Should I Get A Master’s Degree In Chemical Engineering?

In the field of chemical engineering, a bachelor’s degree is the entry point for a career. You can become a full-fledged chemical engineer with a four-year bachelor’s degree and experience in the field. The latter is usually included in an undergraduate program since practical experience is looked upon highly by employers. Postgraduate studies aren’t also a requirement to sit for the professional engineering (PE) exams. An undergraduate degree and related experience in the field are sufficient. Thus, a master’s degree in chemical engineering is not a requisite to enter the industry and is something that you can choose to pursue or not.

That being said, there are definite advantages to pursuing a master’s degree in chemical engineering. First of all, an advanced degree widens your knowledge about this field. If you only learned the fundamentals in your bachelor’s degree, you’ll be able to deepen your knowledge about the various aspects of chemical engineering. In the undergraduate, chemical engineering focuses on such courses as general chemistry organic chemistry and thermodynamics. A master’s program in the field, however, will include such courses as biochemical reaction engineering, electrochemical processes and corrosion, advanced engineering thermodynamics and cryogenics, among others. These will delve deeper into these subjects which will allow you to put what you have learned in practice in industrial applications.

Another reason to pursue further studies in chemical engineering is that it gives you the opportunity to do research and contribute something new to the field. Whether it is in the area of food, water, energy, pharmaceuticals or the environment, you will be coming up with answers to issues that are still plaguing these fields but for which solutions have not yet been found. Doing experiments to prove or disprove a point, awaiting results and publishing your findings is an exciting and exhilarating process if you are really passionate about this science. This is something that you can do in a master’s program.

If you have plans not only to work in the industry but to bring your knowledge to future chemical engineers by teaching in the classroom, a master’s degree will be the minimum educational preparation. However, you may want to continue pursuing your studies and earn a doctoral degree if the academe and the chance to do your own independent research is your ultimate career goal. In many universities, a doctoral degree is required to hold academic positions and apply for funding to conduct your own independent research.

Undoubtedly, the investment in time and money are things that you are most likely concerned about when thinking about proceeding with a master’s degree. However, there are actually solutions to these concerns. If you’re concerned about the time investment, you don’t always have to spend two full years in obtaining your master’s in chemical engineering because you can enroll in a combined program which awards both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree after completion of the requirements. You’ll only have to add one more year to a bachelor’s degree to finish this five-year program. As far as cost is concerned, you can look for teaching fellowships or cooperative programs which will give you the opportunity to earn while you’re working towards your degree.

Career Spotlight: Chemist

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