Major: Chemistry

What colleges offer a Major in Chemistry?

Lightning crackles in the sky as the camera pans over a dark castle. Down in the laboratory, a mad scientist stands among his many vials, test tubes, and beakers, mixing liquids to produce a bubbling, smoking potion.

The popular B movie villain, haphazardly mixing chemicals for evil purposes, is a far cry from the professional chemist. In reality, chemists work in controlled environments, using the scientific method to make valuable contributions in a range of fields, including medicine, biology, psychology, and geology. As a chemistry major, you’ll explore many different topics, from the chemical basis for life to the environmental problems caused by chemicals.

Chemistry majors use math, theory, and experimentation to study matter (physical substance). They look at what it’s made of and how it behaves, down to the atomic level.

“The main challenge to this major is overcoming the idea that it's difficult … I made the realization that the subject is only as hard as I imagine it to be.”Christina, junior, chemistry, UC Davis

Are You Ready To...?

  • Learn how everyday products such as fabrics and plastics are created
  • Write lab reports
  • Create chemical reactions in the lab
  • Use lab tests to identify unknown compounds
  • Take math, physics, and biology as well as chemistry

It Helps To Be...

Curious about what makes up the world around us and why things are the way they are. If you’ve always wanted to know why the sky is blue or how a diamond differs from coal, then chemistry could be the major for you.

College Checklist

  • Is the program approved by the American Chemical Society?
  • Does the program award a B.A., B.S., or both?
  • What research opportunities will you have?
  • Does the program focus more on preparing students for grad school or employment?

Did You Know?

Many chemists work for pharmaceutical companies, coming up with and testing new drugs.

Course Spotlight

In biochemistry, you’ll look at the chemical basis for life and study organisms at the molecular level. You’ll explore the chemical processes that allow an organism to grow, repair damage, and reproduce. Subjects you may cover include enzymes, which speed up the chemical processes in an organism, as well as DNA, the genetic blueprint for each living thing.