2017-2018 Graduate Course Catalog 
    Dec 07, 2021  
2017-2018 Graduate Course Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Chemical Engineering, PhD

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Department Chair:

Radhakrishna Sureshkumar
329 Link Hall
315-443-1931; fax: 315-443-9175


Jesse Q. Bond, Katie D. Cadwell, Ruth Chen, Julie M. Hasenwinkel, James H. Henderson, Ian Hosein, Xiyuan Liu, Zhen Ma, George C. Martin, Shikha Nangia, Dacheng Ren, Ashok Sangani, Pranav Soman, Radhakrishna Sureshkumar, Lawrence L. Tavlarides, Pun To Yung

Adjunct/Research Faculty:

Gino Duca, Bart Farrell, Eric Finkelstein, Kent Ogden, David Quinn, Dana Radcliffe, Suresh Santanam

Affiliate Faculty:

Juntao Luo, Yan-Yeung Luk, Cristina Marchetti, Liviu Movileanu

Emeritus Faculty:

Gustav Engbretson, John Heydweiller, Philip Rice, Klaus Schroder, Robert L. Smith, S. Alexander Stern, Chi Tien, Josef Zwislocki

Graduate Chemical Engineering Program Director:

Dacheng Ren
357 Link Hall
315-443-4409, dren@syr.edu

The Department of Biomedical and Chemical Engineering offers a comprehensive set of graduate programs in bioengineering and chemical engineering, including Master’s of Science (MS) degrees and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degrees. Graduates of these programs work in the medical profession, the biomechanics and bioinstrumentation industries, the pharmaceutical industry, the chemical engineering industry, the government, and in education.

The graduate program in chemical engineering features a core of courses in chemical engineering, elective courses in areas of student interest, and an intense research or independent study experience with the student’s faculty advisor. Elective courses may be concentrated in a large number of special areas, including bioengineering, environmental engineering, computer science, materials science, and manufacturing engineering. New initiatives are underway in the multidisciplinary area of environmental systems that should provide a wealth of opportunities to graduate students in chemical engineering.

Student Learning Outcomes

1.Define research objectives and acquire the necessary skills to achieve these objectives. 

2.Choose and use appropriate research methods to achieve the defined objectives.

3.Use appropriate methods to analyze research data and interpret the findings. 

4.Effectively communicate the work to its intended audiences.

5.Critically analyze his or her own research work and existing scholarship in the field.


Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Chemical Engineering is designed for students interested in research and teaching. The program of study consists of coursework, a qualifying examination, a candidacy examination, and preparation and defense of the dissertation. A student entering the PhD program with a MS degree may apply up to 30 credits toward the required coursework, with the approval of the program director. A minimum of three years of graduate study is required.

The requirements for the PhD degree in Chemical Engineering are:

  • 42 total credits, including at least 24 credits in chemical engineering (CEN);
  • successful completion of qualifying and candidacy examinations;
  • no more than 33.3% of coursework at 500-level;
  • a minimum GPA of 3.0 for the set of courses included on the Program of Study and a 2.8 overall GPA;
  • a minimum GPA of 2.8 for all credits earned;
  • student must complete a dissertation and defend it in an oral examination; no dissertation credits are required.

Required coursework can include Independent Study credits. Those entering the program post-BS degree can take up to 6 credits. Those entering the program, post-MS degree, can take up to 3 credits. The independent study cannot by supervised by the dissertation advisor.


A student must be enrolled for at least three academic years of full-time graduate level study beyond the baccalaureate degree.

PhD Exams and Timing:

All PhD students must pass a Qualifying Exam and a Dissertation Proposal Defense/Candidacy Examination. The timing of these exams differs depending upon which path a student takes through the various degree programs, as explained in this section.

Qualifying Examination:

Students who enter the PhD program with a BS degree are required to take the PhD Qualifying Examination within the 1st month of the 4th semester of study. Students who enter the PhD program with an MS degree are required to take the Qualifying Examination within the 1st month of the beginning of the 3rd semester of study.

The Qualifying Examination is based on the student’s critical analysis and study of a research topic that is outside of, but related to, the student’s planned dissertation research area. The student is expected to critically analyze a published journal article, assigned by the faculty. The chair of the examination committee assigns the journal article, in consultation with the entire examination committee and the student’s advisor. A written report of no more than 15 pages must be provided to the examination committee at least two weeks prior to the oral examination. A committee consisting of at least three tenured or tenure-track BMCE faculty, appointed by the Chemical Engineering Graduate Program Director, evaluates the student’s performance based on the technical content and quality of the written report and the students’ presentation and ability to answer questions in the oral examination. The outcome of the oral examination will be communicated to the student by the committee at the time of the examination. After the examination has been completed, the student’s eligibility to pursue the PhD is decided by the faculty of the Department on the basis of the student’s performance on the examination, the student’s academic record, and the student’s progress in his/her research. The decision to continue to candidacy will be communicated to the student after the faculty vote.

Dissertation Proposal Defense/Candidacy Examination:

All PhD students must defend their Dissertation Proposal within one calendar year of passing the Qualifying Examination. Several months before the Dissertation Proposal Defense/Candidacy Examination, the student should recruit faculty members to serve on a committee for that purpose. The committee membership should be essentially the same as the ultimate Oral Defense committee (see below), except that the outside Chair is not necessary for this defense/examination. The committee must have at least five members, including the dissertation advisor, at least three of which must be BMCE tenured or tenure-track faculty members. The student must obtain a Candidacy Examination Form from the Graduate Secretary and submit this form to the Department in order to schedule the examination. The form must include the title and abstract of the proposal, names of the committee members, and the advisor’s signature. The Graduate Program Director’s signature is also required, effectively assigning the committee. The Program Director also assigns a chair for the committee.

Candidacy Examination Form: 

Student must obtain this form from the Graduate Secretary and submit it to the Secretary in order to schedule the examination.  This must be done at least two weeks before the examination is to be held.  This form must include the title and abstract of the proposal, names of the committee members, and the advisor’s signature.  The Graduate Program Director’s signature is required, effectively assigning the committee.  The Program Director also assigns a committee chair for the examination.


A written proposal must be circulated to the committee no later than 2 weeks prior to the examination.  The student should ask the committee members if a hard-copy or electronic copy is preferred.  The proposal is limited to 15 pages, single-spaced, Times New Roman 12 pt. font, with at least 1 inch margins in all directions.  Page limit includes all figures and tables.  Additional pages are only allowed for references.  No appendices may be included.  Any proposal that does not meet these requirements will be returned for revision before it can be accepted for review.  Students should discuss the content of the proposal with their advisors.  As a general guideline, the proposal may include the following: Introduction, Hypothesis (or motivating need if it is not a hypothesis-driven project), Research Objectives, Work done to Date, and Research Plan.

The examination is open to all faculty members and students. After the presentation, the committee meets in executive session and votes. The student is informed of the result of this vote immediately afterward. The committee prepares a Candidacy Examination Outcome Form. This form includes the dates of the examination, the names of all committee members, the results of the committee votes, and whether or not the student passes the examination. It is signed by the examination committee chair. The student receives a copy of this form, with the original retained in the student’s records. Upon successful completion of the Dissertation Proposal/Candidacy Examination, the student enters candidacy for the doctoral program.

Oral Dissertation Defense:

The Oral Dissertation Defense and submission of the dissertation document to the Syracuse University Graduate School and Department are the final requirements of the PhD program. All students are required to submit a copy of the final version of the dissertation, with the signed title page, to the Department in fulfillment of the requirements for the PhD degree.

Defenses must comply with the requirements of the Graduate School as described elsewhere in this Graduate Course Catalog. The Oral Defense Committee consists of six members, including a Chair (must be a tenured or tenure-track faculty member from outside the Department, see website above), the advisor, and four other tenured or tenure-track faculty members, some of whom may be from outside the University, if appropriate. If a proposed committee member is not a full-time or adjunct faculty member at Syracuse University (i.e. from SUNY-ESF, Upstate Medical University, etc.), the student must petition the Department to allow this person to serve as a committee member.

Students must submit a Request for Examination Form to the GEMC at least three full weeks prior to the oral defense. The dissertation document must be delivered to the Oral Defense Committee at least two weeks prior to the date of the oral defense.

Current Research Areas

Bioengineering and Chemical Engineering

  • Biomaterials & Tissue Engineering
  • Complex Fluids, Soft Matter & Rheology
  • Catalysis & Reaction Engineering
  • Corrosion and Electrochemistry
  • Drug Delivery
  • Molecular Biotechnology
  • Multiscale Modeling and Simulation
  • Nanotechnology
  • Sustainable Energy Production
  • Systems Biology & Metabolic Engineering

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