Doctor of Philosophy in Chemical Engineering

Major: CHE
Degree Awarded: Ph.D.
Unit: GS
Program Webpage:

Program Information

General Information

The Ph.D. degree program is intended for persons having an accredited masters and/or baccalaureate degree in chemical engineering, but is also available to those with other backgrounds. Applicants with other backgrounds should plan on taking some undergraduate background course work. Students interested in the Ph.D. degree program should consult the Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Chemical Engineering.  The University of Louisville is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award doctoral degrees

Admission Standards

The admission standards for the PhD program in Chemical Engineering are as follows:

  1. All admission applications for the program shall include:
    1. a completed application for the School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies,
    2. an application fee,
    3. results from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE),
    4. at least two letters of recommendation, and
    5. official transcript(s) for all previous post-secondary coursework.  All transcripts not in English must be certified as authentic and translated verbatim into English.
  2. The minimum requirement for admission is the baccalaureate degree or its equivalent from an accredited institution or current enrollment in an undergraduate Speed School program.
  3. The successful applicant will typically have an undergraduate grade point average of 3.00 or above (on a 4.00 scale).
  4. The successful applicant will typically have a GRE combined Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning score of 302 or above.
  5. Admission in good standing shall be made only if all admission credentials have been received, evaluated and approved and all academic requirements met including demonstration of adequate background in foundational subject material. A student may be admitted provisionally if academic requirements are met but application materials are incomplete (usually missing letters of recommendation or official transcripts and/or official score reports). Students have one semester to furnish any credentials missing at the time of admission and may not enroll for a second consecutive term in provisional status.
  6. Any conditional acceptance shall be made on an individual basis and shall require a statement of the rationale for the exception, plans for monitoring progress and performance and stated success criteria. Such justification must be provided in writing and must be accepted by the program chair and the Speed School Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.
  7. International students whose primary language is not English must show English language proficiency by either TOEFL/IELTS score or demonstration of a degree award from an acceptable English language institution.  The successful applicant will typically have a total TOEFL score of 80 or higher or overall IELTS score of 6.5 or higher.

Academic Performance

The J.B. Speed School of Engineering has established the following performance policies:

  1. The minimum grade point average requirement for good standing is 3.00 for all academic work completed while in graduate studies.
  2. Any student who does not satisfy the published performance criteria shall be placed in probationary status. Please review the “Academic Standing” section within this catalog in regard to “Academic Probation” (
  3. Students receiving graduate assistantships (teaching, research or service) shall be provided adequate training and shall be required to understand and adhere to University policies related to these areas. The performance of teaching, research and service duties by such students shall be periodically evaluated.  Students with teaching assistantships shall be evaluated annually.
  4. Students who fail to meet performance goals or who do not meet other requirements as outlined in the admission letter, program requirements or the university catalog may be subject to academic dismissal from their programs.

All graduate students are expected to make steady and satisfactory progress toward the completion of degrees. Students who are not enrolled for a period of more than 12 months will be considered to have withdrawn from the program. Students who seek to return after such a period of time must apply for readmission by completing a University of Louisville graduate application. If admitted, the student will be subject to catalog requirements in effect at the time of readmission.

Degree Requirements

The award of a Doctor of Philosophy degree indicates that a student has attained mastery of a field and has demonstrated the capacity to perform independent scholarly research. The following degree requirements are mandatory of all doctoral candidates:

  1. The Program of Study must be completed with a 3.00 GPA or better for all academic work attempted in Graduate Studies.
  2. At least two years of study must be spent at the University of Louisville.
  3. One year must be spent in full-time residency (a minimum of 18 credit hours within a 12-month period or four terms of continuous part-time enrollment).
  4. The applicant for a Doctor of Philosophy degree must pass an oral and/or written qualifying examination.
  5. Admission to candidacy must not be later than the end of the ninth month prior to the awarding of the degree. Students enter Doctoral Candidacy upon completion of all course work, qualifying exams, required research credit hours and other co-curricular requirements. Students who are enrolled in Doctoral Candidacy are considered full-time students. Enrollment in Doctoral Candidacy status must be continuously maintained year round (i.e. Fall, Spring, and Summer) until the degree is awarded.
  6. A dissertation is required of all candidates.
  7. All candidates must pass a final oral examination. This is to be a defense of the dissertation and a demonstration of the candidate's mastery of his/her field.
  8. Ordinarily the equivalent of three years of full-time graduate study is a minimum. However, the candidate must complete all requirements for the degree within four calendar years after passing the qualifying examination.

The requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy degree are outlined in more detail at:


Graduate Studies - Ph.D.

The Ph.D. program in Chemical Engineering is comprised of 54 credit hours beyond the baccalaureate degree in Chemical Engineering. A student entering the Ph.D. program who already has a master’s degree in Chemical Engineering may have some of the credit hours for that degree counted towards the 54 hours. Remedial work may be specified for applicants who, in the opinion of the faculty, do not have sufficient background.

The normal minimum curricular requirements for the doctoral program are listed below. However, some exceptions are possible at the discretion of the faculty and the Graduate Advisor in unusual situations.

Courses – Post-Baccalaureate
Credit Hours
CHE 610: Advanced Thermodynamics
CHE 620: Transport Phenomena
CHE 641: Advanced Reactor Design
CHE 686: CHE Analysis
CHE 695: CHE Seminar
Technical Electives1
CHE 693: Research in CHE
Total Credit Hours
1 At least three (3) credit hours of Technical Electives must be from non-CHE courses, and the student’s research advisor or academic advisor must approve non-CHE courses.


The Graduate Faculty of the J.B. Speed School of Engineering will be responsible for the training and mentoring of graduate students within the J.B. Speed School.  Membership in the Graduate Faculty is required to serve as a voting member on a graduate student’s thesis/dissertation committee. The thesis/dissertation advisor or one of the co-advisors must be a permanent member of the J.B. Speed School of Engineering Graduate Faculty in the department the graduate student is attempting to earn a degree.  Members of the J.B. Speed School of Engineering Graduate Faculty with an Ad hoc appointment can serve as a thesis/dissertation co-advisor and/or a voting member of the thesis/dissertation committee.  

The following faculty have permanent appointments as Graduate Faculty of the J.B. Speed School of Engineering.

Delaina A. Amos

Associate Professor

R. Eric Berson

Associate Professor

Joel Fried

Department Chair

Xiao-An Fu

Associate Professor

Gautam Gupta

Associate Professor

Noppadon Sathitsuksanoh

Assistant Professor

Thomas L. Starr


Mahendra K. Sunkara


James Charles Watters


Gerold A. Willing

Associate Professor