Specialization in Catalysis and Sustainable Chemistry/Chemical Engineering

What is a specialization at EPFL?

A specialization is a set of courses that allows students to deepen their knowledge and develop expertise in a particular area of their master’s degree. A specialization is equivalent to 30 ECTS.

Provided you have properly registered (registration form at the bottom of this page), the specialization will be mentioned in the Diploma Supplement.

Why take the specialization in Catalysis and Sustainable Chemistry/Chemical Engineering?

The chemical industry is Switzerland’s largest manufacturing sector, generating around 5% of the country’s gross domestic product, 45% of exports, and almost half a million jobs globally. It is also the largest consumer of oil and gas and is the second largest industrial emitter of greenhouse gases. This is because 95% of the chemical feedstocks for the current portfolio of 300’000 products are fossil-derived. Besides, the fine chemical and pharmaceutical sectors dominant in Switzerland produce substantial amounts of other hazardous waste that need to be appropriately managed.

Therefore, the future generation of chemists and chemical engineers will have the mission to develop technologies permitting the defossilization of the chemical industry and zero-waste chemicals production. The goal of the specialization is to educate the future generation of chemists and engineers to be ready to meet these challenges, in close collaboration with NCCR Catalysis, a multi-institution program supported by the Swiss National Foundation (https://www.nccr-catalysis.ch/ ).

Finally, the specialization will be an excellent preparation to perform the full time project II (30 ECTS), the industry internship (30 ECTS) and/or the master thesis (30 ECTS) in a topic related to catalysis and sustainable chemistry.

Structure and content of the specialization

The specialization is accessible to students having a bachelor degree in either chemistry or chemical engineering. The specialization is made of an obligatory module, laboratory projects and optional courses.

The obligatory module is made of three courses:

CH-407 Sustainable chemistry and engineering in industry (2 ECTS). This course will be given directly by experts in sustainable chemistry from the chemical industry, covering the most important area in the Swiss industry.

CH-400 Automated and data-driven laboratories (2 ECTS). This course by experts from Cat+ platform at EPFL gives an introduction in the important progress recently realized in the automation of research and the use of data.

– CH-480 Sustainable chemicals manufacture: concepts/tools (4 ECTS). This course from ETHZ will be accessible online for students of EPFL. It covers the important topic of Life-Cycle Assessment of chemical processes and products, as well as introduce key metrics for green and sustainable chemistry.

The chemists are expected to perform the CH-492 Project in Molecular Science Ia in a catalysis-related laboratory (6 ECTS). The course ChE-409 Chemical Engineering Lab & Project (4 ECTS) does also count towards the specialization.

The remaining credits can be obtained from this list of elective courses (last tab / SPEC. Catalysis). The students will be free to either keep a broad education by choosing courses from different topics, or specialize in one of the following topics:

– Core catalysis courses (42 ECTS available)

– Sustainability (33 ECTS available)

Before selecting an optional course, it is important to check that the required prerequisites are met.  Bachelor’s courses that have already been validated for the Bachelor’s degree will not count towards the specialization.


Please note that registration is mandatory by filling this registration form.

Contact: Karine Brahimi