​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​chemical engineering program academics

The Chemical Engineering Program (CE) aims to offer students opportunities to develop real-world solutions to global challenges by performing rigorous coursework studies and cutting-edge researches in chemical engineering and biological engineering. These include the development of new materials and processes for gas and liquid separations, for water desalination, catalysis, sustainable energy and nanotechnology as well as the advancement of new ideas in process design and control and reactor design.​

Summary of M.S. and Ph.D. Requirements:​

View Online Program GuideSee MoreCourse List & SyllabiSee More

​M​.S. degree requirements:

Master's Assessment Test

  • Students are admitted to KAUST from a wide variety of programs and backgrounds. In order to facilitate the design of an appropriate study plan for each individual student, all incoming students will be required to take an assessment during orientation week. There is no grade for the assessment. ​

    The purpose of the assessment is to determine whether students have mastered the prerequisites for undertaking graduate level courses taught in the program. 

    The Advisor uses the results of the assessments to design, if necessary, a remedial study plan with a list of courses aimed at addressing content areas that may impede a student from successful completion of the degree requirements. 
    Students are encouraged to prepare for the assessment by refreshing the general knowledge gained from their undergraduate education before arriving at KAUST. 

    The remedial study plan requirements must be satisfactorily completed, in addition to the University degree requirements. ​​​​

    ​​CE Assessment Test Subjects

    CE students will be tested on the following subjects:

    Basic Principles of General Chemistry
    Basic Principles of Physics 
    ​​Basic Principles of Thermodynamics
    Engineering Mathematics
    Ordinary Differential Equations

    Basic Principles of General Chemistry​

    Topics students are expected to know:

    • ​Principles of atomic structure 
    • Molecular orbitals
    • polarity 
    • formal charges 
    • acid and bases
    • stoichiometry
    ​Recommended References:
    Principles of General Chemistry by M. S. Silberb

    ​Basic Principles of General Chemistry: Sample Question​

    Basic Principles of Physics

    ​​​Topics students are expected to know:​

    • Newtonian Physics
    • Magnetism and Magnetic Induction
    • Electrodynamics
    • Optics
    • Quantum Physics
    • Thermodynamics 
    • Molecular Gas Theory
    • Oscillations and Waves 
    • Photoelectric Effect

    Recommended References:

    Online reference book http://www.lightandmatter.com/lm/

    Any undergraduate level basic Physics textbook

    Basic Principles of Physics:​ Sample Question

    Basic Principles of Thermodynamics

    ​​​Topics students are expected to know:​

    • ​​First law of thermodynamics
    • Energy balance
    • Energy analysis of cycles
    • Energy storage
    • Open systems
    • Closed systems
    • Control volume analysis (turbines, compressors, pumps, heat exchagners)
    • Evaluation of thermodynamics properties
    • Ideal gas mixtures
    • Reacting mixtures
    • Second law of thermodynamics (reversible and irreversible processes)
    • Carnot cycle
    • Entropy and exergy, entropy balance, isentropic processes, exergy balance
    • Energy transfer by heat (Conduction, convection and radiation heat transfer)​

    Recommended References:

    Fundamentals of Engineering Thermodynamics by Moran, Shapiro, Boettner, and Bailey
    Thermodynamics: An Engineering Approach by Boles and Cengel​

    ​Basic Principles of Thermodynamics:​​ Sample Question

    Engineering Mathematics 

    ​Topics students are expected to know:​​

    • Limits
    • Derivatives
    • Anti-derivatives and definite integrals.
    • The classes of functions used to develop these concepts are: polynomial, rational, trigonometric exponential and logarithmic.
    • Integration (by parts, substitutions, partial fractions, approximation of integrals and improper integrals)
    • Infinite sequences and series
    • Convergence tests
    • Power series
    • Taylor polynomials and series
    • Taylor's Remainder Theorem​

    Recommended References:


    Basic Principles of Engineering Mathematics:​​ Sample Question

    Ordinary Differential Equations 

    ​​Topics students are expected to know:​​​

    • Solving simple ordinary differential equations
    • Classification by order
    • Linearity and homogeneity
    • Autonomous differential equations
    • Asymptotic behavior
    • Equilibrium points and stability
    • Solutions by numerical schemes
    • Euler’s method

    ​Recommended References:

    An Introduction to Ordinary Differential Equations, J. Robinson, Cambridge University Press, ISBN: 978-0521533911
    Differential Equations with Boundary Value Problems, J. Polking, A. Boggess, D. Arnold, Pearson, ISBN: 978-0131862364
    Ordinary Differential Equations, M. Tenenbaum, H. Pollard, Dover Publications, ISBN:  978-0486649405
    Differential Equations, J. Robinson, Cambridge University Press, ISBN: 978-052153391

    Ordinary Differential Equations:​​ Sample Question​​​

Master's with Thesis

  • M.S. Thesis

    A minimum of 12 credits of Thesis Research (297) is required. Students are permitted to register for more than 12 credits of M.S. Thesis Research as necessary and with the permission of the thesis advisor. The selected thesis advisor must be a fulltime program-affiliated Assistant, Associate or Full Professor at KAUST. This advisor can only become project-affiliated for the specific thesis project upon program level approval. Project-affiliation approval must be completed prior to commencing research.

    M.S. Thesis Defense Requirements
    An oral defense of the M.S. Thesis is required, although it may be waived by the Dean's Office under exceptional circumstances. A requirement of a public presentation and all other details are left to the discretion of the thesis committee.
    A written thesis is required. It is advisable that the student submits a final copy of the thesis to the Thesis Committee Members at least two weeks prior to the defense date

    • Students are required to comply with the university formatting guidelines provided by the library CLICK HERE​
    • Students are responsible for scheduling the thesis defense date with his/her thesis committee
    • A pass is achieved when the committee agrees with no more than one dissenting vote, otherwise the student fails. The final approval must be submitted at the latest two weeks before the end of the semester.

    M.S. Thesis Defense Committee

    The M.S. Thesis Defense Committee, which must be approved by the student's Dean, must consist of at least three members and typically includes no more than four members. At least two of the required members must be KAUST Faculty. The Chair plus one additional Faculty Member must be affiliated with the student's program. This membership can be summarized as:​

    ​1​Chair​Within Program
    ​2​Faculty​Within Program
    ​3​Faculty or Approved Research Scientist​Outside Program
    ​4​Additional Faculty​Inside or Outside KAUST​​


    • ​Members 1 – 3 are required. Member 4 is optional.
    • Co-chairs may serve as Member 2, 3 or 4, but may not be a Research Scientist.
    • Adjunct Professors and Professor Emeriti may retain their roles on current committees, but may not serve as chair on any new committees
    • Professors of Practice and Research Professors may serve as Members 2, 3 or 4 depending upon their affiliation with the student's program. They may also serve as co-chairs.
    • Visiting Professors may serve as Member 4.

    View a list of faculty and their affiliations: HERE​

    Submitting the Thesis 

    The division recommends that the student submit the Thesis to the examining committee no later than two weeks prior to the defense. However, the committee chair sets the final requirement for the submission timeline.  ​

    Thesis Defense Date

    The deadline to defend the Thesis is no later than two weeks before the last day of the semester. The student must set the date of the Thesis Defense inline with the committee member’s schedules. At the time the student submits the Thesis Committee Formation form, the defense has to be scheduled. 

    Booking a Venue of the Thesis Defense

    It is the student’s responsibility to book a room and make the necessary IT arrangements for the Thesis Defense. Room booking is done thru the student portal under Service Request Management. 

    Thesis Defense Announcement

    The student must submit to their GPC the title and abstract of his/her Thesis a week before defense date. The GPC will announce the Thesis defense to program members. The time and location of the defense must be included in the email.  The student is required to check their program guides for further instructions related to their defense format. 

    An oral defense is required however the Dean can waive this requirement. The requirement of a public or private defense is left to the discretion of the committee.
    ​As a general guideline the defense is expected to be a 45-minute presentation followed by 15 minutes of general Q&A then a closed-door Q&A session with the committee. 

    Thesis Defense Evaluation

    A pass is achieved when the committee agrees with no more than one dissenting vote otherwise the student fails. The final approval must be submitted no more than three days after the defense.
    After examination/defense, you will receive one of the following outcomes:

    • Pass: The student will be given one week to apply any corrections required by the committee members. During the following week, the student is required to upload the final draft of Thesis document to Blackboard for format check and to start the submission process
    • ​Fail: The student must notify the program GPC immediately of the committee decision.  The student is required to submit MS Thesis Approval form within two days after the Thesis defense regardless of the outcome.

    Thesis Submission

    Once the post-examination corrections are made, the student must do the following:

    • ​Upload the final draft of the Thesis document to Turnitin through Blackboard under the course titled (“Year”_”Semester”_THES) available on the list of Courses: Quick View.
    • Inform your GPC when this has been done.
    • Submit the M.S. Thesis Final Approval form to GPC.
    • Submit the Copyright form available on KAUST Library website to GPC.

    The GPC will check for format errors and plagiarism

    • A Turnitin Plagiarism report will be sent to the Thesis Supervisor to confirm the authenticity of the Thesis document. If citation corrections need to be made, the supervisor will let you know and you must re-upload the Thesis after corrections are made.
    • The GPC will inform the student of any format corrections required in accordance with KAUST Thesis and Dissertation Guidelines.
    • If there are no formatting or plagiarism errors, the GPC will submit the final draft of the Thesis, the M.S. Final Approval form, and the Copyright form to the Library Archive.
    • The library will send the tracking number of the Thesis document to GPC.
    • GPC will add the tracking number to the M.S. Thesis Final Approval form.
    • GPC will send the M.S. Thesis Final Approval form to officially notify the Registrar Office and confirm the completion of the M.S. Thesis degree requirements. A copy of the email will be sent to the student.
    • ​The registrar office will start the graduation and exit processes at this stage.​ ​​​​

Program Courses and Descriptions

  • CE 201 Chemical Thermodynamics (3-0-3)
    Prerequisites: Undergraduate thermodynamics course.
    The primary goal of chemical thermodynamics is the physical explanation of the fundamental principles governing the variety of chemical phenomena taking place in the world around us. The goal of this course is to give students a conceptual understanding of the main principles of thermodynamics. Topics include: the concept of entropy; the Clausius, Gibbs, Boltzmann and Shannon definition of entropy; entropy and information; Maxwells demon; the Boltzmann distribution law; the Maxwell-Boltzmann speed distribution; Gibbs and Helmholtz free energy; the chemical potential; Gibbs-Duhem and Euler equation; the Gibbs phase rule; entropy of mixing and Gibbs paradox; phase diagrams, the Flory-Huggins phase diagram; spontaneous and non-spontaneous processes; thermodynamics of chemical reactions; thermodynamics of osmosis and reverse osmosis, entropy and irreversible phase transitions; introduction in thermodynamics of irreversible processes; introduction in statistical thermodynamics. 

    CE 202 Advanced Transport Phenomena (3-0-3)
    Prerequisites: Basic knowledge of fluid mechanics, heat & mass transfer, vector analysis, and differential equations
    The aim of this course is to enable students to i) derive appropriate differential balances for specific material properties, including momentum, thermal energy, and mass species, accounting appropriately for property flux by convective and diffusive (molecular-scale) processes, along with property generation or loss in the material continua; ii) write the Thermal Energy Equation, the Species Continuity Equation, and the NavierStokes Equations and pose (simplify) them appropriately for specific transport problems; iii) know appropriate boundary conditions that can be applied to specific transport problems; iv) conduct scale or dimensional analyses of transport problems, using the analyses to help simplify or enhance understanding of underlying transport processes; v) solve and physically interpret one (1)-dimensional steady state conduction and species diffusion problems in rectangular, cylindrical, and spherical geometries, with and without zero-order and first-order generation/ loss; vi) use separation of variables technique to solve and physically interpret two (2)-dimensional steady-state conduction and species diffusion problems; vii) use similarity methods to solve and physically interpret unsteady state conduction and diffusion problems in unbounded material regions; viii) use the finite Fourier transform method to solve and interpret unsteady state conduction and diffusion problems in bounded material regions; ix) solve and physically interpret unidirectional steady and unsteady viscous flows in unbounded regions and in bounded regions (i.e. flow conduits or ducts); and x) solve and physically interpret simultaneous convection and diffusion (conduction) problems involving the interaction of thermal or concentration boundary layers with developing or developed velocity profiles.

    CE 203 Advanced Reaction Engineering (3-0-3)
    The objective of this course is to impart and to continue the rigorous study of reaction engineering. In this course, particular emphasis will be given to chemical kinetics and transport phenomena, review of elements of reaction kinetics, rate processes in heterogeneous reacting systems, design of fluid-fluid and fluid-solid reactors, scale-up and stability of chemical reactors and residence time analysis of heterogeneous chemical reactors.

    CE 206 Synthetic Biology and Biotechnology (2-1-3)
    Introduction to genetic circuits in natural systems; engineering principles in biology; BioBricks and standardization of biological components; numerical methods for systems analysis and design; fabrication of genetic systems in theory and practice; transformation and characterization; examples of engineered systems; hands-on experiments.

    CE 208 Plant Biology (3-0-3)
    Review of cellular structure function, diffusion and active transport limitations and benefits on plant cell systems. Membrane structures translocation and transport. Energy and primary metabolism, secondary metabolism in microbes and plants.

    CE 209 Genomics (3-0-3)
    Prokaryotic versus eukaryotic genome structure, conservation (gene order/sequence/ structure, regulatory sequences), approaches to mapping/sequencing genomes, DNA sequencing, DNA sequencing technologies, approaches to genome annotation, SNPs, microarray technology, gene expression microarrays, antibodies, chromatin immuno¬purification, high throughput perturbation studies. Problem-solving/data-handling/ critical thinking/journal-club sessions. Possible interactions with Genomics Research Core facility.

    CE 210 Materials Chemistry I (3-0-3)
    A presentation of present fundamental concepts in materials chemistry. The main topics to be covered include structure and characterization, macroscopic properties and synthesis and processing.

    CE 221 Biophysics (3-0-3)
    Conservation of mass and momentum, physiological mass transport, membrane structure, carrier proteins and active membrane transport, ion channels, intracellular vesicular transport, diffusion in reacting systems, heat and mass transfer in bioreactors, culture aeration. Lectures and laboratory. 

    CE 222 Bioprocess Fundamentals (3-0-3)
    Genetic recombination, expression systems, principles of fermentation processes, bioreactor types and operation modes, process scale-up, separation and recovery of biological products. Industrially relevant applications, such as microbial systems, mammalian systems, stem cell systems. Lectures, case studies and laboratory.

    CE 223 Introduction to Statistics and Bio-Statistics (3-0-3)
    Probability: random variables, independence, and conditional probability; discrete and continuous distributions, moments, distributions of several random variables. Topics in mathematical statistics: random sampling, point estimation, confidence intervals, hypothesis testing, nonparametric tests, regression and correlation analyses. Applications in engineering, industrial manufacturing, medicine, biology, and other fields.

    CE 224 The Cell: Structure, Development and Physiology I(3-0-3)
    Types of microorganisms (e.g., viruses, microbes, yeast, mammalian and stem cells); cell physiology, structure and function; gene expression and protein synthesis; protein folding; post-translational modification; cell cycle; molecular biology techniques. 

    CE 225 Materials Chemistry II (3-0-3)
    An introduction to electron microscopy based techniques: Scanning electron microscopy (SEM), Transmission electron microscopy (TEM), Electron diffraction (ED), Scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM), Energy-filtered TEM (EFTEM), Energy dispersive X-ray analysis (EDX), and Electron energy loss spectroscopy (EELS). On-site demonstration of the electron microscope will be given. Nano porous materials including zeolites and mesoporous materials will be another topic of this course.

    CE 226 Process Modeling and Control (3-0-3)
    This course aims at building knowledge in process systems modeling/control. This unit will also enable you to develop a systematic approach to process modeling, control design and controller development and analysis. The course aims at: developing an appreciation for the importance of process models and process control in a chemical plant/process, to see the significance of these in real life and to relate the theory learnt to practice; developing an appreciation for the importance of process models in the development of control theory and practice.

    CE 230/330 Physical Chemistry of Macromolecules (3-0-3)
    Conformation and configuration; Solution Thermodynamics; Phase separation (theory and experimental aspects), polymer fractionation; Mechanisms and kinetics of phase separation; Miscibility of polymer blends and compatibilization; Micro phase separation and self-assembly; Rheology of polymer solutions; Viscosity of diluted and concentrated solutions, polymer gels; Rheology of polymer melts and composites, relevance for polymer processing; Amorphous state, glass-rubber transition, plasticizers; Elasticity and Viscoelasticity; Thermal analysis, dynamic mechanical analysis; Crystalline state, liquid-crystalline state; Mechanical properties.

    CE 239 Stem Cells (3-0-3)
    Stem cell biology and therapeutics. It is intended to provide a comprehensive overview of current understanding of embryonic and adult stem cells, including their basic properties and interactions within organisms. Stem cell isolation methods, experimental models and potential biomedical therapeutic applications will be encountered through research of literature. It is a graduate level course that requires a basic background in biology.

    CE 295 Internship (6 credit)
    Master-level supervised research.

    CE 297 MS Thesis Research (variable credit)
    Master-level supervised research.

    CE 298 Graduate Seminar
    Master-level seminar focuses on special topics within the field.

    CE 299 Directed Research (variable credit)
    Master-level supervised research.

    CE 301 Computational Biology (3-0-3)
    Computational Biology is an advance and practical course, hands-on approach to the field of computational biology. The course is recommended for both molecular biologists and computer scientists desiring to understand the major issues concerning analysis of genomes, sequences and learns large scale modeling of complex systems. Various existing methods will be critically described and the strengths and limitations of each will be discussed. There will be practical assignments utilizing the tools described. Prerequisites include genomics I (B204/CBE209) and genomics II (B204). A final paper will be required for the course that critically and constructively analyzes any area of computational molecular biology, bioinformatics or genomics. The final project may also present a novel application of existing tools or the development of some new or improved method.

    CE 305 Sustainable Engineering (3-0-3)
    Engineers face growing pressure to incorporate sustainability objectives into their practice. In comparing two (2) products/ designs it is often not apparent which one (1) is more sustainable. The course introduces concepts and method for determining the net environmental, economic, and social impacts of an engineering technology or process. Specific topics include life cycle assessment, cost/benefits analysis, energy auditing, materials accounting, and environmental assessment. These methods are examined and applied to current engineering issues such as global climate change, alternative-fueled vehicles, water and wastewater treatment, urban development, renewable energy (solar, wind, and biomass), and waste mitigation. Each student will be required to apply tools learned to assess the sustainability of a specific engineering system. This is a research-based course and is suitable for students interested in researching in-depth a particular topic. By the end of the course, students will have an awareness of analytical tools/resources for evaluating sustainability employing a systems perspective.

    CE 317 Clean Fossil Fuels and Biofuels (3-0-3)
    The different types of biofuels will be presented and discussed in this course. Topics include biomass feedstocks, first, second and third generation of biofuels, fuel from cellulose, catalytic conversion of biomass to liquid, energy balance of biofuels, biological production of hydrogen, biodiesel, microbial fuel cells. The Clean Fossil Fuel part of this course deals with gasification processes including ICCG power plants, Fischer Tropsch synthesis, clean coal technologies, desulfurization and carbon dioxide capture and storage.

    CE 319 Bioinorganic Chemistry (3-0-3)
    Chemistry as it is provided by any undergraduate chemistry, biochemistry, biotechnology or chemical engineering education. The more advanced chemical and biochemical aspects and methods are all developed during the course. The course will provide students with a general overview of the many very fundamental tasks performed by inorganic elements in living organisms as well as the related methods and theories with particular emphasis on enzymatic conversions and electron transfer. This goes along with the elucidation of model systems and technical applications of both, concepts learned from nature as well as biological systems.

    CE 326 Bio catalysis (3-0-3)
    Application of Bio catalysis has a long tradition. Starting out from basic food-processing fermentations e.g. related to bread baking or cheese making, today the result emerging from this discipline influence all areas of modern daily life. Developments in Pharmacy, medicine, nutrition, analytics, environmental technology, Revised 11 June 2017 Page 13 fine chemical synthesis and others are based on the progress in Bio catalysis research. Enzymes as nature's catalysts set the benchmarks for artificial systems in terms of activity and selectivity. Correspondingly, Bio catalysis has evolved into one (1) of the pillars of biotechnology and chemical industry. This course aims to provide an understanding of fundamental aspects of bio catalysis, while the general focus is set on current applications of bio catalytic systems. It targets Students enrolled in chemical sciences, chemical engineering and biological engineering.

    CE 336 Membrane Science and Membrane Separation Processes (3-0-3)
    Formulation and solution of engineering problems involving design of membrane systems for gas separation, reverse osmosis, filtration, dialysis, pervaporation and gas absorption/stripping processes. Membrane selection, fabrication and preparation. Membrane transport: gas permeation and reverse osmosis. Polarization and fouling, membrane module design.

    CE 390 Special Topics: Chemical Kinetic Modelling and Simulation
    Prerequisite: Advanced Reaction Engineering (CBE203), Advanced Transport Process (CBE202), Chemical Thermodynamics (CBE 201) or similar courses in other programs.
    Understanding the oxidation and pyrolysis chemistry of hydrocarbons can aid in developing thermal conversion processes and in improving combustion applications. Optimization of engine performance requires an understanding of how a fuel's molecular structure affects important combustion properties. The course presents the current state-of-the-art in comprehensive chemical kinetic modeling for gas-phase and liquid- phase reacting flows. The course will cover the development of large databases of chemical reaction pathways with associated kinetic rate parameters, as well as thermochemical and transport properties for all reactant, intermediate, and product species. First, the mapping out of detailed reaction pathways at the temperatures and pressures relevant to chemical reactors and combustion applications will be discussed. Next the art of assigning rate constants using chemical intuition and quantum chemical modeling will be covered. The determination of thermochemical and transport properties is achieved using both molecular modeling tools and empirical methods. The comprehensive models are then validated against data from well-defined experimental configurations using zero-dimensional and one-dimensional reacting flows whose physics can be simulated exactly. These models are finally employed to determine the thermal degradation and oxidation pathways relevant to the prediction of combustion performance in practical applications.

    CE 397 Ph.D. Dissertation Research (variable credits)
    Ph.D-level research. Leading to a formal written dissertation and oral defense.

    CE 398 Graduate Seminar
    Doctoral-level seminar focuses on special topics within the field.

    CE 399 Directed Research (variable credits)
    Doctoral-level supervised research


The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree is designed to prepare students for research careers in academia and industry. 
It is offered exclusively as a full-time program.

There is a minimum residency requirement at KAUST of 3.5 years for students entering with a B.S. degree and 2.5 years for students entering with an M.S. degree. A minimum GPA of 3.0 must be achieved on all Doctoral coursework. Individual courses require a minimum of a B- to earn course credit.

​Students pursuing Ph.D. degree are required to complete the following degree requirements to earn the degree: ​


Designation of Dissertation Advisor

  • ​The selected Dissertation Advisor must be a full time program-affiliated assistant, associate or full professor at KAUST. To view the list of Chemical Engineering faculty members and faculty members affiliated with CE click here.

    The student may also select an advisor from another program at KAUST. This advisor can only become project-affiliated for the specific dissertation project with program level approval. Project affiliation approval must be completed prior to commencing research.​

    To select a non-affiliated faculty members for a project base affiliation the following documents must be submitted to the program's GPC for the program approval: Change of Advisor form.

    Research proposal submitted by the supervisor providing an over-all research project summary and explaining how the project relates to the student's home program.

    This application is subject to approval by the student's home project faculty members. The student and supervisor will be informed of the decision by the GPC. ​​​

Ph.D. Course Requirements

  • Students entering the Ph.D. Degree with a relevant M.S. Degree must complete the requirements below, though additional courses may be required by the Dissertation Advisor.

    Ph.D. Courses

    • At least two 300-level courses
    • Graduate Seminar 398 (non-credit): All students are required to register and receive a Satisfactory grade for every semester the program requires they attend.
    • Winter Enrichment Program: Students are required to satisfactorily complete at least one full Winter Enrichment Program (WEP) as part of the degree requirements. Students who completed WEP requirements while earning the M.S. Degree are not required to enroll in a full WEP for a second time in the Ph.D. Degree.

    Students entering the program with an M.S. Degree from KAUST may transfer unused coursework toward the Ph.D. program requirements subject to program level approval. Students transferring from another university's Ph.D. program may receive some Dissertation Research and Coursework credit on a case-by-case basis for related work performed at the original Institution upon approval by the Dean. However, such students must still satisfy the Qualifying Exam and Dissertation Proposal Defense requirements at KAUST.

Ph.D. Qualifying Exam

  • ​The purpose of the Subject-based Qualifying Exam is to test the student's knowledge of the subject matter within the field of study. All students entering the Ph.D. program with a B.S. degree must take this examination within two years of their admission. Students admitted to the program with an M.S. degree must take this exam within one year. 

    The qualifying exam will cover the content of the core courses. 
    CE 201: Chemical Thermodynamics
    CE 202: Advanced Transport Phenomena
    CE 203: Advanced Reaction Engineering
    CE 336: Membrane Science and Membrane Separation Processes​
    The examination in all three subjects will be held on the same day. 

    Only PhD and MS/PhD students will be allowed to take the qualifying exam.

    Registration for the Qualifying Exam: 

    The qualifying exam is schduled twice per year, January and June. A call for registration will be sent via email to Ph.D. students eight (8) weeks before the exam date. The email will include the exam date and instructions to register for the exam.

    Evaluation of Ph.D. Qualifying Exam:

    The exams will be evaluated within the next 72 hours.

    CE faculty members will discuss and approve the results before sending the results to students.

    Results will be sent to students via email.

    Students who fail the qualifying exam are required to re-take the exam the following time the exam is offered. ​

    Students who fail the Subject-based Qualifying Exam with no retake or fail the retake will be dismissed from the university.​​​

Dissertation Committee Formation

  • ​The Dissertation Committee must include the following members:

    • First member: Dissertation Advisor who acts as committee chair
    • Second member: Program or Program-affiliated faculty member
    • Third member: KAUST faculty member from another program

    The Dissertation Committee must be approved by the Program Chair and the Dean.  Once constituted, the composition of the committee can only be changed with the approval of both the Dissertation Advisor and the Dean.

    The Dissertation Committee form must be completed and submitted to GPC for approval two weeks prior to the Ph.D. proposal defense

Ph.D. Dissertation Proposal Defense

  • ​The Dissertation Proposal Defense is the second part of the qualification milestones that must be completed to become a Ph.D. Candidate. The purpose of the Dissertation Proposal Defense is to demonstrate that the student has the ability and is adequately prepared to undertake Ph.D. level research in the proposed area. This preparation includes necessary knowledge of the chosen subject, a review of the literature and preparatory theory or experiment as applicable.

    Ph.D. students are required to complete the Dissertation Proposal Defense within one (1) year after passing the qualifying exam. The proposal defense date will be determined by student and his/her advisor. Ph.D. students must request to present the Dissertation Proposal Defense to the Proposal Dissertation Committee by submitting the Dissertation Committee Formation Form two weeks prior to the Ph.D. proposal defense date. 

    The Dissertation Proposal Defense includes two aspects: a written research proposal and an oral research proposal defense. 

    • The written research proposal document should be 3000 words (+/- 10%).
    • The oral defense should be 1.5 hours long (30 min presentation, 60 min questions)

    Ph.D. Proposal Defense Evaluation

    There are four possible outcomes from this Dissertation Proposal Defense:

    • Pass: A pass is achieved when the committee agrees with no more than one dissenting vote, otherwise the student fails.
    • Pass with conditions: In the instance of a Pass with conditions, the entire committee must agree on the required conditions and if they cannot, the Dean decides. The deadline to complete the conditions is one month after the defense date, unless the committee unanimously agrees to change it.
    • Fail with retake: The deadline to complete the retake is six months after the defense date, unless the committee unanimously agrees to reduce it.
    • Fail without retake: In the instance of a Fail without Retake, the decision of the committee must be unanimous. Students who fail the Dissertation Proposal Defense, or who fail the retake, will be dismissed from the University.

    The Dissertation Proposal Evaluation form  must be submitted within 48 hours after presenting the dissertation proposal.

    Upon passing the Proposal Defense, student must submit the change to Ph.D. candidate status form.​

Dissertation Defense & Submission

  • Ph.D. Dissertation Defense

    The Dissertation Defense is the final milestone of the degree. This part requires acceptance of the Dissertation and the passing of the final defense. The final defense is a public presentation that consists of an oral defense followed by questions.

    To complete this part Ph.D. student is required to complete the following:

    • Form Ph.D. Dissertation Committee and petition for Ph.D. dissertation Defense examination.
    • Defend the dissertation and submit the results.
    • Submit Ph.D. Dissertation and the Final Approval form.

    ​Fall 2017 Submission Deadlines

    Deadline to submit the Ph.D. Petition for Dissertation Defense Examination form is August 31, 2017.

    Deadline to submit the Ph.D. Dissertation Defense Examination Result form is November 9, 2017.

    Deadline to submit the Ph.D. Dissertation and Final Approval form is December 3, 2017.​


    Students must follow the KAUST Thesis and Dissertation Guidelines available on the library website when they write their dissertation.​​