Foundations in Chemical Engineering

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Foundations in Chemical Engineering, CHE804, CHE805, CHE806

students in computer labChemical engineering offers exciting job opportunities, and the profession is well-known for producing graduates having cross-disciplinary skills. The Michigan State University (MSU) Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science (CHEMS) is pleased to offer two specialty courses via the Internet that cover the key concepts from the chemical engineering undergraduate curriculum. The courses can be used in either of two ways:

  1. Course Certificates: The courses provide professionals from other science and engineering disciplines an overview of fundamentals of chemical engineering principles. The two courses include most of the foundational principles covered in the four-year chemical engineering curriculum. Environmental engineers, chemists, biochemists, mechanical engineers, agricultural engineers, and food scientists are some of the professionals that have taken these courses to enhance their own technical backgrounds. A Course Certificate of Achievement in Foundations of Chemical Engineering is awarded to students earning a grade of 3.0/4.0 or higher in each course.

  2. Bridging Program: The courses offer a "Bridging Program" into a chemical engineering M.S. or Ph.D. degree program for B.S. students with non-chemical engineering degrees. The courses provide sufficient background that students can enter and successfully complete graduate chemical engineering degrees. The courses are used by MSU and other chemical engineering departments as the core of a bridging program. The use of the course was described at the 2001 annual meeting of ASEE, and a manuscript is available <click here (.pdf)>. Note: course offering schedule in this publication is out-of-date, <current schedule>. MSU's use of the courses has been described in a recent publication in Chemical Engineering Education. A reprint of the publication is available <click here (.pdf)>. Note: course offering schedule in this publication is out-of-date, <current schedule>

  3. Certificate Program: The Chemical Engineering program is actively seeking University approval for a Transcriptable Graduate Certificate in Foundations of Chemical Engineering. The program requires completion of CHE804 Foundations of Chemical Engineering I, CHE805 Foundations of Chemical Engineering II, and CHE806 Foundations of Chemical Engineering III, with a grade of 3.0/4.0 or higher in each course.

Some details on this web page are intended for students specifically interested in enrolling at MSU. If you are interested in using theses courses as a bridge program to graduate program at another institution, you may wish to speak with that institution's chemical engineering graduate admissions advisor about how these courses might fit with your career plans.

Read testimonials from former students


The two courses provide an overview of the following MSU undergraduate courses that represent the foundations of technical content of chemical engineering:

  • Material and Energy Balances
  • Thermodynamics for Chemical Engineering
  • Chemical Reaction Engineering
  • Fluid Flow and Heat Transfer
  • Mass Transfer and Separations
  • Principles of Process Control and Dynamics
  • Process Design

These courses cover enough of the core material that students are able to perform routine calculations, communicate effectively on multidisciplinary teams, and advance into a graduate chemical engineering program.


CHE 804 Foundations in Chemical Engineering I (3 semester credits)

Mass and energy balances in batch, continuous and open systems. Process thermodynamics. Cryogenics. Properties of substances and mixtures. Phase equilibria. Chemical reaction equilibria. Chemical kinetics and reactor modeling. Process design orientation.


CHE 805 Foundations in Chemical Engineering II (3 semester credits)

Momentum, energy, and mass transfer. Laminar and turbulent flow. Fluid friction. Dimensional analysis. Heat transfer in stationary and flowing materials. Heat exchangers. Condensation. Boiling. Binary and multicomponent distillation, absorption, extraction.


CHE 806 Foundations in Chemical Engineering III (3 semester credits)

Process Dynamics, Linearization of Dynamics, Control Strategies, Controller Tuning, Process Economics, Process Design

Description of Mechanics of Course Delivery for both courses.

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The two courses, CHE804 and CHE805, are each three semester credits. The courses are specifically designed to cover large amounts of material quickly. These courses are delivered by Internet. You do not need to be on-campus to take the courses.

Students who intend to take the courses off-campus should enroll at least two weeks before classes start. Courses with less that five students enrolled at least two weeks prior to the first day of class may be cancelled. See additional information under HOW TO TAKE THE COURSES below.

ChE 804 will be offered in the Spring 1/09 - 5/5/23, Academic Calendar

ChE 805 will be offered in the Summer 5/15 - 8/18/23, Academic Calendar

ChE 806 will be offered in the Fall 8/28 - 12/15/23, Academic Calendar

We plan to repeat the Spring/Summer/Fall sequence each year.

See How to enroll in the courses below.

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CHE 804 and CHE 805 are accelerated specifically to prepare non-chemical engineering students for graduate study in Chemical Engineering. MSU does not offer on on-line graduate degree, and accepts only on-campus students into the graduate program. The bridging courses can be completed via the Internet prior to coming to campus. Students who have completed a BS degree in chemistry, biochemistry, mathematics, physics, other biological or physical science, or another engineering discipline are eligible for admission into the graduate program in chemical engineering at Michigan State University. On-line application materials and other Graduate School information are available at

Information about the MSU Chemical Engineering graduate program is available at The Chemical Engineering Graduate Committee will review the applications and notify students if their academic record warrants admission to the program. The qualified students will be expected to complete CHE 804 and CHE 805 with a minimum grade of 3.5 in each course prior to the fall semester for which they have been admitted. In addition, during your studies at MSU, you will be required to take CHE 432, Process Systems Control, and CHE 433, Process Design and Optimization as collateral courses.

We encourage students to apply to the Department of Chemical Engineering beginning in the Fall Semester. You must meet all requirements as non-bridge applicants and should submit the same supporting documents (application, application fee, two copies of transcripts, statement of purpose, GRE scores, three letters of recommendation).

Other institutions may also accept these courses for bridging into their programs. We encourage you to discuss this with your graduate recruiter and have them contact us if necessary. Recently, students have bridged from these MSU courses into chemical engineering programs at North Carolina State University, Kansas State University, the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Akron, Ohio University, the University of Tennessee, the University of Alabama, and the University of Toronto.

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The accelerated pace of CHE 804, 805 and 806 is ideal for the busy technical professional who is interested in developing additional expertise in chemical engineering fundamentals including concepts of processing, fluid flow, heat transfer, separations, and reactor design. The modular structure of the VU version of these courses offers flexibility in the focus of study, topic selection, and course scheduling. A Course Certificate of Achievement in Foundations of Chemical Engineering is awarded to students earning a 3.0/4.0 or higher. The criteria for professionals seeking certification differ from students taking the course for credit.

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See the prerequisites listed on the course outlines. Also, please review the 'course mechanics' link in the section titled 'How to Take the Courses' immediately below. The course mechanics section discusses instructor expectations for student time commitment. There is no formal 'application' process or screening of enrollment, but deficiency of a prerequisite will require greater student time commitment, and possibly dropping of the course. If you have questions about the suitability of your background, contact one of the professors for the courses:

CHE 804 - Professor Carl Lira,, (517)355-9731

CHE 805 - Professor Mark Worden,, (517)353-9015

CHE 806 - Contact either Professor Lira or Professor Worden



Review the course mechanics to see an example lesson, instructor expectations for student time commitment, procedures for homework, quizzes and the final exam, and methods to order textbooks.

Enrolling: Avoid enrolling at the last minute. We recommend that you enroll at least two weeks before the start date of a course. You will want to have time to order textbooks and set up your computer and e-mail. Please see the information on MSU enrollment and course setup.

After you enroll, be sure to proceed with ordering textbooks and computer setup.

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MSU Students: Please view the enrollment information linked in "HOW TO ENROLL IN THE COURSES" (see the box above) to see if lifelong education status applies. STUDENTS TAKING THE COURSES FOR CREDIT/AUDIT ARE USUALLY LIFELONG EDUCATION STUDENTS UNLESS THEY ARE IN A MSU DEGREE PROGRAM. You do not need to be a Michigan resident for lifelong ed enrollment. In addition to tuition/enrollment, you should budget about $120-$130 per required textbook.

MSU tuition costs are available here. Each course the three credit hours. (For more detailed access to the controllers office, click here).

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For more information:

Michigan State University    
Department of Chemical Engineering      
428 S. Shaw Lane                     
2100 Engineering Building
East Lansing, MI 48824-1226
Phone: (517)-355-5135                    
CHEMS Homepage