PhD Program

Degree Requirements

At the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering (PME), you will customize your PhD program experience, tailoring it to your own interests and aspirations. At the same time, you will receive training and an education grounded in a common understanding of functional systems on a molecular scale. 

We provide every student with a rigorous curriculum and meaningful research experiences. On top of that, you will develop core competencies in communication, knowledge synthesis, engaged scholarship, leadership, and entrepreneurship. Your Pritzker Molecular Engineering coursework, teaching activities, and other co-curricular programs will empower you to master these skills. 

Course Requirements

PME PhD students who entered the program in 2020 or later are expected to fulfill a set of course requirements including three thematic core courses, four in-depth courses in the research field of choice, and two broad elective courses for a total of nine courses. 

  • Thematic Core Courses (3) aim to provide a foundation for advanced coursework and research in the student's area of expertise.
    • Immunoengineering:
      • MENG 33100 Biological Materials
      • MENG 33200 Principles of Immunology
      • Choose one of the following: 
        • MENG 33110 Stem Cell Biology, Regeneration, and Disease Modeling
        • MENG 33130 Proteomics and Genomics in Biomolecular Engineering
    • Materials Systems for Sustainability and Health:
      • MENG 31100 Math Methods in Molecular Engineering
      • Choose two of the following: 
        • MENG 31200 Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics
        • MENG 31300 Transport Phenomena
        • MENG 35100 Introduction to Polymer Science  or  MENG 35200 Solids, Materials, Surfaces
    • Quantum Engineering:
      • MENG 31400 Advanced Quantum Engineering
      • PHYS 34100 Graduate Quantum Mechanics-1
      • PHYS 34200 Graduate Quantum Mechanics-2
  • In-depth Courses (4) give students specialized knowledge in the research field of their choice and include any graduate-level PME or fellow STEM courses. In consultation with their primary research and/or academic advisor(s), students select courses that will best satisfy their personal needs and program requirements.
  • Broad Electives (2) serve to help students develop skills in leadership, communication, technology development, and product design. Such courses are often offered in other divisions such as public policy, business, or the humanities. Broad electives can also be used to acquire or renew basic understanding in STEM subject areas.
  • Courses used to meet degree requirements must be completed with grades of B or higher.

Advisor Match Process

All PME PhD students participate in the research group matching process in which they are expected to secure a primary research advisor who will guide them through the course of their doctoral research. As a highly interdisciplinary environment, there are many opportunities to work with multiple faculty members within the PME and/or with faculty in other partner divisions at the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory. 

Candidacy

During their second year of study, PME PhD students pursue candidacy for the PhD To establish candidacy, PME PhD students must successfully complete all core courses and all in-depth courses. In addition, students are required to develop a research proposal and give an oral presentation of their written proposal to a faculty review committee for approval.

Teaching Requirements

The PME requires that all PhD students engage in meaningful teaching experiences. Most students will satisfy this requirement by serving as Teaching Assistants. Students can also propose a meaningful teaching equivalent to be approved by the Deputy Dean for Education and Outreach and the Dean of Students; proposed equivalents must have clearly articulated pedagogical learning goals and objectives.

  • Students entering the doctoral program after 2017 must either complete two quarters as a Teaching Assistant, or one quarter as a Teaching Assistant and two approved equivalents.
  • Students entering the doctoral program in 2017, 2016, 2015, and 2014 must either complete two quarters as a Teaching Assistant, or one quarter as a Teaching Assistant and one approved equivalent.

Teaching assignments are determined based on department need, although some consideration may be given to student preferences.

Dissertation Thesis

All students in the PME PhD program are required to prepare, submit, and defend an original dissertation thesis project; organize the logistics of the thesis defense; and submit a final copy of the dissertation to the Dissertation Office site. Detailed instructions and guidelines on how to meet the requirements for University of Chicago dissertations are available in the University's student manual, in the University-Wide Requirements for the PhD Dissertation, and on the Dissertation Office website

Academic Policies

The PME provides full financial support to all PhD students throughout their graduate study at the PME as long as they remain in good standing. Individuals not continuing in their PhD program of study may be awarded a terminal Master's degree. Such students must have registered full time in the division for a minimum of three quarters and have completed nine courses at the 30000-level or above in STEM departments with grades of C or better (at least two must be research courses with an approved faculty member).  In addition, these students may, at the discretion of the Deputy Dean for Education and Outreach, be required to submit a paper on their research.

Interested in learning more about the PhD program at PME? Fill out this form to request more information.

 

PME Ph.D. students who entered the program in 2019 or earlier are expected to fulfill the following course requirements: 

  1. Core courses (3)
    Core courses, designed specifically for PME students, teach you fundamental principles, methodologies, and/or systems that serve multiple engineering fields within the school. These courses foster interdisciplinary understanding and collaboration.
    • MENG 31100 - Math Methods in Molecular Engineering
    • MENG 31200 - Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics
    • MENG 31300 - Transport Phenomena
    • MENG 31400 - Advanced Quantum Engineering
    • MENG 33100 - Biological Materials
    • MENG 35100 - Introduction to Polymer Science
    • MENG 36600 - Electronic and Quantum Materials for Technology
  2. In-Depth Courses (4)
    In-depth courses, which must be at the graduate level, give you specialized knowledge in the research field of your choice. In-depth courses include any PME course, or, with your research advisor's approval, graduate courses offered in the Biological Sciences and Physical Sciences Divisions.
  3. Broad elective courses (2)
    The broad electives can help you develop skills in leadership, communication, technology development, and product design. Such courses are often offered in other divisions such as public policy, business, or the humanities. Broad electives can also be used to acquire or renew basic understanding in STEM subject areas. 

Courses used to meet degree requirements must be completed with grades of B or higher.

All first-year PME graduate students are required to register for and attend MENG 40100, MENG 40200, and MENG 40300.

PME Core Sequence covers grand challenges and fundamental science and engineering concepts in the three PME themes, Immuno-Engineering, Materials Systems for Sustainability and Health, and Quantum Engineering, from a general interest perspective. 

MENG 40100

Grand Challenges in Molecular Engineering I

MENG 40200

Grand Challenges in Molecular Engineering II

MENG 40300 provides an overview of the types of competencies and non-academic knowledge associated with successful research. Grades for this course are pass/fail and are based on participation and attendance. Students who miss more than two classes and/or who do not complete the Responsible Conduct of Research training receive a failing grade.

As a graduate student at the school, you must meet the residency requirements of the University of Chicago. See the section on Registration for Students in PhD Programs and Degrees in the latest version of student manual.