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25 Best Colleges for Chemical Engineering 2020

By the GradReports team | Updated 2/21/2020

These are the best 25 colleges that offer a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering, based on median salary one year after graduation. Rice University is ranked #1 with a salary of $80,100. Chemical engineering majors at Rice also had the lowest median debt on the list, at $9,367. Graduates of second-ranked Texas A&M University-College Station had a median salary of $79,900.

Tuition, median salaries, and median debt were reported by the U.S. Department of Education in November 2019. View our methodology for more details about these rankings or read more about the top-ranked schools.

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Salary and debt data reported by the U.S. Department of Education
Salary and debt data reported by the U.S. Department of Education
Rank School Location Annual Tuition Median Debt Median Salary
#1 #1 Houston (TX) Houston (TX) $49,112 $9,367 $80,100
#2 #2 College Station (TX) College Station (TX) $38,602 $16,285 $79,900
#3 #3 Austin (TX) Austin (TX) $38,326 $19,154 $78,400
#4 #4 Cambridge (MA) Cambridge (MA) $53,790 $10,878 $78,200
#5 #5 Ithaca (NY) Ithaca (NY) $57,222 $13,538 $77,500
#6 #6 Lewisburg (PA) Lewisburg (PA) $58,196 $27,000 $76,200
#7 #7 Terre Haute (IN) Terre Haute (IN) $51,927 $27,000 $75,900
#8 #8 Evanston (IL) Evanston (IL) $56,691 $15,332 $75,700
#9 #9 Baton Rouge (LA) Baton Rouge (LA) $28,639 $22,500 $75,600
#10 #10 Fayetteville (AR) Fayetteville (AR) $25,872 $16,560 $74,300
#11 #11 Mississippi State (MS) Mississippi State (MS) $23,950 $22,000 $74,200
#12 #12 Detroit (MI) Detroit (MI) $28,887 $23,714 $73,400
#13 #13 Auburn (AL) Auburn (AL) $31,124 $23,145 $73,100
#14 #14 Pittsburgh (PA) Pittsburgh (PA) $57,119 $27,000 $73,100
#15 #15 Philadelphia (PA) Philadelphia (PA) $57,770 Not Reported $73,000
#16 #16 Provo (UT) Provo (UT) $5,790 $9,698 $72,800
#17 #17 Bethlehem (PA) Bethlehem (PA) $55,240 $25,244 $72,800
#18 #18 Berkeley (CA) Berkeley (CA) $44,007 $12,189 $72,700
#19 #19 Ann Arbor (MI) Ann Arbor (MI) $51,200 $19,000 $72,500
#20 #20 Clemson (SC) Clemson (SC) $38,550 $21,798 $72,400
#21 #21 Notre Dame (IN) Notre Dame (IN) $55,553 $19,000 $72,200
#22 #22 Louisville (KY) Louisville (KY) $27,954 $21,424 $71,800
#23 #23 Lubbock (TX) Lubbock (TX) $19,260 $28,000 $71,700
#24 #24 Atlanta (GA) Atlanta (GA) $33,794 $25,622 $71,500
#25 #25 Toledo (OH) Toledo (OH) $20,010 $23,540 $71,400

2020 Best Colleges Highlights

Learn more about the top colleges for a Bachelor's in Chemical Engineering degree. You can also read student reviews of each school by clicking on the stars. Although student reviews were not used as a ranking factor in this list, we provide ratings and reviews so students can consider the experience of alumni in their decision-making process.

#1
Houston (TX)
Median Salary $80,100
Median Debt $9,367
Annual Tuition $49,112
Graduation Rate 92%

Rice University offers a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering that requires 132 credit hours, including 96 to 100 credits of required courses and the balance in electives. Students may choose the breadth option for their program, or one of five specializations.

The biotechnology/bioengineering specialization focuses on understanding biological processes and their interrelationship with biotechnology. The civil and environmental engineering specialization focuses on transport processes via water or air and how to design pollution abatement systems. The materials science specialization focuses on understanding the mechanics of fluids and solids. The applied mathematics specialization focuses on mathematics and computational tools that are used for simulating and designing chemical engineering products. The sustainability/energy specialization focuses on addressing issues in the energy industry.

The breadth option offers a broader approach than the specializations and is useful for those students who may be progressing to further professional studies in medicine, law or business.

Visit Rice University’s website.

#2
College Station (TX)
Median Salary $79,900
Median Debt $16,285
Annual Tuition $38,602
Graduation Rate 82%

The Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering at Texas A&M University College Station is one of the largest such programs in the country. The school offers a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering, and each year about 130 students graduate with this degree. They receive starting salaries of about $72,000 per year for their first job. Students who take advantage of their internship and co-op programs attain real-world industry experience prior to graduation.

All engineering students take the same curriculum in freshman year. Once a student has fulfilled the entry-level requirements, they then apply for one of the school’s 20 engineering programs, including this BS in Chemical Engineering. Chemical Engineering students develop skills and knowledge so that they can design processes and products in a variety of industries including waste abatement, semiconductor manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, and biotechnology. The curriculum includes chemistry, physics, mathematics, engineering and the social sciences with a culminating design project.

Visit Texas A&M-College Station’s website.

Median Salary $78,400
Median Debt $19,154
Annual Tuition $38,326
Graduation Rate 86%

The University of Texas at Austin offers a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering. Graduates of this program are ready to apply the science and engineering fundamentals learned to solve real-world problems in industry, government, and research related to processes and products that utilize molecular change.

The curriculum for the Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering program includes three categories of classes: lower-division courses in the major, upper-division courses in the major and other required courses. Required courses address a variety of topics and skills including independent inquiry, quantitative reasoning, ethics, global cultures, cultural diversity in the US and writing.

Because chemical engineering is such a broad area in the engineering field, each student is required to complete one or two areas of emphasis as well. These areas are process systems/product engineering, materials engineering, environmental engineering, biochemical/biomedical engineering, energy technologies, and engineering economics/business leadership.

Visit The University of Texas at Austin’s website.

Median Salary $78,200
Median Debt $10,878
Annual Tuition $53,790
Graduation Rate 95%

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology offers a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering that prepares students for a broad range of opportunities in the chemical engineering field. The curriculum includes required subjects such as thermodynamics, fluid mechanics and differential equations as well as social science and communications coursework. A senior capstone project is also required.

Students may choose to focus their work in one of eight concentration areas: biomedical, energy, engineering computation, environmental, manufacturing design, materials process and design, process data analytics, or society, engineering and ethics.

Graduates will be prepared to solve complex engineering problems by applying engineering and scientific principles as well as to work effectively in a professional team and to express ideas clearly in both written and verbal forms. They will be ready to work in fields such as nanotechnology, surface science, colloids/polymers, energy, and biotechnology.

Visit Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s website.

#5
Ithaca (NY)
Median Salary $77,500
Median Debt $13,538
Annual Tuition $57,222
Graduation Rate 94%

Cornell University offers a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering through the Robert Frederick Smith School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. The curriculum includes coursework to develop chemical engineering analytical tools, to analyze units of chemical processes and to design chemical processes while considering financial, safety and environmental factors. Students may choose to complete an area of emphasis, such as applied mathematics, biomedical engineering, biotechnology, chemical processes, big data analytics, economic analysis, energy, environmental quality or food science.

Graduates will be prepared to enter a variety of industries like semiconductors, pharmaceuticals, energy or pollution abatement. Career guidance is offered by both the Engineering Career Center and the Cornell University Career Services Center. From resume writing to mock interviews to career fairs, these services help students gain confidence in attaining that critical first job after graduation. Internships are available during the summer of sophomore and junior years to gain real-world experience prior to graduation.

Visit Cornell University’s website.