Skip to content Skip to navigation

PhD Overview

ChemE Students

Photo by BayAreaEventPhotography.com

Our Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) program is open to all applicants who have completed a bachelor’s degree or will have completed one before matriculating as a graduate student at Stanford. 

A degree in chemical engineering is not required but applicants should be familiar with key concepts and their applications. This typically means applicants have degrees in other science and engineering disciplines such as bioengineering, biology, chemistry, materials science, mathematics, mechanical engineering and physics. We are looking for coursework or other experiences demonstrating use of higher-level mathematics (e.g. linear algebra, partial differential equations) and recommend completion of core chemical engineering courses (e.g. fluid mechanics, heat and mass transport phenomena, chemical reaction kinetics, thermodynamics). An MS degree is not a prerequisite for admission to our PhD program or for PhD degree conferral.

IMPORTANT for successful PhD applicants seriously considering Stanford: Admitted PhD applicants will be invited to participate in our Chemical Engineering Graduate Research Symposium. This is our "visit weekend," and those seriously considering Stanford for their doctoral work should reserve March 4-6, 2021, for their Stanford visit.

Each department conferring graduate degrees establishes its own application deadlines. An applicant may apply to only one degree program at Stanford University, meaning the applicant must decide on one department and one degree program and may have only one active application. All components of an application to the Department of Chemical Engineering must be received by the department no later than the appropriate due date.

DEADLINE for all components of a PhD application must be received by the department no later than: Friday, November 20, 2020.

What We Look For
ChemE PhD students come from a wide variety of personal, educational, and professional backgrounds. We welcome applicants with undergraduate degrees in diverse STEM disciplines including Bioengineering, Biophysics, Chemical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Biochemistry, Physics, and Chemistry. There are no specific course requirements for applicants, but a competitive candidate will have strong quantitative training in mathematics and the physical sciences, along with a background in biology acquired through coursework or prior research. All admitted graduate students should be prepared to take the core courses in the first year.

We welcome students entering directly from undergraduate programs, as well as applicants with MS degrees and/or substantial work experience in areas ranging from biotechnology to robotics. Our admissions committee will look for evidence that an applicant has demonstrated qualities of successful PhD students such as creativity, self-initiative, dedication, and perseverance. We also aim to admit Chemical Engineering students who can thrive at Stanford because their specific interests and aspirations are well-matched with the research of our faculty and the educational environment of our department.

Knight-Hennessy Scholars: the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program develops a community of future global leaders to address complex challenges through collaboration and innovation. This year, the program will award up to 90 high-achieving students with full funding to pursue a graduate education at Stanford, including full-time master's and PhD's in Chemical Engineering. To be considered, you must apply to Knight-Hennessy Scholars by October 14, 2020, and separately apply to the Chemical Engineering department by November 20, 2020. 

IMPORTANT for PhD applicants: Refer to the Admissions Requirements Section regarding the Statement of Purpose and complete your research outline in addition to 2-3 pages of text for your Statement of Purpose. The grad admissions website is expected to open to new applications in September 2020.

All applicants must make an official application, using the university's online forms and procedures, and following the directions from the Office of the Registrar, Graduate Admissions. Visit the Grad Admissions site for more information about our graduate admissions process at Stanford University and to apply for graduate admission. 

Individual Chemical Engineering faculty members do not admit applicants directly to their research groups. Please do not send individual faculty members or staff informal documents and appeals for informal evaluations and/or admission to a research group. We are unable to provide informal recommendations / evaluations on the basis of partial information such as a CV, test scores or a transcript. Inquiries and materials sent to individual professors may or may not be redirected to administrative staff. We encourage potential applicants to consider discussing their issues with faculty recommenders who know them well and could give better, individualized academic advice.