Ph.D. Degree Requirements


Applicants to the Ph.D. program in Chemical Engineering need to meet the admission requirements of the Graduate Division. The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is NOT required.

Applicants not having adequate preparation may be admitted provisionally and may be required to undertake certain remedial coursework, which would not be applicable towards the degree. On arrival at UCLA, an adviser helps the student plan a program, which can remedy any deficiencies.

Applicants can apply for admission through the UCLA graduate division website.


Each department in the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science has a faculty graduate adviser. A current list of graduate advisers can be obtained from the Office of the Associate Dean for Academic and Student Affairs, 6426 Boelter Hall, Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science.

Students are assigned a faculty research adviser upon admission to the School. The department will consider changing an adviser upon written request from the student in consultation with the faculty graduate adviser.

Provisionally admitted students meet with the faculty graduate adviser upon matriculation to plan a course of study to remedy any deficiencies.

During the second quarter in residence, students should arrange an appointment as early as possible with their faculty research adviser to plan the proposed program of study toward the Ph.D. degree. Continuing students are required to confer with their research adviser during the time of enrollment each quarter so that progress can be assessed and the study list approved.

Based on the quarterly transcripts, student records are reviewed at the end of each quarter by the departmental faculty graduate adviser and Associate Dean for Student Affairs. Special attention is given if students were admitted provisionally, or are on probation. If their progress is unsatisfactory, students are informed of this in writing by the Associate Dean for Academic and Student Affairs.

Students who receive teaching or research assistantships must receive approval from their research adviser or the departmental faculty graduate adviser to add or drop courses.

Students are strongly urged to consult with the Student Affairs Officer and/or the Office of Academic and Student Affairs regarding procedures, requirements, and implementation of the policies. In particular, advice should be sought on advancement to candidacy, on the procedures for taking Ph.D. examinations, and on the use of the Filing Fee.

Major Fields or Subdisciplines

Consult the department.

Foreign Language Requirement


Course Requirements

All Ph.D students are required to take six courses (24 units). All of these units must be in letter-graded, 200-level courses.  The students can choose three out of the five core Chemical Engineering courses, which are 200, 210, 220, 245 and a graduate Engineering Mathematics course (course number to be announced). Two additional courses must be taken from those offered by the department. The final course can be selected from offerings in life sciences, physical sciences, mathematics, or engineering. Students are encouraged to take more courses in their field of specialization. These minor field courses should be selected in consultation with their research adviser. A minimum 3.33 grade-point average in graduate courses is required.

A program of study to fulfill the course requirements must be submitted for approval to the departmental Student Affairs Office no later than one quarter after successful completion of the preliminary oral examination.

All Ph.D. students are required to enroll in Chemical Engineering 299 during each quarter of residence.

For information on completing the Engineering degree, students should see Engineering Schoolwide Programs in Program Requirements for UCLA Graduate Degrees.

Teaching Experience

At least three quarters of teaching experience are highly recommended. During the quarters when they serve as teaching assistants, students are required to enroll in Chemical Engineering 375. Chemical Engineering 495A and 495B are highly recommended for all new teaching assistants.

Written and Oral Qualifying Examinations

Academic Senate regulations require all doctoral students to complete and pass University written and oral qualifying examinations prior to doctoral advancement to candidacy. Also, under Senate regulations the University oral qualifying examination is open only to the student and appointed members of the doctoral committee.

In addition to University requirements, some graduate programs have other pre-candidacy examination requirements. What follows in this section is how students are required to fulfill all of these requirements for this doctoral program.

Graduate students admitted to the CBE PhD program are required to pass the Preliminary Written Examination (PWE) to demonstrate their proficiency in at least Three (3) of the 5 Core Areas selected as the following:

            Transport Phenomena – Mandatory for all PhD students and

            Students must choose Thermodynamics or Reaction Engineering or both. If students choose only one, then:

            Students must choose Biomolecular Engineering or Engineering Mathematics.

The PWE will be offered at the End of the Winter Quarter of each academic year and graded by a faculty committee. Students must take the PWE in their first year. If students fail the PWE in the first attempt, they can retake it for the second time during the following Spring Quarter. Students that fail both PWE attempts will not be allowed to continue in the CBE Ph.D. program.  Specifically, if a student has failed two or three subjects after the second PWE attempt they may petition to transition to the MS Thesis program and may graduate with an MS degree.  If a student has failed only one subject after the second PWE attempt then the student my petition to transition to the MS Thesis Program.  The advisor of this student, however, may petition to allow this student to retake the failed subject in the first PWE of the next year’s class and if the student passes the failed subject then the student may petition to re-enter the PhD program.  If the student fails this subject for the third time, then the student may graduate with an MS degree.

After completion of the required courses for the degree and passing the PWE, each student must pass the written and oral qualifying examinations. These examinations focus on the student’s dissertation research and are conducted by a doctoral committee consisting of at least four faculty members nominated by the department in accordance with university regulations. Three members, including the chair, are inside members and must hold faculty appointments in the department. The outside member must be a UCLA faculty member in another department. Students are required to have a minimum 3.33 grade-point average in graduate coursework to be eligible to take these examinations.

The written qualifying examination consists of a dissertation research proposal that provides a clear description of the problem(s) considered, a literature review of the current state of the art, and a detailed explanation of the research plan that will be followed to solve the problem(s). The student normally submits the dissertation research proposal to the doctoral committee before the end of the winter quarter of the student’s second year of academic residence.

The University Oral Qualifying examination consists of an oral defense of the dissertation research proposal, and is also administered by the doctoral committee. The written research proposal must be submitted to the committee at least two weeks prior to the oral examination to allow the members sufficient time to evaluate the work.

Advancement to Candidacy

Students are advanced to candidacy upon successful completion of the written and oral qualifying examinations.

Doctoral Dissertation

Every doctoral degree program requires the completion of an approved dissertation that demonstrates the student’s ability to perform original, independent research and constitutes a distinct contribution to knowledge in the principal field of study.  

Final Oral Examination (Defense of Dissertation)

Required for all students in the program. All Ph.D. candidates are required to present a departmental oral seminar as part of the oral examination.


The department’s normative time to degree for the Ph.D. degree is 5 years, with the clock stopping if the student does a master’s degree first, attends part-time, or due to other considerations such as illness.

From admission to graduate status (including work for the master’s degree) to award of the Ph.D. degree: Doctoral students are expected to advance to candidacy by the Spring Quarter of their second year in residence. All Ph.D. candidates are strongly encouraged to present a departmental oral seminar to the department; this seminar is normally scheduled in their fourth year of academic residence. With input from their research adviser, students may petition to postpone this seminar. After the departmental seminar, students should complete their dissertation research within the next one to two years.


Termination of Graduate Study and Appeal of Termination

University Policy

A student who fails to meet the above requirements may be recommended for termination of graduate study. A graduate student may be disqualified from continuing in the graduate program for a variety of reasons. The most common is failure to maintain the minimum cumulative grade point average (3.00) required by the Academic Senate to remain in good standing (some programs require a higher grade point average). Other examples include failure of examinations, lack of timely progress toward the degree and poor performance in core courses. Probationary students (those with cumulative grade point averages below 3.00) are subject to immediate dismissal upon the recommendation of their department. University guidelines governing termination of graduate students, including the appeal procedure, are outlined in Standards and Procedures for Graduate Study at UCLA.

Special Departmental or Program Policy

A recommendation for termination is reviewed by the school’s Associate Dean for Academic and Student Affairs.


In addition to the standard reasons noted above, a student may be recommended for termination for

(1) Failure to maintain a grade point average of 3.0 in all courses and in those in the 200 series.

(2) Failure to maintain a grade point average of 3.0 in any two consecutive terms.

(3) Failure to complete the thesis to the satisfaction of the committee members.

(4) Failure to maintain satisfactory progress toward the degree within the three-year time limit for completing all degree requirements.


In addition to the standard reasons noted above, a student may be recommended for termination for

(1) Failure to maintain a grade point average of 3.3 in graduate courses and in any two consecutive quarters.

(2) Failure of the preliminary written examination.

(3) Failure of the written and oral qualifying examination.

(4) Failure of a required final oral examination (defense of the dissertation).

(5) Failure to obtain permission to repeat an examination from an examining committee.

(6) Failure to maintain satisfactory progress toward the degree within the specified time limits.


Chm Eng 200
Chm Eng 298
Chm Eng 299
Chm Eng 597B
Chm Eng 210
Chm Eng 220
Chm Eng 298
Chm Eng 299

Chm Eng 298
Chm Eng 299
Chm Eng 597B


Chm Eng 298
Chm Eng 299
Chm Eng 597B
TA Conference before School Year begins

Chm Eng 298
Chm Eng 299


Chm Eng 298
Chm Eng 299
Chm Eng 599
Chm Eng 298
Chm Eng 299
Chm Eng 599
Chm Eng 298
Chm Eng 299
Chm Eng 599
Chm Eng 298
Chm Eng 299
Chm Eng 298
Chm Eng 299
Chm Eng 599
Chm Eng 298
Chm Eng 299
Chm Eng 599
Chm Eng 298
Chm Eng 299
1Consult with the Graduate Adviser or research advisor.  All must be 200 level, letter-graded courses.  Three are required.  
Two of the three must be ChE; the remaining courses may be in any field of science, mathematics, or engineering    
Must be enrolled in 12 Units/Quarter.        
The PWE is take during Spring bread of the 1st Year.      
For Non-Chemical Engineering undergrads the undergrad courses for Transport Phenomena, Thermodynamics and Chemical Reaction,
Engineering are recommended.  Please consult your research advisor.      
101A-Transport Phenomena I/Fall Quarter        
106-Chemical Reaction Engineering/Fall Quarter      
101B-Transport Phenomena II: Heat Transfer/Winter Quarter      
102A-Thermodynamics I/Winter Quarter        
101C-Transport Phenomena III/Spring Quarter        
102B-Thermodynamics II/Spring Quarter        

All graduate students must be enrolled in at least 12 units per quarter to maintain full-time status.  This requirement may be satisfied by taking 590-series courses.  Enroll in 2-12 units to fulfull graduate requirements.  Courses are listed by academic adviser.  Permission to enroll: Obtain the PTE authorization number from the instructor in charge.

  • 597B – Preparation for the Ph.D. oral or written exam.
  • 597C – Preparation for the Ph.D. qualifying exam. (prospectus)
  • 599 – Preparation for the Ph.D dissertation
  • 299 – The departmental seminar is mandatory for all graduate students during each quarter of residence.
  • Teaching Assistants/Associates: enroll in 4 units of the Teaching Apprentice Practicim course 375.

Ph.D. Timeline:

Ph.D. Course Study Plan:

Department Graduate Handbook