Doctoral Program Admissions

The CBE PhD program is designed to train students for careers in academia, government, or industry where research is fundamental. The curriculum prepares students for the field’s rapidly-changing character by developing the intellectual capacities necessary for research excellence.

Please note that GRE scores are no longer evaluated as part of the admissions process and are not required.

How to Apply

All Ph.D. applications must be submitted electronically.

Applications are accepted for the Fall Semester only.

For more information about the application process, please visit our Graduate Admissions Website.

*Notice to potential applicants with disabilities

The University of Pennsylvania is committed to providing access and equal educational opportunities to all students, including students with disabilities. Penn does not discriminate against students with disabilities. The University provides reasonable accommodation to a student’s known disability in order to afford that student an equal opportunity to participate in University-sponsored academic and extracurricular programs, activities and services. If you require an accommodation during the admissions process please contact our department or Penn Student Disabilities Services


When to Apply

Please see the Penn Engineering Graduate Admissions website for the most up to date information regarding the admissions deadline.

For full consideration for fellowships and other awards, all materials must be received by the admissions deadline.

Application Fee & Waiver

$90 non-refundable application fee – This payment must be submitted with the online application.

The Graduate School of Engineering is pleased to offer fee waivers for US Citizens and US Permanent Residents who met the following criteria:

  • US citizens or permanent residents with proven low-income backgrounds or identify as a first generation college student.
  • Applicants with Penn or military affiliation
  • Member of a URM consortium such as Meyerhoff, McNair, GEMS, etc

The waiver will be automatically applied upon submission of your graduate application. More information can be found here.

*Unfortunately we are unable to provide fee waivers to international applicants.

Prerequisite Requirements

Academic prerequisite requirements for the degree are an undergraduate degree in an engineering subject or an undergraduate degree from an accredited institution with a physical science, natural science, or math major.

Criteria for candidates, application requirements, and procedures may be found on Penn Engineering’s Graduate Admissions page

Graduate Record Exam (GRE)

The Graduate Record Exam (GRE) is not required for admissions to the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering PhD program.


If your native language is not English, or you are an international applicant, or you are a non-US Citizens/Permanent Resident and English is not your native language, you must submit official scores for either the Test Of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS)*.

  • The institution code for the TOEFL exam is 2888.
  • Test results must be valid at time of application submission.
  • You must take the exams by the application deadline.

TOEFL Score Recommendations – a minimum of 100 is recommended for all programs. There is not a required score.

IELTS Score Recommendations – a minimum of 7.5 is recommended for all programs. There is not a required score.

Transcripts, official TOEFL scores issued by ETS, IELTS scores, letters of recommendation, etc. are required to complete the application dossier – all materials for the application should be submitted electronically. Please send your TOEFL/IELTS score report electronically. Test results should be sent to: “University of Pennsylvania School of Engineering and Applied Science”

You will find additional information on these tests from the Educational Testing Service (ETS). Test score reporting should be completed only through ETS, as only official scores received from ETS will be considered.

TOEFL/IELTS* Waiver Process

To have this requirement waived, the applicant must, by the time of matriculation, the candidate must have:

  • Graduated from a program in the United States or,
  • Attended school in a country in which English is recognized as the official language or,
  • From an institution where the medium of instruction is English and this is indicated on the unofficial transcript

A waiver request does not need to be submitted by an applicant; the requirement will be waived after the application and necessary materials are submitted and reviewed by the Graduate Admissions Office and an applicant is found to meet one or more of the above criteria. For more information go to:

Fellowships and Support

The Department encourages all students to apply for graduate training fellowships during their graduate studies. Students who apply for and receive fellowships prior to matriculating to Penn gain tremendous flexibility in choosing a lab for research. Fellowships are available from several sources and can allow students to focus on a specific cross-disciplinary area.

After You Apply

Tracking Your Application

Track your application online.

We cannot respond to individual inquiries. We will contact you if materials are missing.

Campus Interviews

After reviewing applications, we invite about 15 percent of applicants to campus in February and March. If you are invited for an interview, you will be notified via email in January.

Campus Visit

By invitation only, you will be scheduled for a three-day visit, occurring on a Thursday through a Saturday. This visit is arranged by the department, and includes travel to and from Philadelphia, lodging, and meals.

We strongly ask you to respond to Ken Lambert as quickly as possible upon invitation.

When selecting an interview date, please note “exception” dates for recruiting faculty, as we cannot schedule return visits.

We regret that we cannot honor unauthorized requests for reimbursement.

Admissions Decisions

When an admissions decision is reached, the applicant will be notified directly through the online application system. Please note that department staff may not reveal admission decisions over the telephone or by email.


Financial Support and Awards

For the 2020-2021 academic year new students received a $34,500-stipend, full tuition, and healthcare coverage.  We expect full funding to continue throughout your doctoral training.

For additional information, please visit our fellowships and awards page.

Frequently Asked Questions

Learn more from the Graduate Admissions FAQ.