Innovation & Inclusion—that's the Power of I.
At Illinois, we will prepare you to solve real problems and make an impact. With our degree, you'll be highly recruited by Fortune 500 companies, high-tech start-ups, and top universities.
For over 100 years, our faculty have been delivering a rigorous and innovative learning experience. Join our program and conduct pioneering research with a faculty adviser, put your skills to work at a summer internship or semester-long co-op, engage in meaningful outreach efforts, build a car propelled by a chemical reaction, and much more.
Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
From creating life-saving medicines to advancing fuel cell research, a degree in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering allows you to improve the products that people use every day while reducing their cost.
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—getting the best of both worlds.
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.
The chemical engineering specialized curriculum provides two areas of concentration: chemical engineering and biomolecular engineering. Each area is based on a strong fundamental understanding of chemical engineering; however, the biomolecular concentration’s technical electives focus more on bio-applied processing and technology.
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 $74,000, according to the School of Chemical Sciences Career Services.
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, Sonam 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.
employed or continuing education
employed after graduation
attending graduate school
average starting annual income
Employer destinations: ExxonMobil, General Mills, Archer Daniels Midland (ADM)...
Graduate school destinations: University of Texas at Austin, University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign...
Everything you're looking for—and more
Real-world design projects
A hallmark of the Illinois experience is the "Design Across the Curriculum" program where our students work on practical design projects throughout their undergraduate years. The Design Across the Curriculum experience culminates in the two-semester capstone design and unit operations lab sequence. In CHBE 431: Chemical Process Design, groups typically design a process to manufacture a commodity chemical.
Course Highlight: Introduction to the Profession
In CHBE 121, students focus their design project on a chemical process accident and what must be done to avoid one in the future.
Course Highlight: Unit Operations Laboratory
The Unit Ops Laboratory delivers a hands-on experience for students before they head into industry or continue on in academia.
Students work alongside our world-class faculty and outstanding graduate students on a variety of research projects, from carbon nanoparticle-based photovoltaics to tissue-on-a-chip models of brain cancer.
Co-ops and Internships
Cooperative education programs offer students the opportunity to perform real-world, chemical engineering-related work at a company. Students alternate terms of work with terms of school, working at least one semester and one summer with the same company for approximately 6-12 months total. Internships offer students one-time work experiences that typically occur in the summer.
As a ChBE student, you can fit an international experience into your schedule. You may choose to study abroad, intern abroad, or volunteer abroad. Our students have recently studied in Sweden, Spain, France, and England to name a few.
We are committed to creating and maintaining a safe and welcoming environment for students, faculty, and staff to thrive. Learn more about our resources and diversity to support DEI.
Our campus offers numerous student organizations to complement and enhance our chemical engineering curriculum. Get involved to expand your community on campus.
The department has a history of engaging in a variety of outreach programs for students of all ages and backgrounds, such as a summer camp for high school girls and an after-school program for underrepresented elementary students. We are also the departmental home for "Engineer Guy" Bill Hammack.