Chemical and Biological Engineering

The Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering (ChBE) offers an innovative graduate program and emphasizes the doctoral degree. ChBE's outstanding national and international students take advantage of the high level of faculty-student collaboration and benefit from access to three interdisciplinary research centers. Department faculty and students have won numerous awards both nationally and internationally.

General research areas within the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering include: biomaterials, biopharmaceutical engineering, catalysis, surface science and reaction engineering, complex fluids and microfluidic devices, computational science; energy and environmental applications, membranes and separations, metabolic engineering and directed evolution, nanostructured films and devices, polymer chemistry and engineering and tissue engineering.

The Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering is one of the top research departments in the nation and maintains sophisticated facilities to support research endeavors. Although research in the department spans many diverse fields, there is a particular emphasis on research in biological engineering, functional materials and renewable energy.

Biological engineering research includes a broad collection of focal areas spanning from the molecular scale (metabolites, genes, proteins) to the cellular and multicellular scales. Biological engineering projects account for a significant portion of the research activity within the ChBE Department. This research is supported in a variety of manners: federal grants (NIH, NSF, DOD, etc.), national foundations (Howard Hughes, Cystic Fibrosis, etc.), and industrial collaborators.

Functional Materials research in the ChBE Department is concentrated in a diverse group of research areas including polymers, nanostructured materials, photovoltaic materials, ultrathin films, catalytic materials, computational materials science, self-assembled monolayers and liquid crystalline materials. The department has strength in studying materials problems at the nanometer and sub-nanometer length scales. Such fundamental investigations are directed toward technological applications.

Finally, the ChBE Department has an active program in renewable energy research. Studies range from the production and utilization of hydrogen to materials for photovoltaics to biorefining and biofuels research. A number of efforts focus on developing catalysts for converting water to hydrogen and CO2 into fuels such as CO and methanol. Another area of focus is the study of novel photovoltaic materials and structures involving organic, inorganic and hybrid structures for efficient solar energy harvesting.  

Degrees Offered


Degree Details


The master of science degree requires 30 hours of approved course work and successful completion of a comprehensive final exam or thesis defense. Students may pursue a thesis or non-thesis plan. The department does not accept students interested in a terminal master’s degree except under special circumstances. Students generally obtain master’s degrees in the course of fulfilling the requirements for the Ph.D. degree.


The doctor of philosophy degree requires 30 hours of approved course work and 30 hours of dissertation. Students must successfully complete a comprehensive examination and dissertation defense.

Admissions Requirements

Applicants must:

  1. Hold a baccalaureate degree or its equivalent from an accredited college or university.
  2. Have an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.25/4.00

Please visit the website for more information on graduate admission procedures for the Department of Chemical & Biological Engineering.

Applications are reviewed by the department’s Graduate Admissions Committee. Final admissions decisions are communicated to all applicants via the email you provide on your online application. Admitted students who reside in the United States will be invited to visit the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, at department expense, during one of two weekends in the spring. These visit weekends provide recruits with an overview of the research conducted in the department; individual meetings with faculty; tours of our Biotech Building, chemical engineering labs, and the University of Colorado Boulder campus; there will be opportunities to meet with faculty and graduate students in a social setting; and social activities with graduate students so that you can become acquainted with Boulder, Colorado and the surrounding area.

Minimum requirements for all applicants

All applicants must submit an online Graduate Application. The following items must be uploaded with your online application.

  • Curricula Vitae (CV)
  • Personal Statement
  • Completed ChBE Department Questionnaire. Please download the necessary document
  • Three letters of recommendation. You will enter your recommender’s contact information into the online application.
  • All applicants must submit official GRE scores directly from ETS to the University of Colorado Boulder. No GRE Subject Exams are required.
  • International Applicants must submit an official TOEFL or IELTS score to the University of Colorado Boulder. ChBE requires a minimum TOEFL score of 100 iBT (internet-based exam) or a minimum IELTS score of 7.00.
  • ChBE will waive the TOEFL/IELTS requirement if:
    • The applicant has studied at a U.S. institution for a minimum of one year.
    • The applicant is a citizen of one of the following countries: Australia, Belize, Botswana, Anglophone Canada, Commonwealth Caribbean, Ghana, Great Britain, India, Ireland, New Zealand, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Scotland, Singapore or South Africa

Applicant Instructions

Spring Domestic and International Application Deadline:

Rolling Admissions (no set deadline) for Spring terms.

Fall Domestic and International Application Deadline

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Contact Information

University of Colorado Boulder
Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering
Attn: Graduate Admissions Committee
596 UCB, RM A125C
Boulder, CO 80309

Phone: 303-735-1975

Chemical and Biological Engineering website