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PhD in Chemical Engineering

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  • Course description

    At Berkeley, graduate work in chemical engineering emphasizes the excitement of original research in frontier areas of applied science. While formal courses are necessary to provide scientific fundamentals and intellectual breadth, the primary characteristic of Berkeley's graduate experience is to participate in the quest for new knowledge. Graduate students and faculty collaborate as partners in scholarship, in learning, and in intellectual discovery.

    Admission is granted by the University's Graduate Division on the recommendation of the department. Applicants generally are required to provide the following: evidence of superior performance in the last 2 years of undergraduate studies; test scores for the aptitude portion of the Graduate Record Examination (the advanced GRE or subject test is not required); and 3 letters of recommendation from professors or colleagues familiar with the applicant's academic and professional aptitudes. Foreign students whose native language is not English must take an English proficiency exam (TOEFL). The weight of evidence from all sources determines admission. Students do not need a master's degree to apply for a doctoral degree. Most applicants will have completed a typical undergraduate program in chemical engineering. However, admission may be granted to students with undergraduate degrees in a related discipline. In this case, necessary background courses in chemical engineering are taken as part of the program for the first year.
    Applications are only accepted for the fall semester.

    Doctor of Philosophy Degree

        * The Ph.D. program is designed to enlarge the body of knowledge of the student and, more importantly, to discover and develop talent for original, productive, and creative work in chemical engineering.
        * Breadth of knowledge and professional training are achieved through advanced course work. The course requirement is 30 letter-graded semester units. Twelve units derive from a required core of 4 chemical engineering courses in the areas of mathematics, thermodynamics, reaction engineering, and transport phenomena. An additional 9 unit sequence in an outside specialty is required, and 9 additional units must be taken from departmental graduate electives. In addition to these 30 units, the department recognizes that practicing chemical engineers draw increasingly on information from other disciplines. Students are strongly encouraged to pursue additional courses of specific relevance to their thesis research and to explore other areas of technical, professional, or personal interest.
        * To develop the creative talents of the student, a paramount emphasis in the Ph.D. program is placed on intensive research, a project on which students work closely with one or more members of the faculty. Students are expected to consult extensively with faculty members to choose the research project early in their first semester. Students begin their research at that time.
        * Two departmental examinations are required in the course of the degree. The first, an oral preliminary examination, is held at the beginning of the second semester to ensure adequate knowledge of fundamental graduate and undergraduate course material. The results of this examination, performance in course work, and a statement from the students' research director are used by a committee of the faculty to evaluate the students' progress toward the Ph.D.
        * The second examination, the oral qualifying examination taken at the beginning of the fifth semester in residence, consists of a written technical manuscript and a formal presentation of students' research, including review of the most relevant literature, research accomplishments to date, and a future plan. Students spend most of their time after passing the examinations on their dissertation research projects.
        * The department requires that each doctoral candidate assist in the instructional program of the department as a teaching assistant for two semesters. The faculty regard teaching experience as highly valuable for all graduate students, especially those who plan to teach as a career.
        * Completion of the Ph.D. occurs with the filing of the student's dissertation. Time for completion of the degree is on average slightly more than five years.

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