Students who enroll in chemistry degree programs can use their degree as a launching point for a wide range of interesting careers. There are literally hundreds of companies and industries that need chemists and chemical engineers to create and develop new products. Laboratory research is a common career path for chemists, but many chemistry graduates find rewarding careers in textile sciences, hazardous waste management, forensic science, medicinal chemistry, oil and petroleum chemistry and dozens of other fields and scientific endeavors.
We created the ranking below of the 10 best colleges for chemistry degree programs to help students gain insight into common chemistry degree pathways at U.S. colleges and universities. These programs culminate in either bachelor's, master's or doctoral degrees, although a bachelor's degree is the standard prerequisite for many entry-level positions in chemistry-related careers. Students who complete these degree programs should have the skills necessary for employment in a wide range of industries.
Best Colleges for Chemistry Degree Programs
Students interested in working as chemists and related careers can scan through the programs offered by these 10 top colleges and universities for on-campus and online chemistry degree programs. We created this list using many different data points provided by the National Center for Education Statistics. Click the button below to learn more about the methodology used to generate this list, or read on to gain valuable insight into 10 of the best colleges for chemistry degree programs from U.S. colleges and universities.
Located in Syracuse, N.Y., SUNY's prestigious college of environmental science and forestry has a long history in the study of environmental sciences. The ESF department of chemistry offers several specialty undergraduate degree programs, including:
- Biochemistry and organic chemistry of natural products
- Natural and synthetic polymer chemistry
- Environmental chemistry
Students can enter undergraduate programs as first-year freshman or as transfer students; however, transfer students must have completed at least 60 credits of lower-division coursework.
SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry heads our ranking of best colleges for chemistry degrees based on its high graduation rate (75 percent, second-best), its low 16:1 student to faculty ratio, and its high number of chemistry degrees awarded to students.
The second institution in our rankings is a pubic four-year college located in eastern Nebraska. Wayne State College was founded as a college for teachers in 1891, and it retains a strong presence in teacher education to this day.
The college offers three bachelor's degree programs in chemistry including chemical sciences, education and health sciences. Each program requires a minimum of 120 credit hours to satisfy degree requirements. The chemistry education degree is intended for students who wish to teach chemistry or science at the high school or middle school level. Students who enroll in this program also must complete a semester of student teaching.
At $6,042, Wayne State College had the lowest cost of in-state tuition among our featured institutions. WSC also is the only college in this list with an open admissions policy.
This public co-educational liberal arts college places third in our rankings based on its low cost of in-state tuition — $6,605, second best among our 10 featured colleges. UNC Asheville also has a strong graduation and admissions rates, and students enjoy more individual interaction with their professors due to a low 14:1 student-faculty ratio.
The university's department of chemistry developed curriculum based on standards set by the American Chemical Society. Students can pursue either B.S. or B.A. degrees in chemistry. Both degree paths cover five foundations of chemistry including, organic, inorganic, biochemistry, physical and analytical.
The university's department of chemistry also has a chemistry scholars program, which pays up to 100 percent of tuition costs for students who show academic merit and financial need.
Located about 30 miles from Des Moines, Iowa State University at Ames had an enrollment of 36,600 students in fall of 2016. The university offers Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts degrees in chemistry at the undergraduate level. There are many different Ph.D. programs for graduate research, including study in the following areas:
- Organic and bioinorganic chemistry
- Analytical and bioanalytical chemistry
- Inorganic and material chemistry
- Physical and theoretical chemistry
- Biophysical chemistry
Graduate degree programs begin in the fall; applications are due by Feb. 1 for U.S. students. Additionally, the university's department of chemistry offers a concurrent B.S./M.S. in chemistry that can shave one to two years off the typical length of study, as well as a B.A./B.S. in chemistry with an M.B.A. that can reduce overall program length to five years of study.
Iowa State University lands at the No. 4 spot in these rankings based on favorable cost of tuition, as well as its 71 percent graduation rate and 87 percent admissions rate.
Truman State University is a public liberal arts and sciences college located in Kirksville, Mo. TSU's school of sciences and mathematics offers a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry, with concentration in pre-allopathic medicine, pre-osteopathic medicine and pre-pharmacy.
Programs consist of 600 clock hours of lecture in chemistry, with another 500 clock hours of laboratory experience. The B.S. degree requires a total of 120 credits to complete, and transfer students must complete a minimum of 12 credits of 300-level or above coursework at Truman State University.
TSU scored well in our rankings for its graduation and admissions rates (73 and 79 percent, respectively), its low 16:1 student to teacher ratio, and availability of alternative tuition payment plans.
UNC at Wilmington — "The Dub" to students and Wilmington locals — opened its doors in 1947 to 238 students. Enrollment was just under 16,500 in fall of 2016.
The university's department of chemistry and biosciences offers both B.S. and B.A. degree programs in chemistry. The Bachelor of Science option is for students who desire to work in the field of chemistry, while the Bachelor of Arts option is for students who wish to pursue careers in environmental science, medicine, biology and other areas. UNC at Wilmington also offers an online option for a M.S. in chemistry. The program requires 36 credit hours to complete, with at least 21 credits in chemistry courses.
At $6,691, UNC at Wilmington had the third-lowest cost of in-state tuition among our 10 best colleges for chemistry degrees. It also had a favorable 71 percent graduation rate.
Concord University is a public liberal arts college that offers a wide range of degree paths in the study of chemistry. Students can choose from the following Bachelor of Science degree options:
- Comprehensive chemistry
- Clinical laboratory science
- Teacher education (grades 9-12)
All B.S. degree options at Concord University require 120 credits to complete. Concord University accepted 84 percent of applicants in 2015, and the university also has a low 16:1 student to teacher ratio, which ties for second with three other institutions in these rankings.
The eighth institution in these rankings, UC San Diego, had the highest graduation rate of any college in our top 10 at 87 percent. However, acceptance is highly competitive, and the university's tuition costs are more than double other institutions in these rankings.
Students can pursue Bachelor of Arts degrees in both chemistry and biochemistry. Chemistry and biochemistry majors must complete at least 30.5 units of upper-division work in chemistry to satisfy B.A. degree requirements. Students who graduate with chemistry degrees are well positioned to find jobs as chemists or to continue their studies at the graduate level. Those who pursue biochemistry degrees are ready for graduate studies, or careers in the medical field.
This small liberal arts college is located at scenic Durango, Colo. The campus sits at an elevation of 6,872 feet and overlooks the Animas River Valley.
Students can pursue Bachelor of Science degrees in both chemistry and biochemistry. Both options require 120 credits to complete, including 64 credits in the program major. The chemistry major prepares students to work as chemists, or to pursue careers in medical or environmental industries. The biochemistry major is for students who wish to work in the medical field or in biotechnology. The college also offers a minor in chemistry that requires 20 credits to complete.
Fort Lewis College has favorable in-state tuition costs of $7,600, and the second-best admissions rate of any institution in these rankings at 85 percent. The college also offers students a more interactive educational experience with their professors due to a favorable 17:1 class size.
Rounding out our top 10 is this small liberal arts college located in west-central Wisconsin. The university has an average undergraduate population of roughly 10,500 students.
There are many different options for chemistry majors at UW-Eau Claire, including biochemistry, material science and business chemistry.
All faculty in the university's chemistry department have earned Ph.D.s, and five have earned the prestigious Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, more than any other public liberal arts college in the country. Many chemistry majors at the university participate in collaborative research projects with faculty.
University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire boasts a favorable 85 percent admissions rate, and chemistry graduates enjoy career placement — often at Nestle USA, which is headquartered at Eau Claire.
Chemistry Degree Programs and Common Career Paths
People who work in chemistry-related careers typically need at least a bachelor's degree; however, some jobs — and especially research-based positions — require job candidates to hold a master's or doctoral degree in chemistry. Here's a look at the skills learned by students who enroll in chemistry degree programs, and common career paths they take upon graduation.
Career Outlook for Chemistry Majors
Companies that perform a great deal of research and development of new products — especially medicinal and pharmaceutical corporations — will be among the largest employers of chemists. Corporations that specialize in some type of chemical manufacturing — DuPont, BASF, Dow Chemical, Monsanto — remain among the largest employers of chemists and chemical engineers.
Financial Aid and Scholarships in Chemistry
Federal financial aid is available to students enrolled in chemistry degree programs; however, other options exist. Scholarships and grants are available through professional chemistry and scientific organizations such as the American Chemical Society and the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers. These organizations are but a few of the many different scholarships available to chemistry students.
Renewable if recipient maintains a minimum 3.8 GPA.
To be included in these rankings, all schools must meet the following initial criteria for the specific subject being ranked.
- Offer an undergraduate degree (either associate or bachelor’s) in that subject.
- Have awarded at least one degree or certificate in that subject in the most recent year of IPEDS data available.
Based on those criteria, we ranked all 2-year and 4-year schools in IPEDS that reported data for all of the following points. Ratings are calculated on a 10-point scale, using the weights specified.
- In-state undergraduate tuition & fees, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Graduation rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Accessibility, based on admissions rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Institutional spending, based on two equally weighted factors, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Instructional and academic support expenses per full-time enrolled student
- Instructional and academic support spending as a percentage of all expenses
- Student-to-faculty ratio, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Flexibility, based on the following factors, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Percent of students enrolled fully or partly in distance education
- Whether the school offers programs that can be completed entirely in the evenings and on weekends
- Whether the school offers academic and career counseling
- Whether the school offers job placement services for students who complete their programs
- Whether the school offers any alternative tuition plans, such as a payment plan or guaranteed rate
- Size of program, based on how many of the degrees and certificates awarded in 2014-15 were in this particular subject, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Related subjects, based on the number of similar topics for programs in relevant CIP codes that are offered at any level, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2016-17, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
- Most Recent Cohorts (All Data Elements): 2016-17, College Scorecard, U.S. Department of Education, https://collegescorecard.ed.gov/data/
- Chemistry, SUNY College of Environmental Sciences and Forestry, http://www.esf.edu/chemistry/
- Chemistry education, Wayne State College, https://www.wsc.edu/download/downloads/id/1775/chemistry_education_7-12.pdf
- Chemistry, Wayne State College, https://www.wsc.edu/download/downloads/id/1774/chemical_sciences.pdf
- Department of Chemistry, University of North Carolina at Asheville, https://chemistry.unca.edu/
- Department of Chemistry, Iowa State University, https://www.chem.iastate.edu/
- Chemistry B.S., Truman State University, http://catalog.truman.edu/preview_program.php?catoid=13&poid=1778
- Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of North Carolina at Wilmington, https://www.uncw.edu/chem/
- Online Graduate Program in Chemistry, University of North Carolina at Wilmington, https://www.uncw.edu/chem/onlinemasterofscience.html
- Chemistry, Concord University, http://www.concord.edu/physci/node/2
- Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of California at San Diego, http://www.sandiego.edu/cas/chemistry/
- Chemistry and Biochemistry, Fort Lewis College, https://www.fortlewis.edu/chemistry/
- Chemistry majors and minors, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, https://www.uwec.edu/academics/majors-minors/chemistry/
- Chemists and Materials Engineers, Occupational Outlook Handbook, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/chemists-and-materials-scientists.htm#tab-8
- Scholarship directory data is copyrighted material which is reproduced on this website by permission of Wintergreen Orchard House, a division of Carnegie Communications. Copyright © 2017-18 by Wintergreen Orchard House. All rights reserved.