Chemical Engineering MS Program

The Master of Science (MS) degree is awarded upon successful completion of a minimum of 36 credits. A minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 must be achieved to graduate. Individual courses require a minimum of a B- for course credit. 

Duration of Study

Students are responsible for planning their graduate program in consultation with their Academic Advisor. Students must meet all deadlines and be aware that most Core Courses are offered only once per academic year. Students are expected to complete the MS degree as follows:

  • MS (Thesis)- four Semesters and one Summer Session.

Students must complete their Thesis by the end of the fourth Semester (not including the Summer Session). Students who require additional time to complete their Thesis must apply for an extension per the Time Limits and Extensions Policy.

Assessment Test

To facilitate the design of an individual study plan, all admitted students must take a written assessment test when they arrive on campus. The assessment determines whether students have mastered the prerequisites for undertaking graduate-level courses taught in the program. The exam will focus on mathematics and basic sciences. Students must prepare for the test by refreshing the general knowledge gained from their undergraduate education before arriving at KAUST. The study plan requirements must be satisfactorily completed, in addition to the university degree requirements.

In the case of failure of the assessment test MS students are mandated to take 100-level courses and will be graded Satisfactory (S) or Unsatisfactory (U) for these courses but do not receive academic credit toward their degree. Students mandated to take the full Fall Semester of the PGDip Program and who wish to transfer to the PGDip Program in the Spring Semester must apply to do so before Week 1 of the Spring Semester.

MS Course Requirements

MS students must complete the following requirements:

  • Core Courses (12 credits)
  • Elective Courses (12 credits)
  • Research/Capstone (12 credits)
  • Graduate Seminar (non-credit)
  • Winter Enrichment Program (non-credit)

Core and Elective Courses must be technical courses and cannot be substituted with Research, Internship, or Broadening Courses to fulfill degree requirements.

Core Courses (12 credits)

Core Courses provide students with the background needed to establish a solid foundation in the program area. Students must complete 12 credits (4 Core Courses) and be aware that Core Courses may be offered only once per academic year.

CE 201Chemical Thermodynamics


CE 202Advanced Transport Phenomena


CE 203Advanced Reaction Engineering


CE 336Membrane Science and Membrane Separation Processes



Elective Courses (12 credits)

The Elective Courses allow students to tailor their educational experience to meet individual research and educational objectives with the permission of the Academic Advisor. To complete these twelve credit hours in CE, students must preferably pass four electives from the list below. However, alternative Elective Courses from other KAUST programs can also be approved by the Academic Advisor.

CE 300Sustainable Process Design


CE 305Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment


CE 310/EnSE 310 Colloids, Interfaces, and Surfaces


CE 319Chemical Process Technology


CE 335Heterogeneous Catalysis


CE 390: Special Topics can be used as an elective.

Graduate Seminars (non-credit)

All MS students must register for two semesters and receive a Satisfactory grade in each semester. Students must attend a minimum of 8 Graduate Seminars to receive a Satisfactory (S) grade. The seminars can be chosen from any Graduate Seminar series offered by the PSE division. Attendance of additional seminars in other KAUST programs is highly encouraged.

Winter Enrichment Program (non-credit)

All students must register for WE 100 and successfully complete one Winter Enrichment Program (WEP), usually taken in the first year of study.

MS Thesis

Students pursuing the Thesis option must complete a minimum of 12 credits of Thesis Research (CE 297).

Thesis Application

Students must complete the application and have it approved by the Program Chair no later than the end of week one of their third Semester. The Thesis Advisor must be a full-time program-affiliated Assistant, Associate, or full Professor at KAUST. The Thesis Advisor can only become project affiliated for the specific thesis project with the Program Chair’s approval. The Thesis Advisor can be the assigned Academic Advisor, but can also be independently selected from the CE faculty by the student upon mutual agreement with the faculty. 

The application must include a Thesis Proposal endorsed by the Thesis Advisor. Thesis withdrawal is not permitted, and students who cannot complete their thesis will face academic dismissal.  

Thesis Committee Formation

Students must form the Thesis Committee by the deadline published in the Academic Calendar. The Thesis Defense Committee, which must be approved by the 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 follows:

Member Role Program Status
1 Chair KAUST Faculty with program affiliation
2 Member KAUST Faculty within program
3 Member KAUST Faculty outside program, inside KAUST
4 Member Faculty or Research Scientist Inside or outside KAUST


  • Members 1-3 are required; member 4 is optional 
  • Members 1 and 2 must have primary CE affiliation  
  • Adjunct Professors and Professors 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 3 or 4 depending upon their affiliation with the student’s program
  • Visiting Professors and Research Scientists may serve as member 4 

View a list of Faculty and their affiliations here.

Petition to Defend Thesis

Students must submit a petition to defend their Thesis by the deadline published in the Academic Calendar. Students are responsible for scheduling the Thesis Defense Date. All committee members must attend the Defense.

Thesis Defense

The thesis must be submitted to the committee members at least two weeks prior to the defense date. The format of the Oral Defense is left to the discretion of the Thesis Committee. Students defending their Thesis receive an outcome of a Pass or Fail. A Pass is achieved when the Committee agrees with no more than one dissenting vote; otherwise, the outcome is a Fail. In the case of a Pass, students must send the Thesis Result Form within 2 days of the Thesis Defense to the GPC. In the case of a Fail, the Committee Chair must inform the GPC immediately to take the necessary action. Students must submit the Final Approval Form by the deadline published in the Academic Calendar. The required forms are available on the webpage of the Office of the Registrar. 

Thesis Document

Students must follow the Thesis and Dissertation Guidelines available from the KAUST Library when they write their Thesis. Once the Thesis is ready to be examined, students must determine the Defense date with the agreement of all members of the Thesis Committee.

Thesis Archiving

Students must archive the Thesis in the KAUST Library two weeks from the final result form. This must not exceed the duration of study or the deadline published in the Academic Calendar.