Chemical Engineering Curriculum

Graduation Requirements

General Education Components

Focus Areas

Advanced Chemical Science Electives 
Curriculum Guides
Recurring Schedule of CBE electives

Required Enriching Activities

Common Minors

Forms (course pre-req waiver, FA)

BS/MS Program



The requirements for receiving a B. S. degree in Chemical Engineering are the following:

Successfully complete the required courses and an accepted Focus Area (see below);
Maintain a GPA of 2.0;
Complete an accepted enriching activity (see below).

The undergraduate program requires 128 semester hours of course work for graduation (129 semester hours for the Pre-med Focus Area). These courses are in the areas of mathematics, chemistry, general engineering, chemical engineering, and the general education component (GEC). Two semesters of calculus and one semester each of differential equations, matrix algebra, and probability and statistics satisfy the mathematics requirement. General and organic chemistry courses are required, with a lecture and lab portion for each area. In addition, an advanced chemical science sequence, including lecture and lab courses, consistent with the student's Focus Area, is also required. Starting Summer 2015, students admitted to the College of Engineering must fulfill the following GEC course policy:

  • Every student must take a minimum of 15 SH of GEC courses.
  • Among the 15 SH, 3 SH must be from the pool of courses designated as Engineering Be Creative courses.
  • Among the 15 SH, 3 SH from the pool of courses designated as CLAS General Education Courses.
  • Among the 15 SH, 9 SH from the list of Approved Course Subjects

The general engineering courses include statics, electrical circuits, thermodynamics, materials science, and computational methods. The chemical engineering courses are taken during the sophomore, junior and senior years. Chemical kinetics, thermodynamics, momentum transport, heat and mass transfer, economics, process control, design, and safety are covered in these classes. Focus Areas (see below) give the student an opportunity to explore an area of personal interest.



The College of Engineering General Education Component (GEC) requirement is designed to prepare student engineers for their future professional responsibilities by integrating humanities, social sciences and arts into the undergraduate curriculum.

Please Note: You must follow all pre-requisites and instructions regarding instructor permission for the courses you wish to take. Not all of the courses listed are offered all semesters.

For more information see: University of Iowa College of Engineering General Education Component (GEC) requirements




The inclusion of Focus Areas (FAs) in the Chemical Engineering curriculum provides you with the opportunity to gain depth of knowledge in your chosen career path in addition to the strong fundamental grounding in the scientific, engineering, and chemical engineering principles provided by the common curriculum.

As described below, you may choose a pre-approved FA in the following topics:

Biochemical Engineering
ical Engineering

This FA allows students to choose from a selection of courses that combines concepts of biology, biochemistry, and engineering.  Biochemical engineers combine knowledge of these three areas to manufacture products of biological nature, including fermentation products and pharmaceuticals.  Students who complete this FA often go on to work in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries as production leaders or researchers.

Biochemical Engineering FA Form
Biochemical Engineering FA Form - For Students Entering Fall 2021 & Beyond 


The business FA consists of eight core courses within the Tippie College of Business.  Students who choose this path gain foundational business knowledge on topics including finance, economics, accounting, marketing, law, and management.  Successful fulfillment of all requirements results in a minor in business, which provides students with skills to build and run successful businesses.  Past business FA students have applied their integrated business and technical knowledge to many different settings ranging from manufacturing plants to consulting and to corporate offices.

Business FA Form
Business FA Form - For Students Entering Fall 2021 & Beyond

Chemical Process Engineering
Chemical Process Engineering

Process engineering is the design, optimization, and operation of systems that transform raw materials into valuable products.  Products that process engineers are involved with include foods and beverages, electronic materials, metals, plastics, fuels, building materials, and pharmaceutics.  As this topic spans many aspects of engineering, business, applied math, and science, students who pursue the chemical process engineering FA have the freedom to choose 12 semester hours of electives from a broad selection of 3000-level engineering, math, and science courses.  This FA provides ample room for customization and opportunities to tailor to individualized interests.  Students who do not declare a different FA are automatically placed into chemical process engineering.

Chemical Process Engineering FA Form
Chemical Process Engineering FA Form - For Students Entering Fall 2021 & Beyond

Computation, Data Science, and Machine Learning

The Computation, Data Science, and Machine Learning FA is made for students who intend to blend advanced computation and programming with their chemical engineering degree.  This program is customizable based on student interest areas, and can accommodate introductory training in cyber-physical systems, remote sensing, advanced simulation, supply chain management, in silico chemistry and biology, bioinformatics, software design, next-generation controls, machine learning, and artificial intelligence.  This FA leverages a wide and growing range of new course offerings across the college and University.

Computation, Data Science, and Machine Learning FA Form
Computation, Data Science, and Machine Learning FA Form - For Students Entering Fall 2021 & Beyond


The Custom FA is a personalized option recommended for students whose career goals and interests are not consistent with any of the preexisting FA plans.  For this FA students work with their academic advisor to develop a course plan.

Custom FA Form
Custom FA Form - For Students Entering Fall 2021 & Beyond

Energy and Environment
Energy and Environment

Students who are passionate about the environment should consider this path.  Courses prepare students to solve environmental challenges and to revolutionize energy systems.  Topics include air pollution, climate change, clean and renewable energy, environmental regulations, and sustainable systems.  This FA features the Green Chemical and Energy Technologies course that covers topics including solar energy conversion, life cycle analysis, greenhouse gas accounting, and biofuels.

Energy and Environment FA Form
Energy and Environment FA Form - For Students Entering Fall 2021 & Beyond


Interested in new businesses and new products?  The entrepreneurial FA allows students to focus on the process of succeeding in the world of startups, innovation, business ownership, and new products.  This FA is also designed to dovetail with the College’s certificate in technological entrepreneurship.  The entrepreneurship elective focus area is well suited for students who intend to start and operate their own business; it also serves students interested in gaining a better understanding of managing innovation in an existing business environment.  The wide range of electives permits students to tailor business courses best suited to their individual interests.

Entrepreneurship FA Form
Entrepreneurship FA Form - For Students Entering Fall 2021 & Beyond

Oil and Gas Engineering
Oil and Gas Engineering

Meant for students interested in pursuing careers in oil and gas engineering, this FA explores foundational elements of chemistry, geology, petrochemical refining, and environmental science.  The course plan offers several recommendations put in place by experienced advisors with petrochemical backgrounds.  Often viewed as the birth of chemical engineering, the petroleum industry provides a host of challenging and lucrative opportunities for chemical engineers.  This path provides a unique and focused introduction to the field.

Oil and Gas Engineering FA Form
Oil and Gas Engineering FA Form - For Students Entering Fall 2021 & Beyond


Chemical and biochemical engineering is central to the design, formulation, and manufacturing of pharmaceutical products.  Students who are passionate about medical applications can align their chemical engineering skills toward a career in pharmaceuticals by choosing this FA.  The curriculum features biology, drug delivery, and the mechanisms and chemistry of drug interactions.  Course options span many departments in addition to CBE, including biomedical engineering, biochemistry, pharmacy, and pharmacology.

Pharmaceuticals FA Form
Pharmaceuticals FA Form - For Students Entering Fall 2021 & Beyond

Polymers Icon

The polymers elective focus area enables students to study the development of chemical compounds by polymerization, i.e., combining small molecules into engineered networks to produce valuable plastics and other advanced materials.  This program is well suited for students who intend to use their knowledge to design new materials; it also serves students interested in gaining a better understanding of the links between molecular scale structure and macroscopic scale properties.  Many students in this FA take an advanced chemistry course resulting in a chemistry minor.

Polymers FA Form
Polymers FA Form - For Students Entering Fall 2021 & Beyond


Concepts of chemical engineering are naturally applicable to the processes in living organisms.  The Pre-Medicine elective focus area enables students to apply these concepts to gain a deeper understanding of the atoms and molecules that comprise living organisms, and the pathways through which they operate.  This program is well suited for students who intend to use their knowledge to gain acceptance to post-graduate education in the medical field.

Pre-Medicine FA Form
Pre-Medicine FA Form - For Students Entering Fall 2021 & Beyond

Safety and Health
Safety & Health

The Safety & Health FA prepares students to (i) prevent incidents and accidents in chemical and pharmaceutical manufacturing, particularly those resulting from the unintentional release of hazardous materials and energy into the environment, and (ii) provide a safe and healthy workplace by preventing injuries and hazards in the workplace environment.

Safety & Health FA Form
Safety & Health FA Form - For Students Entering Fall 2021 & Beyond


The sustainability FA covers the most important and current topics in environmental science, societal impacts, energy usage, and natural systems.  Courses prepare students to understand and discuss these topics as they relate to chemical engineering.  The sustainability FA is designed for students pursuing the University-wide certificate in sustainability along with an engineering degree.

Sustainability FA Form
Sustainability FA Form - For Students Entering Fall 2021 & Beyond


You must select a Focus Area in the third semester (first semester of sophomore standing).  You must meet with your faculty advisor to develop and submit an electronic FA Application Form and a plan of study worksheet prior to enrolling in the first FA course.  When completing the semester-by-semester plan, it is important to note that some of the elective courses are not offered every year.  To aid in planning, the recurring schedule of CBE electives is published on the CBE web page.  All students who have not completed the FA paperwork by the end of the Sophomore year (first semester of Junior standing) will be automatically placed in the Chemical Process Engineering FA.  Changes to the FA track can be made by completing the FA application process.

Alternatively, you may choose to develop your own FA consistent with your career goals subject to approval by the Chemical Engineering Curriculum Committee.  The Chemical Engineering Program has developed the following guidelines for the FAs after careful consideration of the required elements for a chemical engineering degree (including the advanced chemistry requirement and the other program requirements specified by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers):

Guidelines for Focus Areas in the Chemical Engineering Program  
General Education Component (GEC) courses 15 s.h.
Statistics elective 3 s.h.
Advanced Chemical Science Electives 6 s.h.
Free electives 12 s.h.
Total Semester Hours 39 s.h.


Advanced Chemical Science Electives

Required Advanced Chemical Science Electives* Examples of Acceptable Courses Examples of Unacceptable Courses
3 s.h. of an advanced chemistry course. Courses must be from Chemistry (CHEM) or Biochemistry (BIOC). 

Analytical Chemistry:


Physical Chemistry:








3 s.h. of an advanced science course.  Science-based courses may be offered within the College of Engineering or by science departments outside the College of Engineering.

Same as above.

Engineering Courses:

BME:2400 Cell Biology for Engineers

CBE:5315 Polymer Chemistry

CBE:5425 Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics

CBE:4420 Environmental Chemistry

Science Courses:

BIOL:4213 Bioinformatics

EES:4520 Isotope Geochemistry

PHYS:3741 Introduction to Quantum Mechanics I

CEE:5440 Foundations of Environmental Chemistry and Microbiology

Same as above.

Engineering Courses:

CBE:5210 Bioseparations

CBE:5310 Polymer Science and Technology

CBE:5405 Green Chemical and Energy Technologies

CBE:5410 Electrochemical Engineering

(Courses used to satisfy the engineering elective requirement in EFA plans.)

* Students completing one 3 s.h. advanced CHEM course qualify for a minor in Chemistry. The minor is obtained by indicating the request on MyUI (Student Records > Courses & Grades > Minors) before the second to last semester.


Possible Statistics Electives    
STAT:2020 Probability and Statistics for Engineering & Physical  Science 3 s.h.
STAT:3510 Biostatistics 3 s.h.
CBE:3020 Statistics for Chemical and Environmental Engineering 3 s.h.





The four-year curriculum guides are listed below.  There is a Majors sequence and a Standard sequence.

The recommended four-year plan contains the Organics for Majors sequence, which generally allows for smaller class sizes and greater access to lab equipment.  However, if chemical engineering students switch to another engineering major, then the organic chemistry course taken during the first semester of the second year may not count towards the requirements of the new engineering major. The other four-year plan contains the Standard Organic Chemistry sequence, and all coursework taken through the first three semesters will satisfy other engineering departmental requirements.

Use the guides below to plan your undergraduate coursework and complete a plan of study worksheet.


Curriculum for Students Beginning Fall 2021 and Beyond

General 4-year Plan


Curriculum Flowchart for Chemical Engineering General Sequence


Curriculum for Students Beginning Between Fall 2017 and Fall 2021

General 4-year Plan for Majors Org Chemistry General 4-year Plan for Standard Org Chemistry

Curriculum Flowchart for Chemical Engineering General Majors Organic Sequence


Curriculum Flowchart for Chemical Engineering General Standard Organic Sequence




Recurring Elective Course Offerings in Chemical & Biochemical Engineering

Fall of Even Years

             CBE:5152  Transport Phenomena I

             CBE:5315  Polymer Chemistry

Fall of Odd Years

             CBE:5310  Polymer Science and Technology

Spring of Even Years

             CBE:5110  Intermediate Thermodynamics

             CBE:5210 Bioseparations

             CBE:5425  Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics

Spring of Odd Years

             CBE:5405  Green Chemical and Energy Technologies





Chemical engineers in the workplace inevitably work in multidisciplinary teams, and are frequently working on projects that impact society both locally and globally. Therefore, our program will provide enriching activities to enable each student to develop effective multidisciplinary team skills and to develop an understanding of the impact of chemical engineering practice on both the micro and macro scales. All Chemical Engineering students will complete at least one of the following enriching activities as a requirement to receive a BS degree:

  • Cooperative education experience
  • Three semester hour equivalent of an approved research experience
  • Internship experience
  • Study abroad
  • Entrepreneurial program (i.e., receive the corresponding certificate)
  • Other approved multidisciplinary experience*

Completion of any of these activities will require that the student briefly summarize (~250 words) the contribution of their experience to the development of multidisciplinary team skills and to the increased understanding of the impact of engineering practice both locally and globally. While enriching activities can be completed at any point during the undergraduate career, students will register for 052:092 (CBE:4195) Enriching Activities Seminar during their senior and fulfill the reporting requirement.


* Approval to be obtained from the Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering curriculum committee.



Chemical Engineering undergraduate students may obtain minors in several disciplines automatically or by taking one or two extra courses.   Students must sign up for these minors in MyUI ( under Student Records—Courses & Grades—Minors.  Students with credits at other colleges and/or universities and students with AP credits should contact the respective departments to ensure that those transfer credits will count towards the minor.  Common minors obtained by Chemical Engineering students are listed below:

  • Minor in Business: Students obtain this minor automatically by completing all courses listed in the Business FA.
  • Minor in Chemistry: Students obtain this minor automatically by completing either the Analytical Chemistry or Physical Chemistry advanced chemistry sequence.
  • Minor in Mathematics: Students obtain this minor by completing two advanced mathematics courses beyond those required in the curriculum.  For instance, students can take MATH:4120 —History of Mathematics (however, MATH:4120 will NOT count as your approved GEC) and MATH:3550 —Engineering Math V: Vector Calculus.