PhD Program Curriculum

The PhD program requires completion of 45 credit hours beyond a M.S. degree. Required are 18 hours of course work beyond the M.S. requirements, including 3 doctoral level courses in our department, two graduate courses related to the doctoral research project which may be taken in other departments at KU and preparation for the comprehensive examination. All Doctoral students are required to pass a preliminary exam of research before they will be recognized as an official PhD aspirant. Once the majority of the coursework has been completed, PhD aspirants prepare for the comprehensive examination, the final major milestone before the defense of their Ph.D. dissertation. 

Admission to the Program

Admission to the Ph.D. program normally occurs after a student has completed an M.S. degree program. In rare cases, a student may be admitted to the Ph.D. program without having completed an M.S. degree. Such admission will normally be granted only if the applicant has clearly demonstrated exceptional performance in an undergraduate program and in any graduate work completed. Students who are admitted to the Ph.D. degree program and who do not complete an M.S. degree in chemical or petroleum engineering are required to take the M.S. degree core courses (15 credit hours) over and above the course work herein specified for the Ph.D. degree.

Qualification as a Ph.D. Aspirant

The performance of all persons admitted to the program shall be evaluated by the Graduate Standards Committee at the end of the student's first semester in the program. The measures of performance used in the evaluation are the student graduate grade-point average and performance in any assigned research or teaching assistance duties. At that time, the Committee shall make a recommendation about the student's status to the department faculty and prepare the student to take the preliminary exam of research. Successful completion of the 'prelim' will qualify a student as a Ph.D. Aspirant. Once the student has been designated as a Ph.D. aspirant, an advisory committee monitors his or her progress.

Ph.D. Advisory Committee

A five-member advisory committee is formed for each student once the student has been designated a PhD aspirant. The student's research advisor will normally serve as the committee chair. A faculty member outside the department will serve as the second member of the committee and is deemed the Graduate Studies Representative. The final three members of the committee can be from within the Chemical and Petroleum department. The committee works with the aspirant to develop an appropriate overall plan of study and monitors the student's progress for the rest of the PhD program.

Comprehensive Examination

The aspirant may undertake the comprehensive examination after completion of a majority of the course work for the Ph.D. and all of the Department, School, and Graduate School requirements prerequisite to this examination, including residency, responsible scholarship, and research skills requirements. The examination consists of two parts: a written proposal for research and an oral examination that is based on, but not limited to, the research proposal. For the research proposal, the student will be assigned a topic of current interest to the chemical and/or petroleum engineering profession. The oral examination will be based on the research proposal, but may also cover areas peripheral to the proposal. Upon receipt of a grade of "honors" or "satisfactory" on the comprehensive examination, the aspirant is admitted to candidacy for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.

Dissertation and Final Oral Examination

The doctoral dissertation, based on independent research conducted by the candidate, constitutes the final phase of the doctoral work and must be completed within the time constraints prescribed by the Graduate School. Upon acceptance of the dissertation by the advisory committee, the candidate defends the dissertation in a final oral examination. Typical completion time is four and one-half years beyond the B.S. degree.

For more information about the program, email us at or view the Graduate Program Manual (link below)

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