Pitt | Swanson Engineering
PhD Degree Requirements


Entry to the PhD Program 

In order to enter the PhD program, a student must have completed a MS degree or have bypassed the MS degree and passed the PhD preliminary oral examination. A grade point average of 3.5/4.0 or greater at the MS level is required for admission. Especially well-prepared students who have passed the PhD Qualifier exam may, with the permission of their advisor, elect to bypass the MS degree in order to directly pursue a PhD This eliminates the required completion of the MS thesis. All MS-level course work is still required.

At the end of the first year as a graduate student in the department, the student wishing to continue into the PhD program must take the Doctoral Qualifying Examination. Failure to take this examination at this time will forfeit one of the two opportunities to pass this examination.


Course Requirements 

A student's course series will be designed by the student and his thesis advisor, approved by the PhD committee and the Graduate Coordinator. This sequence should include courses in the student's research area as well as courses not related to his research area. Forty-two credits beyond the MS degree are required and must include the following:

Course Requirements
XX 2/3XXX Electives (Sciences, Math, or Engineering) 12 Credits
ChE 2982 Issues in Chemical Engineering (if not taken at MS level) 2 Credits
ChE 3990 Advanced Graduate Projects 6 Credits (minimum)
ChE 3999 PhD Dissertation (taken after Ph.D. proposal defense) 12 Credits (minimum)


Teaching Practicum: 

All PhD students are required to fulfill a two-term teaching obligation beyond the MS teaching obligation during their course of study. No course registration is required.


PhD Research Methodology: 

Full-time PhD students are required to register for ChE 3980 each term until graduation.


Graduate Seminar 

All full-time students must attend graduate seminar during the fall and spring terms and register for ChE 3001–Graduate Seminar.


Dissertation Requirement 

A dissertation topic must be selected after passing the PhD qualifying examination. This is done by submitting a formal request in writing to the departmental Graduate Faculty for appointment of a faculty adviser or advisers, if there are more than one. Preliminary work can be done on the dissertation by registering for ChE 3990. After being admitted to PhD candidacy, the student should concentrate on the dissertation, registering for ChE 3999. Eighteen credits of these two courses are required with at least 12 of these 18 being in ChE 3999. Most students complete more than the 18 credits of these courses.


Forming a Ph.D. Committee 

In the fourth semester following passing the PhD Qualifier or receiving the M.S., whichever is later, but generally by the end of the student's seventh semester, the student is required to form a committee and defend a research proposal on his/her PhD research topic. The selection of committee members and the completion of the Admission to PhD Candidacy form must be submitted to the Graduate Coordinator a minimum of two weeks prior to the date of the research proposal defense. 

The composition of this committee consists of the PhD research advisor, at least 2 other faculty members from the Chemical and Petroleum Engineering Department, and at least one faculty member from another department in the University of Pittsburgh or from an appropriate graduate program at another academic institution. The committee may also include additional members external to Pitt. 

The majority of the committee, including the major advisor, must be full or adjunct members of the Graduate Faculty The student should discuss with the advisor who would be best to be on this committee based on their expertise since this committee usually serves as the PhD dissertation committee. The research advisor serves as the committee chair.


PhD Comprehensive Examination and Proposal Conference 

This is an oral examination based upon a written dissertation proposal. If this examination is passed, a doctoral committee will be officially approved. This exam should be taken at least 18 months before completion of the dissertation.


PhD Comprehensive Examination and Proposal Conference 

A final review (defense) of the dissertation must be conducted by the dissertation committee in order to determine the acceptability of the dissertation.