Chemical and Petroleum Engineering

Chemical engineering has grown out of a combination of chemistry and engineering associated with industrial processes. Today, it comprises knowledge used in processes that change the physical state or composition of materials. Chemical engineers hold key roles in the design, development, production, and purification of materials considered essential to human life and well-being, such as food products, fuels and lubricants, pharmaceuticals, fertilizers, synthetic fibers, microelectronic components, and plastics. Chemical engineers are involved in reducing the use of energy to make products in a safe and sustainable way and minimizing environmental impacts. Areas of study in the Chemical Engineering Department include (but are not limited to):

Reaction Kinetics, Environmentally Beneficial Catalysis, Fuel Cells, Biofuels, Interfacial Phenomena, Biotherapeutics, Regenerative Micro-Tissue Engineering, Exploiting Supercritical and Gas-Expanded Liquids in Crystallization and Benign Chemicals Processing, Hydrothermal Liquefaction, Electrocatalysis, and Photoelectrocatalysis. 

Petroleum engineering is concerned with the drilling, recovery, production, and distribution of petroleum and natural gas. Petroleum engineers use knowledge of fluid and rock properties in subsurface environments to produce oil and gas safely and economically. At the University of Kansas, the focus is on reservoir engineering and improving production from oil and gas reservoirs. Reservoir engineers use geological detection with computerized mathematical analysis to produce raw materials. Through such techniques, petroleum engineers continue to extract oil and gas from reservoirs considered uneconomical only a few years ago. Petroleum engineering is uniquely challenging in that the raw material must be recovered far from direct observation. Areas of study in the Petroleum Engineering Department include (but are not limited to):

Hydraulic fracturing and acidizing of unconventional reservoirs, Characterization and simulation of tight oil and gas reservoirs, Oilfield nanoparticles, CO2 enhanced oil recovery and CO2 storage, Phase behavior of reservoir fluids, Shale gas reservoir development, Anti-scaling and anti-waxing in oilfield, Kinetics of crude oil combustion, Polymer flooding, and Polymer Gels. 

Graduate Admission

To qualify for study in any of the graduate programs in the Department of Chemical & Petroleum Engineering a student generally must have earned an accredited bachelor's degree in chemical or petroleum engineering. However, a student with good preparation in another engineering discipline or a related field, such as physics, may qualify by taking the appropriate prerequisite undergraduate courses. These courses are determined on a case-by-case basis by the Department's Graduate Admissions Committee/Director.

Application Deadlines

Fall Priority Deadline: December 15

Spring Priority Deadline: August 31

Applications will be accepted after the fall priority deadline listed above, but fellowships and assistantships may not be available at a later date. All application materials must be submitted by the final deadlines, March 1 for fall and September 30 for spring, to be considered for admission. See our Graduate Admissions page or the Graduate Studies website for the application procedure and fees.

Application Materials

  • Application (online only)

  • Statement of Purpose

  • Resume or Curriculum Vitae

  • Official transcript

  • Three letters of recommendation

  • GRE scores (school code 6871)

  • TOEFL, PTE or IELTS scores (international students)

         The following documents are required only after a student has been admitted:

  • Financial Statement (if no department funding offer)
  • One (1) Official Transcript sent directly from the applicant’s university to the University of Kansas

*GRE Scores

  • Institution Code – 6871
  • Program Codes – 1001 (Chemical), 1611 (Petroleum)

*TOEFL Scores

  • Institution Code – 6871
  • Program Code – 64

Students admitted with baccalaureate degrees in chemical or petroleum engineering  are usually able to enroll in the graduate core courses listed in our Graduate Program Manual. Students with degrees in other branches of engineering or in mathematics, chemistry, physics, or other sciences, usually must take undergraduate course work to provide the necessary background for the graduate courses, and are admitted provisionally. See the undergraduate prerequisite courses listed in the M.S. Degree Requirements section. There are some restrictions to international students who do not qualify for regular admission. For more information, see the July 2016 policy passed by the US department of Homeland Security. 

All graduate applications must be submitted online.

Regular Status

For admission to regular status, the student must have an undergraduate grade point average of at least B (3.0 on a 4.0 scale). For students whose undergraduate GPA is below 3.0, admission on provisional status will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Graduate Record Examination scores are required.

Provisional Status

An applicant may be admitted as a provisional graduate student when either the quality or type of undergraduate preparation is deficient, i.e., the student's undergraduate grade-point average is below 3.0 on a 4.0 scale or the student has not met the prerequisite undergraduate courses to do graduate work in the department or program to which he or she has applied.

After completing the prerequisite courses as a provisional graduate student, the department reviews his or her performance and recommends that the student (1) be transferred to regular status, or (2) be dropped from the Graduate School.  

Foreign Student English Proficiency

The following are the acceptable means of verifying English proficiency for purposes of admitting non-native speakers of English and/or international students to graduate studies. These guidelines also apply to U.S. citizens and permanent residents who are not native speakers of English; they are subject to change by official action of the appropriate governance bodies.

  1. Receipt of an official copy (not student's copy) of an applicant's English proficiency standardized test scores (e.g., TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE) achieved not more than two years prior to the semester of first enrollment.
  2. Graduation with a baccalaureate degree (or higher) earned in residence from an accredited English-medium U.S. college, university, or an institution of higher education or such an institution in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, an English-speaking province of Canada, or an English-speaking Caribbean country, with instruction conducted in English. Degrees earned online may not be used to verify English proficiency.

All foreign students who are not native speakers of English must be screened by the Applied English Center on arrival, regardless of their TOEFL or other test scores, and according to the Rules and Regulations of the Faculty Senate, such students must enroll in the English courses specified for them by the Applied English Center.

Required Application Documents

Before an application is submitted for review, all supplemental documents must have been received by the Department. A list of the documents for both International and Domestic students are listed above.

The score requirements for the TOEFL and IELTS exams can be found HERE.

Visit Us

Graduate program staff can assist prospective students in determining the fit between the student and the program. Staff can facilitate a campus visit. If you would like to schedule a visit, there are two main options:

The first, and most preferred, entails simply applying for admission to the program. All prospective students are welcome to attend our Open House in early November and some highly qualified admitted students may be invited to participate in Visitation Days in late February or early March (prior to the fall semester of your intended matriculation). These organized visitation opportunities will allow you time to gather a great deal of first-hand information which we hope will help you in making a final decision about whether to attend KU.

The second option is making arrangements to visit us on your own, outside of organized events. With early notification, we will do our best to work with you to provide information and schedule appointments with faculty when possible. 

Contact Information

Please contact the CPE Graduate Program Assistant, cpegrad@ku.edu or (785) 864-2900, if you would like to  schedule a campus visit, or have questions about the program or the application process.

The University of Kansas
CPE Graduate Program
4132 Learned Hall
1530 W. 15th Street
Lawrence, KS 66045-7605

M.S. Degree Requirements

M.S. in Chemical Engineering

Two degree options, Option A or Option B, are available for the M.S. degree in chemical engineering.

Option A requires a thesis, and students in Option A are considered for departmental research assistantships, teaching assistantships, and fellowships.

Option B does not require a thesis, but does require a written report on a 3-hour special project. Students in Option B are not eligible for departmental research assistantships and fellowships, but may be considered for teaching assistantships, although priority is given to students in Option A.

Once admitted, students may change from one option to the other only with the Graduate Standards Committee approval.

For an M.S. in chemical engineering, the undergraduate prerequisite courses are C&PE 511, C&PE 512, C&PE 521, C&PE 523, and C&PE 524. Depending on a student’s academic background and proposed Plan of Study, additional undergraduate prerequisite courses may be required. Up to 3 credit hours of the undergraduate prerequisite courses (numbered 500 or above) may be counted toward the M.S. degree as elective hours.

The following tables represent typical plans of study that might be established by a student and their advisor. Rarely are exceptions in C&PE course work allowed. 

M.S. in Chemical Engineering: Option A

Chemical Engineering Graduate Core Courses (15)
C&PE 701Methods of Chemical and Petroleum Calculations3
C&PE 721Chemical Engineering Thermodynamics3
C&PE 722Kinetics and Catalysis3
C&PE 731Convective Heat and Momentum Transfer3
C&PE 732Advanced Transport Phenomena II3
Electives (6)6
It is recommended that part of the elective hours be from other departments.
Research (9)
C&PE 800Seminar (or 1.5 credits C&PE 800 and 1.5 credit for another seminar series if mandatory for fellowship or academic center involvement, etc.)3
C&PE 803Research6
Only the first 6 hours of enrollment in C&PE 803 meet degree requirements.
Includes the thesis and final oral defense or examination (0)
Total Hours30

M.S. in Chemical Engineering: Option B

Chemical Engineering Graduate Core Courses (15)
C&PE 701Methods of Chemical and Petroleum Calculations3
C&PE 721Chemical Engineering Thermodynamics3
C&PE 722Kinetics and Catalysis3
C&PE 731Convective Heat and Momentum Transfer3
C&PE 732Advanced Transport Phenomena II3
Electives (15)15
No more than 2 elective courses numbered below 700.
No more than 3 elective courses in Engineering Management or Business or both.
Research (3)
C&PE 825Graduate Problems in Chemical and Petroleum Engineering3
Total Hours33

M.S. in Petroleum Engineering

For an M.S. in petroleum engineering, the undergraduate prerequisite courses are C&PE 511,  C&PE 527, and C&PE 618.

Depending on a student’s academic background and proposed Plan of Study, additional undergraduate prerequisite courses may be required. Up to 3 credit hours of undergraduate prerequisite courses (numbered 500 or above) may be counted toward the M.S. degree as elective hours. If a student has not completed an advanced-level, reservoir-related course in geology as an undergraduate, such a course must be taken as an elective. GEOL 535 Petroleum and Subsurface Geology is recommended.

The following table represents a typical plan of study that might be established by a student and his or her advisor.

Petroleum Engineering Graduate Core Courses (12)
C&PE 701Methods of Chemical and Petroleum Calculations3
C&PE 771Advanced Reservoir Engineering3
C&PE 790Introduction to Flow in Porous Media3
C&PE 795Enhanced Petroleum Recovery3
Electives (9)9
It is recommended that part of the electives be from other departments.
Research (9)
C&PE 800Seminar (or 1.5 credits C&PE 800 and 1.5 credit for another seminar series if mandatory for fellowship or academic center involvement, etc.)3
C&PE 803Research6
Includes the thesis and oral defense or examination (0)
Total Hours30