Contact Information

Professor Robert Tilton
Director, Center for Complex Fluids Engineering

Dr. Annette Jacobson
Director, Colloids, Polymers and Surfaces (CPS) Educational Program

Laura Shaheen
CPS and CFE Administrative Assistant
(412) 268-6344
E-mail:lr23 [at]



The CPS Program was established in 1973 with the purpose of providing education in the areas of colloids, polymers and surfaces (interfaces) for undergraduate and graduate students at Carnegie Mellon University. The motivation for establishing the Program resulted from requests by local industry that desired educational opportunities relevant to industrial technology.

Although the manufacture of many chemical products requires application of principles of colloid, polymer or surface science, these subjects receive minimal coverage in most engineering and science curricula. The CPS Program was established to provide education about these topics, and continues to view educational opportunities for full-time and part-time students as one of its primary roles. The coursework offered through the Program is relevant to industries involved with, for example, pigments and paints, pharmaceuticals, synthetic and biopolymer manufacture, cosmetics and personal care, environmental cleanup methods, heterogeneous catalysis, and surfactants.

The CPS program provides education options to undergraduates and graduate students. Information is provided below.


The CPS Program provides a College of Engineering (CIT) minor for students interested in the broad area of soft materials - topic include polymers, macromolecules, fine particles, colloids, interfaces and many others. The focus is on a physical chemical approach to these materials, rather than synthetic, and the curriculum includes both lecture courses and a laboratory sequence.

For more information see: CPS Minor

This minor was offered as an option between 1978 and 2000 and changed to a minor in 2001. Both have been very popular, as 25-40% of each senior chemical engineering class chooses this course sequence. Students from other programs across Carnegie Mellon have taken part in the minor.

Undergraduate Elective Options for Chemistry Students
Undergraduate chemistry students may elect the Polymer Science Option, which requires enrollment in polymer lecture courses which may include the CPS evening lab course, 39-802.

Graduate Degrees

The CPS program offers graduate lecture and laboratory courses designed for different levels of graduate work. An MS in CPS is offered for both part time and full time students. This MSCPS degree can be pursued in conjuction with a PhD in another Carnegie Mellon program or as a stand alone degree.

The Master of Science degree in Colloids, Polymers and Surfaces is offered jointly by the Carnegie Institute of Technology and the Mellon College of Science. A total of 96 units of coursework are required to earn the degree. It is also possible to earn a combined degree in either chemical engineering or chemistry. On average, five MS degrees in CPS are awarded annually.

The program is open to qualified students with a bachelor's degree in either science or engineering. Full-time students requiring financial support must apply for admission and financial aid through a sponsoring department, i.e. chemical engineering, chemistry, physics, or civil and environmental engineering.

A degree candidate studying full-time may conduct research and complete a Master's thesis, which may represent up to 40 units of credit. Students may instead earn the 96 units required entirely through coursework. The majority of CPS students choose the coursework option and have full-time employment. For that reason, classes are scheduled for the late afternoon and evening hours.

For more information see: MS CPS