Laurel Hind and student in lab examining a sample

Graduate Degrees

PhD Programs
Chemical Engineering
Biological Engineering

MS Program
Chemical Engineering

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

The department particularly encourages applications from students who would broaden the diversity of our graduate community. We know that diversity is essential to academic and workplace success and we are committed to creating an inclusive and collaborative community.

MS Degree

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 emphasizes the PhD degree and does not accept applications from students seeking a terminal master’s degree. Students generally obtain master’s degrees in the course of fulfilling the requirements for the PhD degree.

PhD Degree

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


Full financial support is available to admitted PhD students in the form of assistantships and fellowships. No additional forms are needed to be considered for this funding.

Students admitted to the MS program are not eligible to receive department financial support.

A significant number of PhD students are supported through external fellowships available through the National Science Foundation, Department of Defense, Department of Energy, NASA, etc., and applicants are highly recommended to apply for relevant external fellowships.

How to Apply

Admission is based on overall student qualifications and is independent of research subject area. Department faculty and staff members do not conduct individual recruiting practices for prospective graduate students. Prospective student information will only be reviewed through formal submittal to the Graduate Admissions Committee.

Admission Requirements

All applicants must utilize the online application system.

  • Hold a baccalaureate degree or its equivalent from an accredited college or university.
  • The GRE is no longer a requirement for admission to our graduate program and it is not part of our review process.
  • Personal Statement: All applicants must provide a personal statement.  In your personal statement, please 1) summarize your educational and research experiences and their implications to your pursuit of a PhD, 2) explain how graduate studies will enable you to realize your professional and personal ambitions, and 3) conclude with why you believe the University of Colorado is an institution that can help you realize your professional goals. Be specific in detailing research experiences and research interests, listing faculty members by name.
  • Unofficial transcripts from all attended institutions of higher education. For review and decision purposes you are required to upload an unofficial copy of your transcript(s) in the online application. We require one copy of the scanned transcript from each undergraduate and graduate institution that you attended. This includes community colleges, summer sessions, and extension programs. While credits from one institution may appear on the transcript of a second institution, unofficial transcripts must be submitted from each institution, regardless of the length of attendance, and whether or not courses were completed. Failure to list and submit transcripts from all institutions previously attended is considered to be a violation of academic ethics and may result in the cancellation of your admission or dismissal from the university. ONLY after you are recommended for admission will you need to provide official transcripts. Read the instructions for uploading unofficial transcripts to your application.
  • Three letters of recommendation. You will enter your recommender’s contact information into the online application.
  • International applicants must submit an unofficial score report for the TOEFL (minimum 100ibt), IELTS (minimum 7.0) or Duolingo (minimum 120) English proficiency exam to the University of Colorado Boulder. The department will waive the English language requirement if the applicant has studied at a U.S. institution for a minimum of one year within two years of your desired admission term, or 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.

Diversity Initiative

The Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering particularly encourages applications from students who would broaden the diversity of our graduate community. We know that diversity is essential to academic and workplace success, and we are committed to creating an inclusive and collaborative community. Learn more about the University of Colorado Boulder Diversity Initiative.

Domestic Applicants

For Fall 2024 admission, the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering will be offering application fee waivers to all domestic PhD applicants who meet the following criteria.  NO code is required, the fee waiver will be automatically applied once you submit your application.

  1. You must apply by Dec. 15, 2023.
  2. You must be a U.S. Citizen or permanent resident.
  3. You must have an undergraduate GPA of 3.40/4.00 or above.

The application fee will NOT be waived for applicants seeking a Master’s degree.

The Graduate School offers application fee waivers for participants in the following programs: AmeriCorps (currently serving), Black in AI (BAI), Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity (BUILD) Initiative, Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (CSTEP), Gates Millennium Scholars, Leadership Alliance, Life Sciences Summer Undergraduate Research Program (LSSURP), Louis-Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP), Math Alliance Scholars, McNair Scholars Program, Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program, Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC) Scholar Program, Peace Corps (currently serving), Postbaccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP), SMART, Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS), Teach for America, and the Women+ of Color Project (W+OCP). If you are affiliated with one of these programs, please send us proof of your affiliation to after you have started an application and before you submit, and we will process your fee waiver for you. 

If you are in the U.S. military you will receive an automatic fee waiver as a thank you for your service (active duty, veteran, previously served, and active reserve are all eligible for this automatic fee waiver).

If you are undocumented and/or a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) beneficiary, please contact to inquire about possible fee waivers.

International Applicants

There is an $80 application fee for all international applicants. However, between Sept. 1 and Dec. 1, the department will consider waiving the application fee for international students seeking a PhD degree who have an undergraduate (bachelor) GPA greater than or equal to 3.80/4.00, 4.00/5.00, 90/100, 9.0/10, 90% or 18/20 from an accredited college or university. If you meet the requirement, please email our graduate coordinator a copy of your most recent unofficial transcript and a resume. After a review of your transcript and resume by the Graduate Admissions Committee, you will receive instructions on how to waive the application fee.

The application fee will not be waived for applicants seeking a terminal master’s degree.

Next Steps

Applications are reviewed by the department’s Graduate Admissions Committee. Final admissions decisions are communicated to all applicants via the email you provide in your online application. Admitted students who reside in the United States will be invited to visit CU-Boulder, 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; meetings with faculty; tours of the Jennie Smoly Caruthers Biotech Building, lab tours, and campus tours. There will be opportunities to meet with faculty and graduate students in a social setting and participate in activities with graduate students so that you can become acquainted with Boulder and the surrounding area.

Department Contact Information

University of Colorado Boulder
Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering
Attn: Graduate Admissions Committee
596 UCB, RM A125A
Boulder, CO 80309

Phone: 303-735-1975