Welcome to our ranking of the 10 best small colleges for chemical engineering majors on a budget.
Each of these top schools offers at least one targeted program for students seeking a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering (as well as biochemical and biomedical engineering). In addition, they each maintain an overall undergraduate graduation rate of at least 50%. Of course, to be a best value, these top-ranked schools also have to demonstrate a genuine commitment to affordable education – which means meeting our net price requirements. All of the programs on this ranking have estimated annual costs (as reported on College Navigator) of less than $27,000 a year. But which of these is the most affordable small college for a chemical engineering degree? Scroll down to #1 to find out!
10. Lawrence Technological University
Lawrence Technological University is all about "theory and practice." The curriculum encourages creativity and innovation as much as science and math, making it the perfect academic melting pot for anyone who wants to apply abstract ideas to real world problems. Among the dozens of technical and design degrees at LTU is an ABET-accredited B.S. in Biomedical Engineering. The demanding program requires a minimum of 132 credit hours and includes four main areas of focus: bioelectronics, biofluids, biomaterials, and biomechanics. In addition, each student in this top biomedical engineering undergraduate program receives a laptop and access to industry-standard software that they can use in laboratory and design classes.
Net Price: $26,248/yr
9. Lafayette College
Lafayette is the only school on this top chemical engineering colleges ranking to offer a combined chemical and biomolecular engineering degree. This is not a dual major program; rather, it is a single interdisciplinary option for students whose interests straddle both fields. Much of the curriculum emphasizes skills that chemical engineers can use to find work in diverse industries, such as energy, pharmaceuticals, medicine, and biotechnology. The department also participates in two Scholars Programs (EXCEL and Clare Boothe Luce Research), which provide financial support for undergraduates to conduct research on campus with faculty over the summer.
Net Price: $24,993/yr
8. Trinity College
As a liberal arts college, Trinity easily stands out from the tech schools and institutes that dominate this list. For some, this might make Trinity a less attractive choice; after all, it offers just one general B.S. in Engineering and limited concentration options. However, this is one of the best biomedical engineering undergraduate programs for another group – specifically, students who want to obtain a well-rounded education and preserve that quintessential feel of a small school. It's also worth noting that majors must take at least eight courses in biomedicine to earn a concentration for their degree, which is twice what many colleges require.
Net Price: $23,980/yr
7. Andrews University
Berrien Springs, MI
Like Trinity, Andrews University features a general bachelor's degree in engineering (or BSE) that includes concentration options in popular subfields. But instead of biomedicine, Andrews favors a track in chemical engineering that introduces undergrads to the "design and operation of chemical processes." And though its course list might not be the most extensive in the world, Andrews' Engineering and Computer Science Department has a surplus of student clubs. The school supports chapters of the Society of Women Engineers, Engineers without Borders, the National Society of Black Engineers, and multiple others, making it one of the best small schools for chemical engineering majors who are eager to get involved.
Net Price: $23,491/yr
6. Illinois Institute of Technology
The Illinois Institute of Technology is one of just three schools on our affordable chemical engineering colleges ranking to offer degrees in both the biomedical and chemical subspecialties. Those interested in the former can choose from three concentrations: Cell and Tissue, Neural Engineering, and Medical Imaging. Participants in each track enjoy unique, highly targeted research opportunities; for example, the on-campus Medical Research Imaging Center boasts expertise in detailed topics like machine learning, predictive analytics, and neuroimaging. Chemical engineering students, on the other hand, don't need to select a particular academic track. Instead, they can develop expertise through special skill development programs in popular sectors like polymer science and energy/environment/economics (or "E3").
Net Price: $23,371/yr
5. California Institute of Technology
Thanks to its prominent reputation and popularity as a hotspot for scientific geniuses, the California Institute of Technology (or CalTech) hardly needs advertising. Of course, gaining acceptance to one of the nation's best colleges for a chemical engineering degree is no easy task – especially since total undergraduate enrollment averages just 1000 students. The rigorous CE program emphasizes the importance of synthesis in design, and coursework illustrates the many facets of development that go into any experiment, system, or product. Bioengineering majors enjoy a similarly design-oriented curriculum, but with a stronger focus on the manipulation and analysis of biological systems. Overall, CalTech's defining feature is the nearly unparalleled freedom it affords undergrads to pursue research and independent study projects.
Net Price: $23,213/yr
4. LeTourneau University
Affordable biomedical engineering undergraduate programs can be tough to find, but LeTourneau is one of those rare exceptions that blends premium quality with low-grade costs. As a Christian college located in the small city of Longview, LETU presents a strong alternative to the urban tech-hubs that often attract budding engineers. And yet, the school's engineering facilities and lab spaces are so impressive, it's as if the department plucked the descriptions straight from the web pages of the nation's top technical institutes. A cleanroom facility, a Noraxon EMG machine, Software for Interactive Musculoskeletal Modeling (SIMM), bio-signaling equipment, a motion analysis system – these resources and more are available to bioengineering students at LETU.
Net Price: $23,024/yr
3. Washington and Lee University
Competitors, be warned: with a $21k price tag and a 91% graduation rate, Washington & Lee is emblematic of the affordability/quality blend that defines a "best value" school. Like its liberal arts counterparts on this chemical engineering colleges ranking, W&L's program features a fairly general curriculum. But the degree doesn't offer specific concentrations, either. Instead, the Physics and Engineering Department provides a hybrid Chemistry-Engineering B.S. for students who want to acquire a strong foundation of skills without limiting their future career opportunities. Heavy doses of coursework in physics, chemistry (general and organic) and mechanics form the basis of the major, while upper-level engineering electives grant program members considerable flexibility to zero in on their individual interests.
Net Price: $21,379/yr
2. SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry
The best college for a chemical engineering degree with an environmental focus is located in Syracuse, New York, and its name is SUNY ESF. For aspiring engineers who want to apply their penchant for problem-solving to the issues that threaten our natural environment, there simply is no better choice. The school offers two particularly unique, eco-conscious programs: Bioprocess Engineering and Paper Engineering. The first is an interdisciplinary option with some overlap into bioengineering; courses specifically highlight ways to incorporate sustainable practices and utilize renewable resources in fields like energy and pharmaceuticals. The latter is more strictly chemical-based and emphasizes product and process design in the pulp and paper industries.
Net Price: $17,813/yr
1. Christian Brothers University
Some readers may wonder what Christian Brothers University, which lacks the prestigious reputation of a school like CalTech, is doing in the #1 spot on this ranking. However, this college has at least one feature that none of its neighbors can claim: a net price below $16,000. With a mere 1400 undergraduates enrolled on average, CBU emerges as one of the smallest of all the affordable colleges for a chemical engineering degree. This intimate academic environment enables program members to take advantage of all that CBU has to offer its engineering majors, from student organizations (like the American Institute of Chemical Engineers) to unique academic opportunities (like a biochemical emphasis or a certificate in packaging).
Net Price: $15,556/yr
Want to find out exactly how much it will cost for you to attend one of these affordable biomedical engineering undergraduate programs? Check out the U.S. Department of Education's Net Price Calculator Center.
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