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Chemical Engineering Degree

Chemical engineering, at its core, is the study of transforming raw materials into more specialized products that have everyday use. This multidisciplinary field involves a thorough understanding of chemistry and mathematics, as well as life sciences, economics, microbiology, and more. There are a number of areas to specialize in, including a variety of sub-disciplines, but large sectors are food engineering, pharmaceuticals, and petroleum engineering. Chemical engineering is available at the baccalaureate, master, and doctoral levels. It can be studied in a very limited capacity at the associate’s level.

A chemical engineer differs from a chemist for one primary reason. Chemists focus on how to make a chemical reaction happen, whereas chemical engineers focus on how to manufacture that process, make it safer, or provide a more efficient method of creating the reaction. Chemical engineers can also choose to work on product and plant design, which may require education beyond a baccalaureate.


Earning a Bachelor’s of Science in Chemical Engineering typically takes four years and has a rigorous curriculum filled with math and sciences. Programs are likely to include biology, calculous, computer science, electronic materials, geometry, mechanics, reactor design, and chemistry. A BS qualifies many graduates for entry-level work in this are of study, but further education may be required, depending on what industry or type of chemical engineering.

Careers for graduates with a Bachelor’s of Science in Chemical Engineering include: Chemical Engineer. This job goes under different titles depending on industry and can be competitive. The starting salary for Chemical Engineers is $64,000, while the median wage is $102,160 per year.

Master Level

At this level of education, most students will delve deeper into their particular focus. Research heavy, these 2-year programs. There are two different programs offered at this level, a Master’s in Chemical Engineering (MEng) and a Master’s of Science (MSc) in Advanced Chemical Engineering. An MEng degree is typically designed for students who didn’t earn their baccalaureate in the same area of study, whereas the MSc works off the pre-established chemical engineering knowledge base.

Careers for graduates at this level of education in chemical engineering include: Chemical Engineer. Again, there are many different titles based on specialty, like Energy Engineer, Petroleum Engineer, and Produce/Process Development Scientist. The average entry-level salary for graduates is $72,362.

Doctorate Level

As with many programs, a PhD in Chemical Engineering is an indicator of staying within academia, either performing university research, teaching, or both. While not all programs require both a bachelor’s and master’s for acceptance, some colleges do, so check the prerequisites.

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