Degree Requirements

The required courses for the B.S. in chemical engineering will prepare you for careers in traditional areas of chemical and biomolecular engineering and emerging areas of biotechnology.

You will need a minimum of 131 credits to graduate with a B.S. in chemical engineering.

The chemical and biomolecular engineering curriculum requires more chemistry than other engineering programs. It is advised that you take required chemistry courses early, even if you are unsure of whether you will major in chemical engineering.

Make sure to read the affiliation criteria for the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering so you know that your academic plan is on the right track.

Additionally, it is possible to study abroad and still meet all of your degree requirements, but your course sequence will change with the addition of a summer session. Learn more about options for studying abroad here.

Cornell and College of Engineering requirements

Every student in the College of Engineering must complete the same common curriculum regardless of their major. This includes:

These requirements are generally fulfilled in your freshman and sophomore years.

For a complete breakdown of common curriculum requirements for the College of Engineering, refer to the undergraduate student handbook.

Chemical engineering major requirements

For your chemical engineering major, you will complete:

  • 46 credits of major-required courses,
  • 6 credits of advisor-approved electives, and
  • 12 credits of major-approved electives (including the biology requirement*).

These requirements are fulfilled throughout your junior and senior years. While not required, undergraduates can choose to structure their elective courses around a specialization.

Capstone design course

In your last semester, you are challenged to put all of your coursework and experience into action with a semester-long team project. You may take one of the two capstone design courses below. Both courses prepare soon-to-be graduates for work in an academic or corporate environment.

CHEME 4620 – Chemical Process Design

In this course, you will prepare a full-scale feasibility study of a chemical process, including product supply and demand forecasts, development of mass and energy balances, and a process flow sheet sufficient for estimating the capital and operating costs of the process facilities. You and your team will deliver weekly presentations and a final presentation to a panel of internal and external appraisers.

Learn more about CHEME 4620 – Chemical Process Design.

CHEME 4630 – Practice of Chemical Engineering Product Design

In this course you will prepare a stage-gate feasibility study of a chemical product including market and economic analysis, patent search, environmental, regulatory, and safety issues. You will develop an economic analysis of the product development and provide an ultimate recommendation as to the viability of the project. You and your team will deliver weekly presentations and a final presentation to a panel of internal and external appraisers.

Learn more about CHEME 4630 – Practice of Chemical Engineering Product Design.

Typical course sequence

This sequence would be typical for a student who is not entering with any AP credits. Note that some courses may be eligible for substitution, especially in the areas of physics, organic chemistry, and computing. Refer to the detailed curriculum handout (located on the CBE intranet) for a comprehensive list of options.

Course descriptions can be found on the Cornell University Courses of Study website. Note that this sequence would not apply to someone who wishes to study abroad for a full semester. Plan ahead and learn how study abroad will affect your course sequence.

Freshman Year

Semester 1 (14 credits)

Semester 2 (19 credits)

MATH 1910 – Calculus for Engineers (4)MATH 1920 - Multivariable Calculus for Engineers (4)
CHEM 2090 - Engineering General Chemistry (4)PHYS 1112 – Physics I: Mechanics & Heat (4)
ENGRI/CHEME 1120 – Introduction to Chemical Engineering (3)CHEM 2080 – General Chemistry II (4)
Freshman Writing Seminar (3)CS 1112 – Introduction to Computing Using MATLAB
 Freshman Writing Seminar (3)

Sophomore Year

Semester 3 (18 credits)

Semester 4 (19 credits)

MATH 2930 – Differential Equations for Engineers (4)CHEME 3230 - Fluid Mechanics (3)
PHYS 2213 – Physics II: Electromagnetism (4)MATH 2940- Linear Algebra for Engineers (4)
ENGRD/CHEME 2190 – Mass and Energy Balances (3)CHEM 2900 – Introductory Physical Chemistry Laboratory (2)
CHEM 3890 – Honors Physical Chemistry I (4)CHEM 3900 – Honors Physical Chemistry II (4)
Liberal studies distribution (3)Biology elective* (3)
 Liberal studies distribution (3)

Junior Year

Semester 5 (14 credits)

Semester 6 (15 credits)

CHEME 3130 – Chemical Engineering Thermodynamics (3)CHEME 3010 – Career Perspectives (1)
CHEME 3240 – Heat and Mass Transfer (3)CHEME 3320 – Analysis of Separation Processes (3)
CHEM 3570 – Organic Chemistry for the Life Sciences (3)CHEME 3720 – Introduction to Process Dynamics and Control (2)
CHEM 2510 – Introduction to Experimental Organic Chemistry (2)CHEME 3900 – Chemical Kinetics and Reactor Design (3)
Liberal studies distribution (3)Major-approved elective** (3)
 Liberal studies distribution (3)

Senior Year

Semester 7 (18 credits)

Semester 8 (14 credits)

CHEME 4320 – Chemical Engineering Laboratory (6)CHEME 4620 – Chemical Process Design (5)
Advanced CHEME elective*** (3)Advanced CHEME elective*** (3)
Major-approved elective ** (3) Liberal studies distribution (3)
Major-approved elective** (3)Approved elective (3)
Liberal studies distribution (3) 

*Satisfying the biology requirement

Every student must complete one of the seven following options in biology:

  1. A score of 5 on the CEEB AP Examination in Biology or a score of 7 on the IB Higher Level exam
  2. CHEME 2880 – Biomolecular Engineering
  3. CHEME 5430 – Bioprocess Engineering
  4. Eight credits of pre-med biology sequence
    • BIOG 1500, BIOG 1440, and BIOMG 1350 or
    • BIOG 1107, 1108, and 1500
  5. BIOMI 2900 – General Microbiology Lectures
  6. BIOMG 3300 - Principles of Biochemistry, Individual Instruction (academic year) or
    • BIOMG 3330 – Principles of Biochemistry (summer) or
    • BIOMG 3350 – Principles of Biochemistry (spring)  
  7. BIOMG 3310 – Principles of Biochemistry: Proteins and Metabolism and
    BIOMG 3320 – Principles of Biochemistry: Molecular Biology

**Major-approved electives

The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) requires that at least one of the electives (either your approved electives, major-approved electives, or the biology requirement) must be an engineering course.

***Advanced CHEME electives

These courses must be satisfied by CHEME 4010, 4020, 4130, 4610, 4630, 4700, 4810, 4840, 5430, 5440, 5640, 5720, 6240, 6310, 6400, 6440, 6560, 6610, 6640, 6650, 6660, or 6800. In addition, three of the six one-credit modules associated with CHEME 6660 (CHEME 6661–6679), may be combined to satisfy one Advanced Chemical Engineering Elective.