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

Applying for Graduate Admission

Thank you for considering UC Berkeley for graduate study! UC Berkeley offers more than 120 graduate programs representing the breadth and depth of interdisciplinary scholarship. A complete list of graduate academic departments, degrees offered, and application deadlines can be found on the Graduate Division website.

Prospective students must submit an online application to be considered for admission, in addition to any supplemental materials specific to the program for which they are applying. The online application can be found on the Graduate Division website.

Admission Requirements

The minimum graduate admission requirements are:

  1. A bachelor’s degree or recognized equivalent from an accredited institution;

  2. A satisfactory scholastic average, usually a minimum grade-point average (GPA) of 3.0 (B) on a 4.0 scale; and

  3. Enough undergraduate training to do graduate work in your chosen field.

For a list of requirements to complete your graduate application, please see the Graduate Division’s Admissions Requirements page. It is also important to check with the program or department of interest, as they may have additional requirements specific to their program of study and degree. Department contact information can be found here.

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

Contact Information

Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

201 Gilman Hall

Phone: 510-642-2291

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Department Chair

Bryan McCloskey

Vice Chair for Graduate Education

Joelle Frechette

Graduate Student Affairs Officer

Carlet Altamirano

201 Gilman Hall

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