Chemistry is the study of the fundamental materials and processes that make up the universe and everything within it, living and nonliving. In other words: chemistry is a big deal, and majoring in chemistry opens you to a world of fascinating study, as well as plenty of job opportunities.
Chemistry majors can go into fields such as engineering, medical science, pharmacology, environmental science, food science, and forensics, just to name a few. If you’re looking for a fascinating and rewarding career, majoring in chemistry might be the path for you.
If you’re ready to earn your degree at one of the most prestigious schools in the world, get started with a look at the Most Influential Schools in Chemistry.
Or read on to find out what you can expect as a Chemistry Major.
Chemistry is a popular major because it is applicable to so many fields and career paths. If you’re looking for a well-paying and secure job, chemistry is a great place to focus.
Chemists study the elements that make up all substances in the universe, whether looking at humans, animals, synthetic materials, Earth, and even other planets. This knowledge, combined with a “deep dive” curricular approach, provides chemistry majors with strong analytical skills and a great understanding of how our world is put together.
Chemistry majors can work in a wide range of specialized fields, many of which are focused on finding solutions to problems that in turn make life on Earth better for all of us. Chemists can pioneer efficient and inexpensive ways to produce life-saving medications, develop alternative textiles that reduce our negative environmental impact and make housing more available and affordable, or analyze and improve the nutritional content of processed foods. Though often working “behind the scenes,” chemistry professionals have a great effect on how we live.
Chemistry professionals get to work with advanced technology in laboratories to examine microscopic processes. They get to travel the globe in search of solutions to momentous problems. They get to discover, learn, and experiment as a regular part of the job. If you’re looking for a job where you are constantly challenged and growing, chemistry is a great major to pursue.
Chemistry is foundational to everything. Because of this, chemists are constantly making progress that advances how we understand the world, how we live and interact with this world, and how we treat threats like disease and climate change. Today, top influencers in chemistry are breaking new ground in biochemistry, nanotechnology, molecular chemistry, and much more.
Find out who the Most Influential People are in Chemistry today!
Chemistry degrees can be earned at all levels. The right level for you depends on your career goals. Most jobs, for example, will require applicants to hold a bachelor’s or master’s degree, though some high-level jobs (such as postsecondary teacher or biochemist) require a doctoral degree on top of years of field experience for qualification. On the other hand, plenty of well-paying and stable jobs require only an associate degree for entry. Also, it’s important to consider your concentration, as chemistry is a big field with many areas of specialization. While associate degrees are almost always general, bachelor’s degrees and beyond usually require students to specialize, which ultimately determines your career prospects.
*Note: Many, but not all, degree programs offer the choice between Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees. Likewise, many, but not all, advanced degree programs offer a choice between Master of Arts, and Master of Science degrees. In most cases, the primary difference is the diversity of course offerings. “Science” degree courses will focus almost entirely on the Major discipline, with a deep dive into a specific concentration, including laboratory, clinical or practicum experience. An “Arts” degree will provide a more well-rounded curriculum which includes both core/concentration courses and a selection of humanities and electives. The type of degree you choose will depend both on your school’s offerings and your career/educational goals. Moreover, there are sometimes numerous variations in the way that colleges name and categorize majors. The degree types identified here above are some of the common naming variations, but may not be all-encompassing.
Thinking of a graduate degree in chemistry? Check out What Can I Do With a Master’s Degree in Chemistry? for more information on obtaining a graduate degree in this field.
Your “concentration” refers to a specific area of focus within your major. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) provides a complete listing of college degree programs and concentrations (Classification for Instructional Programs), as sourced from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). According to IPEDS, the following are among the most popular chemistry concentrations:
Your concentration will determine many of the courses you’ll take as a chemistry major. Likewise, you will be required to take a number of requisite courses on foundational topics such as biochemistry and physical chemistry. However, you will also have the freedom to select an array of courses that align with your area of specialization.
Common Chemistry courses include:
Chemistry majors are employed in a huge range of industries and areas, including private sector corporations, research labs, universities, and the federal government. Whether you’re creating and perfecting a new material, developing medications, researching the chemicals in a local water supply, or investigating the biochemical processes that make life possible, your chemistry major gives you plenty of options to choose from. Your chemistry major can lead to a wide range of career opportunities, including these top jobs:
Curious how far you could go with a Major in Chemistry? Start with a look at the top influencers in the field today!
Thinking of a graduate degree in chemistry? Check out What Can I Do With a Master’s Degree in Chemistry? for more information on obtaining a graduate degree in this field.***
Now that you know how to major in Chemistry, check out The Most Influential Schools in Chemistry and get started on your path to a chemistry degree.
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