What is the Best Degree to Become a Chemist?

The best degree to become a chemist is a general Bachelor of Science in Chemistry. This degree is available as a Bachelor of Arts for those interested in academia, teaching or other careers. Regardless of the major, it should be approved by the American Chemical Society or based on their rigorous academic standards.

Chemistry Degree

A stereotypical chemistry major will come with plenty of general education requirements and introductory classes in organic, inorganic, analytical, physical and engineering chemistry. A Bachelor of Science in Chemistry major will emphasize the lab, technical and computer skills needed for a career in professional chemistry. Most programs require students to participate in undergraduate research teams on various projects. Most chemistry degree programs offer cutting-edge laboratory tools, equipment and instruments.

A Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry provides students with an even broader education and it also focuses on unique areas like law, medicine, pharmacy and agribusiness. A Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry is perfect for a student who needs a basic knowledge of chemistry for their career, such as a pharmacy technician, commercial food analyst and even law enforcement forensic specialist. Some of these degree programs offer education internships for students to apply their education in a real workplace.

Chemistry Degree Curriculum

A general chemistry degree will start out with basic classes that introduce students to the chemical sciences and associated theories of physics and mathematics. Students will study things like chemical structure, calculations, bonding and equilibrium. Students are also introduced to lab safety skills and common laboratory techniques. Classes in inorganic chemistry may cover solid states, molecular bonding, symmetry laws and group elements. Potential class assignments may touch on nuclear, magnetic resonance, bioinorganic and metallic chemistry.

Class activities could focus on polymer synthesis, medicinal chemistry, bio-organic materials and electrochemical components. Lectures may cover the basics of chemistry instrumentation, such as mass, gas, liquid, atomic and molecular spectroscopy. Professors may lecture about microscopic properties and chemical principles. Class discussions may touch on thermodynamics, statistical mechanics, quantum chemistry, atomic structures and spectroscopy dynamics.

Chemistry Degree Specializations

A chemistry degree is available in many specializations. One of the more popular chemistry degree concentrations is chemical engineering because it blends physics, chemistry, biology and mathematics together. Classroom and laboratory activities focus on applied experiments and creating target deliverables. This degree may include classes in biomolecular engineering, environmental science, polymeric materials and chemical energy. Some students take classes in business administration, project management and applied mathematics and engineering.

A biochemistry concentration starts out with science courses related to biology and physics, but it quickly transitions into classes in organic, general, physical and quantitative chemistry. Each of these courses must be successfully passed into order to take on upper-level course work in biochemistry, metabolism, bioinformatics and cell biology. Approved science electives are usually genetics, immunology, microbiology, plant pathology, pathogenic bacteriology and human anatomy and physiology.

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The best degree to become a chemist isn’t always general chemistry because a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry can offer a direct path to a government or industry research career. The Department of Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Institutes of Health all employ biochemists to conduct research. All chemists may find work in the pharmacology, biotechnology, veterinary and medical research fields.