Chemical Engineering Graduate Program


M. Scott Shell
Professor and Vice Chair of Graduate Affairs


Erica Diaz
Student Affairs Manager

Join Our Top-Ranked Chemical Engineering Graduate Program

The Chemical Engineering graduate program at UC Santa Barbara is truly one of the best in the world. Our prestigious graduate program has been ranked #2 in the world by the most recent National Research Council rankings. Our graduate researchers and faculty make a tremendous impact in a diverse range of fields. 

Program Overview

The Department of Chemical Engineering offers a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Chemical Engineering, with an emphasis on preparing students for future careers in research. Course and research requirements stress a broadly-based education in the fundamentals of chemical engineering, as well as materials science and bioengineering. Areas of research specialization include:

  • Materials & Interfaces (polymers, nanostructured materials, complex fluids and colloids, transport phenomena, forces and rheology, and characterization tools)
  • Bioengineering (nanomedicine, protein & cellular engineering, biochemical engineering, systems biology)
  • Energy & Sustainability (catalysis, energy conversion, fuels and chemicals)
  • Modeling, Theory & Simulation (molecular thermodynamics, kinetic phenomena, transport and interfaces, systems enginering, and multiscale simulations)

The concentration of research activity in these fields reflects a deliberately chosen philosophy of emphasizing interdisciplinary activities that have broad technological and societal impact. Our graduates find employment in both industry and academia. The typical preparation for graduate studies is an undergraduate degree in chemical engineering and related fields. With strong justification and motivation, applicants will also be considered from the sciences, mathematics, and other engineering disciplines.

Degrees Offered

Enrollment and Degrees

Doctoral Program Statistics: 

UC Doctoral Program Statistics Dashboard
UC Doctoral Program Experience Survey

Degrees Granted Academic Years 2015-20

  • Doctorate: 59 (11.8 yearly mean)

Enrollment as of Fall 2021

  • PhD Students: 92
  • International Students: 22%
  • Female: 39%
  • Male: 61%


The Department of Chemical Engineering features an outstanding, world-renowned faculty considered to be leaders in their respective areas of specialization. Professors in our department have a long tradition of collaboration and interdisciplinary work, with joint appointments, joint grant proposals, and shared students, post-docs, visitors, and facilities. Many graduate courses are cross-listed, both across departments and between undergraduate and graduate students. Our collaborative spirit is one of the reasons that UCSB is recognized as one of the top Chemical Engineering programs in the country.

Graduate applications

The department invites applications from determined and innovation-minded students. It is our experience that students are drawn towards UCSB's tradition of open collaboration and interdisciplinary research. More information can be found at our Admissions page.