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Chemical Engineering

Program Description

Just the Facts

Chemical Engineering. A program that prepares individuals to apply mathematical and scientific principles to the design, development and operational evaluation of systems employing chemical processes, such as chemical reactors, kinetic systems, electrochemical systems, energy conservation processes, heat and mass transfer systems, and separation processes; and the applied analysis of chemical problems such as corrosion, particle abrasion, energy loss, pollution, and fluid mechanics.

This program is available in these options:

  • Certificate / Diploma
  • Associate degree
  • Bachelor's degree
  • Graduate Certificate
  • Master's degree
  • Doctoral degree

High School Courses

See the high school courses recommended for programs in this career cluster:

See the high school courses recommended for programs in this pathway:

Additional Information

What do the petroleum industry, the cosmetics industry, environmental management and sewage treatment have in common? A degree in chemical engineering will prepare you to work in any of those areas.

Chemistry will be the foundation of your studies, but you will also take courses involving physics, biology and math.

To work as a chemical engineer, you must have at least a bachelor's degree in the field. This will generally take about four or five years.

"We prepare the students for employment in various industries from day one," says Ajay Dalai. He teaches chemical engineering. "They learn communication skills, technical report writing skills, chemical plant design skills and all the fundamentals which are required in any chemical industry."

Engineering programs are accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). Choosing an accredited school is the best way to ensure your qualifications will be recognized.

Graduates of an accredited program can voluntarily apply to their state's professional engineering association for the designation of professional engineer.

But Ruth Baltus says this happens less with chemical engineering than other fields of engineering. Baltus is a chemical engineering professor at Clarkson University in New York.

At universities such as Clarkson, chemical engineering majors develop a specialty by taking a minor concentration in a related field. Typical elective minors include electronics manufacturing, design, production and manufacturing and environmental technology.

Universities may also offer double-major degrees. For example, the University of California at Berkeley has combined degree programs in chemical engineering and materials science, and in chemical engineering and nuclear engineering.

There's often a practical element in chemical engineering programs.

"In many universities," says Dalai, "there are co-op or internship programs, where the student after finishing third-year classes can work in an industry for a period of six to 18 months with a regular salary. The students tend to go back to those companies after they graduate."

In high school, take as many math and science courses as possible. Bear in mind that communication skills and extracurricular activities serve as proof that you have the critical and social skills to match science to human needs.

In addition to tuition, students must pay for textbooks. Some programs charge fees for computers and lab equipment.


Occupational Outlook Handbook
For more information related to this field of study, see: Engineers

Virtual Library -- Chemical Engineering
An excellent list of links

Academic Guide on ABET
Information on accredited engineering programs


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