Best Chemical Engineering Schools

Updated on January 3, 2024

Chemical engineering is a popular and competitive field of study for those interested in chemistry, physics, math, and engineering. The top chemical engineering schools provide excellent academics, research opportunities, career support, renowned faculty, and more. When evaluating the top programs, factors like admissions selectivity, reputation, location, facilities, concentrations offered, and cost are often considered.

Below are 10 of the best undergraduate chemical engineering schools in the United States based on major rankings, research output, and student satisfaction.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Location: Cambridge, MA

Rating: 10/10

Acceptance Rate: 7%

Avg SAT Score: 1520

Tuition: $53,592 per year

Website: http://cheme.mit.edu/

MIT is world renowned for excellence in science and engineering education and research. The chemical engineering program is extremely selective, admitting less than 10% of applicants per year. Students benefit from MIT’s strong industry connections, cutting-edge facilities like the David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, and opportunities like the Practice School program combining classroom and onsite industrial experience.

University of California, Berkeley

Location: Berkeley, CA

Rating: 9.5/10

Acceptance Rate: 16%

Avg SAT Score: 1425

Tuition: $14,253 (in-state), $44,007 (out-of-state)

Website: https://chemical-biomolecular.berkeley.edu/

The UC Berkeley chemical and biomolecular engineering department ranks among the best in the nation. Students have access to innovative research centers and labs along with Berkeley’s acclaimed faculty. The program provides a balanced foundation in classical chemical engineering and interdisciplinary frontiers like biological engineering and nanosciences.

Stanford University

Location: Stanford, CA

Rating: 9.5/10

Acceptance Rate: 4%

Avg SAT Score: 1500

Tuition: $56,169 per year

Website: https://cheme.stanford.edu/

Stanford’s chemical engineering department has an excellent national reputation, ranking in the top 3 chemical engineering programs in 2022. Students benefit from Stanford’s star faculty, close industry ties, internship opportunities, study abroad options, and more. The program offers specialized tracks in areas like biochemistry and sustainable energy along with interdisciplinary flexibility.

University of Texas at Austin

Location: Austin, TX

Rating: 9/10

Acceptance Rate: 32%

Avg SAT Score: 1325

Tuition: $11,308 (in-state), $42,476 (out-of-state)

Website: https://www.che.utexas.edu/

The University of Texas at Austin is home to the largest chemical engineering department in the United States. It’s consistently ranked among the top 5 chemical engineering undergrad programs in the country. Students gain valuable experience through the cooperative education program alternating work and classes. Faculty research covers areas like nanotechnology, biotechnology, and more.

University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

Location: Minneapolis, MN

Rating: 9/10

Acceptance Rate: 46%

Avg SAT Score: 1325

Tuition: $15,627 (in-state), $33,325 (out-of-state)

Website: https://cbe.umn.edu/

The University of Minnesota chemical engineering program is one of the oldest and largest in the country. It’s ranked 5th overall for chemical engineering schools and 2nd for best value schools. Undergraduates get involved with cutting edge research and benefit from strong job prospects at major Minnesota companies. Students also enjoy flexible curricula like the bio-based products engineering track.

Northwestern University

Location: Evanston, IL

Rating: 9/10

Acceptance Rate: 9%

Avg SAT Score: 1500

Tuition: $82,404 per year

Website: https://www.mccormick.northwestern.edu/chemical-biological/

Northwestern’s chemical and biological engineering program combines a world-class education with opportunities for undergraduate research and partnerships with global companies in the Chicagoland area. It also offers specialized tracks in areas like biotechnology and environmental engineering along with study abroad experiences.

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Location: Ann Arbor, MI

Rating: 9/10

Acceptance Rate: 23%

Avg SAT Score: 1475

Tuition: $16,178 (in-state), $54,073 (out-of-state)

Website: https://cbe.engin.umich.edu/

The University of Michigan consistently ranks among the top 10 chemical engineering schools in various national reports. Its programs emphasize interdisciplinary collaboration in fields like pharmaceutical engineering. Undergraduates also benefit from the school’s close partnerships with major chemical and automotive companies in Michigan.

University of California, Santa Barbara

Location: Santa Barbara, CA

Rating: 8.5/10

Acceptance Rate: 37%

Avg SAT Score: 1325

Tuition: $14,195 (in-state), $44,062 (out-of-state)

Website: https://chemengr.ucsb.edu/

UC Santa Barbara offers undergraduates a world-class chemical engineering program along with an unbeatable California beachside location. With smaller class sizes than many UC schools, students benefit from close collaborations with faculty. Research highlights include areas like semiconductor materials, nanotechnology, and computational methods.

Illinois Institute of Technology

Location: Chicago, IL

Rating: 8.5/10

Acceptance Rate: 58%

Avg SAT Score: 1410

Tuition: $48,814 per year

Website: https://science.iit.edu/chemical-biological-engineering

Illinois Tech is home to Chicago’s oldest chemical engineering program, blending rigorous academics with practical learning. Undergraduates gain intensive research and industry experience through co-op programs. The curriculum emphasizes emerging fields like product engineering, environmental engineering, and biotechnology.

Texas A&M University

Location: College Station, TX

Rating: 8.5/10

Acceptance Rate: 63%

Avg SAT Score: 1325

Tuition: $13,224 (in-state), $39,629 (out-of-state)

Website: https://engineering.tamu.edu/chemical/index.html

Texas A&M has one of the largest chemical engineering departments nationwide with expertise in areas like synthetic fuels and clean energy. Undergraduates gain valuable experience through internships and research at major campus labs and engineering facilities. Students also benefit from strong industry connections across Texas.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the highest ranked chemical engineering schools?

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of California Berkeley, and Stanford University are generally considered the top 3 chemical engineering undergraduate programs according to major college rankings.

What skills are covered in chemical engineering programs?

Typical chemical engineering curricula cover core engineering and science skills like thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, heat transfer, separations, kinetics, math, physics, chemistry, biology, materials science, and process design.

How competitive is admissions for chemical engineering programs?

Chemical engineering is a fairly competitive major to get into at top schools. The average admission rates for the schools profiled here range from 4% to 63%. High test scores, grades, advanced coursework, and on campus interviews are often required.

Do chemical engineers earn high salaries?

Yes, chemical engineering majors are very well compensated due to high industry demand. The average national starting salary for graduates exceeds $70,000 with experienced engineers earning over $100,000. Chemical engineers top many “best paying college major” surveys.

What are common careers for chemical engineers?

Chemical engineers work in diverse industries like petroleum, chemical manufacturing, food production, aerospace, pharmaceuticals, automotive, electronics, environmental services, consumer products, and more. Common jobs include process engineer, research & development engineer, safety engineer, project engineer, and consultant.

What classes do chemical engineering students take?

Typical courses include math (calculus, differential equations), physics, general chemistry, organic chemistry, thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, heat and mass transfer, separations, reaction engineering, process control, material science, process design, safety, laboratories, and engineering electives.

Do I need a graduate degree to become a chemical engineer?

A bachelor’s degree is sufficient to begin working as a chemical engineer. However, many pursue Master’s or PhD programs to advance into leadership roles conducting engineering research or teaching at universities.

Is chemical engineering a growing field?

Yes, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 5% market growth for chemical engineers through 2031 to meet demands across science, technology, construction, manufacturing, sustainability initiatives, and more.

What is the difference is between chemical engineering and chemistry?

Chemical engineering applies chemistry, physics, life sciences and math to solve problems through the design and operation of chemical processes. Chemistry focuses more on the properties of molecules and materials themselves through lab research.

How can I get hands-on experience as a chemical engineering student?

Many chemical engineering programs provide co-op programs, internships, undergraduate research, and capstone design projects to give students practical experience for industry jobs. Top schools also have cutting-edge teaching labs mirroring real world facilities.

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Rohit Mittal

Rohit Mittal is the co-founder and CEO of Stilt. Rohit has extensive experience in credit risk analytics and data science. He spent years building credit risk and fraud models for top U.S. banks. In his current role, he defines the overall business strategy, leads debt and capital fundraising efforts, leads product development, and leads other customer-related aspects for the company. Stilt is backed by Y Combinator and has raised a total of $275M in debt and equity funding to date.