Transition from Chemistry to Chemical Engineering

I am a college senior who will be graduating in the spring of 2010 with a chemistry degree. My career path was to become a chemistry teacher but recently i have been thinking about becoming a chemical engineer. I never fully thought out the idea earlier when i was thinking about what to do with my life. Sadly, my school does not offer an engineering program. I was wondering what i needed to do so i could become a chemical engineer. Do i have to go back to get my degree in chemical engineering or can i just get a masters in it? Thank you for your time. Have a nice day.
posted by Christine, Poughkeepsie, New York on March 29, 2012

Answer 1 by Dr. Paulette Clancy

Hi Christine I am a chemist by training too, so I understand this transition well from personal experience. No, you don't have to go back to college to get a ChE degree. There are professionally oriented master's degree programs that, while not a substitute for a BS in ChE, will give you a good foundation in the engineering side of the chemical industries. At Cornell, for instance, a chemist can complete a Master of Engineering (Chemical) in under two years (4 semesters), depending on the courses you took as an undergraduate. I've attached a file that gives you a brief description of the M. Eng. program at Cornell in Chemical Engineering. If you want more details there are two points of contact on the last slide. Being an engineer will certainly broaden your career options and significantly increase your starting salary relative to that of a BS chemistry graduate. It would help a lot if you were able to take some courses in your final year to help prepare you and cut down your time-to-degree . I hope this helps. Paulette Clancy

Answer 2 by Kathy A. Notarianni

Hi! A degree in chemical engineering would require a second BS, but would not take you four years. You would need to take any calculus and ordinary differential equations that you did not take as part of your chemistry degree and then engineering science such as fluid mechanics and heat transfer and then of course, the required chemical engineering courses. Best, Kathy