Frequently Asked Questions About CHEE

Q. What makes the University of Arizona's chemical and environmental engineering program unique?

A. We offer both undergraduate and graduate degrees. Our undergraduates participate in the Honors College. Our department is large enough to cover the major academic and research areas, yet small enough for individual attention.

Our classes are taught by experts in their fields, and our undergraduate students have many opportunities for research projects with excellent faculty. Among our faculty are one Presidential Young Investigator and two NSF Young Faculty Career Award winners, to name a few.

Our main strengths lie in the areas of:

  • environmental engineering
  • semiconductor applications
  • fluid mechanics
  • rheology
  • biotechnology
  • chemical kinetics
  • and transport in colloidal and polymeric systems

Environmental engineering applications are firmly embedded in our undergraduate chemical engineering program.

We are strong participants in the University-wide, NIEHS-sponsored Superfund Basic Research Center (SBRC) for hazardous waste treatment and management. We provide a productive, nurturing environment for our doctoral students, whom we cherish. We are the home of the SRC/SEMATECH Engineering Research Center for Environmentally Benign Semiconductor Manufacturing.

Q. What graduate degree(s) does CHEE offer?


  • Master of Science in chemical engineering
  • Doctor of Philosophy in chemical engineering
  • Master of Science in environmental engineering
  • Doctor of Philosophy in environmental engineering

For more info see the General Catalog.

Q. What is a chemical engineer?

A. Chemical engineers work in:

  • manufacturing
  • pharmaceuticals
  • semiconductors
  • water and wastewater treatment
  • healthcare
  • design and construction
  • pulp and paper
  • petrochemicals
  • food processing
  • specialty chemicals
  • polymers
  • biotechnology
  • and environmental health and safety industries

Our graduate program is designed to provide advance work in a core of transport phenomena, thermodynamics, and reaction engineering, but almost all of our work focuses on developing an environmentally benign approach to applications.

Chemical engineers rely on their knowledge of mathematics and science, especially chemistry, to overcome technical problems safely and economically. And, of course, they draw upon and apply their engineering knowledge to solve any technical challenges they encounter.

Chemical engineers may also apply their knowledge to other areas such as:

  • law
  • education
  • publishing
  • finance
  • medicine
  • and other fields that require technical training.

Q. What is an environmental engineer?

A. Environmental engineers apply basic principles of chemistry, physics, economics and mathematics to the development of safe, economical and environmentally sound processes in which chemical and/or physical changes take place for the prevention and remediation of environmental problems.

Environmental engineering is a rapidly growing, multidisciplinary branch of engineering, concerned with the development, implementation and management of technical solutions and programs that support sustainable economic development.

They monitor air, water and land quality to protect and restore the environment.

Their professional skills might be used to:

  • reduce catchment soil erosion and water salinity
  • develop and implement cleaner production technologies to minimize industrial pollution
  • develop or rehabilitate landfill sites
  • develop environmental management systems
  • provide and distribute clean water
  • design, construct, operate and manage wastewater treatment facilities
  • and develop long-range environmental protection plans and strategies for facilities and communities

Q. What are the departmental academic policies?

A. Refer to the policies or talk to your adviser.

Q. Can you send me a catalog?

A. The University of Arizona no longer offers a printed catalog. Both the University Catalog and the Graduate Catalog are now available online.

Q. Who will my adviser be?

A. You will be assigned an adviser during the orientation process at the beginning of the semester. This assignment will be determined by several factors including your research interests and skills and the availability of funds for student support.

Q. If I have additional questions, who can I contact?

A. Please contact


Application/Admission Questions

Q. How do I apply to the graduate program?

A. Advanced degrees can be earned only by students who have been admitted to the Graduate College and the department.

The Graduate College admits applicants who hold four-year baccalaureate degrees. The applicant must have a minimum cumulative grade-point average of 3.0 (4.0 scale) over the last 60 units of undergraduate work or, alternatively, over the last 12 units of graduate-level coursework. Waivers of this requirement are sometimes provided on a case-by-case basis if the department applies for such a waiver to the Graduate College.

Applicants for admission to chemical and environmental engineering are reviewed by the department's graduate studies committee. Committee members seek candidates who are likely to be successful in the program and later as practicing professionals.

Admission standards are high, but we work with students who have extenuating circumstances. During selection, the committee evalutes past academic performance, letters of recommendation, professional experience (when applicable) and scores from the Graduate Record Exam.

Q. What if my GPA is below 3.0?

A. Applicants who do not meet the GPA requirements may still enroll as nondegree students upon departmental approval. Subsequent admission into degree-granting programs, including chemical and environmental engineering, is possible based on the student's performance in graduate courses.

Q. If my application is not received by the deadline, will it be considered?

A. Applications received or completed after the deadline are not guaranteed a review. Students should arrange for their application to be completed well in advance of the deadline to ensure a smooth notification and review process.

Q. What are the requirements for residency status?

A. The Office of the Registrar defines the classification of residency.

Q. What is the admission process?

A. Complete application packets will be given priority consideration. The CHEE Graduate Study Committee for each academic program (chemical and environmental) meet regularly to review applications and assess available funding.

The academic program makes a simultaneous recommendation to the Graduate College along with an informal offer of admission to the student applicant. The Graduate College makes the final official determination of student admission.

The review process can be lengthy, but it is normally completed shortly after the submission deadlines for both domestic and international students. Students considered for admission will receive notification of recommendation from the CHEE department (via email and letter).

Accepted graduate students will receive an official letter of admission from the Graduate College. Graduate College admission requirements can be found in the Graduate Catalog and on the Graduate College website.

Q. Am I required to take the Graduate Record Examination to be considered for graduate admission?

A. While the Graduate College does not require GRE scores, both the chemical engineering program and the environmental engineering program (ENV) do.

GRE scores might be used in determining qualifcations for financial aid. Official GRE scores must be sent directly by ETS to the academic program coordinator and should be no more than two years old.

Q. What is the code I give to ETS?

A. Students who take standardized tests are asked for a code number in order for their scores to be sent to the appropriate university. The University of Arizona institution code is 4832.

The CHEE department has two academic programs. The program code for chemical engineering (CHE) is 1001. The program code for environmental engineering (ENV) is 1103.

Q. I have been out of school for years and cannot contact my former instructors. Who else can provide recommendations?

A. If you are currently employed in a profession, you may provide letters of recommendation from your current supervisors.

Q. What if I applied and I haven't heard anything? What if I have more questions?

A. Please contact

Q. I am a current graduate student – where do I get the forms to submit my plan of study?

A. All graduate student forms are available online.


Financial Aid/Cost Questions

Q. What are the estimated costs of attending the University of Arizona?

A. View the financial aid office website to see a table of estimated cost during a nine-month attendance at the University of Arizona. View the cost of registration and fees by semester using the pull down menu on the Bursar's Office website for the College of Engineering.

Q. What are the requirements for residency status?

A. The Office of the Registrar defines the classification of residency.

Q. Is financial aid available?

A. Graduate students can qualify for several types of financial aid. These include, but are not limited to, assistantships, scholarships, fellowships, waivers, special funds and multicultural resource aid.


Graduate assistantships, in both research (GRA, which is financed through sponsored research projects) and teaching (GTA) provide part-time employment in research and/or teaching. The amount of support varies (average for a half-time assistanthip is about $18,000 for nine months) and includes a waiver of nonresident tuition (if needed). GRAs and GTAs are awarded at the discretion of the department.


Graduate Registration Scholarships waive in-state tuition only.

Graduate Tuition Scholarships waive nonresident tuition only.

These are awarded at the discretion of the department. 

Fellowships and Other Awards:

A significant number of the graduate students in chemical and environmental engineering are supported during their education. Some examples are fellowships and other awards offered to exceptional applicants and under-represented groups. Information about this kind of support is available from the department office, at 520.621.6044, and the Graduate College.

Q. What if I have more questions about financial aid?

A. Check out the FAQ site of the Bursar's Office.


International Student Questions

Q. Are there special requirements for international students?

A. In addition to the application requirements, international students must submit the Financial Guarantee Form (PDF) with their application. The Graduate College has additional information regarding proof of financial resources. International students who are awarded an assistantship can use this award to supplement their guarantee to the Graduate College.

International graduate students must demonstrate proficiency in English as one of the conditions for admittance. Submission of a minimum score of 550 (or computer-based score of 213) on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is required for all applicants whose native language is not English. Official score reports for TOEFL must be sent directly by ETS to the Graduate College and the academic program coordinator. Additional information about TOEFL is available through the Graduate College and ETS.

Q. How do I get an I-20 or other form of visa?

A. The Office of International Student Programs and Services can answer all your immigration questions.

Q. Are there any services available for international students?

A. Yes, the Office of International Student Programs and Services is available to serve as representatives and advocates for all international students. The Center for English as a Second Language provides special programs of English language instruction for non-native English speakers. Information about course dates and associated costs are available on the CESL website.


Housing Questions

Q. What kind of housing is available?

A. There is a variety of on- and off-campus housing available for students on a first-come, first-served basis. The department will assist you as much as possible in this process; however, the ultimate responsibility for housing rests with you.

Housing in Tucson, Arizona, is affordable and relatively easy to find compared to other cities of similar size. The best place to start your search is through the Residence Life website and the Student Union Housing Guide.

As a general rule, housing within a five-mile radius of campus will be more expensive than what is available further out. The weather in Tucson is conducive to pedestrian and bicycle transportation. The CHEE department is centrally located on campus where most public transportation is available.


General Help and Information

Q. Why come to the University of Arizona?

A. The University of Arizona provides an ideal environment for study, as reflected by its status as a Research I University. Since its founding in 1885, the UA has grown to become one of the outstanding research institutions in the world. You can learn more history by exploring online.

With more than 35,000 students, including 8,000 graduate students, UA is large enough to attract the best scientists and engineers in the nation. This is demonstrated by the faculty's ability to garner large amounts of funding for research and support of graduate students. In terms of federal and private support for research and development, the university ranks among the country's top 20 research universities. The library and museum system – an invaluable resource for students – is among the best in the country.

All of this found on a single campus, located entirely within the City of Tucson, a dynamic community of more than half a million people.

Q. If I have a car, what kind of parking is available?

A. Campus parking is extremely limited and can be costly. There are different prices for different lots. UA Parking and Transportation Services will have the most current information as well as a link to the CatTran shuttle service.

Q. What kinds of campus services are available?

A. There are two Student Unions (Main and Park) on campus as well as local businesses within walking distance. For more information, visit the Student Union.

University of Arizona College of Engineering