Complete Guide to an Online Chemical Engineering Degree
There are 21 chemical engineering degrees available online from 16 colleges. Chemical engineering applies math and science to problems that arise in the production of drugs, food, fuel, chemicals, and other products. Chemical engineers must have a strong grasp of math, science, and engineering principles, and enjoy solving complex problems. They usually work in labs or offices, but can work in a variety of settings such as manufacturing plants, refineries, or even universities teaching or conducting research. A chemical engineer may also choose to specialize in a certain areas like biological engineering or nanomaterials, or focus on a specific chemical process like polymerization or oxidation.
When choosing a chemical engineering program, students should give preference to programs that are accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering (ABET). Continue reading for more information on the degrees available, accreditation, and careers in the field.
Comprehensive List of Accredited Online Schools - Chemical Engineering Degrees (16)
Online Chemical Engineering Degree Overview & Career Information
This guide to an online degree in chemical engineering, covers associate, bachelor's, master's, doctoral, and certificate programs. While there are no associate degrees specifically in chemical engineering, there are programs that can help aspiring engineers prepare for future study at the bachelor's level. A bachelor's degree in chemical engineering is required in order to find entry-level work. At the master's level, a graduate will be more qualified for advanced leadership and management roles. Individuals who wish to teach at the university level and dedicate a significant amount of time to conducting their own research may benefit from earning a Ph.D, though these programs aren't generally offered in a fully online format. There are also certificate programs available in chemical engineering and related subjects, which can be earned at the graduate level after a bachelor's degree has already be completed. A certificate may be a good fit for someone who wishes to diversify their skill set and become qualified for more advanced positions, but who isn't ready to or interested in pursuing a full graduate degree.
While there are no associate degrees specifically in chemical engineering, there are programs that can help prepare a student for further study at the bachelor's level. For instance, an aspiring chemical engineer may wish to earn their associate degree in pre-engineering. A pre-engineering associate degree allows students to fulfill prerequisite requirements to continue on to a bachelor's program in engineering. Coursework includes standard general education courses in the humanities and social sciences, but will also include a heavy emphasis on engineering-related classes, like calculus, chemistry, physics, biochemistry, computer science, electrical circuits, and more. These associate degree programs typically require around 60 credit hours of coursework and two years of study. A pre-engineering associate degree can be found at community colleges, state colleges, and universities. Upon completing one of these programs graduates will be prepared to enter a bachelor's program in engineering at the junior level.
A bachelor's degree in chemical engineering is the minimum educational level required to find work as a chemical engineer. This degree may take anywhere from four to six years to finish, depending on whether the student attends full or part time, and consists of 120 to 133 semester credit hours. Courses will cover the topics of calculus, differential equations, fluid mechanics, separation processes, quantum chemistry, and many other advanced topics in mathematics and science. Upon completing a bachelor's degree, graduates will be qualified for entry-level work as a chemical engineer in a variety of settings, such as industrial plants, offices, laboratories, and refineries. In order to enroll in one of these programs a high school diploma or GED will be required. Depending on the school, additional admissions requirements may include an admissions essay, SAT or ACT scores, and letters of recommendation. Students with previous college work will need to submit those transcripts as well. High school students who know they want to pursue a degree in chemical engineering should prepare by taking classes in math and science, such as biology, chemistry, calculus, and trigonometry.
Individuals who wish to advance into leadership and management roles within the field of chemical engineering may wish to pursue a master's degree. A master's degree in chemical engineering will typically take two to three years to complete and consist of 30 semester credit hours. Classes that students may take during these programs will cover topics such as chemical engineering thermodynamics, transport processes, polymer blends and composites, and air pollution. In order to be admitted to one of these programs an applicant will usually need to hold a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering or a related field, though some schools will consider applicants that have different educational backgrounds. Some schools require that the prospective student's bachelor's degree be from an ABET-accredited school. Applicants will also need to submit an admissions essay that goes over their educational and professional goals. Other requirements may include having maintained an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher and test scores from a graduate entrance exam like the GRE. Upon completing a master's degree in chemical engineering graduates will be prepared for advanced positions in a variety of industries, such as petrochemical processing, materials manufacturing, energy distribution, micoelectronics, and biotechnology.
The Importance of an Accredited Chemical Engineering Degree
When choosing a chemical engineering program, something that the prospective student should keep in mind is accreditation. They want to look for schools that are regionally accredited, and they should give preference to programs that are accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering (ABET). These types of accreditation will give the student assurance that they are receiving a quality education that will prepare them for their career; accreditation also communicates to employers that an employees degree met a high quality standard. Additionally, aspiring engineers should be aware that a bachelor's degree is the minimum amount of education required in order to work as a chemical engineer.
Careers in Chemical Engineering
Chemical engineers use aspects of science and math to find solutions for various problems that have to do with making products like food, fuel, drugs, chemicals, and others. They can work in many different settings, such as manufacturing plants, laboratories, refineries, and offices. Day-to-day duties may include doing research to find ways to make production procedures more efficient, making sure equipment meets safety and environmental standards, figuring out the the most effective way to lay out equipment, and doing different types of tests to measure performance levels in various production processes. In order to advance in their career a chemical engineer may choose to obtain a Professional Engineering license, though this isn't as commonly required as it is in other engineering fields. Most advancement opportunities will come through experience and obtaining higher education.
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- Admission Requirements. University of North Dakota. Accessed September 16, 2016. http://und.edu/admissions/undergraduate/apply/index.cfm.
- Admissions Requirements. Kansas State University Global Campus. Accessed September 16, 2016. http://global.k-state.edu/engineering/chemical/admissions/.
- Advanced Chemical Engineering (ACE) Certificate Program. UC Davis. Accessed September 17, 2016. http://cieuniv.ucdavis.edu/advanced-chemical-engineering-certificate-program/.
- Associate in Science in Pre-Engineering. Columbia College. Accessed September 16, 2016. http://www.ccis.edu/degrees/?program=ASPE.
- Associate of Pre-Engineering. Weber State University. Accessed September 16, 2016. http://www.weber.edu/engineering/preengineering.html.
- Chemical Engineering (Master's). Lehigh University. Accessed September 16, 2016. https://distance.lehigh.edu/programs/masters-degree-programs/chemical-engineering-masters.
- Chemical Engineering - Online Graduate Certificates. Stanford University. Accessed September 17, 2016. https://cheme.stanford.edu/academics/graduate-programs/masters-program/online-graduate-certificates.
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- Chemical Engineering Master of Science Degree. Kansas State University Global Campus. Accessed September 16, 2016. http://global.k-state.edu/engineering/chemical/.
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- Online Chemical Engineering Degree. University of North Dakota. Accessed September 16, 2016. http://und.edu/academics/extended-learning/online-distance/degrees/chemical-engineering/.
- PhD in Chemical Engineering. Carnegie Mellon University. Accessed September 16, 2016. http://www.cmu.edu/cheme/education/phd/.
- PhD Overview. Stanford University. Accessed September 16, 2016. https://cheme.stanford.edu/admissions/phd-overview.
- Regionally Accredited vs. Nationally Accredited: What's the Difference?. American Intercontinental University. Accessed September 17, 2016. http://www.aiuniv.edu/blog/june-2015/regionally-accredited-vs-nationally-accredited.
- Undergraduate Admissions. Stanford University. Accessed September 16, 2016. http://admission.stanford.edu/application/freshman/index.html.