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Course Requirements

The University requires engineers to successfully complete 36 courses over four years for graduation. (Many students take more than the required 36.) Most students choose to take four 4-course semesters and four 5-course semesters. These 36 courses include:

School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) Requirements:
          Mathematics   4 Courses
          Physics 2 Courses
          General Chemistry 1 Course
          Computer Proficiency 1 Course
Writing Requirement: 1 Course
Humanities & Social Sciences Electives: 7 Courses (EM required. Must satisfy 3 other areas)
Chemical Engineering Core: 9 Courses (including senior thesis)
Advanced Science & Math Requirements:
          Differential Equations 1 Course
          Chemistry (300 level) 1 Course
          Organic Chemistry 1 Course
          Molecular Biology 1 Course
Program Electives*:
          Area of Concentration 3 Courses
          Breadth 2 Courses
Free Electives: 2 Courses
Total 36

*At least two of the Program elective courses must be engineering courses that are on the approved list in the Area of Concentrations with a CBE, CEE, COS, EGR, ELE, MAE, MSE, or ORF course number. The advanced chemical engineering course can also be satisfied within the Program Electives.

All engineering students take a common core of courses in mathematics, chemistry, and physics. Advanced placement can satisfy some requirements and allow for more technical or humanities/social science electives. Advanced Placement does not reduce the course load required for graduation. Only if a student qualifies for and chooses Advanced Standing is the course load reduced. 

Chemical and Biological Engineering Core Courses

To qualify for a Chemical Engineering degree, students must take a core of 9 departmental courses. This is required by ABET and Princeton University. The following nine courses are required:

  • CBE 245 Introduction to Chemical and Biochemical Engineering Principles
  • CBE 246 Thermodynamics
  • CBE 250 Separations in Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology
  • CBE 341 Mass, Momentum and Energy Transport
  • CBE 346 Chemical Engineering Laboratory
  • CBE 441 Chemical Reaction Engineering
  • CBE 442 Design, Synthesis, and Optimization of Chemical Processes
  • CBE 454 Senior Thesis (counts as two)

CBE 454 Senior Thesis is a full-year research project, although seniors register for this course in the spring term only. No grade is given in the fall; a double grade is awarded in the spring.

Students may petition to substitute a 1-semester independent work project plus an approved technical elective for the 2-semester senior thesis. To be eligible for departmental honors one must complete a 2-semester senior thesis.

Advanced Science & Math Requirements

Chemical engineers are distinguished from other engineers by their knowledge of chemistry and life sciences. All chemical engineers are expected to supplement the one semester of chemistry with advanced chemistry and molecular biology. All chemical and biological engineering majors must complete a full year of General Chemistry, at least one semester of Organic Chemistry, and one semester of Molecular Biology.  Also, two separate approved advanced courses are required, one with advanced chemistry content and one with advanced chemical engineering content.

Students must take one advanced chemistry course from any 300/400/500-level CHM courses (excluding independent work courses, and student elected PDF courses).  ABET (formerly Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology) requires chemical and biological engineering students to display a working knowledge of advanced topics in chemistry.  This is satisfied by taking one advanced chemistry course.

Students must take one advanced chemical engineering course from any 300/400/500-level CBE courses (excluding independent work courses, and student elected PDF courses). 

Many processes in chemical engineering are described by differential equations. All students in Chemical and Biological Engineering must complete a course in differential equations (MAE 305 or MAT 427) by the end of the fall term of the junior year.

Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) Electives

The liberal arts component of the students’ education is implemented through the Humanities and Social Sciences requirements established by the University. Humanities and Social Sciences courses taken by CBE students must include at least one course in ethical thought and moral values (EM), which also satisfies the ABET societal impact requirement, and one course in three of the following five areas: epistemology and cognition (EC), foreign language (FL, at the 107/108 level or above), historical analysis (HA), literature and the arts (LA), and social analysis (SA). The remaining three required Humanities and Social Sciences courses, for a total of seven, may be taken in any field in the social sciences and humanities.

Foreign Language courses at the 101, 102, or 103 levels do not count towards the required minimum of seven (7) humanities and social sciences courses. These courses only count towards the total number of courses taken. Also, any language course taken at the 101 level will not count towards the total number of courses taken unless it is followed by a 102 course.

Program Electives

The program electives are to provide students with an introduction to the breadth of advanced areas of chemical and biological engineering and to have the students pursue one area in greater depth. Six areas have been identified as areas of concentration along with courses that satisfy the requirements.

Areas of Concentration for Chemical and Biological Engineering Majors

  • Bioengineering and Biotechnology
  • Entrepreneurship and Management
  • Energy and Environmental Technology
  • Materials and Product Engineering
  • Optimization, Dynamics and Information Technology
  • Science and Engineering for New Technologies

Depth in an area of concentration is accomplished by taking three courses from a prescribed list and carrying out senior independent work (senior thesis) in the same area of concentration. Students are required to take courses in two different areas outside their concentration to provide breadth.  Except under exceptional circumstances, technical electives cannot be taken anywhere but at Princeton University.  A number of courses in three of the areas of concentration can also satisfy the advanced chemistry content and advanced chemical engineering course requirements. By judicious choice of program electives students can free up two electives within the 36-course requirement.

Program electives may be used to partially or completely fulfill course requirements for the University certificate programs. Certificate programs readily accessible to Chemical and Biological Engineers include Engineering Biology, Engineering Physics, Environmental Studies, Materials Science and Engineering, Applied and Computational Mathematics, Finance, Sustainable Energy, and Engineering Management Systems. For further information on certificate programs the student should consult the appropriate certificate program handbooks or websites.

Prospective students who would like to apply to our program please visit the Princeton University Admissions Office.