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College of Engineering

Chemical Engineering


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Barbara Knutson, Ph.D.

Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies

Chemical Engineering

College of Engineering

Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering

177 F. Paul Anderson Tower

Lexington, KY 40506-0046

Program website

(859) 257-8028

  • BS

Chemical engineering emerged over a century ago when engineering professionals were needed to design and implement processes for large, commercial scale chemical production. Modern chemical engineering combines knowledge of chemistry and molecular interactions with the discipline of engineering to address problems at both the small scale (designing nanodevices, for example) and the large scale (bringing chemistry out of the lab to the full scale production of items that we use every day). Chemical engineers invent new processes, improve existing ones and designand operate plants and equipment to transform raw feed stocks into useful products across a wide range of industries including agricultural and food-based products, consumer products, fine chemicals, fuels and petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals, plastics and electronic materials.



Chemical engineering students at UK experience an environment where faculty are readily accessible both inside and outside the classroom, and where students have the chance to grow personally and professionally through hands-on research projects, industrial cooperative education and service opportunities. You’ll study a wide range of subjects, including mathematics, chemistry and physics, as well as core engineering topics such as thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, separation processes, heat and mass transfer and chemical reactor design. Our electives address numerous specialized areas of chemical engineering and include courses in biotechnology, advanced materials, drug delivery, environmental engineering, fuel science, nanotechnology and polymer processing. A program is also available to fulfill pre-medical requirements simultaneously with requirements for the B.S. in chemical engineering.

Industries Looking for You 

  • Alternative and renewable fuels
  • Environmental engineering
  • Biotechnology
  • Pharmaceutics
  • Food and consumer products
  • Oil and natural gas
  • Polymers and electronic materials
“It’s amazing how much chemical engineers touch. There’s not a process or product out there that they haven’t affected in some way."

Ali Crupper

2019 Chemical Engineering Graduate

Admission Requirements

Fall 2023 first-time freshmen: Automatic admission to the College of Engineering will be based on meeting the below requirements. However, if you cannot take or choose not to submit ACT or SAT scores with your admission application, a holistic review will be used to determine your admission to the engineering program.

Students may directly enroll as pre-engineering students; however, there are minimum admission requirements. Minimum freshman entry requirements are an ACT Math score of 25 or higher (or a SAT Math score of 590 or higher) and a 3.0 or higher unweighted high school GPA. Additionally, students must also meet the minimum Kentucky statewide academic readiness requirements for reading and writing. If you do not meet the initial admission requirements, please contact for information about alternative routes to admission to the College of Engineering.

Admission requirements for transfer students can be accessed here

First-Year Engineering Program

The smartest, most talented engineers around the world are devoting themselves to tackling immense global challenges. As a First-Year Engineering (FYE) student, you get to join them!

In 2008, the National Academy of Engineering identified 14 “Grand Challenges for Engineering in the 21st Century”—opportunities to greatly increase humanity’s sustainability, health, security and joy of living. Themes include making solar energy economical, enhancing virtual reality, reverse-engineering the brain, securing cyberspace, providing access to clean water and more.

These ambitious goals demand engineers roll up their sleeves and get to work, which is why we put them front and center during your first year as an engineering student. We have designed the FYE program to inspire you. We want you to discover your passion. We want you to explore where you might make your unique contribution. We want you to get your hands dirty and make stuff that might, one day, lead to a breakthrough.

Why wait until you’re taking upper-level classes to figure out what interests you? Through real engineering classes taught by top faculty and exposure to engineering’s greatest challenges, the FYE program gets you into the game from day one.

Curriculum Information 

In addition to fulfilling UK Core and College of Engineering requirements, students must complete the Chemical Engineering curriculum. The following curriculum meets the requirements for the B.S. degree.

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Student Involvement

Active professional and honorary student organizations are an integral part of the educational experience in the College of Engineering. The Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering is home to student chapters of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, the International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineering and Omega Chi Epsilon honorary. Members of AIChE gather for regular meetings featuring speakers from industry and academia, participate in field trips, networking and community service opportunities and attend regional and national professional conferences. In addition, many of our undergraduates participate in student organizations that include members of all majors.

Enhancing Your Time at UK

While there are endless ways to create an unforgettable journey as a Wildcat, we can only think of one that gives you the chance to step outside the classroom and into exploring new parts of the world around you: participating in an Education Abroad opportunity! Whether it’s in a study, research, service, or internship program, taking your UK experience international with EA is the most hands-on way for you to expand your global perspective while making yourself a more well-rounded, marketable candidate to future employers no matter your field. As you take these first steps towards investing in your future, EA encourages you to take advantage of all the opportunities UK has to offer. Take a look at some of the many suggested opportunities UK Education Abroad & Exchanges has to complement your major! #ukyabroad


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Career Prospects in Chemical Engineering

The breadth and analytical rigor of the Chemical Engineering degree makes it one of the most highly valued technical credentials and starting salaries for chemical engineering graduates are typically among the highest of all majors. Chemical engineers are in demand and work in a wide range of industries. Our Chemical Engineering alumni have been successful in traditional and alternative energy, biotechnology, consumer products, environmental engineering, fine chemicals, food technology, materials processing, pharmaceuticals and more.

Imagine Your Future

Chemical Engineers

Chemical engineers apply the principles of chemistry, biology, physics, and math to solve problems that involve the use of fuel, drugs, food, and many other products.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics | Click the link for more info.

Median Salary


per year in 2021

Number of Jobs


in 2021

10 Year Job Outlook


new jobs (average)

Work Environment

Chemical engineers work mostly in offices or laboratories. They may spend time at industrial plants, refineries, and other locations, where they monitor or direct operations or solve onsite problems. Nearly all chemical engineers work full time.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Barbara Knutson, Ph.D.

Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies

Chemical Engineering

College of Engineering

Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering

177 F. Paul Anderson Tower

Lexington, KY 40506-0046

(859) 257-8028