Best Chemical Engineering Programs

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Chemical engineers use their understanding of chemical processes and engineering principles to solve problems, create new products, or improve manufacturing processes. Graduates from this STEM field find career opportunities in many industries, such as healthcare, energy production, and agriculture.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that chemical engineers earned a median salary of $105,550 in May 2021. The BLS projects the field to grow 9% from 2020-2030, about the same as the average overall job growth of 8%. Some of the growth will come from emerging fields like alternative energy and nanotechnology.

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A bachelor's in chemical engineering requires about four years to complete. Some schools offer an online bachelor's in chemical engineering, though students should review any on-campus requirements like lab courses.

Degree costs vary depending on the type of school selected and residency status. According to a BestColleges data report, the average tuition at four-year public universities was $9,375 in 2020-2021 compared to $35,852 at private, nonprofit universities. Prospective students should consider other college costs, such as housing, school supplies, and technology, particularly for online programs.

Learn more about the best bachelor's in chemical engineering programs to find the best fit for your needs. The programs offer rigorous classes, various chemical engineering specializations, and hands-on learning opportunities.

Our Top Pick

Stanford University - Stanford, California

Why It's #1: Stanford University, in Stanford, California, earned the top ranking with its 94% graduation rate and a 5-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio. The school reports a competitive admission rate of 4%. The annual tuition of $52,857 ranks third-lowest on this list of prestigious schools, with 70% of students awarded financial assistance. Just over 5% of students take advantage of online learning opportunities, with the curriculum focused on hands-on learning.

Read Our Rankings Methodology

Best Accredited Bachelor's in Chemical Engineering Programs

Rankings compiled by the BestColleges Ranking Team

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#1 Best Chemical Engineering Programs

Stanford University

  • Stanford, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

On Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Term

In State | $18,491

Out of State | $18,491

Credits to Graduate

104

Program Information

Degree Completion Program | No

Program Accreditation | No

Stanford University offers chemical engineering students a rigorous curriculum in math and science and engineering, with hands-on learning opportunities.

The private university offers opportunities for research experience during summers, with 19 research groups and a variety of research centers active on the campus. Stanford offers undergraduate students the opportunity to work toward their graduate degree while completing their bachelor's in chemical engineering.

Average Tuition
In-state
$52,857
Out-of-state
$52,857
Retention Rate
99%
Admission Rate
4%
Students Enrolled
17,249
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
5% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
#2 Best Chemical Engineering Programs

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

  • Cambridge, MA
  • 4 years
  • Campus

On Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit

In State | $890

Out of State | $890

Credits to Graduate

186-195

Program Information

Degree Completion Program | No

Program Accreditation | Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology

Chemical engineering students at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts, can take part in undergraduate research programs. The school offers a bachelor's in chemical engineering, chemical-biological engineering, or engineering, with tracks developed to meet student interests. 

The MIT curriculum encourages collaboration with other departments through its multidisciplinary research centers. Lab courses provide students the opportunity to apply their skills on a team project, often in collaboration with local industries.

Average Tuition
In-state
$53,450
Out-of-state
$53,450
Retention Rate
99%
Admission Rate
7%
Students Enrolled
11,520
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
0% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes New England Commission on Higher Education
#3 Best Chemical Engineering Programs

Princeton University

  • Princeton, NJ
  • 4 years
  • Campus

On Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Term

In State | $28,705

Out of State | $28,705

Credits to Graduate

144

Program Information

Degree Completion Program | No

Program Accreditation | Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology

Princeton University offers six concentration areas in its bachelor's in chemical engineering curriculum. Options include energy and environmental technology, science and engineering for new technologies, and optimization, dynamics, and information technology. During their senior year, chemical engineering students take on a year-long research project, working one on one with a faculty mentor.

However, students can begin working in research after completing their first year of study. The school reports 29% of graduates go directly to graduate study, while 18% begin working in management or technical consulting. Another 10% work in the healthcare and biotechnology industries.

Average Tuition
In-state
$51,870
Out-of-state
$51,870
Retention Rate
98%
Admission Rate
6%
Students Enrolled
8,419
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
Not provided
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
#4 Best Chemical Engineering Programs

Yale University

  • New Haven, CT
  • 4 years
  • Campus

On Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Term

In State | $31,125

Out of State | $31,125

Course Credits to Graduate

36

Program Information

Degree Completion Program | No

Program Accreditation | Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology

Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut offers a bachelor's in chemical engineering. Students can choose from an ABET-accredited chemical engineering degree or an engineering sciences degree with an emphasis on chemical engineering.

The university's engineering school collaborates with liberal arts programs to provide research opportunities and exploration of science and society. The Center for Engineering Innovation and Design serves as a hub for interdisciplinary projects.

Average Tuition
In-state
$55,500
Out-of-state
$55,500
Retention Rate
99%
Admission Rate
6%
Students Enrolled
13,609
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
0% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes New England Commission on Higher Education
#5 Best Chemical Engineering Programs

Columbia University in the City of New York

  • New York, NY
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

On Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Term

In State | $32,762

Out of State | $32,762

Credits to Graduate

128

Program Information

Degree Completion Program | No

Program Accreditation | Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology

Columbia University's bachelor's in chemical engineering stresses that interdisciplinary skills are necessary to solve complex engineering problems. Students choose from concentrations such as climate, environment, and energy solutions, data and computational science, and advanced materials. 

The department is among the oldest chemical engineering academic departments in the country, with a number of state-of-the-art research facilities available to faculty and students.

Average Tuition
In-state
$57,763
Out-of-state
$57,763
Retention Rate
99%
Admission Rate
5%
Students Enrolled
31,456
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
6% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

#6 Best Chemical Engineering Programs

Northwestern University

  • Evanston, IL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

On Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit

In State | $7,394

Out of State | $7,394

Credits to Graduate

48

Program Information

Degree Completion Program | No

Program Accreditation | Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology

Students in Northwestern's bachelor of chemical engineering can choose from six specializations, including environmental engineering and sustainability, design, and nanotechnology and molecular engineering. The university encourages research activity for undergraduate students and cooperative paid work experience opportunities. 

Students can also earn a certificate from the Kellogg School of Management, which prepares them for data-driven or consulting careers. Learners can also study internationally through a partnership with Yonsei University in South Korea.

Average Tuition
In-state
$56,232
Out-of-state
$56,232
Retention Rate
98%
Admission Rate
9%
Students Enrolled
22,448
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
2% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission
#7 Best Chemical Engineering Programs

California Institute of Technology

  • Pasadena, CA
  • 4 years
  • Campus

On Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Term

In State | $19,493

Out of State | $19,493

Units to Graduate

486

Program Information

Degree Completion Program | No

Program Accreditation | No

Caltech incorporates hands-on learning and research throughout its bachelor's in chemical engineering curriculum. Students take part in lab courses that allow them to design systems to solve a problem. Or, degree-seekers can do independent research as part of their senior thesis.

Caltech offers four chemical engineering tracks: biomolecular, materials, process systems, and environmental. Facilities include well-equipped labs that allow students to design solutions, test their theories, and refine their systems.

Average Tuition
In-state
$52,506
Out-of-state
$52,506
Retention Rate
98%
Admission Rate
6%
Students Enrolled
2,237
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
Not provided
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
#8 Best Chemical Engineering Programs

University of Notre Dame

  • Notre Dame, IN
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

On Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Term

In State | $30,151

Out of State | $30,151

Credits to Graduate

130

Program Information

Degree Completion Program | No

Program Accreditation | Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology

Notre Dame combines scientific inquiry with the humanities for an interdisciplinary bachelor's in chemical engineering. Faculty incorporate new technology and modern computational tools throughout the program. Students can choose from concentrations in energy, materials, or biomolecular engineering. Undergraduate students can take part in research alongside faculty members and doctoral students.

The engineering college also offers six-week international summer programs. Chemical engineering students can take part in the summer program with London's Imperial College to work in the carbon capture plant's laboratories on campus.

Average Tuition
In-state
$55,046
Out-of-state
$55,046
Retention Rate
98%
Admission Rate
16%
Students Enrolled
12,683
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
3% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission
#9 Best Chemical Engineering Programs

Cornell University

  • Ithaca, NY
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

On Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit

In State | $1,680

Out of State | $1,680

Credits to Graduate

131

Program Information

Degree Completion Program | No

Program Accreditation | Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology

Cornell built its bachelor's in chemical engineering curriculum with a focus on designing chemical processes for safety, economics, and environmental impact. Cornell encourages students to choose courses to support their interests and goals by recommending a selection of electives in focus areas. Cornell offers 14 focus areas, including biotechnology, computer-aided design, electronic materials, and food science.

A team project provides a capstone experience in the final semester, with options for a chemical process design or chemical engineering product design course. Students can also help build a chemical-powered model car for credit.

Average Tuition
In-state
$56,550
Out-of-state
$56,550
Retention Rate
97%
Admission Rate
11%
Students Enrolled
24,027
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
4% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
#10 Best Chemical Engineering Programs

Vanderbilt University

  • Nashville, TN
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

On Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit

In State | $2,422

Out of State | $2,422

Credits to Graduate

125

Program Information

Degree Completion Program | No

Program Accreditation | Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology

Vanderbilt University's bachelor's in chemical engineering allows learners to design a curriculum that incorporates electives and student interests. The school's first-year curriculum builds a foundation in math, chemistry, and physics. Then, students begin in-depth chemical engineering coursework. Minors available include environmental engineering, scientific computing, and materials science.

Or, students can double major in chemical engineering and biomedical engineering. The school also offers preparation courses for the Fundamentals of Engineering Exam, a requirement for becoming a licensed engineer.

Average Tuition
In-state
$50,800
Out-of-state
$50,800
Retention Rate
97%
Admission Rate
9%
Students Enrolled
13,131
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
8% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Popular Online Chemical Engineering Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

How We Rank Schools

Each year, the BestColleges Ranking Team evaluates hundreds of programs to produce our annual Best Bachelor's in Chemical Engineering ranking. In 2022, the team sourced the most recent data available from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System and College Navigator, both of which are hosted by the National Center for Education Statistics. We identified 173 schools that qualify for our ranking list based on the following criteria.

  • Each school must be an accredited public or private, nonprofit institution.
  • Must offer a bachelor's degree program in the given subject.
  • Must submit an annual report to the National Center for Education Statistics.

To ensure the accuracy and quality of our final ranked list, the ranking team reviewed each qualifying school to ensure it met the criteria for our ranking, and then applied our proprietary ranking methodology to identify the best schools offering this program in the nation. Each school is ranked based on a formula measuring academic factors (60%) and affordability (40%).

The BestColleges Ranking Team is made up of contributors from our data science and product management teams. These contributors operate independently from the editorial team. All BestColleges school rankings are produced by the ranking team and are free of editorial influence. Read our Editorial Policy and Standards to learn more.

Top Three Benefits of a Chemical Engineering Degree

Chemical engineers enjoy a well-rounded curriculum and can specialize in areas that interest them.

Earning a bachelor's in chemical engineering allows students to concentrate in climate and environmental science, biotechnology, and energy. The field encompasses many areas so students can explore topics that interest them.

Chemical engineers enjoy diverse career opportunities with stable growth.

These engineers work in almost every field. They devise manufacturing solutions for research and development, allowing companies to produce new products. The BLS projects a 9% growth in the employment of chemical engineers from 2020-2030, in part thanks to emerging fields of climate engineering and nanotechnology.

Chemical engineers can earn high salaries in the engineering field

Chemical engineers earned a median salary of $105,550 in May 2021, as per the BLS. That's more than twice the median annual salary in the U.S. of $45,760. Petroleum engineers, who often study chemical engineering, earned the highest median salary among engineering professions at $130,850 in 2021.

What Can I Expect From a Bachelor's in Chemical Engineering Program?

Chemical engineers bring a practical approach to chemistry. They develop processes and systems developed in labs and scale them to commercial production. Chemical engineers need a good understanding of chemistry, but they also need to understand physics, biology, and advanced mathematics.

Earning a bachelor's in chemical engineering requires at least four years of full-time study. Your school may offer a bachelor of science or bachelor of engineering degree. Most programs begin with foundational coursework in chemistry, physics, and math, as well as general education classes.

Some schools offer concentrations that require taking multiple electives in a specific area of chemical engineering, like biotechnology or environmental science. Courses often include lectures and lab classes. Many schools offer experiential learning through co-ops, internships, or undergraduate research programs.

Check Out The Student's Guide to College Planning

Program Snapshot
Average Bachelor's Degree Tuition Cost Public Institution: $9,375
Private Institution: $35,852
Length 4 years
Credits 120
Program Tracks Bachelor of Science (BS), Bachelor of Science in Engineering (BSE), Bachelor of Engineering (BE), Bachelor of Engineering Science (BES)
Example Concentrations
  • Biotechnology
  • Materials Science
  • Environmental Technology
  • Energy
  • Biomolecular Engineering
Example Courses
  • Electrochemistry and Electrochemical Engineering
  • Structure of Solids
  • Immunoengineering
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Computational Biology

What Programs Are Similar to Chemical Engineering?

What Are the Admission Requirements?

Admission considerations for a bachelor's in chemical engineering involves your academic background and success in prerequisites such as math and chemistry. Students should evaluate admission requirements when choosing the right college.

Many schools require students to report scores from entrance exams such as the ACT or SAT. Schools with competitive admissions may require higher test scores, more high school academic achievement, and supplemental items like an application essay or letters of recommendation. Colleges may require students complete some on-campus courses before admitting them to an online bachelor's in chemical engineering.

Explore Our Undergraduate Application Guide

How Do I Pay for a Bachelor's Degree in Chemical Engineering?

What Can I Do With This Degree?

Chemical engineers use chemistry and engineering processes in many industries to develop new products or improve processes. The BLS projects about 1,800 job openings for chemical engineers each year. Common job titles include process engineer and chemical engineer.

Science continues to offer potential solutions to issues of energy availability, medicine, and environmental sustainability. Emerging fields such as nanotechnology and alternative energy may drive demand for well-trained chemical engineers with knowledge of these fields.

According to ONET Online, about 82% of chemical engineers enter the field with a bachelor's in chemical engineering. These engineers work in oil and gas extraction, trade and manufacturing, and pharmaceutical manufacturing, often in offices or labs. The highest-earning chemical engineers reported median annual salaries greater than $187,430 in May 2021, as per the BLS.

Popular Chemical Engineering Careers
Career Median Annual Salary
Environmental Engineer $96,820
Petroleum Engineer $130,850
Materials Engineer $98,300
Industrial Engineer $95,300
Chemical Engineer $105,550

Learn More About Chemical Engineering Careers

Chemical Engineering Not for You? Check Out These Related Careers.

Chemical Engineering Licensing and Certification

A chemical engineer may need a professional engineer license for supervisory positions or to operate as an independent consultant. Otherwise, chemical engineers must work under the supervision of a licensed professional engineer (PE).

Earning a PE license requires completing an ABET-accredited educational program and documenting four years of professional experience. It also requires passing the Fundamentals of Engineering Exam and the Principles and Practice of Engineering Exam.

In addition to state licensing, chemical engineers can also pursue professional certification or certificates to demonstrate their expertise in specific fields of engineering. Possible options include a certified chemical engineer, certificate in safety and chemical engineering education, and certified reliability engineer.

Should I Get a Bachelor's in Chemical Engineering Online?

An online bachelor's in chemical engineering can allow students more flexibility in completing their degree. Online degrees can result in new career opportunities or a career change. When considering online programs, be sure to evaluate course offerings and any on-campus requirements, such as lab classes. Some students may find they prefer on-campus learning opportunities, while others thrive with online opportunities.

Online vs. On-Campus Degrees

On-Campus Pros

  • Check
    Access to on-campus resources and support services
  • Check
    In-person social interaction and networking
  • Check
    Hands-on learning
  • Check
    Classroom learning environment with fewer distractions
  • Check
    Extracurricular clubs and activities

On-Campus Cons

  • X
    May be more expensive than online programs
  • X
    Set class times with less flexibility
  • X
    Time/money commuting

Online Pros

  • Check
    Flexibility to learn on your schedule
  • Check
    Learn from anywhere
  • Check
    Network with people around the world
  • Check
    Save time/money on commuting
  • Check
    May be more affordable than on-campus programs
  • Check
    Access to online tutoring and career services

Online Cons

  • X
    Requires more self-discipline
  • X
    Not all programs are available online
  • X
    More technical requirements
  • X
    Potential social isolation and loneliness
How to Choose an Online Degree Program
Factors to Consider Resources
Cost Comparing the Costs of Online vs. On-Campus Programs
Program Format Synchronous Learning vs. Asynchronous Learning
Accreditation How Does Online College Accreditation Work?
Student Support Your Guide to Online Student Services and Opportunities

Frequently Asked Questions About Chemical Engineering Programs

Is a bachelor's in chemical engineering worth it?

Earning a bachelor's in chemical engineering prepares you for exciting careers in emerging areas of technology and science. Chemical engineers are working to find new energy solutions or help manufacturers reduce their impact on the environment. Most entry-level jobs require only a bachelor's in engineering.

A chemical engineering degree provides a rigorous curriculum and requires four years of full-time study. Earning a degree also requires a significant financial commitment. Tuition, supplies, and living expenses for one year of college averaged $35,551 in 2020-2021. But scholarships and grants can reduce this amount. Students' average out-of-pocket costs in 2019-2020 were $14,000 for one year at a public college.

What can I do with a bachelor's in chemical engineering?

Chemical engineers play a part in manufacturing clothing, pharmaceuticals, and food. They also explore new technology to help rid air and water of pollution and contaminants. Chemical engineers work on alternative energy systems, power grids, and oil and gas extraction.

The types of positions available to people with a bachelor's in chemical engineering also vary. Many work in the engineering services industry, often for specialty engineering firms. Chemical engineers may work under the supervision of a licensed engineer. Or, they may take on consulting positions or management roles.

What continuing education is available for chemical engineering graduates?

Technology and science continue to advance. Continuing education for chemical engineers ensures they stay informed of new research in their field. About 29% of chemical engineers seek advanced education in their field, according to CareerOneStop data.

Chemical engineers who pursue professional certification or licensing must complete continuing education to maintain their credentials. These courses can include graduate-level courses or short courses offered by professional organizations like the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.

How much money can I make with a bachelor's in chemical engineering?

The BLS reports that chemical engineers earned a median salary of $105,550 in May 2021. Multiple variables can impact how much money you can make with a bachelor's in chemical engineering, including industry and location. Chemical engineering salaries ranged from less than $62,730 to more than $187,430.

The oil and gas extraction industry reported the highest average salary for chemical engineers at $167,120 in 2021. Chemical engineers earned the highest pay in Texas, with an average salary of $164,470. Houston reported the highest wages among metropolitan areas, with an average salary of $173,640.

What are the highest-paying jobs with a bachelor's in chemical engineering?

According to the BLS, petroleum engineers earned the highest pay among engineering occupations in May 2021, with a median salary of $130,850. These engineers design equipment and develop processes to extract oil and gas from underground reserves. The BLS projects an 8% increase in employment of petroleum engineers from 2020-2030, though employment often follows trends in oil prices.

Most petroleum engineers work in oil and gas extraction companies. They made an average salary of $157,900 per year as of May 2021. New Jersey reported the highest average pay of $208,440 per year for petroleum engineers, followed by Alaska at $170,080. Texas reported the most petroleum engineers in the workforce, with an average salary of $151,420.

Feature Image: Thana Prasongsin / Moment / Getty Images

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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