Graduate Study at the Department of Chemical Engineering, Pennsylvania State University

Received 8 December 2013; received in revised form 23 December; accepted 24 December 2013

Penn State Logo


This is Penn State

The Pennsylvania State University, commonly known as the Penn State University (PSU) is a public research university, where inspiration meets perspiration and head meets heart. The flagship campus is located at University Park. There are 17,000 faculties and staff serving 100, 000 students in its 24 campuses located across the state [1]. The university’s total enrolment in 2012-13 was approximately 98,097 across its 24 campuses and online by its World Campus [2]. There are more than 160 majors offered in different campuses. Nittany Lion is the mascot of Penn State and its athletics teams are also collectively known by this name.

Research Making Life Better

‘Making life better’, this is the motto of Penn State University. It is a research-I university, where faculty and students work dedicatedly in collaboration with different industries and research centers using the state-of-the-art facilities in research areas such as alternative energies, nanotechnology, biotechnology, etc. The university’s research expenditures exceeded $800 million for the 2013 fiscal year and was ranked 15th (11th in Chemical Engineering) among US universities by the National Science Foundation (NSF) in R&D spending in 2011 fiscal year [3, 4].

Rankings – Where We Stand?

For more than 150 years, Penn State is known for its leading role in education and research. Here are examples of few of the recent rankings in recognition to its academic standings. ‘US News & World Report’ has ranked Penn State as 8th among other top public universities and 37th among national universities in their latest ranking ‘America’s Best Colleges 2014’ [5]. Penn State is labelled as one of the Public Ivies because of its outstanding education quality compared to the Ivy League [6].

U.S. News & World Report, America’s Best Graduate Schools 2014 [5] [7]


Smeal College of Business 49th (tied)


Electrical/electronic/ communications engineering                                                 26th

Civil                                                                                                                                      16th

Chemical                                                                                                                            21st

Mechanical                                                                                                                       12th

Times Higher Education World University Ranking 2013-14 [7]

Penn State has been ranked as 49th in the ‘Times Higher Education World University Ranking 2013-14’ and is considered to be in the top 1% of higher education institutions worldwide.

Penn State


Center for World University Rankings 2013, Top 100

Penn State ranked as 50th in the ‘Center for World University Rankings 2013’ based on its quality of faculty, publications in top journals, highly influential research, citations, patents, academic training of students and professional future of alumni [8].

Department of Chemical Engineering

The Department of Chemical Engineering of Penn State University offers one of the leading comprehensive undergraduate and graduate programs in the country. The mission of the department is to promote new knowledge and technology through a learning based community and to continue its proud tradition of excellence in teaching, research and service. There are currently 33 faculty members and several adjunct professors, 20 postdoctoral research fellows and research associates working in the department. There are 118 graduate students currently enrolled in the department. Among the graduate students about 76% are international students which reflect the cultural diversity of the department.

What we do best? Research!

Chemical engineering department has a proud tradition of diversified research works in biomolecular engineering, alternative energy and nanoscale engineering. Faculty are involved in a wide range of exciting research activities including:

  • Bioprocessing and biomolecular engineering
  • Nanotechnology
  • Catalysis, kinetics and reaction engineering
  • Alternative energy, biofuels and photovoltaics
  • Process control and optimization
  • Advanced materials, colloids and polymers
  • Molecular simulations
  • Fluid and transport
  • Interfaces and surfaces

The research activities are evolving with a strong emphasis on molecular level phenomena and computational methods to study diverse processes including chemical, physical and biological processes. The department also continues strengthening fundamental research in catalysis, thermodynamics, polymers and transport phenomena. It has also begun to build a new home for Chemical Engineering with state-of-the-art facilities to foster continued success in the next 50 years! Committed faculty, young and vibrant student groups and highly dedicated staff base together define the Department of Chemical Engineering at Penn State through their outstanding research work, making a difference in the society [9].

Graduate Study and Admission Eligibility

The department offers B.Sc., M.Sc. and Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering. Prospective graduate students can directly apply for Ph.D. program after their undergraduate; M.S. is not a prerequisite for the Ph.D. program. There is no cut off GPA or standardized test scores to

get admission in the graduate program. High GPA is always welcome though. In case of standardized tests, quantitative and analytical scores of GRE and speaking score of TOEFL/IELTS are the most important. A minimum overall score of 80 along with 19 in speaking is required for admission. Applications are reviewed as a whole package. In addition to GPA, GRE and TOEFL/IELTS scores, statement of purpose and letter of recommendation play equally important roles in the admission [9].

Admission and Funding Procedure – Tips and Tricks!

Every year applications open during the Fall semester. Admission and Financial support may be sought in a single application. Contacting the professors for financial assistance is not a requirement for the prospective students. The department rarely makes any offer without full financial support. Usually an international graduate student is offered $27,000 as yearly stipend which increases every year depending on the inflation. Application deadline is usually January 15 for both domestic and international students. If any part of the application package or test score does not arrive by the deadline, it is recommended to contact with the graduate coordinator and explain the reason for delay. As a part of application package, prospective students need to fill up and submit an online application, send GRE, TOEFL scores and three letters of recommendation along with a statement of purpose and two sets of official transcripts. Admission decisions are sent for the domestic students by January 31st and for the international students by February 28th [9].  After admission the students normally attend different talks by the faculty members on their research projects throughout the first semester. By the end of the Fall semester, students are recruited to different research groups through a comprehensive selection procedure based on the choice and interest of both students and professors.

Penn State Lives Here…

Penn State is not just a university, but a name for passion and pride, a lifestyle; a name of confidence. This is the place you start your journey into the world of research and technology and explore the true measure of success. This is a place where success meets the achievers and dream becomes real! Life at Penn State can be few of the best years of your life. Its diverse educational opportunities help one grow and become prepared to make real contributions to the world. “Penn State lives wherever the Penn Staters are!”.


[1] “This is Penn State,” Penn State university, [Online]. Available: [Accessed 7 December 2013].

[2] “University Budget Office,” Penn State university, [Online]. Available: [Accessed 7 December 2013].

[3] “Research At Penn State,” Penn State university, 18 October 2013. [Online]. Available: [Accessed 7 December 2013].

[4] “NSF Total S&E Research Expenditure Rankings for FY2011,” Penn State University, November 2012. [Online]. Available: [Accessed 7 December 2013].

[5] “Amerca’s Best Colleges 2014,” US News and World Report, [Online]. Available: [Accessed 7 December 2013].

[6] “Pennsylvania State University,” Wikipedia, [Online]. Available: [Accessed 7 December 2013].

[7] “World University Rankings 2013-14,” Times Higher Edicuation, Thomson Reuters, [Online]. Available: [Accessed 7 December 2013].

[8] “CWUR: World University Rankings 2013,” Center for World University Rankings, [Online]. Available: [Accessed 7 December 2013].

[9] “Chemical Engineering Department at Penn State,” Penn State university, 5 May 2013. [Online]. Available: [Accessed 7 December 2013].



** Disclaimer: This article does not represent the official statement of the corresponding university/department. This article is designed to facilitate potential students who want to pursue for higher education in world class universities.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.