What is a Chemistry Major?

Chemistry is the study of molecules, their formation from atoms, and their transformation into new molecules. Chemistry seeks to understand and control the reactions that cause these transformations. Chemistry’s breadth results from the diversity of molecules, which range from the simple two- to three-atom molecules of the earth’s atmosphere to the incredibly complex molecules and molecular structures of living things.

Students who like to invent and enjoy thinking in quantitative and mathematical terms may be interested in chemistry. Likewise, students who can break complex questions into a series of less complicated questions that can be answered through experimentation should consider the chemical sciences. The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry offers the Bachelor of Arts (BA) and the Bachelor of Science (BS) degrees in Chemistry and the Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in Biochemistry. The BA’s requirements are somewhat less restrictive than those of the BS. The BA is a good choice for students interested in medical, dental, law, or business school. Students interested in graduate work in chemistry or biochemistry may pursue any of the three degrees.

Major, General, and Career Information

From UCSB's Chemistry Homepage:
What Can I Do With a Major in Chemistry?
Our department offers undergraduates a first-class program of courses leading to either a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Chemistry, a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Chemistry, or a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Biochemistry. A minor in Chemistry also is offered.
Majoring in Chemistry
A major in Chemistry leads one to a trail head at graduation from which many career paths may be taken. One path leads to medical school, or veterinary school or nursing; that is, to a career in the health sciences. Another path leads to graduate studies in chemistry or biochemistry, fore-shadowing a life of teaching and research. Most environmental problems have a fundamental chemical basis. The chemistry major is well prepared to attack such problems, both technically and politically. Chemical analysis underlies many specialties. Criminal forensics, medical tests, and impurity testing come to mind. The chemistry major may choose a path in one of these directions. Synthesis of new materials and drugs is often the goal of the chemical and pharmaceutical industries. Many of our chemistry majors choose paths leading to careers in these areas. Large numbers of our former chemistry majors follow non-chemistry career paths. They tell us that their chemistry major provided excellent grounding in analytical thinking and an understanding of the basics of nature that helped make them successful in their chosen line of business?

At UCSB the freshman student planning a degree in chemistry begins with a three quarter course in General Chemistry with Laboratory. Courses in Physics and Mathematics also are taken to provide the tools and understanding needed for later chemistry courses. In the second year, the student takes a three quarter course in Organic Chemistry with Laboratory. More required courses in Physics and, in the case of the B.S. degree Mathematics, also are taken. The student takes Analytical and Physical Chemistry with Laboratories in the junior year. The first opportunity to take upper division electives in chemistry occurs in this year. Electives allow you to place an emphasis on one of the subfields of chemistry. The student takes Inorganic Chemistry and more electives in the senior year. In addition to advanced courses in organic, inorganic and physical chemistry, electives exist in biochemistry, biophysics, quantum mechanics, photochemistry, and statistical mechanics. We urge qualified chemistry majors to do some real research too by encouraging independent study and research with individual professors?

The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry offers two degrees in Chemistry, the Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree, and the Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree. The B.A. degree is intended for those who want more time for courses outside chemistry itself, and who intend to branch farther afield after graduation. The B.S. degree includes more electives chosen in chemistry, and is intended for those who expect to pursue more studies of a chemical nature.

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Resources and Professional Associations

American Chemical Society

The American Chemical Society is a self-governed individual membership organization that consists of more than 158,000 members at all degree levels and in all fields of chemistry.

American Association for Clinical Chemistry
AACC is an international scientific/medical society of clinical laboratory professionals, physicians, research scientists and other individuals involved with clinical chemistry and other clinical laboratory science-related disciplines.

American Chemistry Council
The ACC website represents the leading chemistry companies in the country providing articles on all fields in the chemistry industry.

American Institute of Chemists
The AIC engages in a broad range of programs for professional enhancement through the prestigious Fellow membership category, awards program, certification programs, meetings, publications and public relations activities.