and mathematics courses will also be closely evaluated.

When reporting GPAs, applicants should not convert their scores to the U.S. 4.0 system but should report the scores based on their home institution’s grading system (e.g., 80%, 7/10).

Students who remain in good standing, and continue to make satisfactory academic progress in the program based on their annual reviews are guaranteed full financial support for the duration of their studies in our graduate program. This support includes a stipend* that easily covers living expenses in the Champaign-Urbana area, paid tuition, and costs of research and supplies. Our graduate students are typically required to serve as a teaching assistant during three semesters of their time on campus.

*Our graduate student stipend is among the highest offered at the University of Illinois and extremely competitive compared to other chemical engineering programs with higher costs of living. 

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We no longer require the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) for admission to our graduate program. We are proud to join a myriad of higher learning institutions across the United States who, over the past several years, have deemed the examination unreliable in predicting the future success of students based on a number of scientific studies by experts.


International Students:

TOEFL iBT® is required for international applicants whose native language is not English, with two exceptions:

  1. Applicants who have received a master’s degree at a U.S. institution.
  2. Applicants who have spent 2 of the last 5 years at an English-speaking institution as a full-time student. The English-speaking institutions must reside in countries where English is the primary language – e.g., the United States, England, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and the English-speaking provinces of Canada.

Our admissions committee will consider applicants whose scores on the spoken section of the exam are at least 24 (the minimum speaking score required to teach at the university). Applicants whose speaking scores fall between 20-23 may be considered if the rest of the application is strong and English proficiency is demonstrated by other means. The total score must meet the university minimum of 79. Successful applicants with a total score of less than 103 will be admitted with limited status and must sit for an English Placement Test (EPT) upon arrival in the fall.

Students who matriculate with a score less than 24 (speaking) are required to sit for the English Proficiency Interview (EPI) upon arriving at Illinois. If you have EPI-related questions, please contact me at or 217-265-6136. 


In lieu of the iBT, the IELTS/TSE may be accepted.


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The Test of Spoken English (TSE) is not required for admission, but may be accepted in lieu of the TOEFL iBT®. International students who serve as teaching assistants are required to pass with a score of 50 or higher before being allowed to teach at the university. The fact that a student has taken the TSE and received a passing score will be taken into consideration when decisions on international applicants are made.

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) will also be accepted. Students who receive a score of 8 on the spoken section of the exam would be eligible to teach. The university minimum score in any section is 6.5.

We guarantee financial support for incoming students, therefore, the Declaration and Certification of Finance form is not required for international students applying to the ChBE program.

However, it is important to note on your application if you are going to receive financial support through a government or a private source (like Fulbright, etc). In those cases, we would supplement your stipend support to the level of other graduate students in our program.


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