The University of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Undergraduate Students

Undergraduate Program

img At UMass Amherst, undergraduate students learn how to build analytical, experimental, and innovation skills necessary for a successful career in the chemical engineering profession. We offer a B.S. degree in Chemical Engineering and, within the four-year degree program, an optional concentration in Biochemical Engineering. We are currently developing exciting initiatives in the fields of energy and materials. Our students take courses from Chemical Engineering faculty from their very first semester, becoming part of a close-knit group of scholars. Going beyond the traditional educational environment, our students hone their skills in model computer classrooms, innovative student-driven laboratory experiences, and faculty-supervised research.

Tami Paluca 
Undergraduate Academic Advisor
112E Goessmann Laboratory

Sarah Perry
Director of the Undergraduate Program
N563 Life Sciences Laboratories (LSL)

Links of Interest


Commonwealth College and Departmental Honors

  • CHC Curriculum for Chemical Engineers (pdf)
  • Departmental Honors rules
  • Click here for Forms for the Independent Capstone Contract, Independent Capstone Completion Form, Petition for Exception and other useful information and forms.

For further information and advice, please contact Professor Jungwoo Lee, Honors Faculty Coordinator

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What kind of computer should I have for Chemical Engineering?

    The College of Engineering expects every student to have a laptop, and it’s a good idea to get the most powerful laptop you can afford, to maximize the longevity of your machine:    

    OIT has recommendations for minimum hardware here:

  • I am still listed As Pre-Engin, What Gives?

    After completing the requirements to move from Pre-Engin to the major, you should be automatically moved from Pre-Engin to the major during the following summer.  If you are completing your Pre-Engineering requirements after a fall term, and want to be moved over during winter, you should fill out a change of major form.  You will need to complete the first line of the form with your student information and fill out the second line with your Primary Plan (Chemical Engineering) and your subplan, if you have one (Biochemical Engineering for example.) These forms are available on the wall outside 112E Goessmann, and must be handed to the Office of Student Affairs, Marston 126.  If you have taken those steps and still do not see your major as chemical engineering, please e-mail the Dean’s Office for further information.

    NOTE, effective May 1, 2018, to be eligible to enter a BS degree program in engineering, a student must have a grade of C or better in the following classes (requirements listed for all the engineering majors, not necessarily chemical engineering):

    EnglWrit 112
    Math 131 &  Math 132
    Engin 100, 110, 111, 112, 113 or 114
    Physics 151
    Chem 111 or Physics 152
    2nd Semester Engineering Intro Course Satisfying Major Requirement (i.e., ChE 120 or CEE 121 or ECE 122 or MIE 124)
    Cumulative and most recent regular semester, a GPA of 2.0

    ** Chem 111 and Chem 112 may be satisfied by taking the Honors equivalents:  Chem 121H and 122H.
  • How Many Credits can I Take without Getting Permission for a Credit Overload?

    All college of engineering students may take up to 19 credits before they need permission for a credit overload. If you and your faculty advisor agree that it makes sense for you to take over 19 credits, then you should fill out the Credit Overload Request Form.  This form can be found by going to: > Current Students > Academics & Advising > Forms and Regulations > Credit Overload > Overload of Credits Form.
  • How Many Technical Electives Do I Need to Take?

    You must take at least four technical electives to satisfy the requirements of a major in chemical engineering. At least two of these must be in engineering, but as many as all four can be engineering courses. Please see the reverse side of your curriculum flowchart for more specific information on this requirement. In addition to the technical electives, you also have to take one Advanced Chem Elective.  There is overlap in the courses eligible to fulfill these requirements, but a course cannot be counted as both a Technical Elective and an Advanced Chem Elective.
  • I Have to Take Bio 152 as a Requirement of my Pre-Med Studies. Does It Count as a Technical Elective?

    Sorry, Bio 152 is not a technical elective because technical electives have to be at the 200 level or above.
  • Can I Fulfill my Bio Requirement with Bio 106 or Microbio 160?

    The Chem Eng Department will accept neither Bio 106 (Human Biology) nor MicroBio 160 (Biology of Cancer & Aids) in place of the Bio requirement in our degree plan. These courses are designed for non-science majors and do not adequately cover the content we feel is important for ChE majors.
  • How many ChE Independent Studies Can I Count Toward My Required Technical Electives?

    One. Unless you are in the departmental honors program, in which case you will need to take both ChE 499Y and ChE 499T during your senior year and these will both count towards your Engineering technical electives.
  • When Can I Declare My Major in Chemical Engineering?

    Effective May 1, 2018, to be eligible to enter a BS degree program in engineering, a student must have a grade of C or better in the following classes (requirements listed for all the engineering majors, not necessarily chemical engineering):

    EnglWrit 112
    Math 131 &  Math 132
    Engin 100, 110, 111, 112, 113 or 114
    Physics 151
    Chem 111 or Physics 152
    2nd Semester Engineering Intro Course Satisfying Major Requirement (i.e., ChE 120 or CEE 121 or ECE 122 or MIE 124)
    Cumulative and most recent regular semester, a GPA of 2.0

    * Chem 111 and Chem 112 may be satisfied by taking the Honors equivalents:  Chem 121H and 122H.

  • I Would Like to Retake My Class and Replace the Grade I Earned Originally. How Low Would My Original Grade Have to Be to Do This?

    Your grade would need to be a C- or below.
  • May I take a requirement pass/fail?

    No course taken on a pass/fail basis may be applied to General Education, major or PR-ENGIN requirements.
  • I received AP credit for BIO 152. Can I use this to satisfy the Bio requirement for the major?

    Sorry, this course is not equivalent.  However, AP credit for BIO 110 does count as a valid substitute for the Bio requirement.  Please see Tami Paluca in 112E Goessmann Lab to request an exception.  However, if you are interested in further courses in biological science, AP Credit for Bio 110 does not meet the prerequisites for upper level biochemistry department courses.
  • I received transfer credit for Bio 151.  Can I use this to fulfill the Bio requirement for the major?    

       Yes, we will accept transfer credit for Bio 151 to satisfy the Bio requirement for the major.
  • Where can I get Information on Internship, Co-Op, and Job Opportunities?

    There is an online job board and e-recruiting website where both co-op and full time employment opportunities are posted, called Handshake. For advice and guidance on developing an effective resume and interviewing successfully, visit the College of Engineering Career and Student Development Center online and in Marston 112.  They can be reached at or 413-545-4558.
  • When should I apply for admission to the Engineering Management Minor (EMM)?
  • I'm told I need to meet with the Director of the Undergraduate Program. Who is that?

    Professor Sarah Perry is the Director of the Undergraduate Program. If you need her signature, please remember to bring the required form with you. If you are meeting with her for advising, please print out your ARR (Academic Requirement Report) from Spire and bring it with you.
  • What Do I Need to Do in order to get Credit for an Independent Study?

    You will need to complete an Undergraduate Student Contract for Independent Studies.  You can download a copy of this form in the Worksheets and Forms tab linked to on the left side up above.  Among other things, this contract requires your signature, the approval and signature of the cooperating faculty member (with whom you are doing the research) and the approval and signature of the Undergraduate Program Director (UPD). Please e-mail the form to Tami Paluca to arrange for the UPD's signature. This should be done BEFORE the Add/Drop Deadline in the semester when you are conducting the Independent Study.
  • I Need Advice on What Classes to Take. Who Should I Talk To?

    A good place to start is with the Academic Advisor for Chemical Engineering: Tami Paluca or Matt Langer in 112E Goessmann or in their Zoom Office (which you received access to at the start of the semester). You could also go to your official faculty advisor (see SPIRE to find out who this is) or see Prof. Sarah Perry, the Director of the Undergraduate Program.
  • How Do I Find Out Who My Faculty Advisor Is?

    You can find out who your faculty advisor is by logging onto SPIRE. There is a box on the lower right hand side of the main page that states who your advisor is. If you do not have a faculty advisor within the department of chemical engineering (ChE), please let Tami know so we can change this as soon as possible. If you do not have a ChE advisor, you should sign up for an advising appointment with Professor Perry, the director of the undergraduate program.
  • So...Biochem 275 or Biochem 285 are easy, right? I mean, they are 200 level classes...

    Biochem 275 and Biochem 285 are not necessarily easy courses; in fact, some students find it quite challenging, and it should not be taken lightly just because they are 200-level courses.
  • Oh, can I get into Biochem  275 or Biochem 285 without ChE 220 or BIO 151?

    No. You will not be admitted to Biochem 275 or Biochem 285 without having completed the prerequisite ChE 220 or Bio 151 course. For the complete list of prerequisites for Biochem 275 and Biochem 285, please refer to the “Course Catalog” section of “Course Guides” in Spire.  
  • Do I Need to Take Extra Classes to Fulfill the Requirements of the Biochemical Engineering Concentration?

    Not normally. The concentration is set up to fit into the requirements of the major without the need to take any extra courses. The requirements of the Biochemical Engineering Concentration include taking the following three classes:
    * Biochem 275 – Molecular Biology or Biochem 285 - Cellular and Molecular Biology (You could, for example, count this as a non-engin tech elective OR your advanced chemistry elective)
    * Chem 423 - Biochemistry (You could count this as a non-engin tech elective OR your advanced chemistry elective)
    * ChE 592B - Introduction to Biochemical Engineering (and this could be an engin tech elective in the fall of senior year.
    ...and you must also take six credits of advanced coursework or research in special topics in Bioengineering.    Here are the most common courses that are approved for the biochemical engineering concentration:
    • Biochem 657 - Drug Design
    • Biology 383H - Gene and Genome Analysis
    • ChE 220 - Principles of Biological Systems
    • ChE 510 - Immunoengineering
    • ChE 535 - Microfluidics and Microscale Analysis in Materials and Biology
    • ChE 575 - Tissue Engineering
    • ChE 589 - Nanostructured Biomaterials
    *For a more detailed description of the Biochemical Engineering Concentration, you may download it from this website or pick up outside Tami’s office in 112E Goessmann.


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