Chemical Engineering Major

Chemical Engineering Major

Chemical Engineering


The chemical engineering major is a unique blend of engineering, mathematics, and basic sciences. Chemical engineers use this background to solve a wide range of problems.

Offered by the Department of Chemistry and Life Science.

Chemical engineering is perhaps the broadest and most diverse field in all of engineering. Any commercial process or product that uses or contains molecules probably involved a chemical engineer at some stage of development. This includes all materials used by the military, including such basic items as food, clothing, fuel, water, explosives, metals, polymers, ceramics, semiconductors, medicines, artificial organs, and prostheses, just to name a few. Chemical engineers design these materials at the molecular level, optimize the design for specific applications, and develop efficient methods for production, packaging, and distribution. Chemical engineers are also very concerned with the conversion between matter and energy, particularly since almost all chemical reactions require or produce energy. In terms of contemporary social problems, chemical engineers are at the forefront of efforts to develop new and more efficient energy sources, and we are critical to efforts at environmental remediation, including waste recycling and remediation. Within the military, chemical engineers are uniquely qualified to address problems in fuel and water production and distribution, power generation, as well as detection, decontamination, and protection against chemical and biological agents.

Our program envisions an army that is prepared for all dimensions of modern warfare, drawing upon disciplined, highly trained, chemical engineers to develop solutions to the challenges facing the nation. This philosophy is the basis of our mission statement:

The mission of the chemical engineering program is to prepare commissioned leaders of character who are proficient in applying chemical and engineering principles to solve problems in a complex operational environment.

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A cadet majoring in chemical engineering must complete 25 core (including CH102, PH206, and MA205) and 18 program courses for a total of 43 academic courses. The program includes 15 required and 3 elective courses.

Required Courses

  • CH362: Mass & Energy Balances
    • Introduction to mass and energy balances in single phase and multiphase, nonreactive and reactive systems. Course topics include an introduction to engineering calculations and process variables, use of computers in solving chemical engineering problems, fundamentals of material balances in single-phase and multi-phase systems, energy balances on nonreactive and reactive processes, and applications of combined material and energy balances.
  • MA364: Engineering Mathematics
    • This course provides additional mathematical techniques and deepens the understanding of concepts in mathematics to support continued study in science and engineering. Calculus topics focus on three-dimensional space curves, vector fields and operations, divergence and curl, and line and surface integrals.
  • CH363: Separation Processes
    • This course covers methods for the physical separation of chemicals. Topics include dew point and bubble point calculations, adiabatic flash, distillation, and liquid-liquid and gas-liquid absorption. Students are taught the significance of staging of unit operations.
  • CH364: Chemical Reaction Engineering
    • This course studies the effects of chemical reaction kinetics on systems of engineering significance. It introduces selection and operation of commercial chemical reactors, emphasizing chemical kinetics and transport phenomena. Topics covered in this course include ideal reactors including batch, CSTR and PFR, isothermal and nonisothermal reactors, and transient and steady state design.
  • CH367: Intro to Automatic Process Control
    • This course covers the principles necessary to understand the automatic control of chemical processes. Students learn the current mathematical models and mechanical details of various control elements, including sensors, transmitters, actuators, and controllers. Application of mathematical models will be covered with dynamic modeling techniques as well as real-time training using process simulators.
  • CH383: Organic Chemistry I
    • Organic Chemistry I is an introduction to the relationship between chemical structure and the physical and chemical properties of molecules. A qualitative description of structure and bonding is presented. The relationships between free energy changes and equilibria, and between activation energy and rate of reaction are developed. Stereochemistry and isomerism are explored.
  • MC300: Fundamentals of Engineering Mechanics & Design
    • The engineering design process and the method of design are introduced. Principles of equilibrium are used to analyze forces on statically determinate rigid bodies and structures to include trusses and frames. The behavior of deformable bodies under axial, flexural, and torsional loading is examined. The concepts of stress, strain, and material properties are introduced.
  • MC311: Thermal-Fluid Systems I
    • Thermal-Fluid Systems I is an integrated study of fundamental topics in thermodynamics and fluid mechanics. The course introduces conservation principles for mass, energy, and linear momentum as well as the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. Principles are applied to incompressible flow in pipes and turbomachinery, external flows, power generation systems, refrigeration cycles, and total air-conditioning focusing on the control volume approach.
  • MC312: Thermal-Fluid Systems II
    • This course continues the integrated study of fundamental topics in thermodynamics and fluid mechanics. The course applies conservation principles for mass, energy, and linear momentum as well as the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics.
  • EE301: Fundamentals of Electrical Engineering
    • This first course in electrical engineering for the non-electrical engineering major provides a foundation in basic circuit theory and analysis, power in circuits and electric power systems, and analog electronics.
  • CH400: Chemical Engineering Professional Practice
    • The course will meet once per week and will cover topics such as ethics, continuing education, and global and social issues within chemical engineering. Special emphasis will be placed on preparation for the Fundamentals of Engineering Exam.
  • CH402: Chemical Engineering Process Design
    • This course provides a capstone experience that brings together material from previous courses to examine contemporary problems in chemical engineering process design. The course provides instruction in the conceptual design of processes to achieve design goals, as well as the economic optimization of the process.
  • CH459: Chemical Engineering Laboratory
    • This course provides laboratory experience in selected chemical engineering unit operations, such as gas absorption, evaporation, distillation, liquid-liquid extraction, cooling tower operation, chemical reactors, heat transfer, and mass transfer/diffusion studies. Written and oral reports are required.
  • CH365: Chemical Engineering Thermodynamics
    • This course covers the body of thermodynamic knowledge necessary for understanding modern chemical process simulation. The course includes calculus- and numerical-based thermodynamics approaches for determining the properties of substances, solutions, and multiphase mixtures. Topics include equations of state, pure component properties, transport properties, properties of mixtures, fugacity, excess properties, activity coefficients, and phase equilibria.
  • CH485: Heat & Mass Transfer
    • This course includes the study of the mechanisms of energy and mass transport, with special emphasis on applications in engineering systems. Coverage includes Fourier's Law of Heat Conduction, and Fick's Law of Diffusion, the development of shell energy and species balances, and the use of these equations to solve for temperature and concentration profiles.

Three engineering electives must be taken to complete the requirements of the major.

Suggested areas of specialization are:

Materials Engineering

  • MC364 Mechanics of Materials
  • MC380 Engineering Materials
  • Open Engineering Elective

Industrial Engineering

  • SE301 Foundations of Eng. Design & Sys Management
  • EM411 Project Management
  • EM420 Production Operations Management

Decision Analysis

  • SE301 Foundations of Eng. Design & Systems Management
  • EM481 Systems Simulation
  • SM484 System Dynamic Simulation

Advanced Control Systems

  • EE360 Digital Logic w/Embedded Systems
  • SM484 System Dynamic Simulation
  • XE475 Mechatronics

Energy Conversion Systems

  • EE377 Electrical Power Generation
  • ME472 Energy Conversion Systems
  • ME480 Heat Transfer

Power Systems

  • MC306 Dynamics
  • ME491 Mechanical Power Plants
  • EE377 Electrical Power Generation

Nuclear Energy

  • NE300 Fundamentals of Nuclear Engineering
  • NE350 Radiological Engineering Design
  • NE450 Nuclear Weapons


  • CH300 Introduction to Biomedical Engineering
  • CH350 Introduction to Bioengineering
  • CH450 Bioengineering Modeling and Analysis

To learn more, view the full Chemical Engineering Major Curriculum.

Cadets have numerous opportunities to participate in activities that will expand their intellectual and social interests within their field including scholarship opportunities, Projects Day participation, and a summer Academic Individual Advanced Development (AIAD) program, USMA-run academic enrichment experience.

Chemical engineering cadets have earned recognition from a variety of prestigious organizations, including the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation, the National GEM Consortium, the Fulbright Scholar Program, and the Phi Kappa Phi and Tau Beta Phi Honor Societies.  Graduates from our program have also gone on to conduct graduate-level studies at well-renowned universities such as Stanford University, the University of Cambridge, and the Massachusetts' Institute of Technology.

Check out our recent award and scholarship winners.

Honor Societies:

Gamma Sigma Epsilon- Chemistry Honor Society
Golden Key - International Honour Society
Phi Kappa Phi - Oldest and Largest Collegiate Honor Society

To learn more about enrichment in this area of study, visit the Department of Chemistry and Life Science or the Center for Molecular Science.

The chemical engineering program is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET,, under the commission’s General Criteria and Program Criteria for Chemical, Biochemical, Biomolecular, and Similarly Named Engineering Programs.

Enrollment information for the Chemical Engineering Program can be found under “Enrollment for ABET Majors” at:

Program Educational Objectives

During a career as commissioned officers in the United States Army and beyond, program graduates:

  • Demonstrate effective leadership by leveraging chemical engineering expertise and precise technical communication. 
  • Contribute to the solution of complex problems in a dynamic environment. 
  • Apply disciplined technical expertise to succeed in advanced study programs.

Student Outcomes

On completion of the chemical engineering program, our graduates demonstrate an ability to:

  • Identify, formulate, and solve complex engineering problems by applying principles of engineering, science, and mathematics.
  • Apply engineering design to produce solutions that meet specified needs with consideration of public health, safety, and welfare, as well as global, cultural, social, environmental, and economic factors.
  • Communicate effectively with a range of audiences.
  • Recognize ethical and professional responsibilities in engineering situations and make informed judgments, which must consider the impact of engineering solutions in global, economic, environmental, and societal contexts.
  • Function effectively on a team whose members together provide leadership, create a collaborative and inclusive environment, establish goals, plan tasks, and meet objectives.
  • Develop and conduct appropriate experimentation, analyze and interpret data, and use engineering judgment to draw conclusions.
  • Acquire and apply new knowledge as needed, using appropriate learning strategies.
  • Understand the chemical engineering curriculum, including chemistry, material and energy balances, safety and environmental factors, thermodynamics of physical and chemical equilibria, heat, mass, and momentum transfer, chemical reaction engineering, continuous and staged separation processes, process dynamics and control, modern experimental and computing techniques, and process design.