Best Master’s in Chemical Engineering Programs

Discover how the best master's in chemical engineering programs help chemical engineers bring their careers to the next level.

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by Doug Wintemute

Published on July 27, 2022

Edited by Kristina Beek
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One of the broadest engineering degrees and careers, chemical engineering applies the knowledge of chemicals and chemical processes to improve products and operations for manufacturers and other organizations. A master's program in chemical engineering tackles the most advanced topics in this field and prepares graduates for engineering, leadership, and research and development careers.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 9% growth rate for this sector between 2020 and 2030, exceeding the projected growth rate for all occupations during this period. Furthermore, the median annual salary in May 2021 for these professionals was more than double the median annual salary for all occupations. Yet, rising college costs and graduate school debt may dissuade potential degree-seekers from enrolling.

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Engineering students, however, benefit from a vast selection of graduate school options. They have access to online schools, which can offer flexibility and accessibility for working professionals and help learners lower their true program costs. Because chemical engineering is a broad field, prospective students can also choose between programs that focus in specific areas, leading to different postgraduate outcomes.

Discover our top-ranked master's in chemical engineering programs.

Our Top Pick

Massachusetts Institute of Technology - Cambridge, Massachusetts

Why It's #1: MIT earns the top spot in our rankings for a combination of reasons, including its high graduation rate. While MIT's tuition rates are high, a large percentage of the school's students receive financial aid. Furthermore, MIT has one of the lowest percentages of financial aid via loans, which demonstrates the availability of other forms of more desirable financial assistance, such as scholarships and grants.

Read Our Rankings Methodology

Best Accredited Master's in Chemical Engineering Programs

Rankings compiled by the BestColleges Ranking Team

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#1

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

School Information
Location Cambridge, Massachusetts
Admission Rate 7%
Graduation Rate 95%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes New England Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 0% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On-Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Academic Year
In State | $57,590
Out of State | $57,590

Credits to Graduate
66

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Inc.

MIT's MS in chemical engineering practice program provides students with a one-year path to an advanced degree. Instead of a thesis, learners complete a one-semester industrial internship. They also complete core courses in numerical methods, thermodynamics, and analysis of transport phenomena. 

MIT has nearly 40 labs available that chemical engineering graduate students can use for their research. For admission, prospective students need a bachelor's degree. They also need to submit short answer essays and letters of recommendation.

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#2

Princeton University

School Information
Location Princeton, New Jersey
Admission Rate 6%
Graduation Rate 98%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

On-Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Academic Year
In State | $57,410
Out of State | $57,410

Credits to Graduate
32

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Inc.

Princeton offers two types of master's in chemical engineering, a thesis-based MSE in chemical engineering and a course-based M.Eng. in chemical engineering. Students can complete the M.Eng. program in one year and the MSE program in less than two years. Courses include fluid mechanics, thermodynamics, and advanced chemical reactor engineering.

Princeton students have access to two national laboratories. For admission, prospective students need a bachelor's degree.

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#3

Yale University

School Information
Location New Haven, Connecticut
Admission Rate 6%
Graduation Rate 97%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes New England Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 0% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On-Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Term
In State | $23,450
Out of State | $23,450

Courses to Graduate
8

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Inc.

Yale features two types of MS in engineering and applied science degrees, a terminal degree and one for students pursuing a doctorate. The terminal degree program features no mandatory core course requirements, giving students multiple specialization opportunities. 

The doctoral path allows learners to complete up to two special investigation courses. Available fields of study include nanomaterials, sustainability, and soft matter. For admission, prospective students need a BS in engineering or a related discipline.

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#4

Northwestern University

School Information
Location Evanston, Illinois
Admission Rate 9%
Graduation Rate 94%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 2% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On-Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Unit
In State | $7,123
Out of State | $7,123

Units to Graduate
10

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Inc.

Students can complete Northwestern's MS in chemical engineering program in about nine months. Degree-seekers can choose from a course-based and thesis track, taking core courses in fluid mechanics, heat and mass transfer, and kinetics and reactor design. 

Thesis students need to complete a responsible research course and are advised to attend a research seminar as well. Northwestern offers professional development opportunities, such as practical internships and management programs. For admission, prospective students need a bachelor's degree.

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#5

California Institute of Technology

School Information
Location Pasadena, California
Admission Rate 6%
Graduation Rate 94%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

On-Campus | Scheduled Classes 

Avg. Cost per Year
In State | $56,364
Out of State | $56,364

Units to Graduate
132

Program Information
N/A

Caltech allows chemical engineering Ph.D. students to apply for an MS in chemical engineering once they satisfy the requirements and submit a thesis. The core courses include physical and chemical rate processes, heterogeneous kinetics, and chemical thermodynamics. 

Chemical engineering students can complete a 54-credit minor if they maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA. For admission, prospective students need a bachelor's degree, letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose. 

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#6

Cornell University

School Information
Location Ithaca, New York
Admission Rate 11%
Graduation Rate 95%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 4% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On-Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Term
In State | $29,500
Out of State | $29,500

Credits to Graduate
30

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Inc.

Cornell runs two master's in chemical engineering: a terminal M.Eng. in chemical engineering and an MS in chemical engineering for learners in pursuit of a doctorate. The course-based M.Eng. covers topics in mass and energy balances, reaction kinetics, and thermodynamics. The program also has a final project component. 

The MS program features a thesis or special project requirement. Student teaching positions may be available. For admission, prospective students need to possess a bachelor's degree and submit a statement of purpose.

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#7

Vanderbilt University

School Information
Location Nashville, Tennessee
Admission Rate 9%
Graduation Rate 93%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 8% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On-Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $2,215
Out of State | $2,215

Credits to Graduate
30

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology Inc.

Vanderbilt's MS in chemical engineering includes core courses in mathematics, thermodynamics, applied chemical kinetics, and transport phenomena. The program also features a thesis requirement. Teaching assistant roles may be available. 

Vanderbilt hosts several labs and research centers, including the Chemical Innovation Lab. For admission, prospective students need a bachelor's in chemical engineering. Applicants without a chemical engineering background may need to complete chemical engineering undergraduate courses.

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#8

Washington University in St Louis

School Information
Location Saint Louis, Missouri
Admission Rate 14%
Graduation Rate 95%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 6% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On-Campus | Scheduled Classes 

Avg. Cost per Semester
In State | $29,710
Out of State | $29,710

Credits to Graduate
30

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Inc.

Washington University offers an MS in energy, environmental, and chemical engineering and an M.Eng. in energy, environmental, and chemical engineering. Students take required courses in mathematical methods and transport phenomena, plus optional courses in aquatic chemistry, bioprocess engineering, and aerosol science and technology. 

MS program learners complete a six-credit thesis requirement, whereas M.Eng. students complete courses in project management, policy aspects, and independent study. For admission to the programs, prospective students need a bachelor's degree. They must submit letters of recommendation and a statement of purpose.

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#9

Rice University

School Information
Location Houston, Texas
Admission Rate 9%
Graduation Rate 93%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 5% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On-Campus | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $2,146
Out of State | $2,146

Credits to Graduate
30

Program Information

Program Accreditation | Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Inc.

Rice's master's in chemical engineering program features core courses in fluid mechanics, physicochemical hydrodynamics, and numerical methods with engineering applications. Learners have access to energy engineering, bioengineering, and materials science electives as well. 

Rice also offers independent study and summer internship options for degree-seekers. For admission, prospective students need a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering with a minimum GPA of 3.0. Applicants with a different bachelor's degree may take additional courses to satisfy the prerequisites.

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#10

University of Florida

School Information
Location Gainesville, Florida
Admission Rate 37%
Graduation Rate 88%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 46% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

On-Campus | Scheduled Classes 

Avg. Cost per Academic Year
In State | $12,744
Out of State | $30,138

Credits to Graduate
30

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Inc.

UF offers three master's in chemical engineering options, including a thesis MS program, a non-thesis MS program, and an M.Eng. program. The thesis program features courses in mathematical, continuum, and molecular basis. The non-thesis programs offer lab research assignments or industrial internships.

For admission, prospective students need a bachelor's degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0. GRE scores may also be required. 

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Featured Online 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 Master'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 157 schools that qualify for our ranking list based on the following criteria.

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.

BestColleges' Ranking Factors

Frequently Asked Questions About Chemical Engineering Programs

Is a master's in chemical engineering worth it?

Yes. A master's in chemical engineering provides value to students and graduates. They can develop skills and knowledge that apply to many professions and industries. The BLS projects the addition of nearly 150,000 new architectural and engineering jobs between 2020 and 2030.

An online program may be attractive to many learners, who can maintain jobs more easily when studying remotely. Online learning can benefit current engineers looking to advance their careers and earn higher salaries.

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

Graduates with a master's in chemical engineering can apply for many jobs within the broad sector of chemical engineering. According to the BLS, chemical engineers typically need a bachelor's degree, plus some professional or internship experience.

Since chemical engineering overlaps with several fields, other engineering roles may be available to master's-holders as well. Nuclear engineering, biological engineering, and biomedical engineering fields all hire chemical engineering specialists. Experienced professionals may gain access to engineering management positions.

What continuing education is available for chemical engineering graduates?

The main continuing education path for graduates with a master's in chemical engineering is pursuing a doctorate in the same discipline. Degree-seekers at this level may specialize in nanomaterials, pharmaceuticals, and fluids, among other concentrations. They might also explore interdisciplinary fields, such as biomedical engineering or process engineering.

Aside from a doctoral degree, many schools offer postgraduate certificates and professional development opportunities. Professionals can also complement their engineering education with business or leadership education. This might open doors in new industries or careers.

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

With a master's in chemical engineering, professionals can pursue most chemical engineering careers. According to the BLS, these professionals made a median annual salary of $105,550 in May 2021, nearly $60,000 more than the median annual salary for all occupations. Meanwhile, the top 10% of professionals in the field made more than $187,430 during the same period.

A worker's specific industry can impact their salary, as well. Engineers in engineering services earned a median of $152,430 in May 2021. Those in petroleum products manufacturing earned $126,780, workers in research and development earned $102,390, professionals in wholesale trade earned $100,290, and engineers in pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing earned $96,220.

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

The highest-paying positions available to professionals with a master's in chemical engineering are managerial roles. According to the BLS, architectural and engineering managers made a median annual wage of $152,350 in May 2021. The top 10% of workers in this field made more than $208,000.

For managers in scientific research, the median annual salary was $187,240 in May 2021. Managers also made a median annual wage of $151,890 in manufacturing, $151,870 in engineering services, and $135,150 in the government.

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