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, 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; our ability to ensure true mentorship during graduate study; the uniformly strong departments throughout the rest of 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 master's 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 in academia. We believe that the close mentorship characterized by our program and our 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 eleven courses for the core course requirement is required for this degree, including six departmental core courses (CBE 501/MAE 552, CBE 502/MAE 501, 503, 504, 505, and 507) and a research ethics course (EGR 501). Among the remaining four courses, at least three are required to be technical graduate-level courses. 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, which will be considered to have been demonstrated by a passing grade in the departmental core courses. The second component is the first proposition defense, which is a written document outlining plans for dissertation research, including progress already made. This document is submitted in the fall of the second year of residence and is defended orally 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. Both must be passed no later than May of the second year of residence. 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 full Ph.D. candidacy and is earned after a student successfully passes the first proposition and successfully defends it orally before a committee of faculty members. 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 are required to serve a minimum of one semester as an assistant in instruction (teaching assistant) in order 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 must 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 24 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 from 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 the requirement of a master’s thesis. Candidates must prepare and submit an acceptable thesis as well as present an open seminar on their research.
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. The M.Eng. degree may also be pursued part-time by staff from the many nearby industrial laboratories. No research or thesis is required, and financial support is normally not offered.
Candidates for the M.Eng. degree must successfully complete at least eight graduate-level courses. 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 six courses must be chosen from graduate offerings in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering; options include any of the following five core courses for the Ph.D. degree (CBE 501/MAE 552, CBE 502/MAE 501, 503, 504, 505), as well as several graduate-level chemical engineering electives chosen according to the student’s area of interest. To complete the set of eight courses, students with an interest in economics, entrepreneurship, finance, or public policy may choose up to two graduate-level courses from the Department of Economics or the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Students must have a “B” (3.0) average or better at the time they complete the program requirements in order to receive the degree.
Students are encouraged, although not required, to focus their course choices so as to develop significant expertise in a particular area. Possible specializations, and some courses that fall within each area, include: (1) materials, CBE 522, 531, 532, 541, 543, 544; MSE 501, 502, 503, 504, 505, 515, 519, 531; MAE 562, 563, 564; ELE 541, 549, 551; CHM 507, 511, 522; PHY 525, 526; GEO 501; (2) environmental engineering, CBE 522, 546; CEE 571, 576, 581, 582, 586, 587; MAE 571; GEO 524, 526, 537; WWS 582b, 584, 585b, 586c; (3) systems engineering, CHE 521, 527, 528, 530, 554; MAE 541, 545, 546, 548; ELE 521; ORF 522, 526, 562; COS 525; and (4) bioengineering, APC 514; CBE 532, 533, 538, 539, 540; CHM 515, 516, 543, 544, 550; MOL 504, 505, 506, 507, 551, 558; WWS 586a. Any of the core chemical engineering courses (CHB 501/MAE 552, 502, 503, 504, and 505) can be used to complement selections from any of these areas.
The Graduate Certificate in Bioengineering is designed to formalize the training of students specializing in the engineering analysis of living systems. Over the past decade, Princeton faculty have developed new courses that address the design and control of living systems at multiple scales, from single molecules, to cells, tissues, and organisms. Taken together, these classes provide a coherent educational framework that can take the place of a missing graduate program in bioengineering. The graduate certificate program in bioengineering is intended to recognize the efforts and accomplishments of Ph.D. students in engineering and the natural sciences who have gone beyond the requirements of their own degree programs to acquire training in bioengineering.
The certificate is based on core graduate courses, a research seminar, and graduate research. The bioengineering core classes can be taken as graduate electives, in partial fulfillment of the course requirements in home departments.
Please note, students cannot be admitted to Princeton University through the Bioengineering Interdepartmental Graduate Certificate Program since it is not a degree program.
The core curriculum provides rigorous training in the engineering analysis of biological molecules and networks, cells, tissues, organs, and organisms. Students are required to take for credit and pass with a grade one course in each of the thematic areas (“molecules”, “cells”, “tissues and organs”) for a total of three courses. This requirement is designed to guarantee that all students, regardless of their thesis area, have a solid foundation in the engineering analysis of living systems at multiple scales.
- CBE 538 / MOL 538: Biomolecular Engineering
- CBE 567: Metabolic Engineering
- MOL 515 / PHY 570 / EEB 517 / CHM 517: Method and Logic in Quantitative Biology
- CBE 518 / ENE 518: Fundamentals of Biofuels
- CBE 533: Introduction to the Mechanics and Dynamics of Soft Living Matter
- PHY 412: Biological Physics
Tissues and Organs:
- CBE 540: Physical Basis of Human Disease
- QCB 511 / CBE 511: Modeling Tools for Cell and Developmental Biology
- CBE 539 / MOL 539: Quantitative Physiology
- ELE / NEU / PSY 480: fMRI Decoding: Reading Minds Using Brain Scans
- NEU / MOL / PSY 404: Cellular and Systems Neuroscience
Graduate research should be conducted under the supervision of one of the participating faculty. The main requirements are quantitative experiments, rigorous data analysis, and/or mathematical and computational modeling of biological processes. The research topic should be approved by the program director.
Students are required to attend the biweekly BioEngineering Colloquium, which serves as a venue for reporting current results and discussing the integration of different research approaches to the analysis and design of living systems. Students will be required to give a research presentation at this colloquium before completing their FPO. This requirement will teach students how to communicate their research to a broad audience of bioengineers, as well as interact with students, postdoctoral fellows, and faculty investigating problems at multiple scales.
Athanassios Z. Panagiotopoulos
Richard A. Register
Director of Graduate Studies
Rodney D. Priestley
Jay Burton Benziger
Clifford Paul Brangwynne
Bruce E. Koel
A. James Link
Celeste M. Nelson
Athanassios Z. Panagiotopoulos
Rodney D. Priestley
Robert Krafft Prud'homme
Richard A. Register
Stanislav Y. Shvartsman
Mark P. Brynildsen
José L. Avalos
Sujit S. Datta
Michele L. Sarazen
Michael A. Webb
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.