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Chemistry Major

At the forefront of curiosity-inspired research, innovation and education

Chemistry Major

At the forefront of curiosity-inspired research, innovation and education

A student working in a chemistry lab under the supervision of May Nyman
Undergraduate laboratory research experiences help chemistry majors develop technical and professional skills.

The Department of Chemistry offers both BS and BA degrees in chemistry. As a chemistry major, you’ll develop in-depth knowledge and analytical skills through foundational and advanced courses in organic, analytical, physical and inorganic chemistry in addition to extensive laboratory and undergraduate research experience. You can design your studies to fit your academic interests by choosing among 10 options to broaden your knowledge and skills, enhance career preparation and amplify opportunities for employment in areas such as electronics, biotechnology, high school teaching, environmental science as well as graduate study and professional programs in chemistry, medicine and healthcare. As a chemistry major, you are required to add one option, which includes 9-10 courses in applied areas. You will take a common core of about 25 courses in chemistry, chemistry laboratory, physics and mathematics in addition to a chosen option in the B.S. degree program. Track 1 chemistry options (Advanced Chemistry and Advanced Biochemistry) are approved through the American Chemical Society and lead to ACS certified degrees in Chemistry.

Careers in research

Chemistry students gain an extensive and well-rounded education through in-depth coursework, undergraduate laboratory research experiences to develop technical and professional skills, and outstanding advising and mentorship. Many graduates of the chemistry department have been accepted to top-tier graduate programs in chemistry and applied areas at, for example, UC Berkeley, University of Southern California, UCLA, University of Washington, University of Wisconsin- Madison, University of Texas-Austin, University of Michigan, and the University of Colorado.

Our broad range of options will help you tailor your education to meet your career objectives and interests. For example, students graduating with a B.S. in chemistry with an option in Forensic Science have graduated with M.S. degrees from programs at University of California Davis, UCLA, Pace University, the George Washington University and are now employed in forensic science labs around the nation.

Explore the B.S. Degree

The B.S. degree Track 1 is suitable for students intending to pursue a graduate degree in chemistry or a closely related area. It provides the most rigorous and complete chemistry, physics, and mathematics background and the most extensive laboratory experience.

Track 1 chemistry options (Advanced Chemistry and Advanced Biochemistry) are approved through the American Chemical Society and lead to ACS certified degrees in Chemistry. ACS approved programs ensure “a broad-based and rigorous chemistry education that gives students intellectual, experimental, and communication skills to become effective scientific professionals.”

Track Two for the B.S. degree consists of a core of chemistry courses plus a combination of 8 to 11 courses (30 to 36 credits) that defines the option. This track does not lead to a degree certified by the ACS.

These options are structured to provide a chemistry major with a second area of expertise. This multi-disciplinary approach is designed to enhance preparation and opportunities for employment in areas such as electronics, polymers, or biotechnology (materials science, chemical engineering, or biochemistry option), for careers in environmental science (environmental chemistry option), for graduate study in applied areas or professional schools (pre-medicine or business option), or for teaching in high schools (chemistry education option). The coursework for track two students provides a strong foundation for continuing education in graduate school in chemistry or related areas.

B.S. Degree Options

Track 1 chemistry options

The option with the strongest pure chemistry background, for students looking for career opportunities in a broad range of chemical industries or who have already chosen to continue on to chemistry graduate school for Ph.D.

The option for students with bio-oriented interests who are looking for career opportunities in places like the pharmaceutical or biotech industries. It is also excellent preparation for graduate school.

Track 2 chemistry options

The biochemistry option is designed for those interested in working in biotechnology areas, emphasizing elective courses in biology, biochemistry including lab and genetics. A strong option for students interested in pharmacy programs.

This option is designed for chemists interested in working in science management, science marketing and sales, or starting a small business. The business option reduces time to obtain a MBA degree at OSU. It is a good stepping stone for law school (patent law is a very lucrative career).

Chemistry teachers at the high school level are in strong demand! This option is designed to interface with the B.S. Education Double Degree and the M.S. in Science or Mathematics Education Teaching programs at OSU.

This option is designed for chemists seeking some background in engineering, but who don’t want to be engineers. Designed to offer selected chemical engineering concepts that may enhance career opportunities in areas such as electronics, polymers, and biotechnology.

A combination of courses designed to provide a chemistry major with a background in biology, biochemistry, and related areas and an emphasis in analytical chemistry that is appropriate for work in a crime lab or to pursue a graduate degree in forensic science.

This option is customized to include applied courses in a variety of materials areas to enhance career opportunities in areas including electronics, polymers, batteries and biotechnology.

The option is directed at students planning to apply to medical or dental school who also choose to have chemistry as a second career pathway.

B.A. Degree

The B.A. degree in chemistry includes a second language requirement and additional liberal arts courses (9 credits). It also includes 6–12 credits of approved career-supportive electives to allow students to choose courses in advanced chemistry or related disciplines to support their career goals.

The B.A. degree is helpful for chemistry students interested in a broad education that might include a foreign language and lead to international opportunities, especially if coupled with the International Degree Program at OSU.

Sample courses

Bioanalytical chemistry

Physical chemistry of materials

Radiochemistry

Environmental Transformation of Organic Compounds

Recent graduates: What are they up to

Environmental chemists

Forensic scientists

Process engineers

Biotechnology chemists

Nathan Coddington standing outside Kidder Hall
"Everyone in my bioorganic chemistry lab helped me learn how to be a better scientist, how to be a more well-rounded person, and how to communicate and write.”
Nathan Coddington (Chemistry '18), studying dental surgery at the UCLA School of Dentistry

Meet our students and alumni

From chemistry to medicine

Honors student Nate Coddington has won virtually every OSU scholarship for outstanding scholastic achievement in chemistry.

A journey to master physical chemistry

Patrons at Café Yumm! near campus enjoy their food with biodegradable plastic silverware developed in an OSU lab by chemistry senior Jason Sandwisch ('17).

Determination and excellence: The making of a Presidential Scholar

First-year chemistry major Maria Lachino Sonato is a recipient of OSU's Presidential Scholarship, which is awarded to the highest-caliber high school seniors in Oregon.

Next steps

Download Chemistry Brochure 2019 (PDF)