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Degree Programs in Chemistry

A background in chemistry can lead to careers in fields like environmental science, bioengineering, forensics or medicine. Learn about degree levels available as well as common classes.

What Chemistry Programs Are Available?

You can pursue an associate's or bachelor's degree in chemistry from many U.S. colleges. These programs introduce you to the field, with many programs meant as preparation for further academic study. Master's degree and Ph.D. programs involve thesis research and teaching assistantships, as well as looking at advanced chemistry applications, such as nanotechnology, bio-organic chemistry and photochemistry.

In any instance, you'll spend time in both the classroom and the lab, putting into practice the theories you've learned. The basic principles to any chemistry program are learning the scientific properties of matter in the classroom and studying the composition and behaviors of matter in the lab.

Degree Levels Associate's, bachelor's, master's and doctorate degrees available
Undergraduate Courses Mathematics, geology, chemistry, communications, statistics
Graduate Courses Crystallography, organic compounds, synthetics, nuclear magnetic resonance, virology
Learning Environments Traditional classroom, fully online, and hybrid programs are available
Median Salary (2018)* $76,890 (for chemists)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)* 6% (for chemists)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Will I Study in an Undergraduate Program?

The associate's degree programs tend to be geared towards students moving into bachelor's degree programs, or they can fulfill some of the requirements for entering into an allied health career. At this stage in your education, you'll study a wide variety of chemistry topics, from organic chemistry to biochemistry. You'll also take courses on other sciences, including biology, geology and physics, as well as taking courses on advanced math, like calculus. This program is excellent for anyone interested in studying pre-medicine or pre-dentistry, or if you're interested in working in the medical field as a radiologic technician or other allied health worker.

Most bachelor's degree programs take about four or five years to complete. Students who take this program can continue their education in chemistry or medicine. You'll spend more time in alternate chemistry options, such as biochemistry, organic chemistry and quantum chemistry. You'll study business, safety, communications, marketing, engineering and packaging. Some of the subjects you'll study include instrumental analysis, statistics, chemical thermodynamics, inorganic chemistry and organometallic chemistry (the study of bonds between metal and carbon).

What Will I Study in a Graduate Program?

Master's degree programs generally require at least 30 credits to complete. At this level, a school may give you the option of concentrating in a specific subfield of chemistry, such as organic, inorganic, physical or nuclear chemistry. Many Master of Science programs allow you to choose between thesis or non-thesis tracks; the latter option may require additional coursework or research opportunities.

Doctoral degree programs focus on teaching theories and chemistry principles. You'll also learn research methodologies essential to working in a research-intensive profession such as chemistry. You'll study advanced subjects in chemistry, such as mass spectrometry in organic compounds, environmental transformation of organic compounds, crystallography, nuclear magnetic resonance, synthetics and virology.

Can I Study Online?

While uncommon, some colleges offer online bachelor's and master's degree programs. Hybrid programs, which blend on-campus courses with distance study, are also available. These programs allow you to study at home, learning the theories and studying chemistry principles, while the application of what you learn will be completed on campus in a laboratory setting.