Doctorate in Chemical Engineering

Doctorate in Chemical Engineering

Chemical engineering lab

The chemical engineering PhD program from Drexel Engineering will engage you in learning and research at the forefront of chemical engineering, biochemical engineering, energy, environment, and sustainability, processing and polymer science. As a graduate you will be prepared for a career in academia, industry or at national or federal research labs.

What is a PhD in Chemical Engineering?

A chemical engineering PhD program will prepare you take on advanced topics that seek to find solutions to many of civilization’s biggest challenges. Chemical engineering science is combined with emerging fields in application and processes that puts an emphasis on engineering design and scientific analysis, enabling students to solve complex challenges in manufacturing, biotechnology, energy and the environment, polymer science and many other fields.

The PhD program in Chemical Engineering has the following major aims:

  • Deliver education covering the breadth and depth of the most current and advanced knowledge in the selected chemical engineering field through in-depth study of a chosen field of specialization.
  • Develop independent research capabilities through discovery, faculty guidance and research training.
  • Prepare leaders in the field for careers in academia, research, and industry.


  • On-campus
  • Full-time or part-time
  • This program will take four to five years to complete on a full-time basis

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Why choose Drexel for your PhD in Chemical Engineering?

As a Carnegie R1 research institution. Drexel is in the top tier of research output and one of only 34 US institutions with that designation. The Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering (CBE) received more than $1.3 million in awards in 2021 with over $3.1 million in annual research expenditures.

Student working in lab

The faculty directs thriving research programs supporting doctoral students and postdoctoral researchers at the frontiers of chemical and biological engineering. Drexel PhD students shape the field through pioneering research that often leads to commercialization and entrepreneurship. Just in 2021 alone, the College of Engineering has garnered 16 US patents, three license agreements and a new startup.  The CBE department fosters a culture of close collaboration between faculty and students, while maintaining a portfolio of topical areas large enough to offer students a selection of diverse electives and a study plan customized to individual interests.


Drexel places a high value on industry connections and experience at every level. Teaching faculty in your program are experts with industry experience or are at the forefront of research and teaching.

Faculty in CBE are experts with industry experience or are at the forefront of research and teaching. Our CBE faculty have garnered many awards and numerous notable achievements — a few of these include:

  • Continual recognition of leadership and accomplishments as scholars, researchers, and educators, as evidenced by PECASE and nine NSF CAREER award winners
  • Winners of ONR Young Investigator, Alexander von Humboldt, Whitaker and a Fulbright Fellow Appointment as Fellows in AAAS, AIChE, and two AIMBE.
  •  CBE research has appeared in journals including Science, Nature Materials, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Journal of the American Chemical Society, ACS Nano, and Nano Letters, and many others.


The city of Philadelphia and the surrounding metro area are home to multiple industrial research and production facilities that attract advanced chemical engineering talent. Learn more.

Curriculum and Requirements

Both in research and in curriculum, the chemical engineering PhD program emphasizes a combination of fundamentals with topical specialization and interdisciplinary training.

PhD students complete 90 quarter credits, or 45 credits if entering with an MS degree in chemical engineering. Four core 3-credit courses are taken in mathematical methods, thermodynamics, transport phenomena, and kinetics and catalysis. Students take an additional 12 credits of graduate courses in a selected area of research specialization. The remaining credits are dedicated to dissertation research and thesis writing and a required introductory course on research methods and practices.

The plan of study and a doctoral thesis topic will be formulated after consultation with your faculty advisor early in the program. An oral thesis presentation and defense are scheduled at the completion of the thesis work.

Visit the Drexel Catalog for more information and sample study plans for areas of specialization or learn more about our admissions requirements .


All PhD students in chemical engineering engage in research as part of their degree. Candidates are encouraged to base their thesis on some aspect of faculty research.

The CBE department research competencies are linked to solving present-day societal challenges. Current research in chemical engineering covers areas such as:

  • Biological engineering including biomaterials, hydrogels, complex fluids, biosensors and more.
  • Energy and the environment research ranges from solar cells to nanowires, biodegradable polymers, renewable fuels and fuel cells, next-generation batteries, electrocatalysts to supercapacitors, among others.
  • Multiscale modeling covers drug delivery, process control and modeling, transport phenomena and fluid mechanics of multi-phase systems and others.
  • Polymer science and engineering research is wide ranging on topics such as materials from renewable sources, nanomaterials, polymer composites, interfacial phenomena, polymer thermodynamics and many more.

Our research is sponsored by grants from many organizations ranging from the Army Research Laboratory (ARL), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institute of Health (NIH), American Chemical Society (ACS), Pfizer, Inc., to a host of other institutions.

Visit research areas for more about other research activity at the College of Engineering.

Funding Opportunities

In the CBE department, students are hired as a cohort. They are matched to individual faculty after they have been admitted and started their doctoral studies in Fall.

In addition, you may wish to investigate the following funding opportunities:

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