Undergraduate Degree Program for the Robert Frederick Smith School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Chemical engineers work with chemical change and chemical processing. You might develop ways to produce chemicals, or design, build, and operate a chemical production plant. You might search for new sources of energy or work to clean up the environment. Or you might play an important role in new technologies such as semiconductor processing and biotechnology or in the development of new materials such as polymers and ceramics.

Cornell’s undergraduate program in Chemical Engineering (ChemE) offers a sequence of courses beginning in your sophomore year and extending through your senior year. The fundamental analytic tools of chemical engineering—chemical kinetics, chemical thermodynamics, and fluid mechanics—are developed in the second and third years. These tools are used to analyze the units of chemical processes: chemical reactors, bio-reactors, distillation columns, and heat exchangers. As a senior, students design chemical processes by integrating process units with attention to economics, safety, and environmental impact. Concentrations in biomolecular engineering, polymeric materials, and energy are available.


Chemical engineers are involved in producing all kinds of goods, from plastics, textiles, and fertilizers, to processed foods and antibiotics. Chemical engineers also work in new areas of biotechnology, including designing new methods to fight life-threatening diseases and more effective ways to deliver medications. Chemical engineers are in demand in many fields, including, petroleum, chemical, pharmaceutical, electronics, consumer-products, and food-processing industries. Many find professional opportunities in government agencies, research laboratories, and academic institutions, and a good number rise to positions of considerable technical and managerial responsibility.

Master of Engineering Degree Program

The Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) degree at Cornell’s Robert Frederick Smith School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, enables new as well as practicing, engineers to earn professional degrees while building expertise in related fields. The diverse personal and academic backgrounds of our faculty and students, and Cornell’s vast facilities, make this an exceptional program in which to pursue one of the following areas of specialization:

  • computational informatics;
  • energy economics and engineering;
  • medical and industrial biotechnology;
  • product design

This professional degree gives you the opportunity to:• gain specialized focused knowledge in areas central to chemical engineering; deepen your knowledge of one topical area related to chemical engineering by specializing in an area of study, such as polymers, electronic materials, engineering management, food engineering, etc.;• broaden your skills (e.g., take courses in finance, marketing, language proficiency, entrepreneurship, etc.);• undertake original research in one of the faculty research programs.

Some Areas of Faculty Research

  • battery power, storage, and transmission
  • biochemistry and biophysics of biological systems
  • biological network fragility
  • biomass conversionbiomedical research and biotechnology
  • energy harvesting efficiency of solar cells using photonic crystals
  • geothermal science
  • interfacial science
  • material properties in nanofibers
  • photonic materials and solar energy capture
  • polymer rheology
  • protein conformational studies
  • soft matter
  • surface science of organic and inorganic materials
  • synthetic biology
  • systems biology
  • transport in complex fluids

Chemical Engineering by the Numbers

Number of Chemical Engineering undergraduate students: 153

Starting salaries of B.S. Chemical Engineering graduates (for 2020):

  • Median salary: $75,000
  • High salary: $150,000

Post-graduate plans for chemical engineering graduates at the time of graduation (2020):

  • Employed 60% 60%
  • Attending Graduate School 37% 37%
  • Seeking Admission to Graduate School 2% 2%