Frequently Asked Questions about the Chemical Engineering Ph.D. Program

Updated on May 19, 2021

1. What makes the Department of Chemical Engineering at CCNY different from other programs?
Located in historic Harlem on Manhattan's west side, CCNY is an incredibly diverse community.  Our faculty to student ratio is 1:3 making the Department of Chemical Engineering a small, intimate community.  The City College of New York  (CCNY) is the flagship school of the City University of New York (CUNY). The Towers at CCNY is our first residence hall that provides accommodations for students.
Our program is highly competitive and we boast several high-profile Institutes: The Energy Institute, which is concerned with global warming and energy supply shortages, and The Benjamin Levich Institute for Physico-Chemical Hydrodynamics with research projects including rheology.  

Due to Covid-19, all spring 2021 lecture courses will be online and all research courses will be in-person.    
3. How do I apply to the graduate program?
You must complete an online application and provide the requested supporting documents.  All students must provide an official transcript from each college or university attended, letters of recommendation, a personal statement and a resume. The Chemical Engineering Dept reviews all applications and makes the decision to accept a student based on their entire application package.
4. Are GRE scores and TOEFL required?
The GRE is no longer required for admission.  The TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) exam is generally required for international students.
5. What is the average GPA score for the students who are admitted in your department?
Accepted students generally have a GPA score above 3.0.
6. When is the deadline date?
For spring 2022 admission, the deadline is November 1st, 2021 and the deadline for fall 2022 is December 31st, 2021.  

7. I have been admitted to the program.  Can I defer my starting date?
Yes, although you may lose your financial aid.  Please discuss with the PhD Program Director, Prof. Elizabeth Biddinger.
8. What happens if I do not receive my I-20 visa on time?
If a student is not issued or does not receive an I-20 by the start of registration, they can postpone their acceptance to the following semester.  However, there is a possibility that they will lose their financial aid.

9. Can a student apply directly to a specific field of study or professor?
No, applicants are admitted to the Chemical Engineering Department as a whole. A prospective student must first apply to the program, be accepted, then in their first term in the program, choose a particular field of study or professor's group. 

10. Does the Department offer a degree in polymers?
Although the Chemical Engineering Department has several projects involving polymers it does not offer a degree in polymer science per se.

11. What is the total number of courses required for degree completion?
Ph.D. students need to obtain 61 credits of which at least 33 credits must be course credits, 12 must be research credits and the remaining 15 can be in either.  The remaining 1 credit (K9000) is for dissertation supervision.  

12. How do I register?
New incoming students will register with the Academic Advising Manager, Jennifer Harrington.  In the following semesters they can register online, but they are advised to meet with the Advisor at least once every semester at the time of registration.

13. Can I transfer graduate credits from another institution to the Ph.D. program at CCNY?
Yes, provided there exists an equivalent course here at CCNY and you have obtained at least a B or higher grade in the course.  The school allows a maximum of 30 transfer credits.  We do accept credits from foreign universities.  The Chemical Engineering department evaluates transfer credit requests and determines if the course from another graduate program is equivalent in effort, depth, and scope to a course offered here at CCNY.  Transfer requests can only be evaluated once the student has been accepted and enrolled as a matriculated graduate student in the ChE department.

14. Can I take classes outside of CCNY?
You may take classes at any CUNY college by obtaining an e-permit and paying tuition at CCNY.  To take classes at any other university in NYC, you should register there as a non-matriculated student, take the course and pay their tuition, and then transfer the course credits to CCNY.  This request has to be filed with the Dean of Graduate studies.  We advise that you first consult with the Ph.D. Program Director, Prof. Elizabeth Biddinger, to make sure those credits are likely to be transferable.

15. Can I take a class for which I do not have the right prerequisite?
No.  The purpose of prerequisites in graduate courses is to give the student some guidance on the required background to perform well in class.

16. What is considered a full-time semester for a Ph.D. student?
First year Ph.D. students take 16 credits in their first two semesters.  Their first semester is comprised of ChE I0000, I2800, I5700, J9600, ENGR I0800 and ENGR I1100. 

17. Can I work and study part time?
We have had cases, but it is discouraged.

18. What is expected of successful PhD students?
Students must maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0 and are required to attend the Chemical Engineering and Levich Institute seminars.  Students are expected to pass the first qualifying exam, which is held during the winter break of their 1st year.  They must pass this exam to continue with their studies.  Those who do not pass are given opportunity to retake the exam at the end of the spring semester at the discretion of the PhD Committee.
19. What is the attendance policy for the seminars?
Attendance of the Chemical Engineering seminars is mandatory.           
20. Do you have campus visits?
Yes, due to Covid-19 we are currently doing virtual visits.  We encourage students to 'visit' our campus, meet our faculty,  and current graduate students.  Contact the department to set up a time for a visit at .

21. Where can I get more information?
You can request more information about the PhD program here or visit our Department website here
If you have questions related to deadlines, forms and procedures please contact the appropriate offices below:

Admission's Office
Wille Administration Building
Room A-101
(212) 650-6977
Registrar's Office
Wille Administration Building
Room A-102
(212) 650-7850

Office of Graduate Affairs
Room ST-209
(212) 650-8030

International Student and Scholar Services
North Academic Center
Room NA 1/107
For further questions specific to the ChE Ph.D. Program, please contact

Last Updated: 05/19/2021 11:39