Education

Best Chemical Engineering Degree Programs of 2022

Learn more about the top Chemical Engineering programs, what to expect, job prospects, and how to choose the program that’s right for you.

Chemical engineering is the study of the design and operation of chemical plants and the development of new chemical products. Chemical engineering degrees can prepare students for a variety of careers in the chemical industry, including research and development, production, and management.

Chemical engineering degrees offer a broad overview of the chemical industry, covering topics such as chemistry, physics, and math. Students in chemical engineering degree programs learn about the different aspects of designing and operating chemical plants, and how to develop new chemical products.

How to Choose the Right Chemical Engineering Program

When it comes to choosing the right chemical engineering program, there are many factors to consider. Cost, location, and time to degree are all important factors that prospective students need to research before making a decision.

The cost of a chemical engineering degree can vary depending on the institution. When considering costs, students need to research tuition, fees, and associated expenses such as housing, commuting, and parking. Public schools offer a lower tuition rate for in-state residents. Location can also affect the ability to gain internship opportunities and network for jobs after graduation. Finally, the time to degree may make an expensive program less costly if students can transfer in college credits.

In addition to these factors, prospective chemical engineering students also need to consider the specializations available at each program. Students interested in environmental engineering, for example, may only wish to consider programs that offer a track in environmental engineering. Students can also research the graduation requirements to learn how many general engineering classes they must take versus the specialized courses in their track.

Best Bachelor’s in Chemical Engineering Programs

The best programs for Chemical Engineering ranking is based on key statistics and student reviews using data from the U.S. Department of Education. Some of the metrics influencing how the rankings are determined include graduation rate, average salary for graduates, accreditation, retention rate, and cost.

Rank 1
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Cambridge, MA

The Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology is a program for students who want to gain a broad education in the application of chemical engineering to various specific areas. These areas include energy and the environment, nanotechnology, polymers and colloids, surface science, catalysis and reaction engineering, systems and process design, and biotechnology. The program requirements include the core chemical engineering subjects with a chemistry emphasis.

The program is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET.

Rank 2
University of California-Berkeley
Berkeley, CA

The Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from University of California-Berkeley is a four-year program that prepares students for professional work in the development, design, and operation of chemical products and processes. The program provides students with a solid foundation in the principles of chemical engineering, and prepares them for employment in industries such as chemical, petroleum, electrochemical, biochemical, semiconductor, nuclear, aerospace, plastics, food processing, or environmental control. The program is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET.

Rank 3
University of Southern California
Los Angeles, CA

The Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from University of Southern California is a 134-unit program that provides students with a strong foundation in the principles of chemical engineering. The program emphasizes the application of these principles to real-world problems, and students have the opportunity to choose from six different areas of emphasis, including biochemical engineering, environmental engineering, nanotechnology, petroleum engineering, polymer/materials science, and sustainable energy. The program also includes a number of required courses in chemistry, math, and physics, as well as a number of electives that allow students to tailor the program to their specific interests and career goals.

Rank 4
Kettering University
Flint, MI

The Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from Kettering University is a STEM program that blends academic and hands-on experiences. The academic portion of the program features small class sizes and a strong interdisciplinary approach that draws on the strength of faculty, extensive laboratories, and a unique Co-op component. Courses in the core curriculum include thermodynamics, mass transfer, fluid dynamics, process control, calculus, Newtonian mechanics, and mass and energy balance.

Rank 5
The University of Texas
Austin, TX

The University of Texas offers a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering degree that is designed to prepare students for professional practice in chemically related careers. The curriculum for the program integrates lectures and laboratory experience in basic science, mathematics, engineering science, engineering design, and the liberal arts. Students in the program are required to complete coursework in one or more of the following areas: accounting, finance, marketing, and/or management. In addition, students must complete the University’s Core Curriculum.

Rank 6
University of Wisconsin
Madison, WI

The Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from University of Wisconsin is a program that provides students with a broad scientific training that can be applied to a number of different problems and industries. The curriculum gives students a rigorous education in the fundamental chemical engineering sciences while also providing more applied courses in areas such as materials science, biochemical engineering, and chemical process design.

Rank 7
Northeastern University
Boston, MA

The Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from Northeastern University is a broad degree that covers topics like science, mathematics, and engineering. This degree is perfect for those who want to work in a variety of industries, including chemical, petrochemical, agricultural chemical, pulp and paper, plastics, cosmetics, and textiles. Students will also have the opportunity to participate in Northeastern’s cooperative education program, which allows them to gain real-world experience in their field of study.

Rank 8
Ohio State University
Columbus, OH

The Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from Ohio State University is a great choice for students interested in a career in engineering. The curriculum provides a solid foundation in math and basic sciences, chemical engineering, other engineering disciplines, and more. Core courses include thermodynamics, transport phenomena, kinetics, and design. Students also have the opportunity to explore different topics and areas of research in the chemical and biomolecular engineering discipline by enrolling in technical elective courses.

Rank 9
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Worcester, MA

The Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute is a great choice for students interested in a career in engineering. The curriculum provides a strong foundation in the principles of chemical engineering, with the flexibility to allow students to explore areas of particular interest. Students can choose to specialize their studies by obtaining a concentration in Biological, Energy, Environmental, or Materials engineering. The program also offers the opportunity to gain international, industrial, and/or research experience in important and emerging industries.

Rank 10
Clemson University
Clemson, SC

Clemson University’s Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering program is designed to prepare students for a career in chemical engineering. The program combines classroom and laboratory activities to provide students with a hands-on learning experience. The program offers a concentration in biomolecular engineering and a broad scope of emphasis areas, allowing students to specialize their training. The program also offers a combined bachelor’s/master’s plan, allowing students to get a jump-start on their master’s degree.

Rank 11
Brigham Young University
Provo, UT

The Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from Brigham Young University is a versatile degree that prepares students for a wide range of career opportunities. The curriculum provides students with a strong foundation in math, chemistry, and engineering, which gives graduates the ability to solve complex engineering problems. The program also emphasizes the importance of communication, ethics, and professional responsibility, which helps graduates be successful in their chosen career.

Rank 12
University at Buffalo
Buffalo, NY

The Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from University at Buffalo is a four-year program that prepares students for careers in the chemical engineering field. The program is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET. Students in the program take courses in chemistry, physics, math, and engineering. The program also includes a residency requirement, which stipulates that students must complete 30 undergraduate credit hours of junior/senior level courses in their major at the University at Buffalo.

Rank 13
University of Colorado Boulder
Boulder, CO

The Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from University of Colorado Boulder is a highly respected program that prepares students for a career in chemical engineering. The program offers curriculum options in energy, materials or pre-medicine, and students have the opportunity to participate in cutting-edge research in areas such as biotechnology, biomedical and tissue engineering, and alternative energy. Students in the program also gain hands-on experience through industry co-op positions, which often lead to jobs after graduation.

Rank 14
Rochester Institute of Technology
Rochester, NY

The Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from Rochester Institute of Technology provides students with a strong foundation in engineering principles and the underlying science. Students can choose from a variety of professional technical electives to gain more depth in the field of chemical engineering. A capstone design experience in the fifth year integrates chemical engineering theory, principles, and processes in a collaborative team environment. Four blocks (approximately one year) of cooperative education experience, mathematics and science courses, free electives, and liberal arts courses round out the curriculum.

Rank 15
Oregon State University
Corvallis, OR

The Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from Oregon State University is designed to prepare students for careers in the chemical engineering field. The program provides students with the skills and knowledge necessary to identify, formulate, and solve complex engineering problems. Additionally, students learn how to apply engineering design principles to produce solutions that meet specified needs while considering public health, safety, and welfare. The program also emphasizes effective communication skills and teamwork in order to prepare students for working in cross-functional team environments.

What to Expect From a Bachelor’s in Chemical Engineering Program

Students in a bachelor’s degree program in chemical engineering learn about the design and operation of equipment and processes used in the chemical and related industries. The curriculum emphasizes the application of mathematics and physical sciences to the solution of engineering problems.

Most programs include a core of required courses in mathematics, physics, chemistry, and thermodynamics, as well as courses in engineering fundamentals and design. Students also complete elective courses in areas such as environmental engineering, biotechnology, and materials science. Many programs include a capstone design course in which students work on a team to solve an open-ended engineering problem.

Graduates of bachelor’s degree programs in chemical engineering are prepared for careers in a variety of industries, including the chemical, petroleum, plastics, food, and pharmaceutical industries. They may also pursue graduate study in chemical engineering or another field.

Common Chemical Engineering Courses

The courses you’ll take for a chemical engineering degree will depend on the program and school you attend. However, many programs include the following classes in their curriculum.

Calculus

This course covers limits, continuity, derivatives, integrals, and infinite series of functions of one variable. Vectors and vector-valued functions are also introduced. Applications are emphasized throughout the course. Upon completion, students should be able to find limits, derivatives, and integrals of functions and use them to solve problems.

Organic Chemistry

This course covers the study of the structure, reactivity, and synthesis of organic compounds. Topics include the study of organic compounds containing the major functional groups, stereochemistry, spectroscopy, and organic reactions and their mechanisms. Emphasis is placed on the application of these concepts to the solution of problems. Upon completion, students should be able to apply the principles of organic chemistry to the solution of problems.

Biomechanics

This course covers the application of mechanical principles to the study of biological systems. Emphasis is placed on the analysis of biological systems at all levels, from the subcellular to the whole organism. Topics include the mechanical behavior of cells, tissues, and organs; the skeletal, muscular, and cardiovascular systems; and biomechanical modeling. Upon completion, students should be able to apply the principles of mechanics to the analysis of biological systems and to the design of medical devices and prosthetics.

Chemical Process Control

This course covers the application of feedback control principles to chemical processes. Topics include process variables, process dynamics, process control modes, controllers, final control elements, and tuning of feedback controllers. Emphasis is placed on the use of process simulators to design and implement feedback controllers. Upon completion, students should be able to design, implement, and interpret results from feedback controllers for chemical processes.

Hazardous Waste Treatment

This course covers the identification, classification, and treatment of hazardous wastes. Emphasis is placed on the application of various physical/chemical treatment processes to hazardous wastes, as well as on the management and disposal of hazardous wastes. Upon completion, students should be able to apply the principles of hazardous waste management to the identification, classification, and treatment of hazardous wastes.

Career Options for Chemical Engineering Graduates

Graduates of chemical engineering programs work in a variety of industries, including manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, and biotechnology. They may also work in fields such as environmental engineering and chemical research.

Chemist

Chemists conduct experiments and analyze the results to develop new products or processes or to improve existing ones. They work in a variety of industries, including the pharmaceutical, food and beverage, cosmetics, and environmental sectors. Chemists typically have a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, and many have a master’s degree or a PhD. Some chemists work in research and development, where they develop new products or processes. Others work in quality control, where they test products or materials to ensure they meet certain standards. Still others work in manufacturing, where they develop processes to produce products efficiently and safely.

Materials Engineer

Materials engineers develop, process, and test materials used to create a wide range of products. They work with metals, ceramics, plastics, semiconductors, and composites to create new materials that meet certain mechanical, electrical, and chemical properties for specific applications. Materials engineers might work in the aerospace, automotive, biomedical, chemical, electronic, food processing, manufacturing, or steel industries, among others.

Process Engineer

Process engineers work to design and oversee the production process for a variety of products—everything from medical devices to microchips. Process engineers must have a deep understanding of the science and math behind the manufacturing process and be able to apply that knowledge to make the process more efficient, whether that means designing a new production line or coming up with a more efficient way to use an existing one. Process engineers typically work in manufacturing or industrial settings, but they can also be found in other industries, such as food and beverage, oil and gas, and pharmaceuticals.

Quality Control Manager

Quality control managers plan, direct, or coordinate quality assurance programs. They also may design or implement quality control testing models, processes, or methodologies. Quality control managers typically work in manufacturing or service industries, such as the food and beverage industry or in healthcare. They typically work full time and may work more than 40 hours per week to meet deadlines or to respond to production problems.

Environmental Engineer

Environmental engineers work on projects and issues related to the environment and public health. They may develop plans to clean up polluted areas, advise companies on how to reduce waste, or help municipalities develop water supply systems. They may also work on issues related to recycling, air pollution, or climate change. Environmental engineering is a broad field that incorporates many different specialties, so environmental engineers often specialize in one particular area.

Insights From a Chemical Engineering Graduate

Kaelyn Andrews is a Process Engineer at 3M. She has a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Minnesota. Kaelyn has over 3 years of experience in process engineering and project management.

ClimbtheLadder: How did you make the most of your Chemical Engineering degree program so that it prepared you for post-graduation jobs?

Kaelyn Andrews: I took a variety of courses that gave me a well-rounded understanding of chemical engineering principles. I also did an internship in a chemical engineering role so that I could get experience in the field. I took on leadership roles in extracurricular activities, which helped me develop teamwork and communication skills.

ClimbtheLadder: What are the most rewarding aspects of your career? What are the most challenging aspects of your career?

Kaelyn Andrews: The most rewarding aspect of my career is being able to solve problems and see the results of my work. I also enjoy the team aspect of my job and being able to collaborate with others. The most challenging aspect of my career is the amount of change that can occur. In the chemical engineering field, new technologies and processes are always being developed, so it can be difficult to keep up with the latest trends.

ClimbtheLadder: Was there anything about your Chemical Engineering program that you didn’t expect or anticipate?

Kaelyn Andrews: I didn’t anticipate how much I would enjoy working in the lab. I thought I would be in the lab maybe once a week, but I ended up being in the lab multiple times a week. It was a great way to get hands-on experience with the material we were learning in class.

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