Master's Programme in Chemical, Biochemical and Materials Engineering - Biomass Refining

Biomass refining is a rapidly expanding field, using the newest technologies to convert biomass into clean energy and a variety of marketable bioproducts. The Master’s Programme in Chemical, Biochemical and Materials Engineering – Biomass Refining takes students to the front lines of renewable energy and biomaterials development.
Students in the laboratory looking at the Ioncell spinner




1.12.2021 – 3.1.2022




2 vuotta, täysipäiväinen


Soveltuva alempi korkeakoulututkinto




120 opintopistettä


Kemian tekniikan korkeakoulu


EU/ETA-alueen ulkopuoliset kansalaiset, €15000/v (maisteriopinnot)

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Study objectives

In the coming decades, the development of sustainable alternatives to fossil fuels and high pollutant materials is more crucial than ever. Biomass refining is a rapidly expanding field, using the newest technologies to convert biomass into clean energy and a variety of marketable bioproducts. Students choosing Biomass Refining as their major gain a deep understanding of biomass and its components on microscopic and molecular levels. The diverse and multidisciplinary study environment together with top-notch research centers and dedicated faculty prepares students with the skills and knowledge needed for a successful career on the front lines of renewable energy and biomaterials development. 

Upon graduating from the Master’s Programme in Chemical, Biochemical and Materials Engineering – Biomass Refining, graduates will have:

A thorough understanding of the technologies and processes involved in creating products and harnessing energy from biomass. Graduates have a comprehensive foundation in how wood, crops, plants and organic waste can be converted and used to create marketable bioproducts and renewable energy. 

Gained insight from industry leaders regarding the growing role of biomass in the low-carbon economy. Graduates understand the realities and opportunities of the biomass industry, including its environmental impacts and challenges faced. 

The ability to take part in scientific discussions about biomass and formulate scientifically justified arguments. Graduates are able to describe the global availability and importance of biomass feedstocks and the sustainable use of biomass. 

Technical and analytical skills to perform biomass fractionation experiments in the laboratory. Graduates know how to use the most relevant analytical methods and equipment for monitoring the processes and the products.  

An in-built sustainable approach to their profession. Graduates see planetary health, society and people as the starting point for successful engineering solutions.

Biomass refining laboratory 2

Language of instruction

In all majors in the Master’s Programme in Chemical, Biochemical and Materials Engineering the language of instruction is English. It is also possible to complete some courses in Finnish or Swedish.

Study contents

The core of the Biomass Refining major is in the deep understanding of biomass and its components on microscopic and molecular levels. The core compulsory courses in the first year lay a strong scientific foundation upon which the students will further develop their knowledge of common biomass conversion processes. 

The Biomass Refining major applies knowledge of the fields of chemistry, chemical and process engineering, and biotechnology. Students can choose between two specialisation pathways, one in pulp and fibres and another in fuels and chemicals. 


Many of the courses are organised in co-operation with industry, and thus the topics usually deal with present-day phenomena and current challenges. For example, the new wood-based textile fiber technology is a growing field of research. Rated as one of the most carbon-polluting industries in the world, the textile market urgently needs alternative production methods. The Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems is currently piloting a production facility for cellulose-based textile fibre. In addition to textiles, the wood material science and technology offers many fascinating opportunities for students interested in research and development of new sustainable and diverse wood products. 

In the major, students have the opportunity to delve deeper in their areas of interests that are listed, but not limited to course examples, below:

  • Sustainability in Bioproduct Industry (5 ECTS)
  • Biomass Pretreatment and Fractionation (5 ECTS)
  • Bioproduct Mill Recovery Processes (5 ECTS)
  • Thermochemical Energy Conversion (5 ECTS)
  • Planning and Execution of a Biorefinery Investment Project (5 ECTS)
  • Plant Biomass (5 ECTS)


Students benefit from a highly innovative and interactive learning environment at the intersection of research and industry co-operation. A key focus area is to provide industry-ready students with advanced career management skills. For example, in different project courses students will acquire experience in an engineer’s work at a consultancy company, as well as work with real-life tools for project planning. In addition, different group work assignments develop students’ interpersonal skills and prepare them to work in multidisciplinary teams in their future careers. 

Personal Study Plan (PSP)

The Personal Study Plan (PSP) is a practical tool to define a student’s own study path, compiling an optimal selection of courses that are aligned with the student's interests and programme requirements. PSP is also a useful tool for students to keep track of their studies. At best, it shows where students are with their studies and sets concrete milestones for them to follow.

Tuition fees

The tuition fee is €15 000 for non-EU/EEA students. Further information on the tuition fees and the scholarship system: Tuition fees and scholarships

Structure of studies

Overall, the Master’s Programme in Chemical, Biochemical and Materials Engineering – Biomass Refining comprises a total of 120 ECTS credits. The two-year programme consists of:

  • Major dependent studies (63-65 ECTS)
  • Elective studies (25-27 ECTS)
  • Master’s thesis (30 ECTS)

Career opportunities

It is envisaged that in the coming years biomass conversion and biorefinery will be one of the main methods of reducing carbon dioxide emissions and replacing fossil carbon sources. As many businesses and sectors have or are looking to shift to renewable energy, there are plenty of opportunities for biomass engineering experts.  

Possible career paths may include:

  • Working in advisory, research, planning, or management positions in the forest or chemical industries or in equipment manufacturing companies chemical industry
  • Working as a consultant in engineering consultancy companies (e.g. Sweco, AFRY) 
  • Working as a renewable energy expert in big energy companies (e.g. St1, Neste, Fortum) 
  • Embarking on an entrepreneurial path and starting one’s own company
  • Following an academic path and becoming a researcher in the field

Aalto University has well-established career services to support students’ employment in Finland and abroad. Many of the Biomass Refining major students carry out their M.Sc. thesis work as industry-funded project, often guaranteeing themselves with an entry position even before graduation. There is also a very active entrepreneurship community at Aalto, working as a springboard for founding a company. 

Students of biomass refining


The study environment in the programme is strongly international and studies are conducted in multicultural groups. The international atmosphere can be seen in everyday life at the School of Chemical Engineering, where approximately 35 percent of academic personnel and 20 percent of master’s students are from abroad. Our teaching methods support networking with people from diverse backgrounds.

Aalto University offers many possibilities for students to develop their global competencies. Students can, for example:

  • complete part of the degree, e.g. a minor, abroad in one of the international partner universities as an exchange student
  • choose courses with intercultural approach, learn foreign languages and/or become a student tutor for international students
  • conduct practical training or Master’s thesis outside Finland
  • take summer courses abroad
  • benefit from several funding options available for internationalisation

Aalto University is international by nature, welcoming thousands of degree and exchange students from abroad every year. These students join the diverse Aalto community not only through their studies, but also through multiple free time events, celebrations and extracurricular activities around the campus. Active tutoring programs and support services work hard to help international students integrate to the Nordic culture and feel at home in Finland.

Co-operation with other parties

Merging science, technology, arts and business is one of the defining strengths of Aalto University and the Master’s Programme in Chemical, Biochemical and Materials Engineering is no exception. Students may choose their minors or elective study modules from other Aalto Schools so that their degree is a combination of technology, business, and art. They also have the opportunity to take courses from other Finnish universities via The Flexible Study Right Agreement (JOO).

One fascinating example of the interdisciplinary collaboration taking place at Aalto University is the CHEMARTS initiative, where The School of Chemical Engineering (CHEM) and The School of Arts, Design and Architecture (ARTS) merge. CHEMARTS aims to inspire students and researchers to create new concepts for bioeconomy by combining design, business thinking and natural materials science. The initiative organises various activities and learning opportunities, such as externally funded research projects, study courses and an interdisciplinary summer school. This spontaneous and vivid multidisciplinary environment sparks new ideas, gathers enthusiasts around them and gives birth to friendships, networks, and every so often, startups.

Postgraduate study opportunities

The Master’s programme in Master’s Programme in Chemical, Biochemical and Materials Engineering – Biomass Refining at Aalto is considered a great foundation for doctoral studies.

School of Chemical Engineering

Major Biomass Refining is a part of the Master's Programme in Chemical, Biochemical and Materials Engineering at the School of Chemical Engineering. The School of Chemical Engineering combines natural sciences and engineering in a unique way. This allows the results of our research to be refined a long way and put into practice as ready products and processes. Each innovation secures both our renewable and non-renewable natural resources for the future.

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Programme-specific admission requirements

Applicants are first evaluated based on Aalto’s general eligibility requirements (found on https://www.aalto.fi/en/study-at-aalto/applying-to-masters-programmes). Applicants meeting the general eligibility criteria for master's studies are then evaluated according to the evaluation criteria below. 

Applications are first evaluated based on the following (critical) criteria. 

  • Academic performance 
  • Relevance of previous studies 

Only the applications who fulfill the requirements for these criteria will be evaluated against the full set of evaluation criteria. After the evaluation of the remaining criteria below, the best applicants will be selected based on the joint evaluation of all criteria.

  • Recognition and quality of institution
  • Suitability
  • Other areas of competence

The programme does not have a minimum quota to be filled, and not all eligible applicants will necessarily be admitted.

Evaluation criteria for Biomass Refining

Study option-specific documents

The documents required from all applicants are listed on https://www.aalto.fi/en/study-at-aalto/applying-to-masters-programmes. In addition, applicants to this programme are requested to provide the following study option-specific documents (if applicable):

Complementary studies

Students admitted to the Master's Programme in Chemical, Biochemical and Materials Engineering may be required to take complementary studies, max 20 credits. Complementary studies may not be included in the degree of Master of Science (Tech).

The content and number of the complementary courses depend on your previous studies. The complementary studies will be set latest in September.

Contact information

For enquiries regarding the application process, application documents and language tests, please contact [email protected]

For enquiries regarding the content of programme and studies at the School of Chemical Engineering, please contact Learning Services of Aalto University School of Chemical Engineering, [email protected]

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