Undergraduate Intake for Chemical Engineering Rises

This is the first rise in intake since 2015 in the UK.

Kristen Kazarian, Managing Editor

January 22, 2024

2 Min Read
Chemical engineering undergraduate statistics
Chemical Engineering undergrad admissions increase in UK.Image courtesy of Hill Street Studios / Stone via Getty Images

The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) has shared intake data for September 2023, which shows a 6.6% annual increase in the number of students entering a UK undergraduate degree in chemical, process, and energy engineering.

This is the first rise in intake since 2015.


UCAS’s statistics also show an increase in the number and proportion of female students entering undergraduate courses in chemical, process, and energy engineering, rising to 33% of the total entry. The proportion of UK-resident chemical engineering students from an ethnic minority group has also steadily increased, from 34% of the 2007 intake, to 49% in 2023.


The data shows a 9.3% annual increase in the number of applications for these courses — the highest of all the main engineering disciplines, and a stark contrast to an overall drop of 2.3% in applications to Higher Education courses.

“This growth in subject popularity is very encouraging for our profession, indicating a strengthening and increasingly diverse pool of talented students who are feeling inspired to study chemical, process and energy engineering at UK universities," said IChemE CEO Yvonne Baker OBE.

"I am delighted to see more female students and students from other under-represented groups featuring in this year’s data. From personal experience, I know what a fantastic springboard a chemical engineering education is for young people of all backgrounds. I, the Institution and all our members want more and more of our young people to have that chance, and we will continue to support them through our efforts and activities,” she added.

In the US, Chemical Engineering was the 70th most popular major in the 2020-2021 school year. Colleges reported awarding 12,917 degrees in that year alone. However, this is 693 less than the prior year, 5.09%, reported Data USA.

While there isn't collective data from 2023, the largest number of degrees awarded in Chemical Engineering was from public colleges, 4-year or above (9,987 completions in 2021). Texas A & M University had the most Chemical Engineering degree recipients, with 276 degrees awarded in 2021.

University of Michigan had 118 graduates in the Chemical Engineering undergrad program in 2021. It decreased in 2023 to just 97 students graduating with a degree.

Purdue currently has a whopping 521 students pursuing their undergraduate requirements.

U.S. News and World Report came out with the Top Chemical Engineering undergrad programs in the US for 2023. They are, ranked in order:

  1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA

  2. California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA

  3. Stanford University, Stanford, CA

  4. University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA

  5. Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA

  6. University of Minnesota - Twin Cities, Minneapolis, MN

  7. Princeton University, Princeton, NJ

  8. University of Delaware, Newark, DE

  9. University of Texas - Austin, Austin, TX

  10. University of Michigan - Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor, MI

  11. University of California - Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA

  12. TIE: University of Illinois Urbana - Champlain, Urbana, IL and University of Wisconsin - Madison, Madison, WI

Many, if not all institutes will have the number of enrolled undergrad, graduate, and doctoral students on its website.

About the Author(s)

Kristen Kazarian

Managing Editor

Kristen Kazarian has been a writer and editor for more than three decades. She has worked at several consumer magazines and B2B publications in the fields of food and beverage, packaging, processing, women's interest, local news, health and nutrition, fashion and beauty, automotive, and computers.

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