Chemistry, one of the main arms of science, is often defined as the study of matter, which, as a general definition, is any substance that has mass and occupies space. This includes studying the composition and structures, properties, reactions and changes of these substances.
Chemistry plays a great part in most other sciences and subsequently, everyday life. The reaction of chemicals or substances are often responsible for phenomena you can observe. For example, cooking food and the changing colour of leaves all depend on chemical reactions.
A significant amount of the curriculum in degree programs for chemistry includes courses in organic, physical and inorganic chemistry in addition to introductory courses in mathematics and physics. Students will most likely be spending their time in both lectures and laboratory classes, and assessment can be through written evaluations, such as exams, quizzes and theses, and practical evaluations such as experiments and lab work.
Entrance into a chemistry degree program varies from institution to institution and even country to country. In the US, some universities require you to take an entrance exam, while some will take into consideration national or standard exams. In the UK, A-Levels will be considered. Generally, entrance into a chemistry degree program is competitive and will require high grades.
Since chemistry is very heavy on science courses, applicants may be considered based on performance in previous science classes undertaken by the applicant. A number of universities also take into consideration advanced placement exams, while some consider transfer credits for post-secondary students or applicants. For a complete list of requirements, you are advised to check out or contact the institution you are interested in applying to.
The accreditation of a degree usually depends on the country where the degree is awarded. In most cases, countries have their own accrediting systems for universities, students and graduates. Please check with the institution you are interested in for their accreditation details.
As for certifications, there is no universally recognised or required certification for graduates with an undergraduate degree in chemistry, since they also end up in many different career paths and fields. However, those who want to pursue specialist roles might be required to have a certification in the specific field of study, research or work they want to be in.
As mentioned earlier in the article, specialisations are available in a number of institutions. This may be a required part of the degree program for chemistry or it may be optional, depending on the institution. Most students choose to take specialisations which are fit to their choice of career. Below is a short list of common specialisations offered by universities:
An undergraduate degree in chemistry can typically take around three to four years of full-time study. The exact period of time would depend on the university of your choice and the country wherein it is located.
There are also a great number of programs for those who want to pursue a master’s degree or a doctorate in chemistry. Many graduates of a bachelor’s program choose to pursue further studies at the graduate level in order to advance their career and/or research. These postgraduate degrees are usually heavy on research, lab work and writing involving the student’s chosen specialisation, such as astrochemistry.
Other graduates of bachelor programs in chemistry choose to pursue further studies in other subjects such as law or medicine.
As mentioned earlier, a significant number of graduates (around 34% in the UK) choose to pursue further studies. An even bigger portion of graduates (around 50% in the UK%) is employed, mostly in science-specific roles and fields. Many of them end up in laboratories and research facilities (normally after completing further studies or gaining industrial experience as part of their bachelor degree program).
Studying chemistry also gives students transferable skills that can be used in different fields and career paths, such as teaching secondary school or working as a consultant. Some of these are analysis and problem solving, time management, working with data, and significant competency in working with technology.
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