Master of Chemical Engineering (Leuven)


Read more about this program on the school's website

Program Description

The program aims at applying chemical engineering principles to develop products and to design, control and improve industrial processes, taking into account environmental, safety and economical aspects. With a focus on process, product, and environmental engineering, the program guarantees a solid classical chemical engineering background. In addition, it focuses on modern aspects of chemical engineering such as process and product intensification, energy efficient and sustainable processing routes, biochemical processes and product-based thinking.

What's the Master of Chemical Engineering all about?

The Master of Science in Chemical Engineering program is primarily aimed at applying chemical engineering principles to develop technology products and to design, control and improve industrial processes. Students also learn to take environmental and safety issues into account during all phases of the process.

Two guiding principles of sustainable development – the rational exploitation of resources and energy, and the application of the best available technology – are emphasized, as is the mantra “reduce, reuse, recycle”.

As a chemical engineering student, you will learn to think in a process-oriented manner and grasp the complexity of physicochemical systems. Even more than other specialists, you will be asked to solve problems of a very diverse nature. Insights into processes at the nano and micro scale are fundamental for the development of new products and/or (mega-scale) technologies.

While students should have a foundational knowledge of chemistry, the underlying chemistry of the elements and components, their properties and mutual reactions are not the main focal points of the program.

With a focus on process, product and environmental planet engineering, the program does not only guarantee a solid chemical engineering background, it also focuses on process and product intensification, energy-efficient processing routes, biochemical processes and product-based thinking rather than on the classical process approach.

Application deadline for 2018-2019

  • 1 March 2018 (for non-EEA citizens)
  • 1 June 2018 (for EEA citizens)

KU Leuven uses an online application system. You can download and submit your application form via Students with a Flemish degree can consult

Tuition Fee

For more information about our tuition fees, please visit


The program itself consists of an important core curriculum that covers the foundations of chemical engineering. The core curriculum builds on the basic knowledge obtained during the Bachelor. In this part of the program, you will concentrate on both the classical and the emerging trends in chemical engineering.

Students also take up 9 credits from ‘Current trends in chemical engineering’-courses. These courses are signature courses for the Master’s program and build on the research expertise present within the department. These courses encompass microbial process technology, process intensification, exergy analysis of chemical processes and product design.

The curriculum consists of a broad generic core, which is then strengthened and honed during the second year when students select one of the three specializations: product, process, and environmental engineering.

This choice provides you with the opportunity to specialize to a certain extent. Since the emerging areas covered in the program are considered to be the major challenges within the chemical and related industries, graduating in Leuven as a chemical engineer will give you a serious advantage over your European colleagues since you will be able to integrate new technologies within existing production processes.

During their Master’s studies, students are encouraged to take non-technical courses (general interest courses), organized for instance by other faculties (economics, social sciences, psychology, etc.) in order to broaden their scope beyond mere technical courses.

An important aspect of the Master’s program is the Master’s thesis. Assigning Master’s thesis topics to students is based on a procedure in which students select 5 preferred topics from a long list.

The Master’s program highly values interactions with the chemical industry which is one of the most important pillars of the Flemish economy. As such, some courses are taught by guest professors from the industry.

International and industrial experience

One or two semesters of the program can be completed abroad in the context of the ERASMUS+ program. Additionally, you can apply for an industrial internship abroad through the departmental internship coordinator. These internships take place between the third Bachelor’s year and the first Master’s year, or between the two Master’s years.

The department also offers a new exchange program with the University of Delaware (United States) and with the Ecole Polytechnique in Montréal (Canada).

The faculty’s exchange programs are complemented by the BEST network (Board of European Students of Technology). This student organization offers the opportunity to follow short courses, usually organized in the summer months. The faculty also participates in various leading international networks.

You can find more information on this topic on the website of the Faculty website.


The chemical sector is one of the most important economic sectors in Belgium. It provides approximately 90,000 direct jobs and more than 150,000 indirect jobs. With a 53 billion turnover and a 35% share of the total Belgian export, the chemical sector is an indispensable part of the contemporary Belgian economy. In addition, the Antwerp Harbour region is, after Houston in the United States, the world’s second most important chemical cluster. Thus, employment prospects for the next generations of chemical engineers are very promising.

A common core curriculum of 63 credits is the basis of the program in order to obtain a solid background in chemical engineering. Furthermore, the three options give students the opportunity to deepen a certain aspect according to their choice.

Most of the European chemical engineering curricula have a strong focus on process-oriented education. Leuven has made the choice of also incorporating a product-oriented approach. Moreover, the ‘current trends’ courses focus on modern chemical engineering aspects that are closely related to the research conducted in the department.

The department was the first to establish an Industrial Advisory Board that advises on strategic issues but also on educational matters, such as the content of the program. Also, guest professors from industry are actively involved in the curriculum.

Given the limited number of staff in the department, students are familiar with the teaching staff, which facilitates interactions and communication.

This is an initial Master's program and can be followed on a full-time or part-time basis.

Is this the right program for me?

The Master of Science in Chemical Engineering program builds on the foundation developed in the Bachelor's program, which provides a general background in the basic sciences (mathematics, physics, chemistry) in combination with a number of well-chosen introductory technical courses and basic principles of the chemical technology. To acquire design experience, students exploit different knowledge domains and complete shared projects.

Career Paths

The chemical sector represents one of the most important economic sectors in Belgium. It provides about 90,000 direct and more than 150,000 indirect jobs. With a 53 billion euro turnover and a 35% share of the total Belgian export, the chemical sector is an indispensable part of the contemporary Belgian economy.

As a chemical engineer, you will predominantly work in industrial branches involved in (the production of) bulk and specialty chemicals, oil and natural gas (petrochemical companies and refineries), non-ferrometallurgics, energy, waste treatment, food, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and biotechnology. The following professional activities lie before you:

  • design, planning, and building of installations ('project engineer')
  • monitoring and optimisation of existing processes ('process engineer')
  • design/formulation and optimisation of products ('product engineer')
  • R&D of technical products, processes, and devices
  • customer services, retailing ('sales engineer')
  • management

Apart from the traditional career options, your insight into complex processes will also be much appreciated in jobs in the financial and governmental sector, where chemical engineers are often employed to supervise industrial activities, to deliver permissions, and to compose regulations with respect to safety and environmental issues.

As self-employed persons, chemical engineers work in engineering offices or as consultants. Due to their often very dynamic personality, chemical engineers can also be successful as entrepreneurs.


1. Competent in one or more scientific disciplines

  • The graduates possess an advanced and active (i.e. application-oriented) knowledge in chemical engineering, in addition to and as a deepening of the chemical engineering package of the Bachelor of Applied Science and Engineering.
  • And possesses, depending on the selected option, specialized knowledge in one of the following areas of chemical engineering:
    • Chemical and biochemical process engineering;
    • Environmental engineering;
    • Product engineering.
  • The graduate can apply, expand, deepen and integrate knowledge from the various fields of chemical engineering.

2. Competent in conducting research

  • Can actively participate in research in order to acquire new knowledge and insight from the applied current methods and techniques.
  • Can independently perform a complete research; develop a hypothesis, gather information and develop, plan, execute and evaluate a research plan.
  • Can carry out a risk analysis.
  • Is able to conduct advanced experiments and interpret their results in a sufficiently profound manner.

3. Competent in designing

  • Is able to formulate clear research questions based on a complex design problem within the field of chemical engineering.
  • The student is able to solve problems; this includes defining a problem, gathering information, processing information independently (analyze, evaluate and select), formulating a solution or solution method, developing and implementing a solution, and evaluating the results.
  • Can come to an integrated process or product based on knowledge of the individual sub-steps and their relationship.
  • Can actively modify the process of designing when changing external circumstances or new insights require so.

4. A scientific approach

  • Has a systematic approach, critical attitude, and understanding of the specificity of science and technology
  • Is able to find, process and evaluate literature and technical manuals.
  • Can critically examine existing theories, models or interpretations.
  • Is proficient in developing, using and validating models, and uses the adequate simulation software and design tools.
  • Demonstrates academic integrity in thought and action.
  • Independently keeps up with the latest developments in the field of chemical engineering.

5. Basic intellectual skills

  • Can form an opinion based on objective evidence.
  • Can formulate a reasoned opinion in the case of incomplete or irrelevant data, taking into account the way in which these data have been gathered.
  • Can independently reflect critically and constructively on their own thinking, decision making, and actions.
  • Has a critical and constructive approach to developments in their field.
  • Is capable of abstract and structural thinking.

6. Competent in collaboration and communication

  • Can communicate orally and in writing about his or her field in Dutch or English with laymen and specialists.
  • Can efficiently work in groups, carry team roles, and deal with social dynamics.
  • Can handle deadlines through an independently drawn work schedule.

7. Takes the temporal and social context into account

  • Can take into account the various aspects of the corporate culture and industrial structure he/she will be part of.
  • Has insight into the broader context of engineering (financial, legal, economic, sociological, cultural, political, technical-industrial context).
  • Is familiar with aspects of the environment, safety, and sustainability in procedures and in product development.
  • Is aware of their social, ethical and environmental responsibility and acts accordingly.

Further Studies

When allowed:

  • Master of Welding Engineering (Sint-Katelijne-Waver)
Last updated Mar 2020

About the School

KU Leuven is an institution for research and education with international appeal. All programmes at this University are based on the innovative research of its scientists and professors and are ranked ... Read More

KU Leuven is an institution for research and education with international appeal. All programmes at this University are based on the innovative research of its scientists and professors and are ranked among the top 100 in the world. Read less
Visit the school’s website