Schools to Keep in Mind when Majoring in Chemistry

Learn more about the Chemistry Field and some of the Top Schools!

Chemistry is an interesting branch of science that many find successful careers in. Chemistry is commonly defined as the study of matter and its organization into substances. This also includes the properties of the substance and how they interact with one another throughout the entire universe. Chemistry majors will ultimately become experts at a science that influences our lives every day. 

Curriculum + Degree in Chemistry 

Be prepared to face a pretty challenging curriculum when you begin the years of majoring in chemistry. You will have to study the periodic table immensely and be prepared to learn about all things atoms, molecules, and ions. Science and math should be among your best subjects, and an interest in research is also a plus! A degree in chemistry can land you in a variety of job opportunities one day, including research and development, government agencies, and non profit organizations. With the proper premedical requirements, students also have the chance of getting into medical school! 

Colleges with the Top Chemistry Programs

Check out some of the colleges across the country that produce some of the most well trained chemists!

Duke University

Ranked #8 Best College for Chemistry in America according to Niche.

The department of chemistry at Duke University is truly designed for any student interested in trying out the field. You can take classes to major in the field, but also take chemistry to fulfill a requirement for a different major. 

Major Benefits of Duke Chemistry according to the school’s website:

  • The lecture components of each class will give you a solid overview of topics including biological, analytical, physical, inorganic, and organic chemistry.
  • The undergraduate laboratories offered at Duke provide hands-on experience with a variety in instrumentation
  • A wide range of opportunities for undergraduate research are offered in one of the many cutting-edge departmental research groups.
  • Both a Bachelor of Science AND a Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry are offered, along with concentrations in Biochemistry, Pharmacology, Chemical Biology, and Environmental Chemistry. A minor can also be taken up.
  • You can graduate with a distinction in chemistry by completing research and writing a thesis

As far as career paths in chemistry graduates at Duke are concerned, it’s been estimated that approximately 40% of graduates will enroll in medical school, 25% in graduate school, and the remaining 35% are still expected to take on some sort of professional position within the field. 

Case Western Reserve University 

Ranked #75 in Chemistry according to U.S. News.

Along with Duke University, Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) does an excellent job at having different options available to students who are interested in further exploring and majoring in the field of chemistry. 

Programs offered to chemistry students at CWRU:

Main Degree Programs:

  • Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry (BA): The Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Chemical Biology degree program is intended for pre-professional students who plan careers in medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine, pharmacy, or students looking for careers that utilize chemistry to solve problems affecting living systems.
  • Bachelor of Science in Chemistry (BS): The Bachelor of Science (BS) in Chemistry degree program provides in depth coverage of the field for students looking to become a professional chemist. The BS program prepares the student for entry into graduate programs in Chemistry leading to advanced degrees or for direct entry into the job market at the baccalaureate level. Many of the CWRU BS chemistry majors are recruited by the top national PhD graduate programs.

Other Available Programs:

  • Teacher Licensure in Physical Science: The Chemistry Department offers a special option for undergraduate students who wish to take on a Chemistry major while also taking on a career in teaching! The Adolescent to Young Adult (AYA) Teacher Education Program in Physical Sciences prepares CWRU students to receive an Ohio Teaching License for grades 7-12. Students will declare a second major in Education which involves 34 hours in Education. Practicum requirements are also included, along with a complete and planned sequence of Chemistry content coursework within the context of the B.A. Chemistry major. The program is designed to offer features not found in other programs, and to ultimately place students in mentored teaching situations throughout their educational career at CWRU.

Pomona College

Ranked #147 Chemistry School in the Country according to Chemistry Schools.

If you’re looking for more of a smaller school atmosphere, with better student and professor communication, and of course a solid chemistry department, Pomona College might just be the way to go! The chemistry major and minor will provide students with education that will allow them to understand the fundamental processes of the chemical world and foster a bit of creative and critical thinking. 

The main curriculum at Pomona College will include an understanding of chemical phenomena, structure, properties and transformations from the atomic and molecular level to the macroscopic level. Foundational courses include analytical, biological, inorganic, organic, and physical chemistry, with “state-of-the-art” laboratories. Elective courses will explore topics in atmospheric, bio-inorganic, bio-organic, environmental, materials, and medicinal chemistry.

You will also get the opportunity to hear from distinguished guest speakers as part of the annual Robbins Lecture Series. An accomplished figure in the chemistry field will join campus for a week of lectures and activities that are organized to engage with students. 

Northwestern University 

Ranked #7 in Chemistry according to U.S. News.

Northwestern University has a multi-faceted chemistry department catering to students with three main career objectives: professional chemistry, medicine, and teaching. A major benefit of the chemistry department at Northwestern is the strong lab component in the majority of courses offered. Students will get the opportunity to research-grade chemical instrumentation, along with the chance to participate in research projects with faculty of the Department of Chemistry. These faculty members are conducting research at the forefront of many areas of chemistry, and in conjunction with other branches of science as well. 

About 40% of chemistry students from Northwestern are estimated to continue on with graduate school, primarily in the chemistry doctoral programs. About another half of students are expected to enter medical school or dentistry school post graduation, and the remaining 20% or so of students will most likely take on positions like chemists or conduct research in a laboratory. Some students may end up teaching if they have a double major or even consulting!

University Of Michigan

Ranked #14 in Chemistry according to U.S. News

Similar to Case Western University and the others schools listed, this final school does a good job in offering a variety of different programs within the field of chemistry. At the University of Michigan, several different options of majors are offered for students who are interested in chemistry and biochemistry. Skills attained in both degree programs will include training in not only chemistry subject matter and laboratory techniques, but also enforce strong problem-solving skills that are applicable to many different fields and career paths.

Check out the five major degree programs offered at the University of Michigan:

  • B.S. Degree in Chemistry: Students are exposed to in-depth coursework in all of the traditional subfields, and also spend at least two semesters working on undergraduate research projects in a faculty member’s research lab. Overall, this is the best choice for those interested in Ph.D. and M.D. career paths. 
  • B.S. Major in Biochemistry:  Students will gain a solid foundation in chemistry through traditional sub-discipline courses, but will also take a number of chemistry courses that are focused on the role of chemistry in biological systems. Students that pursue this degree will be well equipped for graduate studies in biochemistry, chemical biology, and many other fields of inquiry in the life sciences.
  • B.S. Major in Biomolecular Sciences: This degree provides exposure to all of the core topics in the area of biochemistry, but also provides more options regarding course selection than the B.S. Major in biochemistry. This degree also provides a solid foundation for students who plan to pursue degrees in the health science field.
  • B.S. Major in Chemical Sciences: The B.S. Major in Chemical Science exposes students to all sub-disciplines in Chemistry, but provides a bit more options regarding course selection than the BS Chemistry degree. The degree also provides a foundation for those planning to attend graduate school in an interdisciplinary field where more invasive chemical knowledge may be required.
  • B.S. Major in Interdisciplinary Sciences: This major can be effective preparation for graduate study in the sciences, graduate studies or in a related interdisciplinary area that might benefit from a strong science background, for medical, law, and business schools, or entry into the job market. 

Now that you have a bit more insight into what goes into being a chemistry major and the different major options available, would you consider taking on the field in college? Which school stood out to you most? Good luck!

Matt Lyons
Matt is a professional writer based in Pittsburgh, PA.
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