Requirements & Courses


The PhD candidate in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Rice University 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 (see below)

For complete information about PhD Program outcomes, requirements and policies, visit General Announcements.

Language Requirement

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.


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 Ph.D. chemical engineer. Students planning to pursue an academic career may request more involved teaching assignments.


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.

Much 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:

  • Thermodynamics (CHBE 611)
  • Mathematics (CHBE 692 or CHBE 505)
  • Transport (CHBE 501, 602)
  • Kinetics (CHBE 590)

These courses help prepare students 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.

Selecting Your Advisor

Students are admitted to the PhD program in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering — not to the research groups of individual faculty. Learn more about selecting your PhD advisor.

MS Program

The Master of Science degree is only offered on a limited basis. There is no financial assistance available for this program.

Candidates interested in pursuing a MS degree must contact Dilip Asthagiri prior to completing the application process.