College of EngineeringChemical EngineeringAcademicsGraduateRequirements - Ph.D.

Requirements - Ph.D.

Ph.D. candidates in chemical engineering are required to complete a research dissertation of significant depth and creativity. Students are also asked to complete a program of course work in order to both deepen their technical expertise in chemical engineering plus acquire the knowledge outside of chemical engineering necessary for successful completion of their dissertation research. Chemical engineering electives and core courses also broaden the student's technical expertise in chemical engineering. Each course taken is required to be part of the student's plan of study approved by the research advisor, department chair and dean of the Graduate School.

Course Requirements

Each doctoral student is required to complete 30 credit hours of 6000, 7000 or 8000 level letter graded (A, B, C) course work plus an additional thirty (30) credit hours of the sum of the following: 6000, 7000 or 8000 level courses, S-U graded courses (e.g. seminar, research orientation, directed reading, independent study), research and dissertation credit hours.

The coursework requirements include a 12 credit-hour core program in Chemical Engineering:

  • CHEN 7100-Transport
  • CHEN 7110-Chemical Engineering Analysis/Advanced Transport
  • CHEN 7200-ChE Graduate Thermodynamics
  • CHEN 7250-Graduate Chemical Reaction Engineering

Obtainng a B or better in these core courses serves as the PhD qualifying exam.

  • Students also must take an additional nine credit hours of graded chemical engineering electives.

Plan of Study

The faculty research advisor and student jointly prepare the graduate course plan, called the plan of study. The plan of study must receive the comprehensive approval of the faculty research advisor. In addition, the plan of study must have the approval of the department chair, and dean of the Graduate School. This plan of study (forms available on the Graduate School website) should be prepared during the student's second semester of graduate work with adjustments and amendments later to reflect approved changes during the student's course of study. For students receiving financial support, all courses taken must correspond to those on the approved plan of study. Students on financial assistance but who do not yet have a plan of study must have their course schedules approved by their faculty advisor and the department chair.

Transfer Credit

Up to 12 credit hours of graduate courses, taken while a student in graduate standing at highly recognized universities, completed with a grade of A (the highest grade offered by that institution) and approved by the faculty research advisor, department chair and dean of the graduate school, may be applied to the course requirement. Graduate students will not be given credit for course material that overlaps the great majority of a course the student takes at Auburn. No credit will be given for courses taken at other universities that are closely related to Ph.D. core courses, which are part of the Ph.D. qualifying examination. Contact Elaine Manning for Transfer Credit Approval forms (

Residency Requirement

A student must maintain residency until course requirements are completed and a satisfactory dissertation, containing the full details and the experimental and/or computational results has been submitted and approved by the research advisor and the doctoral examining committee. Completion of the dissertation research project requires the doctoral candidate to demonstrate a high level of creativity and mastery of the scientific and engineering concepts relevant to the topic. These matters are judged by the faculty research advisor and by the faculty members composing the dissertation committee.

The research advisor and the department chair issue a Certificate of Graduate Residency, which is required by the Graduate School.

Seminar Requirement

Each student is expected to attend CHEN 7950 - Graduate Seminar (one credit hour) during each fall and spring semester that each student is enrolled in chemical engineering . This seminar course also features invited speakers from industry, academia and government agencies. 

General Doctoral Examination

The general doctoral examination consists of two parts, the "Ph.D. Qualifying Examination" and the "Ph.D. Preliminary Oral Examination."

The Ph.D. Qualifying Examination will be successfully fulfilled by earning a B or higher in each of the four core graduate courses consisting of:

  • CHEN 7100 (Transport Phenomena)
  • CHEN 7110 (Chemical Engineering Analysis/Advanced Transport)
  • CHEN 7200 (Chemical Engineering Thermodynamics)
  • CHEN 7250 (Chemical Reaction Engineering)

Ph.D. students are required to take these courses as soon as possible after matriculation into the program. Students are allowed to repeat only one core course to improve a C grade, if needed. And the repeat option can only be exercised one time. Students who earn more than one may have the option of transferring to the MS thesis program.

The Ph.D preliminary oral examination is to be completed by the end of the sixth (6th) semester. At the Ph.D. preliminary oral examination the student will present to their faculty research advisory committee a thorough description and comprehensive discussion of his or her proposed thesis research plus appropriate and compelling preliminary supporting research, literature surveys, and other supporting documentation. The preliminary oral exam must be scheduled with the Graduate School. Successful completion of the preliminary oral exam requires unanimous approval of the student's faculty research advisory committee.

The student becomes a candidate for the degree (advancing to candidacy) upon successful completion of the Ph.D. qualifying and Ph.D. preliminary oral examinations. The Graduate School requires that the student complete the Ph.D. dissertation and all other requirements in no more than four calendar years after completing the preliminary oral examination.