Student and adviser working in the main hall

Chemical engineering is a broad and versatile discipline that deals with the development and application of processes that change materials either chemically or physically. Chemical engineers invent, design, and operate manufacturing processes that involve the chemical transformation of raw materials into products that are of value to mankind.

The advance of modern technology depends on the production of specialized chemicals and materials based on them, economically and with minimal adverse impact on the environment. This essential and exciting activity is what chemical engineering is all about.

We offer undergraduate majors in chemical engineering and chemical and biological engineering.

Medical Careers in Chemical Engineering

Glass tubes with quantum dots of perovskite nanocrystals Liquid nitrogen bank containing suspensions of stem cells DNA code sequences 3D image of 3-lodotyrosine skeletal formula Researcher holding pill with chemical diagram overlaid

Chemical and biological engineers also work extensively in the medical field, conducting research into:

  • Tissue engineering — directing tissue growth for regenerating cartilage and cardiac muscle using stem cells.
  • Polymers for drug delivery and in vivo imaging, e.g., detecting cancer.
  • Quantum dots for imaging and therapeutics.
  • Pharmaceuticals, vaccines and therapeutics.
  • Genome-engineering for gene therapy and pharmaceutical applications.
  • Labs-on-a-chip diagnostics.

As a chemical engineer you can expect to work in manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, healthcare, design and construction, pulp and paper, petrochemicals, food processing, specialty chemicals, microelectronics, electronic and advanced materials, polymers, business services, biotechnology, and environmental health and safety industries, among others.

Learn more about chemical engineering from AIChE.

In chemical and biological engineering, concepts from the biological sciences are used to inspire and guide the development and production of chemicals, pharmaceuticals and advanced materials. Efficient, economical manufacture of these items requires engineers who are well-versed not only in chemical engineering but also in the fundamentals of biology.

Chemical and biological engineering retains a core feature that has traditionally distinguished chemical engineering from the other engineering disciplines: its focus on chemical transformation, creating new products through chemical reactions between raw materials or intermediates. Development of pharmaceuticals and creation of new advanced materials by tissue engineering in particular pose additional constraints in terms of creating products that are both safe and efficacious for human use.

Why a degree in chemical and biological engineering?

With a degree in chemical and biological engineering you will develop an affinity and synergy within the fields of molecular and cellular biology including:

  • Biotechnology
  • Pharmaceutical sciences
  • Tissue engineering
  • ​Medicine

Students can expect training in the traditional field of chemical engineering with a focus on:

  • Chemical transformations
  • Chemical separations
  • Biotechnology
  • Metabolic engineering
  • Pharmaceutical sciences

Students must master additional skills in biology, medicine, bioseparations, biological laboratory skills and biological transformations.

How will my AP and IB credit count towards my degree in the Chemical and Biological Engineering Department?

Our department equivalency table within our Advising Guide shows exactly how your credit counts toward your degree in our program depending on the scores you receive on Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate exams.

I’d like to transfer into the Chemical and Biological Engineering Department. How do I go about this?

It depends on where you currently are enrolled. Students within the College of Engineering and Applied Science at CU-Boulder need to complete a “Change of Major Form” available from the College of Engineering and Applied Science. Students in another college at CU Boulder would want to look at the requirements for Intra-University Transfers. There are specific deadlines each semester for intra-university transfers, so make sure you are aware of when you need to apply. Students from outside the CU Boulder community should view the information available to prospective transfer students. You will need to complete an application to the university.

Where can I find more information about the College of Engineering and Applied Science at CU Boulder?

General information on the College of Engineering can be found on the prospective student website. Here you will find details on how to sign up for a college tour, what facilities are available within the college, and which scholarships are available specifically to engineering students.

I’m looking for information on financial aid. Does the department have any specific aid for incoming students?

The Chemical and Biological Engineering Department does not have any financial aid specifically for our students. You can check with the university Office of Financial Aid and the College of Engineering and Applied Science Financial Aid & Scholarships website.