Getting Your Master’s Degree in Chemical Engineering

master's degree chemical engineering

Getting Your Master’s Degree in Chemical Engineering

Chemical engineering is a branch of engineering that applies the principles of chemistry, biology, physics, and math to solve different problems that involve the use of fuel, drugs, food, and other products. Chemical engineering started with the fermentation and evaporation processes that were operated by early civilizations. Modern chemical engineering emerged with the development of large-scale, chemical manufacturing operations in the 2nd half of the 19th century.

While you can find a decent job with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering, going on to get your master’s degree in chemical engineering can open more doors and expand your career choices. Having a master’s degree in chemical engineering will also allow you to pursue more advanced or managerial vocations.

Those with a master’s degree in chemical engineering are employed in many different industries, not just chemical manufacturing. Some are employed in biotechnology, business services, health care, food manufacturing, electronics, and energy manufacturing.

Chemical engineers conduct tests and research, troubleshoot problems, and work in the production of energy, food, clothing, paper, life sciences, biotechnology, business, and more.

According to BLS, employment of chemical engineers is projected to grow 4% from 2019 to 2029, about as fast as the average for all occupations. According to the New York Fed, on a “Labor Market Outcomes of College Graduates by Major” chart, the chemical engineering major has an unemployment rate of 3.8%. They also have the early-career median wage listed as $68,000, and a mid-career wage as $110,000. 48.4% of those with that major have a graduate degree.

Online vs In-person

Many schools have both online and in-person options to get your master’s degree. Some people want to go to an in-person classroom, while others prefer the flexibility of online school. There are also hybrid programs that might be a good option.

A Master’s of Chemical Engineering Program

A master’s in chemical engineering should take between 1-2 years, depending on the program. It could take longer if a student goes part-time vs full-time.

Concentrations

When you are pursuing a master’s degree in chemical engineering you will need to have a concentration. Here are a few examples:

  • Climate- where students would learn the fundamentals and technological challenges associated with the climate.
  • Biotech- where students study technology based on biology, involving the use of living systems, and organizations to develop or make products.
  • Chemical and Life Science- where students would learn about the principles of mass and energy balances, stem cells, cellular engineering, and more.
  • Biomolecular- where students study biochemical and biology for those who want to go into consumer products, food processing, and pharmaceuticals.
  • Energy- where students would learn about chemical thermodynamics, full cell technology, fire modeling, and more.

Common Classes

While many of your classes would depend on your concentration, here are a few of the more common classes you might need to take for your program:

  • Chemical engineering
  • Kinetics
  • Analysis of chemical engineering and thermodynamics
  • Materials engineering
  • Control Management

Admission Requirements

Admission requirements differ based on the school and program, however, most will require students to have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited school, to complete an application essay, and submit letters of recommendation.

Some schools might also require professional experience, but even if the school doesn’t, it can help to have that work experience to put on the application. Schools usually also want students to have a 3.0 GPA or higher.

Students usually do not have to have a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering, but would be helpful to have one. Other majors such as chemistry, physics, and microbiology would also be a good fit.

How to Choose a Program

There are many different factors when choosing a chemical engineering master’s program. Students should look at the length of each one, the course format, available concentrations, and final project requirements. Students should also consider the curriculum and the cost.

Accreditation status for each program can also make a difference and can affect future career opportunities. Departments often receive programmatic accreditation from field-specific accrediting bodies. Accreditation will indicate that the program meets set standards of quality for the electrical engineering profession.

Students should look for a program with accreditation from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). Degrees from an ABET-accredited program are required for licensure examinations.

Top Master’s in Chemical Engineering Programs

Here are 10 of the top masters in chemical engineering programs:

  • Princeton University
  • Columbia University in the City of New York
  • Stanford University
  • The University of Pennsylvania
  • The California Institute of Technology
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Northwestern University
  • Washington University in St. Louis
  • Cornell University
  • Rice University

>> Search for schools offering a Master in Chemical Engineering with the CollegeRecon School Search tool.

Top Online Master’s in Chemical Engineering Programs

  • North Carolina State
  • Missouri University of Science and Technology
  • Auburn University
  • Kansas State University
  • The University of Illinois in Chicago
  • The University of Virginia
  • Villanova University
  • Lehigh University
  • Columbia University
  • The University of Southern California

>> Search for schools offering an Online Master in Chemical Engineering with the CollegeRecon School Search tool.

 Jobs With a Master’s Degree in Chemical Engineering

 Materials Scientists

Annual Median Pay is $86,453 according to Payscale

Materials Scientists work in research and development. They also look at the composition and structure as well as the properties of various types of matter and scientific laws.

Environmental Scientists

Annual Median Pay is $51,947 according to Payscale

Environmental Scientists work with government agencies to help with the formation of new environmental protection policies and aid in finding ways that human behavior can be changed to avoid potential environmental protection policies.

Natural Science Managers

Annual Median Pay is $81,000 according to Payscale

Natural Science Managers direct physicists, chemists, and biologists during the course of research.

Process Engineers

Annual Median Pay is $73,469 according to Payscale

Process Engineers are responsible for the equipment systems and methods used in a manufacturing facility to transform raw ingredients into their final product form.

Licensing Requirements

Chemical engineers don’t have to be licensed but doing so leads to better jobs. Candidates would need at least four years of work experience, pass a state exam, and hold a degree from an accredited engineering program. Continuing education may be required to maintain and renew the license.

Scholarships for Students Getting a Master’s in Chemical Engineering

Here are a few scholarships for those getting their master’s in chemical engineering.

>> Use CollegeRecon’s Scholarship Finder in order to find scholarships for military, veterans, dependents and spouses and by degree program.

Recycling Education and Research Foundation

The Recycling Education and Research Foundation sponsor a graduate scholarship to individuals seeking a graduate degree in programs that support scrap processing or the recycling industry as a whole. Students must be admitted to an accredited graduate educational institution as listed by the US Department of Education. They should be studying one of the subjects listed on their website, which includes chemical engineering. There is one award worth $5,000.

The SEE Education Foundation Scholarship

This scholarship is for students who must be or plan to be pursuing a technical, undergraduate, graduate, or doctorate degree in a field related to the commercial explosives industries. There will be multiple recipients, receiving between $1,500-$7,500.

Eckenfelder Scholarship

This scholarship is to honor Dr. Wesley Eckenfelder Jr’s. dedication to the environmental industry. Students must be enrolled full-time in their junior, senior, or as a graduate student. Their declared major must be in civil, chemical, mechanical, electrical, or environmental engineering or in one of the environmental sciences. The award will be in the amount of $5,000 and must be used on school expenses such as tuition.

NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program

This scholarship recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported STEM disciplines who are pursuing research-based masters and doctoral degrees at accredited US institutions. It is a 5-year fellowship including three years of financial support including an annual stipend of $34,000 and an education allowance of $12,000.

You can also find our longer list of scholarships for chemical engineering majors at College Recon.  Or you can use CollegeRecon’s Scholarship Finder in order to find scholarships for military, veterans, dependents and spouses and by degree program.

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About the author

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Julie Provost is a freelance writer, blogger, and owner of Soldier's Wife, Crazy Life, a support blog for military spouses. She lives in Tennessee with her National Guard husband and three boys.