Doctor of Philosophy

The PhD requires ninety six hours beyond a baccalaureate degree or sixty four hours beyond a master’s degree. These totals include a significant amount of credit for research (CHEN 691). The specific course requirements imposed by the Department of Chemical Engineering are that a PhD student must complete a minimum of 29 hours of formal course work beyond the baccalaureate degree. These formal courses are
classified into two categories: required courses and electives.

The following are the required 17 hours of courses that all PhD students must complete:

  • CHEN 604: Chemical Engineering Process Analysis (3)
  • CHEN 623: Applications of Thermodynamics to Chemical Engineering (3)
  • CHEN 624: Chemical Engineering Kinetics and Reactor Design (3)
  • CHEN 629: Transport Phenomena (3)
  • CHEN 601: Chemical Engineering Laboratory Safety and Health (1)
  • CHEN 681: Seminar (2)
  • CHEN 695: Graduate Mentoring Seminar (2)

Total Credits: 17 "core" credits

The remaining 12 credit hours of formal course work (typically four, three-credit courses) are subject to the following restrictions:

  • The electives must be formal graduate-level courses and should be approved by the Graduate Advisor. Only technical (science or engineering) courses can satisfy these requirements. In special cases, up to three credit hours of advanced undergraduate level courses may be included.
  • At least three hours of credit must be for courses taken outside the Department of Chemical Engineering.
  • Graduate courses completed at other institutions and passed with a grade of B or better may be used towards satisfying the departmental electives. With approval of the Graduate Advisor, up to nine credit hours may be transferred from other institutions. These courses cannot have been used towards another degree.
  • Graduate courses cannot be retaken for credit.

The remainder of the credit hours (usually 67 hours) will be CHEN 691: Research. Students who enter the PhD program with a BS must spend a minimum of two academic years in resident study. Students who enter the PhD program with a master's degree must spend a minimum of one academic year (2 adjacent terms) in residen study. To satisfy the continuous residence requirement, the student must complete a minimum of 9 credit hours per semester or 6 credit hours for a 10-week summer semester.

Steps for Completing a PhD Degree in Chemical Engineering at Texas A&M University

  1. Select a research advisor by the end of the student’s first term at Texas A&M. A “term” is a semester or a full summer.
  2. File the degree plan by the end of the first calendar year (three terms) at Texas A&M. This step is necessary to continue receiving financial aid beyond three terms at Texas A&M.
  3. Complete the Proficiency exam satisfactorily.
  4. Complete the Research Proposal, pass the Preliminary Exam, and submit the Research Proposal to the Office of Graduate Studies, by the end of the sixth semester in residency. If the student fails to meet these time limits, he/she must request permission from the Head of the Department of Chemical Engineering to continue receiving financial aid.
  5. Students must satisfy the Department presentation criterion by participating in the Departmental Symposia; second year students present in the summer symposium (generally in May), and fourth year students present in the winter symposium (generally in January).
  6. Finish the dissertation, pass the final oral examination, and meet the Departmental Publication Criterion (details appear later in this Handbook). File the dissertation and follow the check-out procedure.

Departmental Doctoral Proficiency Examination

The purpose of the Chemical Engineering Doctoral Proficiency Examination is to determine the student's qualifications for a PhD degree, determined on the basis of the student to demonstrate competency in a common body of knowledge. Two criteria evaluate these skills:

  1. Course Criterion: This criterion assesses the student’s performance in the four “core” chemical engineering courses (CHEN 604, CHEN 623, CHEN 624, and CHEN 629). A minimum GPA of 3.0 in these core classes is necessary for continuation into the PhD program.
  2. Written Proficiency Exams. The Department Proficiency exams are used to assess a student’s competency in a common body of knowledge, and are outlined below.

Doctoral Proficiency Examination Timing

The written proficiency exams will be administered two times per year, in January and May. All PhD students are expected to take this at the end of their first semester in residency.

Doctoral Proficiency Examination Format

The proficiency will consist of three two-hour exams. One will cover thermodynamics/material balances, one will cover kinetics/reactor design, and one will cover fluid mechanics/transport. These exams are to focus on undergraduate level problems/concepts. More specifically, these problems should be of a level that a student earning a B in the corresponding undergraduate course at TAMU could reasonably be expected to solve. The exams are closed book.

Doctoral Proficiency Examination Evaluation

Within two weeks of taking the exams, the students will be notified of their performance. There are three outcomes for each of the three exams. The first is pass, the second is fail (retake), and the third is fail (terminal master's). The pass option means the students has fulfilled this criterion for the exam in question. The fail (retake) option would be invoked for a student who fails one or two of the three exams the first time they are taken. The student would not have to retake any of the individual exams where a pass grade was made. The fail (terminal master's) option means that the student’s final degree from Texas A&M will be an MS or a MEng degree. This option would be invoked for a student who has either (1) failed any one of the exams twice, or (2) failed all three exams the first time they were taken.

Process for Handling Students Who Do Not Satisfactorily Meet These Two Criteria:

In the event that a student does not satisfy the requirements, the following courses of action will be pursued:

  1. Students failing to meet the Course Criterion cannot proceed to the PhD. The student can pursue a Master of Science or Engineering as the terminal degree from the Chemical Engineering Department.
  2. Students who fail one or two of the three written proficiency exams must retake and pass them the following semester. Students who fail all three exams in the first sitting or fail any exam in two consecutive sittings can pursue a Master of Science or Engineering as the terminal degree from Chemical Engineering Department.

Departmental Publication Criterion

As a means to encourage and foster scholarship, the department has implemented the following minimum Publication Criterion for PhD students: At the time of the thesis defense two papers should be accepted/in press/in print.