Programme information

Programme structure

The PhD programme in Chemical Engineering is 100% research based, requiring full-time study and enrolment of three years. Part-time enrolment is considered ad hoc, e.g. if the candidate is full-time employed as an engineer and wants to do research in the industry in collaboration with a supervisor in the Department. A dissertation is produced for evaluation, as well as sufficient academic articles that are submitted and accepted in accredited academic journals as part of fulfilment and attainment of the degree.

For this NQF 10 programme, students are enrolled for a single 360-credit module. No registration for other taught modules are mandatory, although additional modules may be taken with permission of the supervisor. Full-time resident students participate in an in-house research methodology module at the start of the first academic year. This module is attended in person at the department. Students are also registered for a 1-credit module during their first-year of study that focusses on professional communication and avoiding plagiarism (ProfCom 871). This is a self-paced learning module that is completed via our online learning platform, SUNLearn.

Full-time registration:

  • Full-time enrolment for approx. 3 academic years
  • First year of registration without title
  • A formal PhD proposal must be submitted for reviewed and approved within first 12 months of registration

Part-time registration:

  • Part-time enrolment for approx. 4 – 5 academic years
  • First year of registration preferrably with title
  • Register after proposal has been reviewed and accepted

Admission requirements

Candidates eligible to apply for a PhD in the Chemical Engineering Department include graduates with a MEng or MSc Eng degree in Chemical/Extractive Metallurgical Engineering or graduates with an MSc degree in one of the following fields: computer science, mathematics, applied mathematics, chemistry, biological sciences or physics. Note however, that completion of a PhD is not a qualifying degree for registration as an engineer if a candidate comes from one of the last-mentioned fields.

  • Applicable Master’s degree with minimum average of at least 65%
  • Secured a supervisor with position in research group (preferred)
  • Suitable research topic (established in collaboration with supervisor)


STEP 1: Make sure you meet the admission requirementsAll applicants must meet the minimum admission requirements as detailed in the section above.


STEP 2: Get your documents in order

  • Departmental application form (the upload is labelled “Dept-XXX” on the application portal)
  • Complete academic record(s),
  • Degree certificate(s),
  • Comprehensive curriculum vitae, and
  • Proof of written academic work: PhD applicants must please submit their master’s degree thesis. If the thesis is written in a language other than English, an English must be submitted.

Please take note of the following regarding the compulsory documentation to be uploaded as part of the application:

  1. Regarding references to be included on the departmental application form: Three references are required, preferably from academic referees.
  2. All electronic copies of academic records or degree certificates must be certified. A certified copy is a copy (often a photocopy) of a primary document that has on it an endorsement or certificate that it is a true copy of the primary document. Certification can be obtained by taking the original documents and copies to a police station or commissioner of oaths. The certified copy can then be scanned to produce the electronic certified copy.

More information about and descriptions for the compulsory documents that must be uploaded as part of the institutional application can be found here


STEP 3: Apply online

Complete and submit an institutional application. Once the application is submitted, it is reviewed by our Central Admissions Office for completeness (status changes to “reviewed”). If the submitted documents are incorrect, candidates will be contacted via the application portal (status changes to “incomplete”).


STEP 4: Selection

Once the application is reviewed by the CAO, it is screened by the department to check whether the candidate meets the admission criteria. All candidates who meet the admission criteria are shared with the department’s supervisors for consideration. Should a supervisor be interested in offering you a position in their research group, they will contact you directly for more information, to complete an assignment, or to schedule an interview. Should the supervisor be interested in offering the candidate a position, they nominate the candidate for approval at a departmental management meeting.


STEP 5: Admission

Successful candidates receive a conditional offer via SUNStudent, which they must accept, and thereafter a final offer is issued, which the candidate must also accept. International candidates must start with their visa application ASAP. Further information and steps are shared with successful candidates at this point. Note that your status on the SU application portal will remain “reviewed” until we reach the point of admission.


STEP 6: Registration

This will take place at the start of the new academic year towards the end of January when registration opens. Admitted candidates will receive communication in this regard.


Please note:

If you are not contacted by any supervisors by the end of the year, you can consider your application unsuccessful. In certain cases supervisors receive late confirmation of research funding early in the new academic year (January – March) and in such situations, candidates may be contacted early in the new year to take up a postgraduate position in our department.

We receive more applications than positions available for a new academic year, and positions are offered to selected applicants only. Applicants are strongly encouraged to apply for research funding – students who are bursary recipients have a higher likelihood of successful admission.

All queries can be directed to

Tuition fees

A personalised estimate for study fees can be generated here.

Bursaries and funding

All applicants are strongly encouraged to apply for research funding, especially NRF funding. As most South African funders only make funding available to SA citizens, international students are strongly encouraged to apply for funding from their home countries or other international funders.

Keep an eye on SU’s Postgraduate Office Postgraduate Funding Opportunities webpage for calls for bursary applications.

Visit our Departmental opportunities page for all the latest bursaries and research projects we have to offer.

Further examples of postgraduate bursary opportunities include:
NRF Scholarships
Mandela Rhodes Scholarship
PAMSA MEng Bursary Programme
Sasol Bursary Postgraduate Programme

Stellenbosch University reserves the right to change the degree structure, modules and their content, lecturers, fees, admission requirements, delivery mode, semesters in which modules are offered and related issues. Admission is subject to selection and the number of students per cohort is limited.

Postgraduate Support

Contact Mieke de Jager, our Postgraduate Manager, if you have any queries or need support.

Postgraduate & Research Manager

Find out more