Complete Guide to an Online Chemical Engineering Degree
Accredited online chemical engineering degrees are offered by 16 colleges and are available at the associate, bachelor's, master's, and certificate levels. Chemical engineering is the discipline of using math and science principles and applying them to problems that arise in the production of drugs, food, fuel, chemicals, and other products. Those who choose to pursue this degree path must have a strong grasp of math, science, and engineering principles, and enjoy solving complex problems.
Prospective online chemical engineering students should make sure to attend a school that has earned both regional and ABET accreditation. Accreditation at both the regional and programmatic level helps to ensure that the education students receive is relevant and meets national standards.
Comprehensive List of Accredited Online Schools - Chemical Engineering Degrees (16)
Online Chemical Engineering Degree Overview & Career Information
In our guide to an online degree in chemical engineering, we cover associate, bachelor's, master's, 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 to find entry-level work.
At the master's level, a graduate will be more qualified for advanced leadership and management roles. 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 online associate degrees specifically in chemical engineering, there are programs that can help prepare a student for further online study at the bachelor's level. For instance, an aspiring chemical engineer may wish to earn their online associate degree in pre-engineering. An online pre-engineering associate degree allows students to fulfill prerequisite requirements to continue to a bachelor's program in engineering.
Coursework includes standard general education courses in the humanities and social sciences and will also include a heavy emphasis on engineering-related classes, such as calculus, chemistry, physics, biochemistry, computer science, electrical circuits, and more. These online associate degree programs typically require around 60 credit hours of coursework and two years of study. An online pre-engineering associate degree can be found at community colleges, state colleges, and universities. Upon completing one of these online programs, graduates may continue their educational pursuits through bachelor's program in engineering.
An online 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 is enrolled on a full or part time basis, and consists of 120 to 133 semester credit hours. Coursework covers topics including calculus, differential equations, fluid mechanics, separation processes, quantum chemistry, and many other advanced topics in mathematics and science.
A high school diploma or GED is required to enroll in one of these programs. Depending on the school, additional admissions requirements may include an 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.
Upon completing an online bachelor's degree, graduates may be qualified for entry-level work as a chemical engineer in a variety of settings, such as industrial plants, offices, laboratories, and refineries.
Individuals who wish to advance into leadership and management roles within the field of chemical engineering may want to pursue an online master's degree. An online master's degree in chemical engineering typically takes two to three years to complete and consists of 30 semester credit hours. Classes that students may take during these online programs cover topics such as chemical engineering thermodynamics, transport processes, polymer blends and composites, and air pollution.
To be admitted to one of these online 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 from different educational backgrounds. Some schools require that a prospective student's bachelor's degree was earned from an ABET-accredited school. Applicants also need to submit an admissions essay that goes over their educational and professional goals. Other requirements may include an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher and test scores from a graduate entrance exam like the GRE.
An online master's degree in chemical engineering may help to prepare graduates for advanced positions in a variety of industries, such as petrochemical processing, materials manufacturing, energy distribution, microelectronics, and biotechnology.
Chemical engineers looking to expand upon existing skill sets may be interested in pursuing an online graduate certificate. An online graduate certificate in chemical engineering may also be appropriate for someone who wants to apply to a master's or Ph.D. program and wants to gain an advantage as an applicant.
Classes that a student might take during an online certificate program include Advanced Fluid Mechanics, Advanced Engineering Mathematics, Chemical Kinetics and Reaction Engineering, and Advanced Mass and Heat Transfer. Online chemical engineering certificate programs can be found at the university level and can likely be completed in less than a year.
The Importance of an Accredited Online Chemical Engineering Degree
When choosing an online chemical engineering program, students should make sure their schools of choice are both institutionally and programmatically accredited. Schools that have earned institutional accreditation at the regional level have met national standards for educational quality that have been recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Attending an accredited school is crucial for students who are hoping to apply for federal financial aid or who may want to transfer credits between institutions of higher education.
In addition to regional accreditation, students should look for online degree programs that are accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). ABET is the predominant accrediting body for engineering and technology degrees in the United States. Attending an ABET-accredited program helps to ensure that the engineering education offered meets the highest standards for quality and relevance. Many engineering employers look for ABET accreditation when hiring so attending such a program is beneficial to students' future professional pursuits.
Careers in Chemical Engineering
Graduates of online chemical engineering programs may go on to work as chemical engineers, using aspects of science and math to find solutions to 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 conducting research to find ways to make production procedures more efficient and making sure equipment meets safety and environmental standards.
Chemical engineers also spend time determining the most effective way to lay out equipment, and also do different types of tests to measure performance levels in various production processes. A chemical engineer may choose to specialize in certain areas like biological engineering or nanomaterials or focus on a particular chemical process like polymerization or oxidation. To advance in their careers, chemical engineers may choose to obtain Professional Engineering licenses, but this isn't as commonly required as it is in other engineering fields. Most advancement opportunities in chemical engineering come through experience and higher education.
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- Admission Requirements. University of North Dakota. Accessed September 16, 2016. http://und.edu/admissions/undergraduate/apply/index.cfm.
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- 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.
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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.
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