Graduate School Planning
It is never too early to consider the possibility of attending graduate school after completing your bachelor’s degree. Although this may seem to be a long way off at the moment, you should nevertheless leave the door open for choosing this path to additional education. An M.S. or Ph.D. in chemical engineering is a valuable degree and is much sought after throughout industry and academia. What’s more, at the present time almost any good student can get free tuition and a stipend in the range of $20,000 to $30,000 per year for attending graduate school. The benefits of receiving an advanced degree are that you will command a higher salary than you can expect with a B.S. and, more importantly, it will greatly broaden your options in choosing a career path. There are many jobs that are only available to individuals with a Ph.D. degree, particularly those in research and development, as well as almost all faculty positions.
If you are at all interested in attending graduate school, even if you should decide to work for a few years first, it will help you immensely if you arrange your undergraduate curriculum to prepare yourself academically for graduate work. In your chemical engineering elective courses, you should try to schedule some of the courses listed below. Additionally, you should take as many of the chemical engineering electives as you can fit into your schedule and also consider taking additional math or science courses for your professional electives.
Finally, since research is the backbone of most graduate work in chemical engineering, you should try to get a taste of this kind of experience by scheduling CH E 494 (Research Projects) or by doing research over the summer, either here at Penn State or at another university through an NSF Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Program. Most REU programs take students as early as the summer after their sophomore year, a time when it is often a challenge to find good summer intern positions. If you have any questions regarding graduate work or related matters, please see your adviser, who will be more than happy to discuss these opportunities with you.
The following courses, offered periodically as senior electives, are recommended for students who plan to apply to graduate school.
- CH E 446 – Introduction to Transport Phenomena
- CH E 494 – Research Projects in Chemical Engineering
Please discuss with your adviser whether it might be appropriate for you to take a graduate course while at Penn State.