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The Frontiers of the Pharmaceutical and Chemical Industries

About CPE


The Chemical and Pharmaceutical Engineering (CPE) degree programme offers a cutting edge curriculum in the fields of molecular engineering and process science focused on the pharmaceutical industry. It offers a unique opportunity to obtain a dual MS degree, one from NUS, and one from the School of Chemical Engineering Practice at MIT. The dual degrees can be completed in eighteen months, staring July 1. The industry leadership training at a Practice School host company is in lieu of the research thesis requirement of a conventional Master's degree programme. It is the premier chemical engineering Master’s programme in the world.  In addition, CPE offers a unique PhD programme, in which students obtain a PhD from NUS and an SMA certificate.  Students are supervised by NUS and MIT professors and spend part of their four years at NUS and part at MIT.  Students have the opportunity to perform state of the art research in various fields, including molecular engineering, pharmaceutical processing, microreactors, nanostructured materials, and metabolic engineering.

View SMA-2 Programme Presentation.

Degree Offerings

CPE is not accepting applications for the September 2011 intake.

Pathways into the Programme

An MIT Masters in Chemical Engineering Practice (MS-CEP) and an NUS MSc (Dual Masters) In this 18 month programme, students simultaneously earn masters degrees awarded by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the National University of Singapore (NUS).

This is a unique opportunity to obtain a Master's Degree from the world renowned MIT School of Chemical Engineering Practice. Established in 1916 to provide practical training in an industrial environment that would supplement classroom studies, the Practice School is the heart of MIT’s Master of Science in Chemical Engineering Practice degree.

In Practice School, you will be assigned to work at two different host company stations over a one-semester period. At each station you will work on projects with teams of your peers, and will be supervised by a resident MIT staff member. These projects will be current, challenging assignments within the realm of the host company's line of business or research, and will be for their benefit, using their facilities, and in consultation with their technical staff. You will have day-to-day interaction with company personnel and management teams, and will be called upon to communicate the process and results of your work both orally and in writing.

The Practice School experience is singularly rewarding. Practice School graduates begin their industrial careers with several advantages over engineers graduating from more conventional Master's degree programmes. They are well prepared for careers in industry, for continued graduate study, or for any pursuit that requires technical skills, strong communication skills, and deft project management.

An NUS PhD degree with SMA Certificate
The doctorate programme prepares graduates for dynamic careers in industrial research and development centres, research institutes, or academic departments interested in pharmaceutical research, molecular engineering, and chemical engineering processes. The Ph.D. degree programme is a commitment of three or more years, with a full semester of study at MIT. The Ph.D. degree programme includes an expanded choice of elective subjects. These students are admitted directly to the Ph.D. programme conferred by NUS.

Research will be carried out in the laboratories of the SMA Fellows at NUS, as well as collaborating Research Institutes in Singapore. All projects will be co-supervised by one Singapore Faculty and by one MIT Faculty. The doctoral thesis will be submitted to, evaluated and accepted by the NUS Faculty and a Thesis Committee, that also includes MIT Faculty.

For this program it is not required that students first complete an MS degree.

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Highlights and key points

Dual Masters Programme

PhD Programme

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Graduate Fellowship

Singapore-MIT Alliance Objectives
SMA is an unparalleled and exciting distance-technology enabled educational and research opportunity – a compelling new value proposition – that attracts and retains the very best engineering and life sciences graduate students and researchers from across Asia. SMA develops talented human capital for Singapore’s industries, universities, and research establishments; provides a platform and vehicle for organizational and institutional learning that will raise the general level of all partner institutions; creates world-class educational programs and high-impact research initiatives in areas crucial to the growth of the Singapore economy; and fosters strong academia-industry-Research Institute collaborations, providing the basis for an enduring and viable partnership. SMA is characterized by quality, diversity, integrity, commitment, and service – both to Singapore and to the global knowledge community.

Graduate Fellowship Program
Students who receive a SMA Graduate Fellowship will receive full support for tuition, stipend and travel. The students will be eligible for the following degrees: an MIT Masters and an NUS Masters; or an NUS PhD.


  1. Applicants must have received a Bachelor's degree by the commencement of the academic year.

  2. Applicants to the dual MIT Masters and NUS Masters are admitted independently and separately to both MIT and NUS.

  3. Evidence of past accomplishments, academic potential, leadership potential, the potential for producing innovative research, creativity, and morals and ethics (but not exclusively) are considered.

In addition to your application, you must submit:

  1. A one-to-three page summary explaining your aspirations for applying for an SMA Graduate Fellowship, what you intend to do upon completion of your studies, and your future career goals. Please include your name (family name in capital letters first, followed by given name in lower-case letter) in the top right corner of each page.

  2. When received, you must send a copy of your acceptance letter from MIT to the SIngapore-SMA Office (located at E4-04-10, 4 Engineering Drive 3, National University of Singapore, Singapore 117576). 

Career Paths

The SMA programme in CPE provides a unique and bold educational opportunity for graduate students interested in pursuing careers at the frontiers of pharmaceutical and fine chemical technologies. Students attending this programme have ample opportunity to work with some of the most technologically advanced companies in the world through specific industry projects. Through a combination of cutting-edge research and advanced coursework in molecular engineering sciences, graduates are prepared to accept high-level professional or research positions in thriving industries, start-up companies, academic institutions, and research centres. The CPE programme is designed to prepare future leaders for positions in knowledge-driven industries poised for global economic growth in the new millennium.

Courses are primarily for students with backgrounds in chemical engineering, physical chemistry, biophysics, and/or materials engineering. Careers might include progressive positions in:

This programme equips students with a unified perspective on translating molecular information and discovery into products and processes.

Programme Requirements

MIT Master of Science in Chemical Engineering Practice Requirements
Core Curriculum is:
10.34 Numerical Methods Applied to Chemical Engineering (9 units)
10.40 Chemical Engineering Thermodynamics (12 units)
10.50 Analysis of Transport Phenomena (12 units)
10.65 Chemical Reactor Engineering (12 units)
10.541 Kinetics of Biological and Chemical Systems (9 units)

Additional Requirements:
10.551 Systems Engineering (9 units)
10.542 Modular Elective SMA Review Course (12 units) [See description below]

Students must stay in residence at MIT for at least one semester

In lieu of a thesis, students complete 12 (Summer), or 16 (Fall or Spring semester) weeks at Practice School stations working in teams to solve pressing technical problems in short periods of time and communicating those results to technical staff and management. While at the stations they will register for MIT subjects 10.80 - 10.87.

NUS MSc Requirements (course based)
4 graduate core courses (modules), and an additional 6 elective modules must be taken in order to complete the NUS M.Sc. degree requirements. Some of the core courses taken at MIT will count towards the NUS requirements. For further details, please contact smart@nus.edu.sg at the SMA office.

Besides the regularly offered electives at NUS some elective requirements can also be satisfied by new SMA-2 courses, co-taught through distance learning in smart classrooms, and focusing on technology development related to the research thrusts of this programme. The choice of modules will evolve over the course of the SMA-2 programme so that the students will be exposed to the most cutting-edge technologies.

Ph.D. Requirements
For the PhD, 3 core courses plus an additional 3 elective courses are required, together with passing the PhD qualifying exam within the first 18 months, seminar attendance, and submission of a thesis documenting original research. For those in the MIT MS-CEP/NUS PhD track, some of the courses taken at MIT will count towards the NUS course requirements. For further details, please contact smart@nus.edu.sg

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Course Descriptions

MIT 10.34 Numerical Methods Applied to Chemical Engineering
Numerical methods for solving problems arising in heat and mass transfer, fluid mechanics, chemical reaction engineering, and molecular simulation. Topics: numerical linear algebra, solution of nonlinear algebraic equations and ordinary differential equations, solution of partial differential equations (e.g. Navier-Stokes), numerical methods in molecular simulation (dynamics, geometry optimization). All methods are presented within the context of chemical engineering problems. Familiarity with structured programming is assumed.

MIT 10.40 Chemical Engineering Thermodynamics
Basic postulates of classical thermodynamics. Application to transient open and closed systems. Criteria of stability and equilibria. Constitutive property models of pure materials and mixtures emphasizing molecular-level effects using the formalism of statistical mechanics. Phase and chemical equilibria of multicomponent systems. Applications emphasized through extensive problem work relating to practical cases.

MIT 10.50 Analysis of Transport Phenomena
Unified treatment of heat transfer, mass transfer, and fluid mechanics, emphasizing scaling concepts in formulating models and analytical methods for obtaining solutions. Topics include conduction and diffusion, laminar flow regimes, convective heat and mass transfer, and simultaneous heat and mass transfer with chemical reaction or phase change.

MIT 10.65 Chemical Reactor Engineering
Fundamentals of chemically reacting systems with emphasis on synthesis of chemical kinetics and transport phenomena. Topics include kinetics of gas, liquid, and surface reactions; quantum chemistry; transition state theory; surface adsorption, diffusion, and desorption processes; mechanism and kinetics of biological processes; mechanism formulation and sensitivity analysis. Reactor topics include nonideal flow reactors, residence time distribution and dispersion models; multiphase reaction systems; nonlinear reactor phenomena. Examples are drawn from different applications, including heterogeneous catalysis, polymerization, combustion, biochemical systems, and materials processing.

MIT 10.541 Kinetics of Biological and Chemical Systems
Comprehensive treatment of the kinetics of basic chemical reactions and biological processes. Subject begins with a fundamental analysis of reaction order in homogeneous reactions and proceeds with the kinetics of heterogeneous systems and catalytic reactions. Methods of measuring and calculating reaction rate constants included. After a basic stoichiometric analysis of biological reaction networks, the subject discusses kinetics of enzymatic reactions and extensions to kinetic characteristics of reaction pathways and bioreaction networks. Similarities and differences between chemical and biological kinetics discussed along with concepts of rate-limiting steps and distribution of control among several reactions in a pathway. Subject concludes with applications to the kinetic analysis of chemical and biological reaction systems in the chemical and bioprocess industries.

MIT 10.551 Systems Engineering
Introduction to the elements of systems engineering. Special attention devoted to those tools that help students structure and solve complex problems. Illustrative examples drawn from a broad variety of chemical engineering topics, including product development and design, process development and design, experimental and theoretical analysis of physico-chemical process, analysis of process operations.

Learn more about MIT’s Department of Chemical Engineering graduate programme.

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