University of Vermont

College of Arts and Sciences

Department of Chemistry

Careers in Chemistry

What Does a BA or BS Degree in Chemistry Do For You?

Chemistry is a broadly based technical field that is the central science for many disciplines.  There is substantial overlap with biology, biochemistry, pharmacy, forensics, medicine, materials science, computer science, engineering, physics, patent law...  A well trained chemist will succeed in any technical area.  Learning chemistry develops skills and abilities for original thinking, problem solving, and builds initiative and confidence.

Chemistry influences many fields
A degree in chemistry serves as a passport to a high paying career in chemistry and provides a solid foundation for pursuing a career in a wide variety of areas: medicine, biotechnology, law, business...

BA in Chemistry

  • A BA in chemistry is a valuable tool for those seeking a more technical and highly skilled (and therefore higher paying with more job security) career path.  Job opportunities in technical writing, patent law, small business, technical based product sales, high technology manufacturing, government, medicine, and pharmacy are likely for BA chemists.
  • A BA in chemistry allows simultaneous pursuit of other undergraduate areas. For example:
    • Premedical training for admission to medical, dental, or veternary medicine schools
    • Concentration in environmental studies
    • Business degree
    • Computer science and bioinformatics
    • Other biological or biomedical foci

BS in Chemistry

The BS requires more coursework in chemistry and has stricter requirements than the BA in chemistry, but opens up greater career opportunities in the mainstream of chemical manufacturing and chemical research.  High paying jobs are available in the petroleum and pharmaceutical industries, food chemistry, commodity chemicals, custom synthesis, environmental chemistry, polymers & plastics, materials sciences.  Several chemically based companies are operative in the local area, which allows for the possibility of summer employment, internships, and personal connections for obtaining long term employment after graduation.  The BS degree is the traditional training for students preparing to obtain a PhD in chemistry.

Undergraduate Research in Chemistry and the Honors Program

Undergraduates can participate in research in chemistry under the guidance of a faculty mentor.  Research is required for the BS degree and encouraged (but not required) for the BA degree in chemistry.

Chemistry majors can also participate in chemical research as part of the Honors College or the College of Arts & Sciences John Dewey Honors program.  Requirements for honors in chemistry includes preparation of an honors thesis describing the results arising from an original research project.  Publication of original research in a peer-reviewed journal as an undergraduate will substantially enhance the a student's resume, increase the chances of acceptance into a top-rank graduate program or in the job market.

What Does a MS or PhD Degree in Chemistry Do For You?

MS in Chemistry

The MS degree requires additional classes and involves an active chemical research component in conjunction with a research advisor, as well as a master's thesis.  There is a strong demand for MS chemists in industry and academic positions as highly skilled technical staff.  Job opportunities are similar to the BS degree, but at a more advanced level.  Academic jobs are typically staff research scientists, instrumentation coordinators and administrative positions.  MS positions generally pay better than BS positions, offer better job security and benefits, and include more responsibility and independence with a greater involvement in active research than a BS position.

PhD in Chemistry

The PhD degree demands original research and publications in addition to the final thesis.  PhD chemists generally run their own research program or act as project managers and senior staff scientists in industrial and government positions.  There is also a growing demand for PhD chemists in the public sector as science advisors and decision makers.  The PhD is not for everybody, but is an important prerequisite for pursuing a career in chemical research that will rise to the very top of chemical industry or to finding a high level job in the technical part of the public sector.  The PhD is generally a requirement for obtaining a faculty position as a professor at a college or university.

Last modified December 31 2009 03:32 PM

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