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The Department of Chemical Engineering was founded in 1946 and in that autumn, it began offering a four year undergraduate program. In 1950, a graduate M.S. program was begun, and the discipline of petroleum refining was established. By 1952, there were 24 full time faculty members in the two disciplines of chemical engineering and petroleum refining.

In August 1952, the Department of Chemical Engineering became the Department of Petroleum Engineering, which a half year later was transferred out from the university and used as the basis to found Beijing Petroleum Institute. In July 1958, Tsinghua University established the Department of Engineering Chemistry for the discipline of plastic materials, which in the same year began recruiting undergraduate students.

In 1960, some disciplines of nuclear chemical engineering from the Department of Engineering Physics were incorporated into the Department of Engineering Chemistry, which then had the three disciplines of natural and synthetic radioactive material technology, light isotope separation technology, and polymer materials, all with a six year curriculum. The Department was expanded and renamed the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering in 1980, which offered a five year undergraduate program. In 1981, the Department was accredited to grant the Ph.D. degree in chemical engineering, and the M.S. degrees in chemical engineering, biochemical engineering, applied chemistry and polymeric materials. It was one of the largest departments of Tsinghua University. In 1985, the Department of Chemistry was transferred to the new College of Sciences. In 1995, the undergraduate program was changed to a four year curriculum. The Department was accredited in 1998 to grant the Ph.D. degrees in chemical engineering and technology and in polymer materials and engineering. Currently, the department offers two four year undergraduate programs for the B.S. degree and graduate programs for the M.S. degrees in chemical engineering and in polymer science and engineering. It also offers programs for the Ph.D. degree in chemical engineering and technology and in polymer materials and engineering. The department has about 480 undergraduate students and about 350 graduate students with 170 in the M.S. program and 180 in the Ph.D. program. The department now also admits graduate students for the M.Eng. degree, and it offers postdoctoral research positions. The department currently has more than 60 faculty members of whom 34 are professors. Among the faculty, one is an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, two are academicians of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, three are Ministry of Education’s Chang Jiang Scholar Chair Professors, and three are National Natural Science Foundation of China’s Outstanding Young Investigators.