Graduate Studies in ChE

The graduate program of the nationally ranked Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Virginia seeks to provide cutting-edge training in chemical engineering research areas including biotechnology, catalysis, electrochemistry, energy and the environment, polymers, and separations. Students experience close interaction with faculty members, work in excellent research facilities, and participate in multidisciplinary research centers across Grounds.


Over 95% of the roughly 50 students in our graduate program are pursuing a Ph.D. All students accepted into our doctoral program may expect to receive financial support as long as they maintain satisfactory progress towards the degree. Additional students participate in the distance learning Masters of Engineering program, (CGEP). Our graduates go on to pursue a diverse range of successful careers in both industry and academia.

ChE faculty have won numerous awards including National Science Foundation CAREER Awards, National Young Investigator Awards, ASEE Teaching Awards and the UVA President's Prize for Research. Our faculty strive to follow the Jeffersonian principle of excellence in education coupled to strong faculty-student interaction. We maintain a high faculty/student ratio and operate an open-door policy for faculty offices whereby students are free to stop in to discuss their research, science, careers or life in general.

  • Admission process for the graduate program

    Prospective graduate students apply to the chemical engineering graduate program online through the University of Virginia. Generally, graduate students are admitted and begin their studies during the fall semester. Applications are evaluated using an established process that consideres a variety of factors including academic background and record, GRE scores, and references. Admission to the department is highly competitive.

    Online Application for U.S. Citizens and International Students

    Special instructions and information for international applicants

    Deadlines (for fall semester admission)
    • U.S. Citizens: January 15 (for financial aid consideration) or August 1
    • International Applicants: January 15 (for financial aid consideration) or April 1
     
    Dean’s Scholar Fellowship Program

    The Dean’s Scholar Fellowship Program aims to foster a graduate student body that reflects the core value of societal impact, educating engineering leaders, innovation, excellence through diversity, and collegiality. You nominate yourself for the Dean’s Scholar Fellowship through the UVA Engineering graduate application process by submitting a short essay (400-word limit) that explains how you have demonstrated or will demonstrate these core values and how you will help UVA Engineering toward achievement of them. 

    You must be a domestic Ph.D. (US Citizen and Permanent Resident) applicant to qualify for the program.

     

    IMPORTANT! Students seeking financial assistance for fall semester admission should complete their application by January 15. Later applicants may be considered, but financial aid may no longer be available.

    The department currently has a strong focus on the doctoral program and admits very few students to the terminal master's degree program. Applicants interested in a terminal master's degree are encouraged to explore the options provided by the Commonwealth Graduate Engineering Program.

    For department-specific graduate admissions questions, please contact: cheadmis@virginia.edu

  • Advisors and Plan of Study

    Advisors

    Newly enrolled graduate students will be advised by the graduate program coordinator. Soon after the start of the fall semester, new graduate students will select a topic for their thesis (Ph.D.) or project (M.E.) work. Each research or project topic is proposed by an individual faculty member (see current Research Topics list, available from the department office). The faculty member with whom the student will work then becomes his or her advisor.

    Plan of Study

    For a current student interested in completing the master's degree, a plan of study, approved by the advisor and the department, must be submitted to the UVA Engineering Office of Graduate Programs. It is most appropriate to prepare this during pre-enrollment at end of the first semester of graduate study.

    The recommended course load for master's degree candidates is four 3-credit graduate courses per semester. Students who wish to carry more than four courses in a semester must secure the recommendation of their advisor and the approval of the departmental faculty.

  • Research Examination and Admission to Doctoral Study

    The Research Examination is to be taken within one month after completing the first summer of research. The student is to describe, in both written and oral forms, his/her research progress to that time as well as plans for further work.

    Although the motivation, background and technical originality of the research are important components, the overall goal is to assess the student’s aptitude for research. The written document and oral presentation will be limited in length. Following the oral presentation to the faculty, questions suggested by the research will be asked. The outcomes of this exam are pass, pass with conditions or fail. In exceptional cases, the decision will be deferred until the students' M.S. thesis defense.

    Students must indicate in writing their intention to take the Research Exam when it is announced.

    Admission to Doctoral Study is a formal action of the departmental faculty that indicates acceptance into the ultimate research phase of the doctoral program. Students who wish to be admitted to doctoral study (normally after successful completion of the Research Examination) must apply in writing to the Graduate Coordinator.

    In order to be admitted to doctoral study the student must have:

    • Completed a program of advanced course work, here or elsewhere, equivalent to the departmental course requirements for the Master's Degree
    • Passed the Preliminary and Research Examinations
    • Demonstrated, to the faculty's satisfaction, a capability for independent research of the quality expected for the doctorate.
  • Doctoral Advisory Committee and Submission of Plan of Study

    A student's doctoral work is carried out under the direction of doctoral advisory committee. Within one semester of admission to doctoral study, the doctoral advisory committee must be appointed for each student by the assistant dean for graduate programs upon recommendation of the department chair and the plan of study should be prepared and promptly submitted. The committee, chaired by the research advisor, should have at least one member from outside the student's department and major curriculum study area. This committee should meet with the student as early as possible to begin assisting the student in development of research plans, in the selection of additional graduate courses, and in the timely preparation and submission of the dissertation proposal.

    A doctoral Plan of Study, listing the courses taken as part of the Ph.D. program and tailored to the interests and needs of the individual student, is developed in consultation with the student's doctoral advisory committee. The plan must satisfy all requirements of SEAS. Courses taken in pursuit of a Master's degree in this department or elsewhere may be included in the doctoral plan of study. Although there are no specific departmental course requirements for the doctoral degree, the plan of study should ensure both depth in the specific research area and breadth in chemical engineering and related sciences. After approval by the committee and department, it is forwarded to the assistant dean for graduate studies in SEAS. The plan of study should be submitted promptly after appointment of the doctoral advisory Committee.

  • Dissertation Proposal and Admission to Candidacy

    Doctoral students are required to prepare a written dissertation proposal, within one year of admission to doctoral study, for admission to doctoral candidacy. The proposal should indicate the purpose and objectives of the work to be undertaken, the current state of the art with bibliography, and the strategy to be followed and techniques to be employed in the research. Preliminary data, calculations, and/or theoretical developments may be included in support of the proposed work. The proposal will be presented orally and discussed publicly. The doctoral advisory committee will serve as the dissertation proposal exam committee.

    The purposes of the dissertation proposal are:

    1. To determine if the student's knowledge of the area chosen for research and the pertinent literature is adequate
    2. To determine whether the proposed work, if completed, would provide the basis for an acceptable dissertation
    3. To advise the student on general approaches and specific techniques that may be helpful in the proposed research
    4. If in the judgment of the advisory committee the student's proposal is not satisfactory, the student may be required to submit a revised proposal for further discussion with the Advisory committee.