Search | Directories | Reference Tools
UW Home > Discover UW > Student Guide > Degree Programs 

Chemical Engineering

Department Overview

105 Benson

The chemical engineering profession is a close-knit group with a common background in chemical processes, systems analysis, and systems economics. Chemical engineering training occurs through course and laboratory work addressing mathematical, scientific, and engineering fundamentals. With a strong background in mathematics, chemistry, and physics, chemical engineering students study transport phenomena (the description of momentum, heat, and mass transfer in chemical processes); chemical kinetics and reaction engineering; process control and design; and optimization of chemical processes. These subjects are common throughout the traditional chemical industry, applying as well to other industries such as electronics manufacture and biological and biochemical engineering. Chemical engineers find industrial employment in areas of electronics, petroleum, consulting, chemical, automotive, forest products, biotechnology, and energy. Chemical engineers also find careers in academia and government and military service.

Undergraduate Program

Adviser
105 Benson, Box 351750
(206) 543-2252
advising@cheme.washington.edu

The Department of Chemical Engineering offers the following programs of study:

  • Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering (BSChE) degree
  • Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering (BSChE) degree, with an option in nanoscience and molecular engineering

Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering

Suggested College Courses for First Five Quarters: MATH 124, MATH 125, MATH 126, MATH 307, MATH 308, CHEM 142, CHEM 152, CHEM 162, CHEM 237, CHEM 238, PHYS 121, PHYS 122, PHYS 123, ENGL 131 (or equivalent), AMATH 301 (or CSE 142)

Department Admission Requirements

Core courses within the department form a seven-quarter curriculum designed to start spring quarter of the sophomore year. Because the curriculum is cohort-based and all students start and proceed at the same pace, placement and admission to the major is designed to facilitate students starting the curriculum spring quarter.

Engineering Undeclared Students

See section on College of Engineering Admission for additional details on Direct-to-College admission and the placement process for Engineering Undeclared students.

Deadlines for Engineering Undeclared students to request placement into Chemical Engineering: July 1 and January 15.

Requirements to request placement for July 1 deadline

  1. Course requirements: MATH 124, MATH 125, MATH 126; PHYS 121; CHEM 142, CHEM 152, CHEM 162; 5 credits English composition
  2. Grade requirements: Minimum 2.0 grade in each course required for placement; minimum 2.50 cumulative GPA in courses required for placement
  3. Credit requirements: Completion of at least one quarter as a full-time UW student

Requirements to request placement for the January 15 deadline

  1. Course requirements: MATH 124, MATH 125, MATH 126, MATH 307; CHEM 142, CHEM 152, CHEM 162; PHYS 121, PHYS 122; 5 credits English composition. Two of the required courses may be in progress during winter quarter. CHEM 237 strongly recommended.
  2. Grade requirements: Minimum 2.0 grade in each course required for placement; minimum 2.50 cumulative GPA in courses required for placement.
  3. Credit requirements: Completion of at least one quarter as a full-time UW student

If the number of Engineering Undeclared students requesting placement into the major exceeds the department capacity for Engineering Undeclared students, a competitive matching process is implemented. Factors considered include performance in prerequisite courses, quality of overall academic record, demonstrated ability to take at least 12 credits per quarter, record of honors, content of personal statement, applicable work or extracurricular activities, and other special circumstances as disclosed by the applicant.

Other Current UW Students and Transfer Students

Current UW students without Engineering Undeclared status and transfer students may apply. Admission is competitive.

  1. Admission is for spring quarter only. Application deadline: January 15
  2. Minimum course requirements: MATH 124, MATH 125, MATH 126, MATH 307; CHEM 142, CHEM 152, CHEM 162; PHYS 121, PHYS 122; 5 credits of English composition. Two required courses may be in progress during winter quarter. CHEM 237 strongly recommended.
  3. Grade requirements: Minimum 2.0 grade for each course required for application; minimum 2.50 cumulative GPA in courses required for application

Factors evaluated for admission include performance in prerequisite courses, quality of overall academic record, demonstrated ability to take at least 12 credits per quarter, record of honors, content of personal statement, applicable work or extracurricular activities, and other special circumstances as disclosed by the applicant.

General Expectations of Academic Progress: Completion of all admission requirements listed for “Other Current UW Students and Transfer Students” as well as the following courses by the start of autumn quarter of the junior year: organic chemistry I and II (CHEM 237 and CHEM 238; or CHEM 223, CHEM 224; or CHEM 335 and CHEM 336), PHYS 123, AMATH 301 (or CSE 142), MATH 308, CHEM 310.

Nanoscience and Molecular Engineering Option (NME): Admission to the NME option is competitive, and normally occurs upon completion of NME 220. Admission is based on grades, including NME 220 and any CHEM E courses already taken. A small number of students may be admitted. Admission is based on the student's academic record and prior experience/work in the field of nanoscience and/or molecular engineering. Students applying for the NME option should so indicate on their chemical engineering application and discuss their interests and background in the essay.

Graduation Requirements

180 credits, as follows:

General Education Requirements (97 credits)

  1. Written and Oral Communications (8 credits): one 5-credit English composition course from the University list; ENGR 231, HCDE 231. University required 4 additional writing credits are met by major core courses.
  2. Visual, Literary, & Performing Arts (VLPA) and Individuals & Societies (I&S) (24 credits): Minimum of 10 credits required in each area
  3. Natural World (65 credits)
    1. Physics (15 credits): PHYS 121, PHYS 122, PHYS 123
    2. Mathematics (24 credits): MATH 124, MATH 125, MATH 126, MATH 307, MATH 308, and MATH 309 (or MATH 390 or IND E 315)
    3. Chemistry (26 credits): CHEM 142, CHEM 152, CHEM 162, CHEM 237, CHEM 238, CHEM 455

Major Requirements (74 credits)

  1. Engineering Fundamentals (4 credits): AMATH 301 or CSE 142
  2. Chemical Engineering Core Courses (51 credits): CHEM E 310, CHEM E 325, CHEM E 326, CHEM E 330, CHEM E 340, CHEM E 435, CHEM E 436, CHEM E 437, CHEM E 457, CHEM E 465, CHEM E 480, CHEM E 485, CHEM E 486
  3. Molecular and Nanoscience Engineering (3 credits): CHEM E 455 or CHEM E 460
  4. Engineering Elective Courses (16 credits): Only one, 1-credit seminar allowed toward engineering electives. Maximum 9 credits undergraduate research (CHEM E 299, CHEM E 499, of which no more than 3 credits may be CHEM 299) may count toward engineering electives.

Unspecified Electives (9 credits): to reach 180 credits

Nanoscience and Molecular Engineering Option Major Requirements (77 credits)

  1. Engineering Fundamentals (4 credits): AMATH 301 or CSE 142
  2. Chemical Engineering Core Courses (51 credits): CHEM E 310, CHEM E 325, CHEM E 326, CHEM E 330, CHEM E 340, CHEM E 435, CHEM E 436, CHEM E 437, CHEM E 457, CHEM E 465, CHEM E 480, CHEM E 485, CHEM E 486
  3. Nanoscience and Molecular Engineering Courses (22 credits): CHEM E 299, CHEM E 455, CHEM E 499 (3-6 credits, maximum 3 credits from CHEM E 299), NME 220, NME 221, NME 321, NME 421; minimum two additional approved nanoscience and molecular engineering electives. See adviser for list of approved electives.

Unspecified Electives (6 credits): to reach 180 credits.

A minimum 2.00 GPA in core chemical engineering courses, based on the first time each course is taken, is required for graduation.

Many engineers design new equipment and processes or design modifications to them. The design experience is integrated throughout the curriculum, with open-ended problems (sometimes involving economic constraints) in several courses: design of heat exchangers (CHEM E 340) and distillation towers (CHEM E 435), design of piping and pumping systems (CHEM E 330), design of chemical reactors (CHEM E 465). The design experience culminates in two capstone design courses (CHEM E 485 and CHEM E 486 or CHEM E 497) which involve the design of an integrated chemical system. An optional 9-credit specialty area allows each student to develop special competence in a selected subject by taking a minimum of three courses in that area. Engineering and free electives may be used for this purpose. The areas are biotechnology; fuel cells and energy; polymers, composites, colloids, and interfaces; computers applied to chemical engineering; environmental engineering; and nuclear engineering.

Continuation Policy

All students must make satisfactory academic progress in the major. Failure to do so results in probation, which can lead to dismissal from the major. For the complete continuation policy, contact the departmental adviser or refer to the department website.

Student Outcomes and Opportunities

  • Learning Objectives and Expected Outcomes: Chemical engineering graduates possess knowledge (including safety and environmental aspects) of material and energy balances applied to chemical processes; thermodynamics of physical and chemical equilibria; heat, mass, and momentum transfer; chemical reaction engineering; continuous and stage-wise separation operations; process dynamics and control; and process design. They also gain ability to apply knowledge of mathematics, science, and engineering; ability to design and conduct experiments, as well as to analyze and interpret data; ability to design a system, component, or process to meet desired needs; ability to function on multidisciplinary teams; and ability to identify, formulate, and solve engineering problems. They also possess an understanding of professional and ethical responsibility; an ability to communicate effectively; the broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global and societal context; a recognition of the need for, and an ability to engage in, life-long learning; a knowledge of contemporary issues; and an ability to use the techniques, skills, and modern engineering tools necessary for engineering practice.
  • Instructional and Research Facilities: The chemical engineering building, Benson Hall, contains classrooms, offices, stockrooms, computer rooms, machine and electronics shops, and laboratories. The Unit Operations Laboratory holds a variety of experiments designed to give undergraduate students the experience of using real chemical process equipment and to deepen their understanding of chemical engineering fundamentals of fluid flow, heat transfer, separation processes, and reactor behavior. Departmental computer facilities include a network of PCs located in a keyed room for the exclusive use of chemical engineering students. Ten of these machines have hardware for computer data acquisition (to collect experimental data and support experiments on process automation). All have fast connections to the Internet and to larger UW computers.
  • Honors Options Available: With College Honors (Completion of Honors Core Curriculum and Departmental Honors); With Honors (Completion of Departmental Honors requirements in the major). See adviser for requirements.
  • Research, Internships, and Service Learning: Students are encouraged to participate in internships, which are generally facilitated through the Engineering Co-op Office.
  • Department Scholarships: The department awards 20-25 full-tuition scholarships per year. See departmental website for application procedures.
  • Student Organizations/Associations: The undergraduates in the department run a dynamic chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.

Of Special Note:

Entrance into most chemical engineering courses is ordinarily limited to majors in chemical engineering and bioresource science and engineering. Other students who wish to take departmental courses must meet the prerequisites and obtain instructor approval (except for CHEM E 485 and CHEM E 486, which are open to majors only).

Graduate Program

Graduate Program Coordinator
105 Benson, Box 351750
(206) 543-2250
grad.admissions@cheme.washington.edu

The department offers studies leading to the degrees of doctor of philosophy, Master of Science in Chemical Engineering, and Master of Science in Engineering. The doctoral degree, centered on the dissertation with a foundation in coursework, is generally completed in four to five years beyond the baccalaureate degree. The master's program primary emphasis is placed on coursework, and the degree generally requires 21 months of study. Thesis and non-thesis options are available.

The program includes basic subjects of importance to all chemical engineers, such as thermodynamics, transport phenomena, kinetics, and applied mathematics. In addition, students are invited to take more-specialized courses in chemical engineering or in other departments. Students usually take three courses the first quarter. In subsequent quarters, less time is spent on coursework, and more on research and independent study.

The department has about seventy full-time graduate students, most of whom are working toward a doctorate.

Master of Science in Chemical Engineering

Admission Requirements

Most students have a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering. A student with an undergraduate degree in chemistry, physics, mathematics, or another branch of engineering may obtain a graduate degree in chemical engineering by meeting certain additional requirements.

Competitive applicants

  1. Highly ranked (top 10 percent) in a respected chemical engineering program
  2. Minimum 750 score on the quantitative portion of the GRE
  3. Minimum 600 score (paper-based), 250 (computer-based), or 70 (Internet-based, not including speaking score) on the TOEFL, if an international applicant

Degree Requirements

Thesis Option

39 credits

  1. Minimum 18 credits in courses numbered 500-599 (or approved 400-level courses; see item 2 for acceptable 400-level course options) of which at most 3 may be seminar credits, such as CHEM E 523. Five courses from at least four of the following five categories. (Courses listed in each category are typical. Others may qualify subject to approval by the Graduate Program Coordinator.)
    1. Math/Computer/Statistics: CHEM E 481, CHEM E 482, CHEM E 510, CHEM E 512, STAT 421
    2. Thermodynamics: CHEM E 525, CHEM 552
    3. Transport Phenomena: CHEM E 530, CHEM E 531, M E 534
    4. Reaction Phenomena: CHEM E 461, CHEM E 560, CHEM E 565
    5. Materials and Biotech: CHEM E 467, CHEM E 554, CHEM E 590
  2. Numerical grades for at least 18 credits of coursework. Approved 400-level courses presented for the 18 graded credits include 400-level CHEM E courses not required for the BS degree and 400-level non-CHEM E courses approved by the Graduate Program Coordinator. Some approved 400-level courses are listed above.
  3. Minimum 3.00 cumulative GPA
  4. Minimum 30 credits taken through the UW
  5. Minimum 9 credits of independent research under CHEM E 600 during the first year of study
  6. A thesis describing original research. At least 12 credits of thesis (CHEM E 700).
  7. Final examination

Non-Thesis Option

Degree requirements may be completed in four quarters (completion in three is possible).

39 credits, and other requirements

  1. Minimum 18 credits in courses numbered 500-599, of which at most 3 may be seminar credits, such as CHEM E 523. Five courses from at least four of the following five categories. (Courses listed are typical. Others may qualify subject to approval by the Graduate Program Coordinator.)
    1. Math/Computer/Statistics: CHEM E 481, CHEM E 482, CHEM E 510, CHEM E 512, CHEM E 575, CHEM 526, STAT 421
    2. Thermodynamics: CHEM E 455, CHEM E 525, CHEM E 526, CHEM 552
    3. Transport Phenomena: CHEM E 530, CHEM E 531, M E 533, M E 534
    4. Reaction Phenomena: CHEM E 461, CHEM E 560, CHEM E 564, CHEM E 565
    5. Materials and Biotech: CHEM E 467, CHEM E 554, CHEM E 558, CHEM E 570, CHEM E 590
  2. Numerical grades for at least 18 credits (500-599 or approved 400-level courses). Approved 400-level courses include 400-level CHEM E courses not required for the BS degree and 400-level non-CHEM E courses approved by the Graduate Program Coordinator.
  3. Minimum 6 CHEM E 600 credits (minimum 2.7 numerical grade or S grade). Written report required.
  4. Thesis research (i.e., CHEM E 700 or CHEM E 800) does not count toward the 39 credits.
  5. Minimum 3.00 cumulative GPA
  6. Minimum 30 credits taken through the UW
  7. Final examination: oral presentation of the CHEM E 600 project

Master of Science in Engineering

Admission Requirements

Most students applying for graduate admission have a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering. A student with an undergraduate degree in chemistry, physics, mathematics, or another branch of engineering may obtain a graduate degree in chemical engineering by meeting certain additional requirements.

Competitive applicants

  1. Highly ranked (top 10 percent) in a respected chemical engineering program
  2. Minimum 750 score on the quantitative portion of the GRE
  3. Minimum 600 score (paper-based), 250 (computer-based), or 70 (Internet-based, not including speaking score) on the TOEFL, if an international applicant

Degree Requirements

39 credits

Requirements are the same as for the MSChE thesis option, except that the research adviser tailors course requirements to the student’s background and research objectives (subject to Graduate Program Coordinator approval). Relative to the MSChE options, usually less emphasis is on chemical engineering, more on engineering science and related subjects.

Doctor of Philosophy

Admission Requirements

Most applicants have a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering. A student with an undergraduate degree in chemistry, physics, mathematics, or another branch of engineering may obtain a graduate degree in chemical engineering by meeting certain additional requirements.

Competitive applicants

  1. Highly ranked (top 10 percent) in a respected chemical engineering program
  2. Minimum 750 score on the quantitative portion of the GRE
  3. Minimum 600 score (paper-based), 250 (computer-based), or 70 (internet-based, not including speaking score) on the TOEFL, if an international applicant

Degree Requirements

90-108 credits

  1. Minimum Graduate School Requirements:
    1. Minimum 18 credits of courses numbered 500-600, taken through the UW.
    2. Minimum 18 numerically graded credits of UW 400- and 500-level courses. Any 400-level courses require departmental approval.
    3. Minimum 90 credits, including at least 60 through the UW
    4. Minimum 27 dissertation credits (CHEM E 800) over a period of at least three quarters
    5. Minimum cumulative 3.00 GPA
    6. General examination
    7. Final examination
  2. Students with a Chemical Engineering Undergraduate Degree: In addition to requirements listed above
    1. Complete non-thesis MSChE degree prior to the general examination. (Students with an MS in chemical engineering from another university may petition the Graduate Program Coordinator for an exemption.)
    2. TA for at least three quarters.
    3. Minimum six graded courses numbered 500-599 or approved 400-level courses.
    4. Five courses from at least four of the following five categories. (Courses listed are typical. Others may qualify subject to approval by the Graduate Program Coordinator.)
      1. Math/Computer/Statistics: CHEM E 481, CHEM E 482, CHEM E 510, CHEM E 512, CHEM E 575, CHEM 526, STAT 421
      2. Thermodynamics: CHEM E 455, CHEM E 525, CHEM E 526, CHEM 552
      3. Transport Phenomena: CHEM E 530, CHEM E 531, M E 533, M E 534
      4. Reaction Phenomena: CHEM E 461, CHEM E 560, CHEM E 564, CHEM E 565
      5. Materials and Biotech: CHEM E 467, CHEM E 554, CHEM E 558, CHEM E 570, CHEM E 590
    5. One CHEM E course in a topic outside the student's main research area.
  3. Non-Chemical Engineering Undergraduates: Students whose undergraduate degree is in engineering or science (e.g., BS in chemistry or materials science but not chemical engineering) must pass or serve as a TA in the following courses: CHEM E 330, CHEM E 340, CHEM E 435, CHEM E 465, CHEM E 485
  4. Students lacking a strong background in thermodynamics are advised (but not required) to take CHEM E 326 prior to attempting CHEM E 525.

Research Facilities

Benson Hall contains classrooms, offices, stockrooms, a machine shop, laboratories, and a variety of specialized research equipment. Each graduate student is provided desk space in a small laboratory or office as well as access to larger laboratories in the building. Students also may use the services of the Academic Computer Center, instrument-making shops, research centers (e.g., biomaterials, nanotechnology, chemical analysis), and the Chemistry and Engineering Libraries.

Financial Aid

Students interested in applying for admission and support should visit the department's website: www.cheme.washington.edu, which provides details on application procedures. Offers of admission with financial support are usually made from January through March.