Doing a PhD in Chemical Engineering

If you’re considering a PhD in Chemical Engineering, there are tough questions that need to be answered. For instance: what is a PhD in Chemical Engineering and how long does it take? What’s the typical line of research and how much can I expect to pay for PhD courses in chemical engineering? And what about funding opportunities or career paths after completing a PhD in Chemical Engineering? This article will answer all your burning questions on the subject!

What Is a PhD in Chemical Engineering?

A PhD in Chemical Engineering, also known as a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree is the highest academic level that can be achieved. It’s typically undertaken after receiving an undergraduate degree and provides further education for those wishing to pursue or advance their career in research or academia.

The PhD in Chemical Engineering is an internationally recognised qualification and can be taken at universities all over the world. The focus of this degree is on developing your skills as a researcher, so you’ll be able to independently carry out research in chemical engineering and work on complex problems.

Browse Chemical Engineering PhD Opportunities

DemoBECCS: The potential and demonstration feasibility of BECCS

Project Description Centre for Energy Resources Engineering (CERE) at DTU Chemistry is seeking a talented PhD student to contribute to this DemoBECCS project. The project aims to tackle bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS), a CCS technology to achieve negative carbon emissions. The storage research in this project will focus on the challenges posed […]

Application of artificial intelligence to multiphysics problems in materials design

Project Description Development, design or assessment of materials with better performance, better durability and lower carbon footprints are among the main current challenges of many engineering disciplines including the construction sector. Experimental or computational modelling approaches have been traditionally used for this purpose. The experimental approaches are often based on trial-and-error methods, which are lengthy, […]

Capturing vibration to drive chemical change

Project Description The development of efficient and stable catalysts for environmentally sustainable chemistry such as hydrogen production from water remains a challenge. Among the variety of approaches that are being investigated to produce chemicals with net-zero targets, piezocatalysis, is new and hot topic. Piezocatalysis captures vibration that can be used to drive a chemical reaction. […]

What’s the Focus of A PhD in Chemical Engineering?

A PhD in Chemical Engineering is all about developing your skills as a researcher and allows you to work on more complex problems than an undergraduate or Master’s degree. You’ll be able to independently carry out original research in chemical engineering and have access to some of the latest equipment and technology.

You’ll also be able to specialise in a wide range of area of chemical engineering that interests you and develops your knowledge in this field. Typical lines of research for chemical PhD students include those that focus on different types of chemical engineering processes such as:

  • waste management
  • pharmaceuticals production
  • process modelling
  • water and wastewater treatment
  • nanotechnology
  • bioengineering
  • renewable energy

Depending on the nature of your project, you’ll also have the opportunity to work with other engineers from disciplines like physics or materials science and build links with industry.

Chemical Engineering PhDs

How Long Does It Take to Get A PhD in Chemical Engineering?

In the UK, it usually takes prospective students around three years to complete a PhD in Chemical Engineering. However, this can vary depending on your individual circumstances and the university you attend.

What Are the Entrance Requirements for A PhD in Chemical Engineering?

To be eligible for a PhD in Chemical Engineering programme, you’ll need to have completed an undergraduate honours degree in a relevant subject such as chemical engineering, chemistry, applied science, mechanical engineering etc. You’ll also need to meet the specific entry requirements for your chosen university, which may be different depending on where you study.

As part of the application process, international postgraduate research students will also require a student visa and will usually be required to demonstrate English proficiency by holding several English Language qualifications (i.e. IELTS).

How Much Does A PhD in Chemical Engineering cost?

The costs of undertaking a PhD in Chemical Engineering can vary significantly between universities and depending on whether you are a home or international student. Tuition fees can range from around £12,000 pa up to £18,000 pa. Depending on the specific nature of your research project, there may be additional costs associated with your studies, such as bench fees for laboratory supplies and travelling to conferences.

There are numerous higher education funding opportunities available so it’s worth doing some research before applying to find out what financial support is available for completing your research programme.

What Funding Opportunities Are There for Studying a PhD in Chemical Engineering?

There are several options when researching funding opportunities: charities; local authorities; business organisations; industry bodies and professional associations; universities or colleges.

You could also consider applying for a PhD in Chemical Engineering scholarship if you’re eligible and meet the criteria of the award.

It’s important to note that some funding opportunities at postgraduate level will only cover the tuition fees whilst others will also provide a stipend for maintenance costs, such as for living costs.

To find funding opportunities, we recommend asking the potential supervisor for the projects you’re interested in and checking out our database here: Browse funded PhD projects.

Careers for Chemical Engineering PhD Students

What’s Next After Completing a Chemical Engineering PhD?

There are several career paths open to those who complete a PhD degree: academia, research and development (R&D), education and training, consulting and professional practice (e.g. engineering).

Processing companies, in particular, are looking for chemical engineers with a PhD degree who have a good understanding of the engineering process and can provide consulting services. The engineer will be in charge of solving engineering problems in a variety of industries such as petroleum, petrochemicals, plastics and more.

A PhD opens up many opportunities as it demonstrates your ability to undertake independent research at the highest level of academic achievement, not to mention the broad range of transferable skills it imparts on you. It can also provide an advantage when looking for employment within organisations such as charities, government departments, NGOs or consultancy firms that require high-level skills like analytical thinking or problem-solving abilities.


To conclude, a PhD in Chemical Engineering is an internationally recognised qualification that can lead to a career in research or academia. It’s a challenging degree that requires dedication and hard work, but it’s also very rewarding and allows you to specialise in an area of chemical engineering that interests you. There are numerous funding opportunities available, so be sure to do your research before applying to ensure you have the best chance of securing financial support.

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