PhD Program

A Ph.D. at WPI applies scientific inquiry and in-depth investigation to tackle modern challenges facing humanity. Graduates are well positioned for careers in industry, government, and academics due to the grounding in the physical and life sciences combined with an understanding of frontiers of interdisciplinary research.

The Ph.D. program offers separate degrees in biochemistry and chemistry. As an applicant, if you are unsure whether your interests lie in chemistry or biochemistry, you may find clarification in identifying the research that interests you from our faculty webpages.

Funding and health benefits

Graduate students pursuing a Ph.D. are full-time students that are paid stipends based on assistantships for teaching or research (i.e. a T.A. or an R.A.). Ph.D. students are eligible for full health/dental insurance benefits, and the tuition fee is waived.


Coursework requirements are tailored for each student's needs and goals in order to best equip them for their research efforts. See our course listing for a description of our currently-offered courses.

The flexibility of the Ph.D. program is particularly useful for students interested in pursuing an interdisciplinary course of study. Students may take courses in departments outside of Chemistry and Biochemistry, such as Biology and Biotechnology, any of several engineering departments, and WPI's School of Business.

Research advisors

Research is the cornerstone of the Ph.D. experience. We encourage you find out more about the research going on in the different groups in the department on the homepage of the Chemistry & Biochemistry Department. Under the Faculty tab, you can find a list of our faculty members with descriptions of their research and links to their respective research group webpages. Prior to admission, we suggest that applicants identify three faculty members with whom they would envision doing research.

Collaborations with researchers inside and outside the United States enable learning with others from different backgrounds and across traditional disciplinary boundaries.

Students are expected to select a research advisor by the end of the first semester of matriculation.

Seminars and conferences

Seminar participation and external speaker series aim to provide a current and representative picture of the research landscape.

Second year progress report

Prior to the end of the third semester of residence, the student must submit a written and an oral progress report to the dissertation committee of at least four faculty members, including the research advisor, at least two more members of the department, and at least one person from outside the department.

Qualifying examination

Before formal admission to doctoral candidacy, Ph.D. students must take the qualifying examination in their field of specialization. The examination should take place before the end of the second year of residence.


To fulfill the final Ph.D. degree requirement, the candidate must submit and defend a dissertation to his or her dissertation committee.