2020 Best Online Master's in Chemical Engineering Degrees

By OnlineU Staff | Updated 2/26/2020
2020 Best Online Master's in Chemical Engineering Badge

Ranked based on affordability and earning potential, these 11 schools offer the best online master's programs in chemical engineering. A degree from the University of Virginia has an impressive return on investment, with an annual tuition of $8,115 and alumni reporting a mid-career salary of $144,600. Ranked #2, Lehigh University has the highest reported alumni salary on the list, at $147,000. Tuition for Lehigh's Master of Engineering in Chemical Energy Engineering is $24,000.

Alumni salaries were provided by PayScale. View our methodology for more details or learn more about OnlineU.

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RankSchool Annual Tuition Mid-Career Salary
# 1 #1 $8,115 $144,600
# 2 #2 $24,000 $147,000
# 3 #3 $20,280 $141,550
# 4 #4 $23,625 $137,800
# 5 #5 $14,235 $120,600
# 6 #6 $21,600 $114,004
# 7 #7 $31,560 $116,109
# 8 #8 $29,050 $114,720
# 9 #9 $11,473 $104,640
# 10 #10 $11,460 $98,496
# 11 #11 $21,955 $102,500
Salary data provided by Payscale Logo

2020 Online Colleges Offering Chemical Engineering Degrees - Ranking Details

#1 University of Virginia

  • Annual Tuition: $8,115
  • Median Salary: $144,600
  • Locations: Charlottesville (VA)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Virginia Engineering Online, the University of Virginia’s (UVA) distance education engineering program, provides fully online graduate degrees. The Master of Engineering (MEng) in Chemical Engineering requires 30-credit hours of coursework, with the majority delivered in a videoconferencing format that shares the same professors as the on-campus degree equivalent. Each master’s candidate is required to take five core engineering courses. Students have some options for elective coursework in a range of corresponding fields such as mathematics, chemistry, or another engineering sub-field.

#2 Lehigh University

  • Annual Tuition: $24,000
  • Median Salary: $147,000
  • Locations: Bethlehem (PA)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

The Office of Distance Education at Lehigh University offers a Master of Engineering degree with concentrations in biological chemical engineering, chemical energy engineering, and chemical engineering. Most candidates complete their chosen program in three years, with a minimum of 30 credits of required coursework. A range of elective courses is available for students to pursue a specialization. Applicants typically hold an undergraduate degree in chemical engineering, though individuals with academic credentials in another field can take bridge-coursework. There are no exam requirements for admission. Graduates will be qualified for employment in the industry and research organizations.

#3 Stanford University

  • Annual Tuition: $20,280
  • Median Salary: $141,550
  • Locations: Stanford (CA)
  • Accreditation: WSCUC

Stanford University’s School of Engineering offers an online degree in chemical engineering that combines core engineering coursework with elective options, including entrepreneurship and applied mathematics, to allow students to explore related fields. The program is fully online for part-time students. The format for classes is lecture-based, and there is no research or thesis component. Students typically complete the 45-unit requirements in two to five years, with most candidates taking between 7 and 12 units each quarter. The online Master of Science in Chemical Engineering awards the same diploma as those completing its residential counterpart.

#4 Illinois Institute of Technology

  • Annual Tuition: $23,625
  • Median Salary: $137,800
  • Locations: Chicago (IL)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) has an expansive online education system that shares the same faculty as the on-campus equivalent and awards the same degrees. The Armour College of Engineering has several online engineering programs. Interested candidates can select a Master of Chemical Engineering. Students must complete 30 credit hours, with more than half awarded from elective coursework. Graduates will be qualified to pursue employment as chemical engineers, plant process engineers, and positions in research and development.

#5 Auburn University

  • Annual Tuition: $14,235
  • Median Salary: $120,600
  • Locations: Auburn (AL)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The Samuel Ginn College of Engineering at Auburn University hosts 13 online graduate-level degrees. One of the virtual options is a Master of Science in Chemical Engineering, which features flexible coursework that mirrors its on-campus counterpart. The degree requires 30 hours to complete, with classes covering subjects such as waste conversion, computer-aided process design and simulation, and chemical kinetics and reactor design. Online degree-seeking students are not required to complete a residency, a comprehensive exam, or a thesis, though special permission from the school’s Engineering Department may be acquired for those wishing to pursue a master’s thesis.

#6 Villanova University Online Graduate Programs

  • Annual Tuition: $21,600
  • Median Salary: $114,004
  • Locations: Online
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

Engineers pursuing a chemical engineering master’s degree online have two options through Villanova University’s Online Graduate Programs: a Master of Science in Biochemical Engineering or a Master of Science in Chemical Engineering. Both are offered in the College of Engineering. The MS in Biochemical Engineering emphasizes current issues in the field, including biomaterials and biopharmaceutical design. This is a 30-credit program that includes a six-credit thesis option or a non-thesis option (with additional coursework). The MS in Chemical Engineering has a 30-credit option with a thesis or independent study requirements. For individuals without a bachelor’s degree in the chemical engineering field, an online bridge program is available to receive the appropriate prerequisites. Upon completing those courses, the chemical engineering degree options are both 36 credits. Both degrees have synchronous and asynchronous options, and students can mix and match how they complete their studies. Individuals may either attend class virtually or review materials and pre-recorded lectures on their own time. Online learning is facilitated by Blackboard’s e-learning platform. Online students have access to a career center, tutoring services, a writing center, and digital resources from the Falvey Virtual Library. To apply, students must have a completed bachelor’s degree with a 3.0 GPA and a GRE quantitative reasoning score of 700 (old scale) or 155 (new scale) and a GRE analytical writing score of at least 4.0. Students with graduate-level engineering coursework may transfer up to six credits. Candidates may apply for fall or spring semesters and should submit a completed application (with fee), official undergraduate transcripts, two applicant rating forms, a statement of purpose, a resume, and GRE scores.

#7 Columbia University in the City of New York

  • Annual Tuition: $31,560
  • Median Salary: $116,109
  • Locations: New York (NY)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

Columbia University’s online Master of Science in Chemical Engineering is offered through the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science. Available fully online, the MS program requires 30 credits to complete, comprised of four core courses and upper-level electives. Students who would like to complete a thesis may use up to six credits toward a master’s research project, but it is not required. On average, students complete the program in 3.5 years. Online classes are housed in the Columbia Video Network (CVN) through which students download or stream lectures; there are no required class times. Online students are welcome to attend classes and their graduation ceremony on campus in New York City. Distance education resources include 24/7 technical support, academic advising, and remote access to library resources. To apply, candidates must have a completed bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering or a similar field. A minimum 3.0 GPA is required, as well as GRE scores. To be considered, applicants must submit official transcripts, a resume, a personal statement, a completed application (with fee), and three letters of recommendation. Applications are accepted for fall, spring, or summer terms.

#8 University of Southern California

  • Annual Tuition: $29,050
  • Median Salary: $114,720
  • Locations: Los Angeles (CA)
  • Accreditation: WSCUC

The Viterbi School of Engineering at the University of Southern California (USC) hosts a Master of Science in Chemical Engineering. This program may be completed either full-time or part-time, in two or three years respectively. All classes are online, though students are welcome to come to campus. Remote lectures are delivered electronically, recorded from the campus-based lectures. The degree requires at least 27 credits, with core subjects in thermodynamics, kinetics, and modeling. USC’s online classes combine real-time, scheduled seminars using Zoom software, and asynchronous, interactive assignments. Students may join the Omega Chi Epsilon chemical engineering honor society and receive a free membership to WeWork, which offers hi-tech study spaces around the country. Additionally, online students have access to USC’s library resources, technical support, and academic advisors. To apply, candidates should submit a completed graduate admission application (with fee) for spring or fall semesters. Applicants must have a completed bachelor’s degree in an engineering-related field. Additionally, official transcripts, GRE scores, three letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and a resume are required.

#9 Kansas State University

  • Annual Tuition: $11,473
  • Median Salary: $104,640
  • Locations: Manhattan (KS)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Kansas State University (K-State) provides online graduate programs through its Global Campus platform. The Master of Science in Chemical Engineering only has one residential requirement at the end of the program. The degree is hosted in the Carl R. Ice College of Engineering; this is a 30-credit program that includes a master’s report and an oral examination (on campus) to graduate. Classes run in fall and spring semesters for 16 weeks, and summer semester for 12 weeks. Content is delivered through lectures, readings, discussion boards, quizzes, and videos; K-State uses Canvas learning management software to house digital materials. Individuals work independently. Students may opt to complete the program part-time or full-time, but they have six years in which to do so. Online students attend a virtual orientation and may connect with the IT Help Desk via phone or chat for technical assistance. A career center and academic coaches are also available for remote learners. To be considered, candidates should have a completed bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering with a 3.0 GPA. Applications are accepted year-round. Along with a completed application (with fee), individuals should submit official undergraduate transcripts, a personal statement, and three letters of recommendation.

#10 University of North Dakota

  • Annual Tuition: $11,460
  • Median Salary: $98,496
  • Locations: Grand Forks (ND)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Prospective chemical engineers have two graduate-level online degrees from which to choose at the University of North Dakota: a Master of Engineering in Chemical Engineering or a Master of Science in Chemical Engineering. Either program requires 30 credit hours over one to two years. Both are housed in the Department of Chemical Engineering. The major difference is that while the ME program requires more coursework and electives, the MS program includes a thesis or final research project. A combined BS/MS of Engineering in Chemical Engineering is available for incoming students seeking an accelerated option. Individuals starting in the BS in Chemical Engineering program may specialize in Energetics, Petroleum Engineering, or Sustainability. The accelerated degree requires 160 credit hours (with thesis) or 162 credit hours (without thesis) over five-to-six years. Online degrees at the University of North Dakota (UND) use real-time, virtual classes and mirror the on-campus versions. Remote content is typically delivered through recorded lectures, streamed videos, and participating on discussion boards. Resources for distance degrees include a writing center, e-tutoring, career services, disability accommodations, and military and veteran services. Interested individuals may apply for fall, spring, or summer terms. Candidates must have a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering to apply (2.5 GPA minimum). To apply, students must submit a personal statement, GRE scores, a resume, official transcripts, three letters of recommendation, and a completed application form.

#11 North Carolina State University

  • Annual Tuition: $21,955
  • Median Salary: $102,500
  • Locations: Raleigh (NC)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

With over 1,000 online courses, North Carolina State University (NC State) provides extensive resources to its virtual learners, including the Career Development Center, an IT Help Desk, resources from NC State libraries, and veteran student services. Most online classes at NC State employ a mix of synchronous and asynchronous tools, using the Moodle online management system and Zoom video conferencing software. Lectures are recorded for students to view around their personal schedules; however, due dates for assignments and exam times must be upheld. Chemical engineering students may consider the Master of Science in Chemical Engineering. The MS program comprises 30 credits to complete, with no thesis or residency requirement. Core courses cover subjects in thermodynamics, models, and chemical reaction engineering. Admission to the program is dependent on a completed bachelor’s degree in a related field, such as physics or biochemistry, with a 3.0 GPA minimum. Additionally, candidates can submit a completed application packet for fall or spring semesters. Students should also send in GRE scores, official transcripts, a current resume, a personal statement, and three letters of recommendation.

Overview of an Online Master's in Chemical Engineering

Individuals who wish to advance into leadership and management roles within the field of chemical engineering may want to pursue an online master's degree. An online master's degree in chemical engineering typically takes two to three years to complete and consists of 30 semester credit hours. Classes that students may take during these online programs cover topics such as chemical engineering thermodynamics, transport processes, polymer blends and composites, and air pollution.

To be admitted to one of these online programs, an applicant will usually need to hold a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering or a related field, though some schools will consider applicants from different educational backgrounds. Some schools require that a prospective student's bachelor's degree was earned from an ABET-accredited school. Applicants also need to submit an admissions essay that goes over their educational and professional goals. Other requirements may include an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher and test scores from a graduate entrance exam like the GRE.

An online master's degree in chemical engineering may help to prepare graduates for advanced positions in a variety of industries, such as petrochemical processing, materials manufacturing, energy distribution, microelectronics, and biotechnology.


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