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Master's Programs in Chemical Engineering

Master's degree programs in chemical engineering are heavily focused on math and science and can lead to careers in industry and academic research. Learn about the kinds of courses you might take, common admissions requirements, and more.

Master's in Chemical Engineering: Program Overview

Master's degree programs in chemical engineering can be found both online and in person and may also be available to part time and full time students. While holding a bachelor's in chemical engineering can be advantageous when applying, students who hold degrees in chemistry, physics, or engineering may also meet the requirements to be admitted to most programs. Applicants may also need to take the Graduate Records Examination (GRE) before they apply, although this requirement will vary from university to university. Most programs can be completed in 2-3 years and may include coursework in areas like the following, including biochemical engineering, molecular thermodynamics, and transport processes.

Thermodynamics

Graduate courses on thermodynamics in chemical engineering programs usually look at the natural phenomenon from an engineering perspective of how best to utilize it, rather than basic explanations you might encounter in an undergraduate class. Coursework may involve analysis of how thermodynamics works in complex situations and the creation or explanation of diagrams detailing thermodynamic processes. After completion of a class in this area, a student should have a nuanced understanding of thermodynamics and how it works in the real world, rather than the ideal conditions that may be used in lower level courses.

Chemical Reaction Engineering

Chemical reaction engineering often studies the processes which take place during chemical reactions, making heavy use of calculus and other advanced mathematics to do so. This course typically brings statistical thermodynamics into a student's understanding of chemical engineering, and may involve the analysis of detailed molecular simulation, intending to convey the realities of non-ideal substances. By the end of a course such as this, students are usually able to apply these concepts to almost any situation and perform the necessary calculations to explain observed chemical reactions.

Biochemical Engineering

Biochemical engineering commonly introduces components of biology and biochemistry to students of chemical engineering, looking at subjects like fermentation and enzyme usage. These types of courses might teach students about biological processes such as the above, among others, and how they are used in areas like biochemistry and pharmaceutical research. Students who study this topic usually come out of the class able to read research papers related to biochemical engineering and explain the processes and their potential uses as biochemical reactors.

Polymer Processes

This kind of course is typically designed to provide an in-depth look at the particular type of molecules known as polymers and what makes them unique. Subject matter often includes how they can be created, used, and broken down, and the mechanical properties which make them useful in areas such as biomedical research. Completion may leave students with a thorough understanding of polymers as a material, the advantages of using them, and even first-hand experience experimenting with them.

Transport Processes

Transport processes or phenomena is a subject area which covers mass transfer, thermodynamics, heat transfer, and often specifically how these three areas interact in engineering situations. This type of class may help students learn to anticipate and predict the effects of these processes, utilizing famous solutions such as the Boltzmann equation or Navier-Stokes equations. This subject may be handled over several courses, although nearly all students will be required to take at least one. Following passage of this class, students should understand these molecular-level processes and how they can affect engineering, as well as possible actions to compensate for them.

Electrochemical Engineering

Courses in electrochemical engineering may describe how the introduction of electromagnetism affects chemical reactions and the transport processes which may be present. Topics commonly studied include cell thermodynamics, ionic transport, and convection, and how this knowledge is applied in the creation of products such as batteries, or how it may be a problem, such as with corrosion. Students who complete this class should be able to describe electrochemical processes, the relationships between these processes, and their potential uses.

Chemical Process Simulation

This type of course looks at detailed means of simulating chemical reactions on the molecular level, using highly advanced computer software. Often, students learn how particular simulation software works (which particular software is used may vary depending on the school), how the software makes estimations and its limitations, and how to write programming scripts for this software. By the end, a passing student may possess a more thorough understanding of how molecular simulation works and its shortcomings, and they should be capable of simulating a number of different processes.

Chemical engineering programs at the graduate level typically require a concentration in chemical engineering or a closely related area at the undergraduate level before admission. The kinds of courses you'll take in these 2-3 year master's programs are highly specialized and require in-depth understanding of advanced math and science concepts, such as transport processes or thermodynamics, in order to succeed.