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BS/MS Dual Degree ChemE/Material Science

BS Chemical Engineering/MS Material Science Dual Degree


Why might an undergraduate chemical engineering student want to pursue the degree?

From a classical perspective, chemical engineering is the branch of engineering that applies the core scientific disciplines, e.g. chemistry, physics, biology and mathematics, to transform raw materials or chemicals into more useful or valuable forms, invariably in processes that involve chemical change. In research and development, chemical engineers not only create new, more effective ways to manufacture chemicals, but also work collaboratively with chemists and material scientists to pioneer the development of new high tech materials for specialized applications. High performance materials are needed across all industry sectors including aerospace, automotive, biomedical, electronic, environmental, space and military applications. Examples include ultra-strong fibers, fabrics, adhesives and composites for a broad range of applications; bio-compatible materials for implants and prosthetics; gels for medical applications; pharmaceuticals; and thin-film coatings with special dielectric, optical or spectroscopic properties for electro-optical devices. The development, commercialization and optimization of the industrial-scale processes for manufacturing chemicals and advanced materials are feats of chemical engineering, not chemistry. Indeed, virtually every aspect of a modern industrial economy is critically dependent upon chemical engineering for manufacturing the vast array of bulk and specialty chemicals and high-tech materials needed to create a limitless array of value-added products.

The typical undergraduate chemical engineering curriculum has one course in material science focused on hard materials and their properties. An undergraduate student may take elective courses in material science that are usually focused on fluids with complex rheology (viscous properties are affected by flow, fluids have properties of solids or liquids depending on flow), or colloids and interfacial science for fluid systems. Indeed, the undergraduate chemical engineering program at RIT has all of these courses in place. Although undergraduate chemical engineers has a significant chemistry background (typically 2.5 years of training with lab) that prepares them to learn material science skills, a graduating BS chemical engineer will not have the core training to create novel hard materials on a bench scale to achieve specific goals. Chemical Engineers have only a cursory knowledge of the structure/property relationships studied explicitly by Material Scientists; furthermore, material scientists are explicitly trained to use the key measurement devices that probe or measure structure that are essential for material development. It is clear, then, that advanced material science training at a graduate level is the perfect augmentation of an undergraduate chemical engineer’s skills. The proposed BS Chemical Engineering/MS in Material Science and Engineering dual degree will allow RIT to graduate chemical engineers who are cross-trained as material scientists. This will create students who are not only able to scale up and manufacture materials (by virtue of their BS chemical engineering degree), but also manipulate novel soft and hard materials on the bench scale as they are developed. Upon graduation, BS/MS students will be immediate contributors to the material science industries and will be able to handle jobs ranging from research and development to manufacturing.


Why might an undergraduate chemical engineering student NOT want to pursue the degree?

  • Need to pay for one more semester of schooling
  • Lose a co-op block during which you could have made money
  • Much of the later coursework is very focused on achieving the material science degree—you lose flexibility to broaden yourself with undergraduate courses you may never have the opportunity to take once you graduate.
  • Higher course load/more difficult graduate courses in 5th year when undergraduate chemical engineering coursework is itself more intense.

BS Chemical Engineering /MS Material Science Dual Degree Program


The Chemical EngineeringMaterial Science BS/MS program is a dual degree program that combines a BS in Chemical Engineering with a MS in Material Science (MTSE). A single diploma is awarded after completion of the program that denotes the BS/MS.  Pursuit of this degree is made easier by doublecounting three courses (nine credits) to satisfy undergraduate and graduate requirements and waiving one Coop block from the student’s schedule (note: students must still complete a required minimum of 40 weeks of Coop). As a result, it is possible for students to complete the BS/MS dual degree in five years.

Doublecounting classes

Three courses can be doublecounted to satisfy undergraduate BS and graduate MS requirements. Students pursuing this BS/MS must take three 3 credit graduate level college of engineering courses that count as professional technical electives for the undergraduate BS requirements and also as electives for the MS requirements.

Student Eligibility

Chemical Engineering BS students interested in applying to the program must:

  • be in the third year cohort
  • be on-track for on-time graduation without any overloads needed to complete the BS
  • have completed at least one co-op block
  • have a cumulative minimum GPA of 3.4 at the time of application.

To Apply

Chemical Engineering BS students interested in applying to the program must:

  • complete the on-line application form by clicking “Apply Now” at
  • meet with a representative of the Chemical Engineering Department
  • be recommended as a strong candidate by the Chemical Engineering Department.
  • meet with the Program Director of Material Science for further discussion of the program.
  • meet with a financial aid office representative to determine the impact that an extra semester/graduate status will have on your financial aid.

Acceptance into the program

An application decision will be provided with the following timeline:

  • The final decision for acceptance into the program will take place at the end of spring term in the student’s third year, after a review of spring term grades.
  • You will be notified of the admission decision by email during the summer following 3rd year spring semester.

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