The Best Chemical Engineering Schools in the US

December 27, 2022
By AdmissionSight

The Best Chemical Engineering Schools in the US

What is chemical engineering?

What exactly is the chemical engineering field? Chemical engineering is a subfield of mechanical engineering that focuses on the production of chemicals as well as the manufacturing of products through the use of chemical processes. Students from the best chemical engineering schools use the fundamentals of chemistry, biology, physics, and mathematics to devise solutions to issues that arise in the manufacturing or consumption of a wide variety of goods, including fuel, drugs, food, and many others.

There are many different industries in which chemical engineers are employed. For instance, they might work at a petroleum refinery to convert crude oil into gasoline, jet fuel, diesel fuel, lubricating oil, solvents, and other petrochemicals. Chemical engineers can also work at a fertilizer plant to produce ammonium nitrate and at personal-care product companies to mix dozens of ingredients to produce shampoo or skin lotion.

In the late 19th century, the field of chemical engineering was generally acknowledged to have been established by an English engineer named George E. Davis. His two-volume “Handbook of Chemical Engineering,” based on a series of 12 lectures he delivered at the Manchester School of Technology, is considered the first truly comprehensive overview of the practice of chemical engineering ever published (now part of the University of Manchester).

Why study chemical engineering?

So, then, the question is, why should someone major in chemical engineering? There are benefits that one can gain from deciding to study this course. More students enter the best chemical engineering schools because of the benefits.

  • Knowledge to save the world: Chemical engineers have developed products that make other people’s lives easier and better. As a chemical engineer, you will be responsible for developing products used in practically every aspect of modern life, such as medicines, fuels, plastics, and automobiles. You can even contribute to reducing starvation, diseases, and poverty with the goods you sell.
  • The cultivation of people skills: the work of chemical engineers is challenging and encompasses a rather extensive body of knowledge. This necessitates the development of people skills. You will learn to think logically, creatively, and innovatively, communicate effectively and work well with others to find solutions to problems.
  • Good job opportunities: chemical engineers generally expect high salaries when entering the labor market because of their expertise in developing products commercially, such as by reducing costs and the amount of time required to complete processes.

Where can students study chemical engineering in the US?

California Institute of Technology

CalTech, which has its main campus in Pasadena, California, is considered one of the best chemical engineering schools. The school’s chemical engineering program also performs exceptionally well in national rankings. The program is the least extensive on this list and confers no more than a dozen bachelor’s degrees annually. One of the things that sets CalTech apart is its relatively modest size.

A Caltech signage

Overall, there are fewer than 1,000 undergraduates enrolled at the institution. When you combine this with an impressive student-to-faculty ratio of 3 to 1, you can rest assured that you will receive a significant amount of individual attention in addition to abundant research opportunities.

What makes Caltech a good place for students to pursue studies in chemical engineering is that the Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering fosters productive collaboration between the chemistry, chemical engineering, and biochemistry disciplines.

Chemical engineering students typically specialize in one of four subfields during their junior and senior years of study. These subfields include biomolecular, environmental, material, and process systems. Through completing a senior thesis, every student is allowed to engage in independent research.

Georgia Tech

Georgia Tech consistently ranks among the best chemical engineering schools in the US and provides excellent value as a public university in a state with relatively low tuition rates. Not only that, but Georgia Tech also consistently ranks among the best schools overall in the country. Because the school is situated in Atlanta, students can conveniently access various internship opportunities.

Front view of Georgia Institute of Technology

Both chemical and biomedical engineering are taught in the same school at Georgia Tech because there is such a significant amount of crossover between the two disciplines. The School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering has notable strengths in several areas, including biotechnology, complex systems, energy and sustainability, materials and nanotechnology, and biotechnology. Students who enter Georgia Tech with a significant amount of advanced placement or transfer credit can participate in the institute’s five-year BS/MS program.

At Georgia Tech, chemical engineering is one of the most sought-after majors; each year, well over 200 students graduate with a bachelor’s degree. In their senior year, students in every major are required to complete a capstone design project. Senior students take on a design challenge that requires both engineering and economic analysis, and they do so while working in groups of four or five students. A company like Eastman Kodak, Chevron, or Exide provides financial support for the projects, and the students’ efforts culminate in a presentation for the engineering faculty.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) routinely occupies the number one spot in the rankings of engineering schools in the United States and worldwide, and its chemical engineering program is also consistently regarded as among the very best. At MIT, the chemical engineering field confers approximately 30 bachelor’s degrees, 40 master’s degrees, and 50 doctorates annually.

Aerial view of MIT campus at day time.

Because there are so many graduate students, there will be plenty of opportunities for undergraduates to work in the lab as research assistants. These jobs are typically paid through the school’s Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP). Students have access to forty laboratories within the department, where they can research various fields, such as energy and sustainability, biotechnology, polymers, manufacturing, nanotechnology, and surface science.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has a campus in Cambridge, located directly across the Charles River from Boston. The city of Cambridge is home to a large number of technology companies that provide a variety of additional career opportunities.

Applicants to MIT need to have an outstanding high school transcript, nearly perfect scores on the SAT or ACT (especially in mathematics), and personal qualities that are a good match for MIT’s diverse, creative, and eclectic student body. The acceptance rate at MIT is only one in ten.

Princeton University

The engineering program at Princeton University continues to build its reputation both nationally and internationally as one of the best chemical engineering schools. About 30 graduate degrees and 40 undergraduate degrees are conferred annually by the university in the field of chemical engineering.

The university, much like a large number of other educational institutions, houses its chemical and biological engineering programs within the same department. Students can concentrate their studies on one of the following six areas: energy and the environment, surface science and catalysis, biomolecular engineering, cellular and tissue engineering, complex materials, and processing, or theory and simulation.

Princeton orange

Students graduating with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering have three primary career paths: 29% continue their education and enroll in graduate school, 10% work in the healthcare or pharmaceutical industries, and the remaining 18% work in management and technical consulting.

Princeton University has an acceptance rate of 6%. To be considered for admission to one of the best engineering programs, applicants will need an outstanding high school transcript, exceptionally high scores on standardized tests, and notable achievements outside of the classroom.

Stanford University

Stanford University is one of the best chemical engineering schools because it helps students grow in their field of research. Stanford allows students to participate in one of 20 different research groups, and faculty members are affiliated with 14 different research and training centers.

Stanford campus sprawled with students

Although chemical engineering is not one of the most popular STEM fields offered by the university, the faculty, resources, and research opportunities are excellent. Research in energy, the environment, and human health technologies is given significant weight in the chemical engineering curriculum at Stanford, which is on the field’s cutting edge.

The admissions requirements at Stanford University are among the most stringent of any school on this list. The university has an acceptance rate of approximately 5%. To be admitted, students need to have earned excellent grades in a challenging high school curriculum, high scores on standardized tests, and good extracurricular activities.

University of California Berkeley

Even though UC Berkeley’s acceptance rate for in-state students is lower than Stanford’s, this prestigious public university still has an acceptance rate in the single digits, and admission to the school of engineering is even more competitive than admission to the rest of the university. The University of California, Berkeley, is one of the public schools that is frequently ranked among the best chemical engineering schools in the United States.

Berkeley University arc with students passing through it

Over one hundred twenty undergraduates receive their bachelor’s degrees in chemical engineering each year. Chemical engineering is a popular field of study. Around sixty more students will receive their master’s degrees yearly in chemical engineering.

The Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, is a research powerhouse. It has 26 full-time faculty members in addition to many lecturers and researchers. Areas of research at UC Berkley can be chosen from the following broad categories; with each of these research areas has its subcategories:

  • Biomolecular engineering
  • Energy, sustainability, catalysis, and electrochemical engineering
  • Theory, computational systems, and machine learning
  • Materials and interfaces

University of Michigan—Ann Arbor

The University of Michigan’s flagship campus in Ann Arbor, like the University of California at Berkeley, consistently ranks near the top of the nation’s best public universities. The institution is widely recognized for its excellence in the STEM fields. Over a tenth of the more than 1,100 students who graduate from the University of Michigan with a bachelor’s degree in engineering, each year choose to concentrate their studies on chemical engineering.

Front view of the University of Michigan with an empty yard filled with different varieties of trees

Undergraduate students at the University of Michigan have access to various research opportunities, including participation in the Summer Undergraduate Research in Engineering program (SURE) and the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP). Research institutes and centers at the university include the Biointerfaces Institute, the Energy Institute, the Center for Photonic and Multiscale Nanomaterials, and the Michigan Institute for Data Science, among others. A nanofabrication facility, an electron microbeam analysis laboratory, a high-temperature corrosion laboratory, and a battery lab are just some impressive research facilities that this university possesses.

University of Texas at Austin

The University of Texas at Austin is another of the best chemical engineering schools with remarkable strengths in STEM fields. The university has more than 50,000 students, so it might not seem like a good choice if you’re looking for an intimate college experience. However, the chemical engineering program is proud of its close-knit community and culture of mentoring, so it might be worth considering if you’re interested in either of those things.

Front view of a building in the University of Texas with a male statue at the very front

Undergraduate Research Assistant positions are available to students majoring in chemical engineering as early as the second semester of their first year of college. Research topics include advanced materials, polymers, and nanotechnology; energy biotechnology; modeling and simulation; process engineering; environmental engineering; and modeling and simulation of energy systems. Within the first six months after receiving their bachelor’s degree, more than 90 percent of graduates are either employed or accepted into graduate school.

Now that you know more about the best chemical engineering schools, you will need guidance to ensure you get into the chemical engineering school you want to attend. At AdmissionSight, you will be guided through this process as needed. You can get all the right information and guidance from experts at AdmissionSight. Start your journey today with an initial consultation.





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