UMass Amherst Home
 [Home]  [Programs and Courses]  [Degree Requirements]  [Application Procedures]  [Financing Your Degree]  [Site Index]  [Apply Now]
Program Listings:  [Program Listing: A-D]  [Program Listings: E-L]  [Program Listings: M-Z]  [Program Listings: Show All]

Chemical Engineering Doctoral Degree Requirements

Program | Faculty | Master's | Doctoral | Courses


1. Within the three months following initial registration as a doctoral candidate, select a major professor as your adviser, based on the area of research contemplated for the dissertation.

2. Arrange for and take the oral part of the preliminary comprehensive examination.

3. Upon successful completion of the oral part of the comprehensive exam, select a doctoral dissertation committee (thesis committee) composed of at least three graduate faculty members. For details regarding the composition of the dissertation committee refer to Doctoral Degree Requirements, elsewhere in this Bulletin.

4. Within 18 months following the successful completion of the oral part of the comprehensive exam, prepare and defend a dissertation proposal describing the research to be done for the dissertation. The defense of this prospectus will constitute the written part of the comprehensive exam.

5. The approved and signed original copy of the dissertation proposal must be filed with the Graduate School. This must be done at least seven months prior to the defense of your thesis. A signed copy of the approved prospectus must also be filed with the departmental office. It is the student’s responsibility to provide the required copies.

6. At least one month before the date of your final oral examination (thesis defense), submit to your adviser and dissertation committee a final draft of your thesis and an abstract of 600 words or less, suitable for publication. Arrange for an announcement of the date of the final oral exam in the Weekly Bulletin section of In the Loop. Follow the Typing Guidelines for Doctoral Dissertations, available from the Graduate School.

7. Following satisfactory performance in your final oral examination, submit your dissertation electronically to the Graduate School. Present one bound copy to your adviser (and others as may be appropriate). Also, one unbound copy is required for the department office.

8. Submit to the department the “Certification of Eligibility for a Doctoral Degree.” To complete this form, the student checks his/her status at the Graduate Records Office.

9. Pay all fees and expenses.

10. All of the requirements described above must be completed in accordance with a schedule available from the Graduate School, in order to qualify for granting of the degree at the commencement each year. For example, the requirements must normally be completed by the April deadline to qualify for the May commencement.

Preliminary Comprehensive Examination
For the Ph.D. degree the Graduate School requires the successful completion of the preliminary comprehensive examination. This examination consists of two parts, one oral and one written. The qualification procedure for the Ph.D. in chemical engineering shall consist of the following:

a) Earn a grade of B or better in the five core 600-level CHEM-ENG courses:
621 Thermodynamics I
625 Chemical Reactor Design
631 Fluid Mechanics
633 Transport Processes
661 Advanced Analysis I

Equivalent course work from other institutions may be used to satisfy this requirement with the approval of the Graduate Program Director up to the maximum permitted by the Graduate School.

b) An oral examination on the student’s research topic will be given each year in the summer. Requirement a) must be completed before the oral exam is taken. The exam will last approximately one hour, including a 30-minute oral presentation focusing on the state of knowledge in the research area, the research objectives, and a summary of research progress to date. The presentation will be followed by discussion of core principles of chemical engineering related to the proposed research. At least fourteen days prior to the oral exam, each student must submit a brief written document (10-15 single-spaced pages excluding figures) on their research topic to the Graduate Program Committee. The examining committee will consist of graduate faculty members in Chemical Engineering appointed by the Graduate Program Director in consultation with the Graduate Program Committee.

The examining committee will decide a grade of pass with distinction, pass or fail for each candidate. Students who fail the exam may retake it only upon invitation of the faculty. Retake exams will be offered in January of the student’s second year of study. In the event that the student is not invited to retake the exam, he or she will not be allowed to continue in the Ph.D. program.

c) A written proposal, describing the thesis research to be defended before the dissertation committee. This proposal is to outline the proposed research topic, including a statement of the problem and its relevance, literature survey, plan of attack, description of experimental equipment and/or analytical/computation techniques, description of safety considerations, object or conclusions to be derived from the study, timetable, etc. The proposal should be typed, double-spaced, and of sufficient length to cover the subject matter adequately. This shall constitute the written portion of the preliminary comprehensive examination. Students are urged to complete the proposal within one year of completion of the oral exams. Students failing to complete the proposal within 18 months of completion of the orals shall be ineligible for financial support until the proposal is complete.

Students entering the graduate program in September will take the exams the following summer. Students entering at other times will take the exams at a time decided by the Graduate Program Director, but no later than the second summer following their admission to the Ph.D. program.