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Chemical Engineering

Why Study Chemical Engineering?

You’re interested in just about every scientific field and are most gratified when you can apply your knowledge and curiosity to work to find important solutions to real-life problems affecting many people. You excelled in chemistry in high school, but you also did well in physics, biology, mathematics, and computation. You enjoy working with others. Does this sound like you? You could very well be an ideal chemical engineer.

If you major in chemical engineering at Vanderbilt, you will graduate with a wide range of career opportunities. Chemical and biomolecular engineering is a broadly dynamic, growing field, and you can select from areas ranging from energy and the environment to materials, nanoscience, and biotechnology. You might work to develop pharmaceuticals and bioengineered materials, specialty polymers and high-strength composites, semiconductors and microelectronic devices, ultrapure chemicals, and consumer goods.

Vanderbilt Engineering Advantages

There are two things you can be sure of when you study chemical engineering at Vanderbilt. The first is that the fundamentals of chemistry, physics, biology, and mathematics will become second nature to you. The second is that you can sink your teeth into your profession right away, with numerous opportunities to sharpen your skills and hone your knowledge right in the field and in the laboratory. 

Plus you’ll be able to work hands-on with some of the top minds in the business—your professors are not only experts in the chemical and biomolecular engineering field, but they are terrific mentors who will help you find the best application of your talents and interests.

You’ll be challenged. You’ll learn all about material and energy balances, transport phenomena, thermodynamics, chemical and biological separations, and kinetics. You’ll learn chemical engineering analysis and design techniques, along with economic analysis and process control. And since we’re preparing you to go out into the world and take a leadership role, you will also learn economics, humanities, and social sciences.

Special Opportunities at Vanderbilt Engineering

So many opportunities! So little time! Do you want to do laboratory research during the summer? Take a terrific summer internship with Chevron, 3M, Intel, or Merck? Do you want to learn first-hand about how to work as part of a multidisciplinary engineering team?

These are a few of the opportunities through the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. You might participate in National Science Foundation-sponsored research experiences for undergraduate programs at Vanderbilt or at another university. If your record is good, you might qualify for the professional honors program in chemical engineering, which will support your development through independent study and research.

Then there are the opportunities you can access as a Vanderbilt student. You’ll have the best of both worlds as an engineering student and a Vanderbilt student, with close ties to your professors and fellow engineering students while being fully engaged in the broader Vanderbilt University community with students from all over the globe. Opportunities to add a minor or a study abroad experience to your chemical engineering education are numerous. Our recent students have done a minors in a foreign language, engineering management, nanoscience, or economics, or spent a semester away in Singapore, Australia, or Europe, all while completing their degree in four years.

Career Opportunities

Yes, your undergraduate degree in chemical engineering will prepare you for a wide range of jobs with government, private consulting companies, and major industries. Major industrial employment areas for chemical engineers include:

  • Advanced materials development
  • Pharmaceutical production and biotechnology
  • Energy production
  • Environmental engineering
  • Petrochemical production
  • Agricultural and food processing
  • Process design, development, and evaluation
  • Specialty chemical manufacturing
  • Natural resource recovery
  • Health and safety
  • Consumer goods
  • Management and consulting

But if you decide to pursue an advanced engineering or professional degree, you will enjoy an admirable and competitive advantage as a Vanderbilt graduate. The department offers master and doctoral degrees. You might be particularly interested in the department’s major research strength areas in materials and nanotechnology, bioengineering and biotechnology, alternative energy, and computer simulation. The curriculum can be arranged to achieve both the bachelor and the master of engineering degrees within five years.


For information about faculty and their research, visit


Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
VU Station B 351604
2301 Vanderbilt Place
Nashville, TN 37235-1604
Phone: (615) 322-2441
Fax: (615) 343-7951

Chemical Engineering Website