Jun 16, 2024  
Graduate Catalog 2022 - 2023 
Graduate Catalog 2022 - 2023 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Chemical Engineering, Ph.D.

Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering

Washkewicz College of Engineering

Chandra Kothapalli Ph.D., Doctoral Program Director
Fenn Hall 455
Tel: 216-687-2562
Email: c.kothapalli@csuohio.edu


The Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering degree is granted in recognition of high achievement in scholarship and an ability to apply engineering fundamentals to the solution of complex technical problems. Students are expected to pursue a broad program of study, pass all prescribed examinations, and submit an innovative, high-quality applied-engineering dissertation as described in the section on Degree Requirements.

Faculty Research and Publications

Faculty members of the Washkewicz College of Engineering are very active in research sponsored by government agencies and industry. Involvement in research activities provides an excellent educational opportunity for students to advance their technical knowledge and professionalism while accomplishing dissertation work. The majority of doctoral students are involved with faculty in sponsored research. All students are expected to be involved in some form of faculty/student research as part of the dissertation work. High-quality research should lead to publication of the project’s contribution to the body of knowledge.

Current faculty information can be located on the Cleveland State University Faculty Profile page, and at faculty home department pages.

Financial Assistance

All students interested in Graduate Assistantships must meet and maintain the requirements specified by the College of Graduate Studies as described in this Catalog.

Research assistantships are provided through sponsored research activities; the number available at a given time is dependent on the research activity within the College. Interested students are encouraged to discuss the availability of assistantships and potential research projects with the program director, department chairs, and faculty as soon as possible.

Teaching assistantships are provided by individual departments to provide assistance with classroom and laboratory courses. Responsibilities can include conducting classroom recitation sessions, setting up laboratory experiments, tutoring students in class work, grading, monitoring tests, and related activities. For further information, students should contact the respective department chairs.

All graduate teaching assistants who are international students are required to pass an English Language Proficiency Examination, which is administered by the University Testing Center. Students are expected to work a maximum of twenty hours per week on their assistantship assignments unless fewer hours are specified under the terms of their contracts.

Career Information

The major objective of advanced graduate study in engineering is to enhance the student’s preparation for a career as a professional in education or research. The doctoral program is designed to strengthen the individual’s ability to apply creative leadership in the solution of important and complex technological problems. Graduates of the doctoral program have assumed positions in industry, government agencies, and educational institutions.

Admission Information

The applicant should hold a bachelor’s or master’s degree with at least one degree in engineering. In exceptional cases, applicants may be considered without an engineering degree if they have a strong foundation in math and science. Minimum grade-point averages of 3.00 at the bachelor’s and 3.25 at the master’s level are required.

The GRE General section is required of all applicants. Minimum scores at the 80th percentile on the Quantitative section and 3.5 on the Analytical Writing section are usually required depending on the specialization area.

Two letters of recommendation from individuals familiar with the student’s previous academic work are required. Applicants are required to submit a two-page personal statement of their research interests.

If an English language proficiency examination is required, then a TOEFL score of at least 550 on the paper-based exam, 78 on the internet exam (including at least 20 in reading, 21 in listening, 17 in writing, and 20 in speaking), 6.0 on the IELTS exam, 3.8 on the iTEP exam, or 213 on the computer-based exam, is required. Students who do not satisfy these requirements but who do satisfy the University’s TOEFL requirements, will be tested upon arrival at CSU by the English as a Second Language Program. Depending on test results, students may be required to take a writing and/or speaking course.

Apply Now: http://www.csuohio.edu/graduate-admissions/how-apply

Degree Requirements

The doctoral degree includes the following specific requirements:

  1. A minimum of ninety (90) credits beyond the bachelor’s degree. These credits must include:
    1. Course Credits: Independent study and directed study courses are not admissible as course credits. A minimum of 40 credits of course work is required, which should include:
      1. A minimum of six (6) credits (2 courses) of advanced-level engineering mathematics from an approved list maintained by the Graduate Affairs Committee (GAC) of the Engineering College.
      2. A minimum of six (6) credits (2 courses) of graduate level courses from outside of engineering. Courses must be applicable to the graduate program of the offering department.
      3. A three (3) credit (minimum) course on research communications from an approved list maintained by the GAC of the Engineering College, and a 1-hour doctoral seminar course (ESC 850 or BME 850).
      4. A minimum of twenty-four (24) credits of coursework, determined by the area of specialization, including 12 credits (minimum) of required core courses; and 12 credits (minimum) of advanced-level (6xx or 7xx level) elective engineering courses.
    2. Research Credits: A minimum of thirty (30) credits of doctoral research, including a maximum of 10 credits of xxx895 (doctoral research), and a minimum of 20 credits of xxx899 (dissertation). Registration in xxx899 is contingent upon successful completion of the candidacy exam.
    3. Flexible Credits: A minimum of 20 credits, from a combination of dissertation and/or coursework at the 500-level or above.

For students entering the doctoral program with a master’s degree, the student’s combined master’s and doctoral coursework must satisfy all content requirements described above. At least 20 credits of coursework required for the doctoral program must be taken at CSU. At least 30 credits of research (xxx895 and xxx899) must be taken at CSU. And at least 60 credits (total) must be taken at CSU. The graduate program committee of the specialization is responsible for assignment of credits from the student’s MS program to the PhD in Engineering program.

 2. Satisfactory completion of the Qualifying Examination.

 3. GAC approval of the Dissertation Committee and Plan of Study and satisfactory completion of the doctoral Candidacy Examination.

 4. Completion of a doctoral dissertation and successful oral defense of the dissertation.

 5. Compliance with all requirements of the College of Graduate Studies for regular graduate student status and graduation.


When a student is admitted, an interim advisor is assigned in his/her specialization to assist the student in completing a preliminary study plan. The interim advisor is usually the person in charge of the specialization area. Before sixteen credits of course work have been completed, the student must propose a dissertation advisor and begin plans for the dissertation.

The students are encouraged to form their dissertation committee as soon as possible, in consultation with their advisor, who normally chairs the committee. The functions of the student’s dissertation committee are:  administer the candidacy exam and determine pass/fail; monitor the progress of the student’s research; administer the oral defense and determine pass/fail; and approve the dissertation.

The dissertation committee must include a minimum of five graduate faculty members, including the chair, and including at least one from outside of the Engineering College. Usually, an additional member is added when an off-campus, industrial advisor is involved in the dissertation work. This off-campus project advisor may be a member of the dissertation committee but does not have voting rights, unless he or she holds graduate faculty status. The Graduate Affairs Committee (GAC) of the College reviews the composition of the advisory committee and approves or recommends changes to attain a membership balance that is knowledgeable in all facets of the dissertation topic. Finally, an additional member may be selected by the Dean of the College of Graduate Studies. Any subsequent changes to the dissertation committee membership must also be approved by the GAC.


Individuals admitted to the program become candidates for the Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering degree after:

  1. Completing all prescribed course work;
  2. Passing the qualifying examination; and
  3. Passing the candidacy examination.

Qualifying Exam: The purpose of the doctoral qualifying examination is to evaluate a prospective student’s mastery of the subject matters that are fundamental to the chosen engineering discipline/concentration beyond what is demonstrated by the grades obtained prior to entering the doctoral program. The student must demonstrate broad understanding of engineering science and mathematics and special knowledge and readiness to pursue further study in a specific discipline/concentration. The examination must be taken before completion of 24 credits in the graduate program.

The student’s performance on the qualifying examination determines the future course of study. Students who pass continue the program of study. Those who pass conditionally are subject to additional course work and/or re-examination. Only one re-examination is permitted. Students who fail twice are dismissed from the doctoral program. The qualifying examination is administered by the Graduate Committee of the student’s respective department. The minimum College standards require the examination to be written, with a minimum of three topics, with minimum of two hours per topic. The subjects and examiners must be approved by the department faculty. Students should determine from their department office the exact nature of their examination and the dates on which it is offered. All students intending to take the examination are required to notify their respective department office at least four weeks before the scheduled examination date.

Candidacy Exam: The purpose of the doctoral candidacy examination is to assess a doctoral student’s maturity and preparation to continue independent research in a specific research topic. The examination should be taken before completing 15 credit hours of doctoral research (xxx895). Students are not permitted to register for dissertation credits (xxx899) before successful completion of the Candidacy Exam. For the candidacy examination, the student must prepare a written dissertation proposal based on a scholarly review of literature in the dissertation area. Prior GAC approval of the student’s dissertation committee (on the Dissertation Proposal Approval Form) and study plan is necessary to conduct the candidacy exam. The dissertation committee administers the doctoral candidacy examination. The exam must involve a public seminar followed by oral examination by the dissertation committee which is closed to the public. Based on the examination results, the student either passes and has the proposal accepted with a general understanding that the successful completion of the work presented results in the award of the Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering degree, or fails and has the proposal rejected. The candidacy exam may be taken a maximum of two times, with the second attempt within six months of the first attempt.


The dissertation, a concentrated, in-depth, independent study of an appropriate engineering problem, is the most distinguishing feature of doctoral study. At least thirty credits of dissertation work are required, which correspond to at least one year of full-time study. Students cannot take Dissertation (xxx899) credits before successful completion of the Candidacy Exam. The dissertation advisor and advisory committee, after approving a dissertation topic, monitor the student’s progress and approve the final written dissertation after a successful oral defense.

Once a student begins the dissertation study, he or she must register for a minimum of three credit hours per semester until the minimum of thirty credits is completed. After that, the student shall maintain a minimum registration of one credit hour per semester until the dissertation is completed.

The dissertation is not limited to the physical aspects of the engineering problem, but should include, where pertinent, economic considerations, environmental impact, social implications, and other interdisciplinary factors relevant to the specific topic.

In many cases, the dissertation study is conducted off-campus in an industrial or governmental setting. This type of off-campus study is defined as an internship; it gives the student an intimate and practical exposure to real problems of engineering. The student’s industrial internship dissertation project must be cleared for publication by the industrial or governmental organization in which the work is done. This written clearance must be included in the dissertation proposal.

The student intern may have an off-campus advisor who may become a member of the student’s advisory committee. This off-campus advisor is expected to work closely with the student and with a faculty as academic advisor. However, the faculty academic advisor remains the chair of the advisory committee, ensuring that ultimate control of the dissertation resides with the University.

Dissertation Defense and Degree Completion

One paper from the student’s dissertation research must be submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal, prior to the dissertation defense. The dissertation defense is a public presentation of the dissertation, followed by an oral examination by the dissertation committee which is closed to the public. The dissertation committee determines pass or failure.

The doctoral program director ensures that all program requirements are satisfied before signing the degree completion (including: course and research credits, successful completion of qualifying, candidacy and dissertation defense exams, publication requirements, and all program assessments). The Notice of Completion is signed by the dissertation committee chair, the department chair of the program of specialization, and the doctoral program director.

Chemical Engineering

Engineering Core Requirements (Minimum 16 credits):

  1. Advanced engineering mathematics (minimum two courses, 6 credit hours)
  2. Research Communication or alternative approved course (one course, 3 credit hours)
  3. Graduate courses from outside of engineering (minimum two courses, 6 credit hours)
  4. Doctoral seminar course, ESC 850 - Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering Seminar (1 credit) 

Electives (Minimum of 12 credits):

12 credits of 6xx or 7xx level engineering electives, subject to advisor approval

Additional Requirements

  1. Prior to the defense, at least one manuscript must be accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal.
  2. After completion of the candidacy exam, the doctoral candidate must provide a progress report annually to the dissertation committee, in the form of an oral presentation (preferred) or a written report.
  3. All students are required to take CHE 650 - Chemical Engineering Seminar  (for either 0 or 1 credit) each semester enrolled in the program, except when taking ESC 850 CHE 650  credit can only count towards the flexible credit category.