Chemical Engineering

Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering (ChBE) is a diverse and exciting field where you could find yourself creating life-saving medicines, advancing fuel cell research, or developing the next big food item to hit grocery store shelves. It’s about improving things that people use every day while reducing their cost. Around the world, Illinois ChBE alumni can be found reducing costs at production facilities and building reactors to manufacture new materials.

Rooted in chemistry, chemical engineering applies the principles of chemistry often, but not limited to, a large scale. Chemists often synthesize new molecules or mixtures on the size scale of beakers. Chemical engineers then work to scale up the synthesis process to meet market demand. Chemical engineers work in fuels and energy; biotechnology, including pharmaceuticals; foods and beverages; cosmetics and other consumer products; advanced materials and plastics.

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  • Our chemical engineering program is ranked #6 by U.S. News & World Report.
  • 100% of students reported securing their first choice destination upon graduation.
  • The average starting salary for a chemical engineering graduate is $82,560 with an average signing bonus of $6,000.
  • Alumni of the Illinois ChBE  program have been instrumental in developing products like Tide (Procter & Gamble), Cheerios (General Mills), DiGiorno pizza (Nestle), and Cottonelle tissue (Kimberly-Clark).

Discover your power. Become a Grainger Engineer.

Your path to Grainger Engineering starts with connecting your passion and interests with the opportunities available in one of our 19 top-ranked major programs. Explore your options and gather the information you need to take the next step and apply.

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What You'll Study

This major is housed within our College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and maintains close ties with The Grainger College of Engineering. Students take advantage of resources and programs in both colleges.

The first two years of the chemical engineering curriculum provide a strong foundation in basic sciences through physics, mathematics, chemistry, an introduction to what chemical engineers do, and the fundamental basis of chemical engineering (mass and energy balances and thermodynamics.)  In the third year, you will delve deeper into more specialized chemistry courses such as physical and analytical chemistry, while exploring fundamental chemical engineering courses such as momentum transfer, separations, and reactor design. The senior year incorporates all of this learning through high level technical electives, process control, capstone lab, and capstone design courses. It is through the lab and design class that you'll apply everything you've learned in previous chemical engineering courses to real-world team projects and presentations.

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Minor in Computer Science

The CS Minor is offered for students seeking significant knowledge of digital computing without the more complete treatment of a major in computer science. This minor may be taken by any student except majors in the Computer Science degree programs and in Computer Engineering.

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Post-Graduation Success

Chemical engineers work in fuels and energy; biotechnology, including pharmaceuticals; foods and beverages; cosmetics and other consumer products; advanced materials and plastics. The average annual salary for Illinois students graduating with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering is $82,560. Visit the School of Chemical Sciences Career Services for more info.

The department has a history of producing outstanding graduates, from Arnold Beckman (BS ’22), inventor of the pH meter and founder of Beckman Instruments, to BP CEO Bob Dudley (BS ’78). Paul Adriani (BS ’85) with SunPower develops new products that convert sunlight into electricity. At Pixelligent Technologies, which manufactures next-generation optical materials for the electronics industry, Amy Stabell (BS ’07) designed the company’s reactor for making the nanomaterials. Brian Kwok (BS ’00) is a lawyer focusing on intellectual property practice, including patent strategy and licensing. As senior product design engineer, Sonom Patel (BS ’11) develops consumer products for Procter & Gamble’s feminine care business. Other BS graduates, like Dan Pack (BS ’90) and Chris Arges (BS ’05), have gone on to earn their doctoral degrees and become chemical engineering faculty.

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employed or continuing education*

employed after graduation

attending graduate school

average starting annual income*

Sample employer destinations: ExxonMobil, General Mills, Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) View All

Sample grad school destinations: University of Texas at Austin, University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign View All

*Post-graduate data was collected through the Illini Success initiative, which primarily relies on self-reported survey data sources. Statistics reported are from 2022-2023. Please note that total compensation may be greater than annual salary as other forms of compensation (e.g., signing bonus, commission, benefits) are not included. For more information on Illini Success data and methods, please visit the Illini Success website.


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Your future starts here.

Applying to The Grainger College of Engineering opens the door to your future as a successful engineer. Get started by scheduling a visit, requesting information, or submitting your application.