University of California, Riverside

Department of Chemical Engineering

PH.D. Program

Ph.D. Program

The Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering offers the Ph.D. degree in Chemical and Environmental Engineering. Satisfying the requirements for the degree consists of four parts:

  1. Successful completion of an approved program of course work
  2. Passing a written preliminary examination
  3. Approval of a dissertation proposal
  4. Defense and approval of the dissertation

Course Work Upon choosing a faculty advisor, each Ph.D. student is appointed a Ph.D. advisory committee consisting of two CEE faculty members and the faculty advisor. This advisory committee is responsible for guiding the students in formulating their research activities and preparing for the preliminary and qualifying exams.

The program of course work is formulated by each student and a faculty advisor in the first or second quarter after admission to the program and must be approved by the student's advisor and advisory committee. Every student must complete a program of study that includes:

  1. A major area of study intended to increase the student's depth of knowledge in an engineering research specialty and
  2. A minor area of study intended to support and increase the student's breadth of knowledge in the major area
The CEE graduate program requires a coherent program of
  1. Sixteen (16) units of core courses and
  2. Eight (8) units of graduate and/or upper-division work approved by the advisory committee
None of these credits may be in courses numbered between CEE 250 and CEE 270, CEE 286, CEE 290, CEE 297, CEE 299, or CEE 302.

Preliminary Examination The preliminary examination tests students' understanding of the fundamental principles of chemical and environmental engineering at the undergraduate level. This comprehensive examination consists of three written tests in three different areas selected from the following five subjects:

1. Thermodynamics

2. Kinetics

3. Transport (heat and mass transfer, fluid dynamics)

4. Air pollution control and engineering

5. Water quality engineering

The three subjects selected should be closely connected to the student's undergraduate training and approved by the student’s advisory committee. Students who fail any portion of the exam are granted a final attempt to pass a makeup written examination that includes an oral defense of their answers in front of a faculty committee. Students who fail one or two subjects after the retest must enroll in remedial undergraduate courses and pass with a grade of “B+” or better. Credits from these remedial courses do not count toward the Ph.D. course work requirement. Students who fail all three subjects after the retest must leave the Ph.D. program.

Teaching Requirement All students must be employed as teaching assistants for at least one quarter. All TAs must take CEE 302 (Teaching Practicum) to help them learn effective teaching methods such as handling discussion sections; preparing and handling laboratory sections; preparing and grading homework, examinations, and lab reports; and student relations.

Oral Qualifying Examination The graduate committee nominates the qualifying committee with the consideration of suggestions made by the student and the thesis advisor. All members of the qualifying committee are expected to have the appropriate expertise to guide and evaluate a candidate's research. After review of the nominations, the dean of the Graduate Division appoints the committee on behalf of the Graduate Council. This committee becomes responsible for the student's academic guidance and evaluation until advancement to candidacy and administers the qualifying examination.

Dissertation Proposal After successful completion of the written preliminary examination, each student, with advisement from an advisor, prepares a dissertation proposal. Typically, students submit a dissertation proposal to their qualifying committee within one year after successfully completing the written preliminary examination. The proposal should clearly demonstrate the student's adequate preparation for the completion of the thesis research, which includes but is not limited to a thorough review of the pertinent literature, a presentation and discussion of the candidate's own research, and a detailed research plan with sufficient breadth and depth for the completion of the thesis. The qualifying committee chair schedules an oral defense normally within one month of the written proposal submission. The presentation is given only to the dissertation committee members.

The oral presentation/defense of the proposal focuses on the dissertation problem. Students should demonstrate considerable depth of knowledge in the student's area of specialization and a clear understanding of the research methods that are needed for successful completion of the dissertation research. The oral presentation/defense begins with a presentation by students on their dissertation topic and is followed by questions and suggestions from the qualifying committee.

On the basis of the written proposal and oral defense, the qualifying committee decides whether the student should be advanced to candidacy, asked to modify and enhance the proposal, or requested to withdraw from the program.

Dissertation and Final Oral Examination Following advancement to candidacy, students formally focus on their dissertation research. The progress of the dissertation is monitored by the student's dissertation committee. Candidates should interact frequently with members of their dissertation committee to insure that dissertation progress is acceptable.

The graduate committee nominates the dissertation committee after consideration of the suggestions made by the student and thesis advisor. The dissertation committee consists of a minimum of three UCR Academic Senate members. The chair and majority of members must be from Chemical and Environmental Engineering. All committee members should be in a position to offer guidance and be able to judge the scholarship of the dissertation work. Upon recommendation of the graduate advisor, doctoral dissertation committees are appointed by the dean of the Graduate Division.

After completing the dissertation research, students must submit a written copy of the dissertation for approval for defense by the student's dissertation committee. Once a draft has been approved, an oral defense of the dissertation is scheduled. This defense consists of a seminar open to the entire academic community, followed by a question-and-answer period conducted by the dissertation committee.

Students must complete at least six quarters in residence in the UC with a GPA of 3.00 or better in all 100- and 200-level course work related to the degree.

Normative Time to Degree Three years for students with a UCR M.S. degree in Chemical and Environmental Engineering (five years for those without an M.S. degree in Chemical and Environmental Engineering)

More Information 

General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

College Information

Bourns College of Engineering
446 Winston Chung Hall

Tel: (951) 827-5190
Fax: (951) 827-3188