Chemical and Biological Engineering
The Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering’s mission is to educate the leaders in chemical and biological engineering by conducting research that defines the frontiers of knowledge in our field. We prepare chemical and biological engineers for careers in teaching, research and development, entrepreneurship, and management in academia, government, and industry. Building on world-class research and scholarship, Princeton’s Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering has particular strengths, including our small student-to-faculty ratio, ensuring true mentorship during graduate study; a diverse graduate student body producing outstanding scholarship; uniformly strong academic departments throughout Princeton University; a diversity of mutually beneficial research collaborations; and our location, amidst the greatest concentration of chemical and pharmaceutical industrial research laboratories in the United States.
The Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering’s graduate programs are centered on the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree, and the majority of our students are doctoral candidates. Our department also offers two masters degree programs (Master of Science in Engineering, Master of Engineering) geared toward practicing engineers interested in expanding their knowledge, who generally come with financial support from their employers or an external fellowship. All three graduate programs are based on the principles of chemical engineering, chemistry, biochemistry, biology, mathematics, physics, and related science and engineering disciplines.
Please briefly describe how your academic interests, background, or life experiences would promote Princeton’s commitment to diversity and inclusion within the Graduate School and to training individuals in an increasingly diverse society. Please submit a succinct statement of no more than 250 words.
M.S.E. and M.Eng. applicants typically have support from their employers or from external fellowships.
The Ph.D. program aims to prepare students for positions as independent researchers, whether in industry or academia. We believe that our program's close mentorship and strong emphasis on written and oral communication benefit students who follow such career paths. The central feature of the program is original research leading to the student’s Ph.D. dissertation. In addition, students must exhibit a firm and broad grasp of modern chemical engineering and allied fields through coursework, and demonstrate the ability to conceive and plan original research. Every admitted Ph.D. student is given financial support in the form of a first-year fellowship. In addition, all admitted Ph.D. students are automatically considered for the prestigious Wu and Upton Fellowships.
Satisfactory completion of ten courses for the core course requirement is required for this degree, including five departmental core courses (CBE 503; CBE 504; CBE 507; MAE 501/CBE 509; CBE 510 or MAE 552/CBE 557) and a research ethics course (EGR 501). Among the remaining four courses, at least three must be technical courses at the graduate level (500-level) or senior level (400-level). Exemptions from certain core courses may be granted for students who have completed a similar course at another institution; exemptions should be sought in writing from the director of graduate studies.
The general examination has two components. The first component is mastery of graduate-level chemical engineering material, demonstrated by satisfactory grades in the departmental core courses. The second component is the first proposition, which is a written document defended orally. The written document outlines plans for dissertation research, including progress already made. This document is submitted in the late fall of the second year of residence and is defended orally in January, before a committee of faculty members. Satisfactory completion of the core course requirements and the first proposition defense is required to achieve post-generals degree candidacy. Students must pass both components before May of the second year. Deficiencies noted at either the end of the first year of study or at the first proposition defense may result in a student being required to retake one of the core courses (not for credit), possibly after auditing a relevant undergraduate course.
The Master of Arts (M.A.) degree is normally an incidental degree on the way to Ph.D. candidacy and is earned after a student successfully passes the general examination. It may also be awarded to students who, for various reasons, leave the Ph.D. program, provided that these requirements have been met.
Please note, students admitted to the Ph.D. program who do not wish to complete the program may be considered for an M.S.E. degree with approval from the department and the Graduate School. Ph.D. students who have already been awarded the incidental M.A. are not eligible to earn an M.S.E.
All Ph.D. students must serve a minimum of one semester as an assistant in instruction (teaching assistant) to broaden their experience and expose them to the other side of the instructional process. For students who secure certain competitive fellowships that do not allow teaching, this requirement can be lifted with approval from the DGS. Students are expected to serve six AI (assistant in instruction) hours, which equates to approximately twenty hours/week for the semester. Six AI hours is based on the number of contact hours each week with undergraduates. Students generally serve as AIs in their second year of graduate study, never in their first. Some students may serve more than once if the student so desires; if AI service is needed to ensure a student’s continued financial support; or if the department cannot fill the AI position otherwise. In addition, some “half” (three-hour) AI positions may be available, which should require approximately 10 hours/week; these would normally be filled by students who have already completed their term of “full” AI service.
The doctoral dissertation must demonstrate the student’s independent research and mastery of the field and extend existing knowledge or present a significant new interpretation of known phenomena. The dissertation must be approved by the student’s research adviser and a knowledgeable second reader.
The final public oral examination culminates the student’s graduate studies. A faculty committee examines the student’s technical mastery of the material in the dissertation.
The Master of Science in Engineering (M.S.E.) is a research-based master’s degree, culminating in an M.S.E. thesis describing the student’s original research. Each candidate’s experience is broadened through satisfactory completion of six graduate courses in chemical and biological engineering. The typical duration of M.S.E. study is 18 to 22 months (three to four academic terms with summer in between); students admitted in candidacy for the M.S.E. degree typically have support from their employers or external fellowships.
M.S.E. students must successfully complete a minimum of six graduate-level courses from either the chemical and biological engineering curriculum or approved technical electives.
The M.S.E. program has a strong research focus, reflected in a master’s thesis requirement, which the student’s research adviser must approve.
The Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) is a coursework-based master’s degree offered to practicing engineers. Candidates for the M.Eng. degree, if enrolled full time, will normally satisfy that requirement in one 10-month academic year. Students admitted in candidacy for the M.Eng. degree will always have external support, typically from their employers or external fellowship; financial support is not offered. The M.Eng. degree may also be pursued part-time by staff from the many nearby industrial laboratories. No research nor thesis is required.
Candidates for the M.Eng. degree must successfully complete at least eight courses, all taken for a letter grade. A minimum of six of these eight courses must be technical, having their primary listing in a department or a program within the natural sciences or engineering. A minimum of four of these courses must be chosen from graduate offerings (500-level) in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering (primary or cross-listed); options include any of the four core courses for the Ph.D. degree (CBE 503; CBE 504; MAE 501/CBE 509; CBE 510), as well as graduate-level CBE electives (primary or cross-listed) chosen according to the student’s area of interest. Of the remaining four courses, a minimum of two must be at the graduate level (500-level). Up to two courses at the senior level (400-level) will be counted towards the degree requirement of eight total courses. Students are encouraged, although not required, to focus their course choices to develop significant expertise in a particular area. Students must have a “B” (3.00) average or better when they complete the program requirements to receive the degree.
Please note, CBE 507 cannot be counted towards the course requirement for M.Eng. candidates. It is designed for entering Ph.D. students and is graded P/D/F only.
- Athanassios Z. Panagiotopoulos
Director of Graduate Studies
- Christos Maravelias
Director of Undergraduate Studies
- José L. Avalos (spring)
- Mark P. Brynildsen (fall)
- Clifford P. Brangwynne
- Pablo G. Debenedetti
- David B. Graves
- Bruce E. Koel
- A. James Link
- Lynn Loo
- Christos Maravelias
- Celeste M. Nelson
- Athanassios Z. Panagiotopoulos
- Rodney D. Priestley
- Robert K. Prud'homme
- Richard A. Register
- Sankaran Sundaresan
- Mark P. Brynildsen
- José L. Avalos
- Pierre-Thomas Brun
- Jonathan M. Conway
- Sujit S. Datta
- Emily C. Davidson
- Michele L. Sarazen
- Michael A. Webb
- Mohamed S. Abou Donia, Molecular Biology
- Ian C. Bourg, Civil and Environmental Eng
- Daniel J. Cohen, Mechanical & Aerospace Eng
- William M. Jacobs, Chemistry
- Cameron A. Myhrvold, Molecular Biology
- Sabine Petry, Molecular Biology
- Stanislav Y. Shvartsman, Molecular Biology
- Howard A. Stone, Mechanical & Aerospace Eng
- Jared E. Toettcher, Molecular Biology
- Claire E. White, Civil and Environmental Eng
- Martin Helmut Wühr, Molecular Biology
- Charles M. Smith
- Hendrikus E. Van Den Akker
Courses listed below are graduate-level courses that have been approved by the program’s faculty as well as the Curriculum Subcommittee of the Faculty Committee on the Graduate School as permanent course offerings. Permanent courses may be offered by the department or program on an ongoing basis, depending on curricular needs, scheduling requirements, and student interest. Not listed below are undergraduate courses and one-time-only graduate courses, which may be found for a specific term through the Registrar’s website. Also not listed are graduate-level independent reading and research courses, which may be approved by the Graduate School for individual students.