Online Chemical Engineering Degree

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Chemical engineers work on problems ranging from the development of new types of fuels to the creation of artificial organs. An online bachelor's degree can prepare you for entry-level chemical engineering positions, while a master's can prepare you for more advanced research and development roles.

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What Should I Know About the Online Chemical Engineering Degree?

Chemical engineering degrees are interdisciplinary degrees that require a strong understanding of chemistry, biology, math, and physics, as well as engineering principles. Students learn about chemical processes and how chemistry is applied in a variety of settings, such as food production, pharmaceuticals, and manufacturing.

What Types of Online Chemical Engineering Degree Can I Complete?

  • Bachelor's Degree: The bachelor's degree is the basic requirement for working as an engineer. In the chemical engineering program, students learn about chemical engineering design, analytical chemistry, chemical analysis, physical chemistry, polymer science, and more. Students are also required to take a wide variety of supporting classes in physics topics like thermodynamics and mechanics, as well as math courses like differential equations and linear algebra. Online chemical engineering bachelor's programs require students to come to campus several times during the degree to complete hands-on labs. In labs students learn about chemical engineering processes, manufacturing processes, and design principles. Many bachelor's programs also require students to complete cooperative work experiences during the degree. Students earn academic credit for working in chemical engineering settings at companies like 3M, Intel, and Westinghouse.
  • Master's Degree: Online chemical engineering degrees are aimed at current engineers who want to specialize in a particular area or advance their understanding of chemical engineering processes. The online master's focuses on information-based classes that discuss engineering management issues like chemical process economics, process control, and transport processes. Depending on the degree, the master's may focus in a particular engineering area like manufacturing, biotechnology, or pharmaceutical production.

How Can I Choose the Best Online Chemical Engineering Degree for Me?

All prospective online undergraduate engineering students should look for programs that have accreditation through ABET. This is the most important accreditation is the engineering world and is vital for landing a job, going on to graduate study, or sitting for the Professional Engineer exams.

For master's programs, students should consider if they want a management-focused degree or one that requires a research project. Other considerations include the research specialties of faculty, possible program specializations, and any on-site class requirements.

What Job Prospects Can I Expect with a Degree in Chemical Engineering?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a slower-than-average growth rate for the chemical engineering job market for the 2010 to 2020 period; however, even with slow growth, trained engineers should have good job opportunities, as many current chemical engineers will be retiring in the coming years.[1]

As chemical engineering is closely tied to the manufacturing industries, job prospects may depend on the overall economic success of manufacturing firms. However, there will be also job opportunities for chemical engineers in new industries, including biotechnology and alternative energies. Specializing in one of these emerging growth fields can also bring good job opportunities.[1]

What Work Environment Can I Expect as a Chemical Engineer?

Chemical engineers are employed in a variety of settings. About 16 percent work in architectural and engineering services, while 12 percent work in scientific research and development. Another 12 percent work in basic chemical manufacturing. Other major employers include synthetic fibers manufacturing and pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing. Most chemical engineers work full time, and some spend time traveling to chemical manufacturing plants in the United States and abroad.[2]


  1. ^abOccupational Outlook Handbook. Bureau of Labor Statistics of the US Department of Labor. Published April 10, 2012.
  2. ^Occupational Outlook Handbook. Bureau of Labor Statistics of the US Department of Labor. Published April 10, 2012.
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