Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

University of California, Berkeley

About the Program

At Berkeley, graduate work in chemical and biomolecular engineering emphasizes the excitement of original research in frontier areas of applied science. Graduate students may pursue a PhD in Chemical Engineering, or they may apply to the Product Development concentration to obtain an MS in Chemical Engineering. While formal courses are necessary to provide scientific fundamentals and intellectual breadth, the primary characteristic of Berkeley's graduate experience is to participate in the quest for new knowledge. Graduate students and faculty collaborate as partners in scholarship, in learning, and in intellectual discovery.

Master's Program

Professional Degree in Product Development Program (MS)

The PDP is a graduate-level degree program whose central aim is to fill the unmet need at national and international levels for graduates of chemical engineering and related disciplines who have knowledge and field experience in the complex process of transforming technical innovations into commercially successful products. In the space of one calendar year, PDP graduates will gain exposure to real-world product development practices in a range of chemical process-intensive industries including biotechnology, microelectronics, nanoscience, and consumer products (concentrations within the program). The PDP does not require a research thesis, but students will find completing the extensive coursework and field study assignment challenging. By combining elements of advanced technical knowledge with focused business-related training, the PDP aims to fill a specific niche in the “choice space” of graduate education options for engineering graduates.

M.S. in Chemical Engineering

Focusing on Chemical Engineering core courses and higher division electives this highly competitive program will test students on a) transport phenomena; b) kinetics and chemical fundamentals; and c) thermodynamics at the end of the first semester.

PhD Program

The PhD program is designed to enlarge the body of knowledge of the student and, more importantly, to discover and develop talent for original, productive, and creative work in chemical and biomolecular engineering. Breadth of knowledge and professional training are achieved through advanced course work. To develop the creative talents of the student, a paramount emphasis in the PhD program is placed on intensive research, a project on which students work closely with one or more members of the faculty.

PhD students may choose to add a designated emphasis (DE) to their program. A designated emphasis is a specialization, such as a new method of inquiry or an important field of application, which is relevant to two or more existing doctoral degree programs. Designated emphases open to students in this PhD program include Nanoscale Science and Engineering (NSE), Energy Sciences and Technology (DEEST), Communication, Computation and Statistics, Computational and Genomic Biology, and New Media.

M.S. in Bioprocess Engineering

The Master of Bioprocess Engineering (MBPE) program is designed to provide students with a unique opportunity to integrate classroom fundamentals, hands-on laboratory applications, and heavy interaction with a range of biotechnology companies spanning the biopharmaceutical, industrial biotech, and food tech industries."

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Admission to the University

Minimum Requirements for Admission

The following minimum requirements apply to all graduate programs and will be verified by the Graduate Division:

  1. A bachelor’s degree or recognized equivalent from an accredited institution;
  2. A grade point average of B or better (3.0);
  3. If the applicant has completed a basic degree from a country or political entity (e.g., Quebec) where English is not the official language, adequate proficiency in English to do graduate work, as evidenced by a TOEFL score of at least 90 on the iBT test, 570 on the paper-and-pencil test, or an IELTS Band score of at least 7 on a 9-point scale (note that individual programs may set higher levels for any of these); and
  4. Sufficient undergraduate training to do graduate work in the given field.

Applicants Who Already Hold a Graduate Degree

The Graduate Council views academic degrees not as vocational training certificates, but as evidence of broad training in research methods, independent study, and articulation of learning. Therefore, applicants who already have academic graduate degrees should be able to pursue new subject matter at an advanced level without the need to enroll in a related or similar graduate program.

Programs may consider students for an additional academic master’s or professional master’s degree only if the additional degree is in a distinctly different field.

Applicants admitted to a doctoral program that requires a master’s degree to be earned at Berkeley as a prerequisite (even though the applicant already has a master’s degree from another institution in the same or a closely allied field of study) will be permitted to undertake the second master’s degree, despite the overlap in field.

The Graduate Division will admit students for a second doctoral degree only if they meet the following guidelines:

  1. Applicants with doctoral degrees may be admitted for an additional doctoral degree only if that degree program is in a general area of knowledge distinctly different from the field in which they earned their original degree. For example, a physics PhD could be admitted to a doctoral degree program in music or history; however, a student with a doctoral degree in mathematics would not be permitted to add a PhD in statistics.
  2. Applicants who hold the PhD degree may be admitted to a professional doctorate or professional master’s degree program if there is no duplication of training involved.

Applicants may apply only to one single degree program or one concurrent degree program per admission cycle.

Required Documents for Applications

  1. Transcripts: Applicants may upload unofficial transcripts with your application for the departmental initial review. Unofficial transcripts must contain specific information including the name of the applicant, name of the school, all courses, grades, units, & degree conferral (if applicable). 
  2. Letters of recommendation: Applicants may request online letters of recommendation through the online application system. Hard copies of recommendation letters must be sent directly to the program, by the recommender, not the Graduate Admissions.
  3. Evidence of English language proficiency: All applicants who have completed a basic degree from a country or political entity in which the official language is not English are required to submit official evidence of English language proficiency. This applies to institutions from Bangladesh, Burma, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Latin America, the Middle East, the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia, most European countries, and Quebec (Canada). However, applicants who, at the time of application, have already completed at least one year of full-time academic course work with grades of B or better at a US university may submit an official transcript from the US university to fulfill this requirement. The following courses will not fulfill this requirement:

    • courses in English as a Second Language,

    • courses conducted in a language other than English,

    • courses that will be completed after the application is submitted, and

    • courses of a non-academic nature.

Applicants who have previously applied to Berkeley must also submit new test scores that meet the current minimum requirement from one of the standardized tests. Official TOEFL score reports must be sent directly from Educational Test Services (ETS). The institution code for Berkeley is 4833 for Graduate Organizations. Official IELTS score reports must be sent electronically from the testing center to University of California, Berkeley, Graduate Division, Sproul Hall, Rm 318 MC 5900, Berkeley, CA 94720. TOEFL and IELTS score reports are only valid for two years prior to beginning the graduate program at UC Berkeley. Note: score reports can not expire before the month of June.


Where to Apply

Visit the Berkeley Graduate Division application page

Admission to the Program

Admission is granted by the University's Graduate Division on the recommendation of the department. Applicants generally are required to provide the following: evidence of superior performance in the last two years of undergraduate studies; test scores for the aptitude portion of the Graduate Record Examination (the advanced GRE or subject test is not required); and three letters of recommendation from professors or colleagues familiar with the applicant's academic and professional aptitudes. International students whose native language is not English must provide evidence of English language proficiency. The weight of evidence from all sources determines admission. Students do not need a master's degree to apply for a doctoral degree. Most applicants will have completed a typical undergraduate program in chemical engineering. However, admission may be granted to students with undergraduate degrees in a related discipline. In this case, necessary background courses in chemical engineering are taken as part of the program for the first year.

Doctoral Degree Requirements


A total of 18 units of letter-graded graduate courses must be taken during residence in the graduate program. In the first semester, a minimum of 9 units must be obtained from the core chemical engineering courses in the areas of mathematics, thermodynamics, reaction engineering, and transport phenomena. In addition, students are required to take the CHM ENG 375 pedagogy course and two semesters in CHM ENG 300. Students should be registered full time with a minimum of 12 units. These include CHM ENG 299 and colloquium series CHM ENG 298.

Additional units must be obtained from graduate level or upper division elective courses so that the total number of units taken is 18. Students  may take classes in other departments such as Engineering, Physics, Chemistry, etc. They are strongly encouraged to pursue additional courses of specific relevance to their thesis research and to explore other areas of technical, professional, or personal interest. 

9 units: Chemical Engineering graduate core courses
CHM ENG 230Mathematical Methods in Chemical Engineering3
CHM ENG 240Thermodynamics for Chemical Product and Process Design3
CHM ENG 244Kinetics and Reaction Engineering3
CHM ENG 245Catalysis3
CHM ENG 250Transport Processes3
CHM ENG 274Biomolecular Engineering3
9-12 units: Graduate or upper division electives

Master's Degree Requirements

Professional Master's with Product Development Concentration

The Master's PDP program places equal emphasis on advanced course work in new product development principles, specific industry practices, and the field study assignment. Successful completion of each of these elements is a prerequisite to graduation. The specific courses taken in the PDP program are selected in consultations between the student, the PDP executive director, and a faculty adviser. Upon entrance to the program, students will be required to declare an industry area specialization so that an appropriate academic schedule can be constructed. Students must complete a minimum of 28 units with at least 18 of those units from letter-graded courses which include a minimum of 12 units in graduate-level (i.e., 200 series) courses.

Specific coursework to pursue an industry track will vary based on the individual student's interests and the availability of course offerings in a given year.

For examples of representative curricula for each industry track, please visit:

M.S. in Chemical Engineering

Highly competitive admission and program. Students have to complete a total of 24 semester units are required for the MS. Of the 24 units, Academic Senate regulations state that a minimum of 12 units must be in 200-level courses in Chemical Engineering (230, 240, 244, 250 and 274). Additional 12 units in upper division/graduate courses electives as approved by our Graduate Advisor and 6 units in 298 and 299.

There is a comprehensive exam given by at least 2 Senate faculty testing on a) transport phenomena; b) kinetics and chemical fundamentals; and c) thermodynamics at the end of the first semester. Time for completion of the degree is 2 semesters.


Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Faculty and Instructors


Keith Alexander, Adjunct Professor. New Product Development, Technology Commercialization.

Nitash P. Balsara, Professor. Chemical engineering, synthesis and characterization of soft microstructured polymer materials, nucleation, neutron scattering, depolarized light scattering.
Research Profile

Alexis T. Bell, Professor. Understanding the fundamental relationships between the structure and composition of heterogeneous catalysts and their performance .
Research Profile

Elton J. Cairns, Professor. Electrochemistry and electrocatalysis.
Research Profile

Carlo Carraro, Adjunct Professor.

Douglas S. Clark, Professor. Biochemical engineering and biocatalysis.
Research Profile

David B. Graves, Professor. Plasma processing and electronic materials.
Research Profile

Teresa Head-Gordon, Professor. Computational chemistry, biophysics, bioengineering, biomolecules, materials, computational science.
Research Profile

Enrique Iglesia, Professor. Chemical engineering, catalytic materials, heterogeneous catalysis, chemical reaction engineering, methane and biomass coversion processes, refining processes, hydrogen generation, alkane activation deoxygenatiion and desulfurization catalysis, zeolites.
Research Profile

Alexander Katz, Assistant Professor. Chemical engineering, nanoengineering, catalytic imprinted silicas, catalysts in biological systems, catalysis, chemical sensing.
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Jay Keasling, Professor. Microorganism metabolic engineering for environmentally friendly product .
Research Profile

Sanjay Kumar, Professor. Biomaterials, molecular and cellular bioengineering, stem cells, cancer biology, translational medicine.
Research Profile

Markita Landry, Assistant Professor. Nanomaterials, single-molecule fluorescence microscopy, biophysics.
Research Profile

Jeffrey R. Long, Professor. Inorganic and solid state chemistry, synthesis of inorganic clusters and solids, controlling structure, tailoring physical properties, intermetal bridges, high-spin metal-cyanide clusters, magnetic bistability.
Research Profile

Roya Maboudian, Professor. Surface and interfacial science and engineering, thin-film science and technology, micro-/nano-systems technology, harsh-environment sensors, silicon carbide, biologically-inspired materials synthesis.
Research Profile

Brian Maiorella, Adjunct Professor.

Kranthi K. Mandadapu, Assistant Professor. Statistical Mechanics, Continuum Mechanics — Polycrystalline Materials, Biological Membranes, Bacterial Motility.
Research Profile

Bryan D. McCloskey, Assistant Professor. Electrochemical energy storage, electrocatalysis, molecular and ionic transport through polymers .
Research Profile

Ali Mesbah, Assistant Professor. Process Systems and Control.
Research Profile

Susan J. Muller, Professor. Chemical engineering, fluid mechanics, Rheology, complex fluids, microfabrication processes, Genetic Engineering of Protein Polymers, Finite Element Modeling of Bubbles, Stress Fluids, Taylor-Couette instabilities.
Research Profile

John M. Prausnitz, Professor. Molecular thermodynamics of phase equilibria.
Research Profile

* Clayton J. Radke, Professor. Surface and colloid science technology.
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* Jeffrey A. Reimer, Professor. Materials chemistry, applied spectroscopy, alternative energy, nuclear spintronics.
Research Profile

David Schaffer, Professor. Neuroscience, biomolecular engineering, bioengineering, stem cell biology, gene therapy.
Research Profile

Karthik Shekhar, Assistant Professor. Cellular and systems biology, statistical inference, single-cell genomics.
Research Profile

Berend Smit, Professor. Molecular simulations, multi-scale modeling, catalysts, soft-condensed matter, biological membranes, clays.
Research Profile

Rui Wang, Assistant Professor. Theoretical Polymer and Soft Materials, Electrostatics at Interfaces, Structure and Dynamics of Ion-Containing Polymers, Complex Polymer Networks towards the Design of Smart Materials.
Research Profile

Wenjun Zhang, Assistant Professor. Natural product biosynthesis and engineering for health and bioenergy applications.
Research Profile


Negar Beheshti, Lecturer.

Dean C. Draemel, Lecturer.

Sudhir Joshi, Lecturer.

Jason Ryder, Lecturer.

Gregory R. Schoofs, Lecturer.

Steve Sciamanna, Lecturer.

George Tyson, Lecturer.

Marjorie Went, Lecturer.

Emeritus Faculty

Harvey W. Blanch, Professor Emeritus. Biochemical Engineering.
Research Profile

Morton Denn, Professor Emeritus.

Jean M. J. Frechet, Professor Emeritus. Materials chemistry, catalysis, drug delivery, analytical chemistry, organic synthesis, polymer science, macromolecules, chiral recognition, control of molecular architecture at the nanometer scale, reactive surfaces.
Research Profile

Simon Goren, Professor Emeritus.

C. Judson King, Professor Emeritus. Separation processes, spray drying, and higher education.
Research Profile

Scott Lynn, Professor Emeritus.

John S. Newman, Professor Emeritus. Chemical engineering, electrochemical systems, lithium batteries, industrial electrochemical processes, methanol fuel cells.
Research Profile

* Michael C. Williams, Professor Emeritus.

Contact Information

Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

201 Gilman Hall

Phone: 510-642-2291

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Department Chair

Bryan McCloskey

Phone: 510-642-2291

Vice Chair for Graduate Education

Nitash Balsara, PhD

Phone: 510-642-8973

Graduate Student Affairs Officer

Carlet Altamirano

201 Gilman Hall

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