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Engineering PhD with Different/Related Background


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I have interdisciplinary research interests which fall somewhere between chemical/biomedical engineering, computional bio, physics, and chemistry. I have lots of research experience in this area and have a BS in mathematics and am working on an MS in bioinformatics.

 

Most schools put professors with my research interests in physics or chemistry departments but then also offer interdisciplinary phd programs in biophysics or computational bio that allow students to work with the professors in ether department. I am applying through this route whenever possible because I am finding that professors with my research interests who are doing similar work are often spread across multiple departments. I would like the opportunity to rotate with all of them, regardless of department affiliation.

 

I am interested in applying to a couple schools that lump professors with my research interest into chemical, biomedical, or bioengineering though and do not offer interdisciplinary PhD programs which may be a better fit for me. So my question is, given my background, is it worth applying to these engineering programs if the research fit is great? On one hand, I have taken grad level math, statistics, and programming courses and my GRE Q score is 168. I do lack some of the basic undergrad engineering courses though like mechanics and dynamics sort of stuff. Any advice on whether it is worth applying to these schools or whether my chance of acceptance is slim? Thanks!

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For what its worth based on my experience, if it looks like you'll be a good researcher, most ChemE PhD programs will still accept you as long as your background is close enough, but they might make you take some of the core undergrad ChemE classes that you missed when you're in your first or second year as a grad student. There was an environmental engineer in my ChemE PhD class for instance who had to do just that.

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Thanks for the info! As far as chem classes go, I have taken General Chem 1 & 2 and then Organic 2 (I took this class this summer and taught myself Chem 1 with Khan Academy beforehand). I also took grad level Biochem. I got Cs in the general chem classes due just being a freshman and not focused enough. I got As in Organic 2 and the grad level biochem classes though. I have not taken Physical Chem unfortunately but do feel comfortable with the material due to its relevence to my research.

 

I would definitely have no problem taking a few undergrad chemE classes during my first year to catch up.

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I did a BS in Mechanical Engineering and am now finishing my MS in Chemical Engineering. I did not have to do any extra courses but I did need to do a lot to catch up for some courses (Reactions/Catalysis and Thermodynamics). You will have a lot of trouble if you did not take some undergraduate ChemE courses. From the ChemE courses I have taken, Organic Chemistry and Chemistry, are not important. Fluid Mechanics, mass transfer, heat transfer, and thermodynamics are more important.

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