Program Milestones

Preliminary Exam:

  • The preliminary exam is a staple of the graduate process, presenting graduate students with the opportunity to benchmark their current process and begin planning out the rest of their time in the graduate program. The exam is also intended to determine the potential of the applicant as a competent researcher. The preliminary exam consists of a a written report and an oral examination; the written portion is typically completed by January 31st of the second year of residence, while the oral portion takes place in February-March. The written portion consists of an original 15 page document outlining: research motivation, analysis of past studies, accomplishments to date, and plans for future research. The oral portion consists of a 30-minute research presentation summarizing the contents of the written document, followed by up to 0.5-1.5 hours of questions, ideas, and comments by the student’s faculty committee.

Course Requirements:

  • Students typically must complete at least ten courses. Six of these courses must be in the Chemical and Biological Engineering Department, where at least four of these are chosen from the five CBE core courses: Intermediate Transport Phenomena, Intermediate Problems in Chemical Engineering (i.e. Math), Advanced Chemical Engineering Thermodynamics, Kinetics and Catalysis, and Biological Engineering: Molecules, Cells, and Systems, and the other two are CBE electives. Of the remaining four courses, three should be directed towards a Minor requirement (typically 9-12 credits), and one (at least 3 credits) is an elective that must be taken from another program.

Research Progress Meeting:

  • Also called the “Fourth Year Talk,” this research meeting takes place in the fall semester of the fourth year with a student’s research committee (generally the same as a student’s Preliminary Exam committee). The meeting consists of a 30-minute oral presentation by the student on research progress followed by a 30-minute discussion with the committee. The presentation should include: motivation for the student’s research, research accomplishments to date, and plans for future work (including a tentative timeline and planned future publications). One week prior to the presentation, students should submit to the committee a one-page document containing a research abstract, accomplishments and plans, and conference presentations and completed/planned publications.

Teaching Assistant Requirement:

  • Each student must serve as a teaching assistant (TA) for two semesters, typically in the second and/or third year of study. Students have input in the TA assignment process and are able to select courses (both graduate and undergraduate) that they are most interested in. Many times students will serve as TAs for courses taught by their advisor.

Thesis Defense:

  • Students are expected to complete their degree in ?5 years; any student unable to defend their thesis in this period must petition the faculty by May 1st of the fifth year for an additional one-year extension. The final oral defense is an hour-long presentation to a committee of at least four faculty members, including at least one, but not more than two, from outside the department (the committee should be the same as the committee for the student’s 4th year talk). Three members of the committee are designated as “readers” of the student’s thesis document, and the thesis must be provided to all committee members at least two weeks prior to the final oral examination.