Research Opportunities

Undergraduate students are encouraged to learn more about current faculty research topics and reach out to professors with whom they would like to work. Omega Chi Epsilon (or OXE), the National Honor Society for chemical engineering, organizes an annual research fair to help pair undergraduate students with research groups. OXE also organizes a research symposium every spring to showcase undergraduate research accomplishments.

Generally, undergraduate researchers earn course credit to satisfy technical elective requirements in the department, though opportunities for paid positions are sometimes available. Students who are interested in pursuing graduate school after graduation are particularly encouraged to seek out research opportunities.

How to Obtain Course Credit for Independent Research Projects

Undergraduates can earn up to a maximum of 10 hours of undergraduate research credit to satisfy degree requirements for the chemical engineering concentration, and a maximum of 9 credit hours to satisfy degree requirements for the biomolecular engineering concentration. A maximum of 3 credit hours can be used to fulfill the 400-level chemical engineering elective requirement. This includes CHBE research credit (CHBE 297, 397, 497, 499) and research credits through other departments.

As a general guideline, students are expected to spend 4 to 5 hours/week in the laboratory for every credit. Students arrange their research project topic through their research advisor and must obtain approval from the head advisor of chemical and biomolecular engineering for all independent research projects.  

The department's independent research courses must be conducted under the supervision of a professor in chemical and biomolecular engineering. Undergraduates may also obtain research credits to satisfy technical elective credits through research projects completed in other departments; however, these projects must be approved prior to the beginning of each semester and generate credit through the department in which the undergraduate works. Without prior approval, credits will not count toward the completion of degree requirements in chemical and biomolecular engineering. Under no circumstances will research credits earned in other departments count as chemical and biomolecular engineering electives. 

  • CHBE 297: independent study for sophomores
  • CHBE 397: independent study for juniors
  • CHBE 497: independent study for seniors

CHBE 499 is the senior thesis course for undergraduates working in laboratories. CHBE 499 projects involve a minimum of 5 hours and a maximum of 10 hours of undergraduate research credit and require the undergraduate to write a formal thesis at the completion of the project. The total credits may be spread over two or more semesters. While it is possible to complete a 5-hour CHBE 499 project in a single semester, this represents an exceptional case. Under no circumstances will more than 5 hours of research credit be approved in one semester. To graduate with distinction, you must complete 6 credit hours of CHBE 499 and earn a 3.0 or higher overall University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign GPA.

Students seeking approval for their independent research projects — either in labs within or outside the department — must fill out the Independent Research Projects Form below. 

Independent Research Projects Form

Note: Research credits will not be awarded to individuals doing research off-campus (such as at companies).