Rice University logoGeorge R. Brown School of Engineering
Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering


PhD Program

The PhD candidate in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering must:

  • satisfactorily complete 24 semester hours of advanced course work including both general and specialized topics (subject to departmental approval, the number of courses required can be reduced for students already having an MS degree in chemical engineering);
  • pass an oral examination demonstrating a general understanding of reaction engineering, thermodynamics, transport phenomena, and mathematics;
  • prepare and present a thesis proposal;
  • complete a publishable thesis presenting research that is an original and significant contribution to the field of chemical engineering;
  • pass a public oral examination in defense of the thesis;
  • fulfill a residency requirement;
  • complete a teaching assignment (discussed below).
There are no foreign language requirements for an advanced degree in chemical and biomolecular engineering. About 4-5 years of study are normally necessary to complete the PhD degree requirements.


MS Program

The MS degree is only offered on a limited basis. Prospective students for the MS Degree will need to contact the faculty advisor for the lab they are interested in joining. If the faculty advisor is interested in accepting the candidate the advisor will submit a special admission request and an online application will then be made available to the candidate.



Teaching is a graduate degree requirement at Rice University. All thesis graduate students spend the equivalent of about five hours per week on a teaching assignment during four semesters in residence. The teaching assignment usually involves supervising work in the undergraduate laboratory, tutoring, or grading papers. Teaching experience not only aids in fortifying previously learned material but plays a vital role in solidifying concepts and clarifying ideas in the graduate student's own mind. It aids in the ability to communicate ideas and philosophies so important in the career of a PhD chemical engineer. Students planning to pursue an academic career may request more involved teaching assignments.

Graduate Program Coursework

The first year of the thesis degree program is flexible and allows the entering student time to develop a sound basis in advanced areas of chemical engineering and to investigate fully the research interests of the faculty.

A large portion of the formal course work leading to the PhD degree is completed during the first year. The department requires PhD students to fulfill their course requirements by taking particular core graduate courses as listed:

These courses are excellent preparation for both research and the oral qualifying examinations. Course selections are based on the student's individual preferences and his or her previous educational background.


Selection of Thesis Advisors

Students are admitted to our graduate program and not to the research groups of individual faculty. During their first semester at Rice, entering graduate students attend a seminar series in which members of the faculty discuss their research programs. After attending these seminars, the students discuss possible research projects with individual faculty members and submit their top three choices to the graduate committee. The final decision on research topic assignments is made during a departmental faculty meeting. Entering students normally affiliate with a research group before the beginning of the second semester, at which time work on the research project begins.

About four to five years of study are normally necessary to complete the PhD degree requirements at Rice University. Graduate students are expected to assume maximum responsibility for their own progress and to develop habits of inquiry that will ensure continuing intellectual development throughout their careers.