Accelerated Path to MS

4+1 Option

A group of graduates wearing their caps and gowns.

The 4+1 Option provides an accelerated path to a Master-of-Science degree in chemical engineering in only one additional year and with substantial cost savings. University of Rochester undergraduate students majoring in chemical engineering are eligible. MS degree requirements are described here. The 4+1 Option is designed for strong chemical engineering undergraduate students who wish to earn a higher-level degree.

The 4+1 Option incorporates the four-year BS degree in chemical engineering with a fifth year to complete the MS, enabling substantially higher earning potential. According to the 2023 AIChE Salary Survey, the median salary of chemical engineers with a BS was $141,550, whereas that of chemical engineers with an MS was $151,100.

Advantages of the 4+1 Option

Significant savings regarding cost and time! University of Rochester chemical engineering undergraduate students are guaranteed admission if their overall GPA is at least 3.3. With transfer credits and tuition discounts, 4+1 MS students can graduate with a chemical engineering MS degree, receiving up to 20 tuition-free credits; each credit hour is $1,970 as of September 1, 2023.

University of Rochester chemical engineering undergraduate students who move up to the chemical engineering MS program through the 4+1 Option can bring forward up to 10 free credits of graduate 400-level course credits taken as an undergraduate student. These credits cannot be used toward the BS degree, but they will count toward the MS degree; students in the 4+1 Option need to let the Undergraduate Coordinator Jen Condit know that they want to use the graduate level credits toward the MS and not the BS degree.

Students who take the 10 free 400-level credits as undergraduate students can easily complete the remaining 20 credits in the MS program (coursework option) in only two graduate semesters. A 4+1 thesis-based MS degree can also be completed in only two graduate semesters if 10 credits are transferred from the undergraduate time, and thesis research starts in the summer after the BS graduation.

Students accepted into the 4+1 Option may receive additional tuition discounts. Typically, our 4+1 students receive 50% tuition discount on average for MS courses.


Only University of Rochester undergraduate students majoring in chemical engineering or related fields are eligible.

Application to the 4+1 Option

Complete applications must be submitted through the University's online forms and procedures, and following the directions from graduate admissions. Active University of Rochester undergraduates, who apply through the 4+1 Option, must include the following materials in their application:

Students who maintain a minimum overall 3.3 GPA during their undergraduate experience do not need to submit a letter of recommendation. Students with a lower GPA are also encouraged to apply.

Application fees to the MS program are waived for 4+1 students.

Applications are due by January 15 during each year. Late 4+1 MS applications may be accepted until the end of April.

MS degree through the 4+1 Option (32 Credit Hours)

The 4+1 Option allows eligible students to start working on their MS degree during their undergraduate years and graduate with an MS in chemical engineering by year five. Students are encouraged to plan early for the 4+1 Option to balance the additional 400-level courses with their undergraduate degree requirements.

Students who apply and are accepted to the coursework-based MS degree must earn a minimum of 32 graduate credit hours. Up to 6 credit hours can be from research (optional). Students who choose this option are required to pass an oral exit exam. More details are here under Plan B.

Students who apply and are accepted to the thesis-based MS degree must earn 32 credit hours, with at least 18 credit hours from graduate level coursework and 6 – 12 credit hours from research. Students who choose this option must also satisfactorily complete their master’s thesis and pass an oral defense. Students pursuing a thesis-based MS degree through the 4+1 Option are encouraged to start their thesis research with a chemical engineering PI in the summer after they receive their BS degree and bring forward as their 10 free credits a maximum of two electives, as to not incur more than 30 credit hours. More details are here under Plan A.

All students in the MS program must complete the following four core courses, comprising 16 credits:

  • CHE 400: Applied Boundary Value Problems (fall)
  • CHE 441: Advanced Transport Phenomena (fall)
  • CHE 461: Advanced Kinetics and Reactor Design (spring)
  • CHE 485: Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics (spring)

For more information on the specific program requirements, please see our graduate handbook. For an up-to-date list of currently offered courses and electives see our course catalog.

Taking a 400-level elective in senior fall and two 400-level core courses in senior spring has been a popular option with students, to benefit from the 10 free credits of graduate 400-level course credits offered by the 4+1 Option.