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2021 Chemistry Degree Guide

If you are curious about the building blocks of life and matter, a major in Chemistry might be for you. In this major, you will learn everything about matter including the atoms that make it up, how it behaves when manipulated, and reactions it has to other matter. You will take classes in organic chemistry, physical chemistry, thermodynamics, and biochemistry, and many others in order to be introduced to the many practical uses for chemistry.

Chemistry is a large field and offers many specializations. You may have the option to choose a concentration in Analytical Chemistry, Inorganic Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Physical Chemistry, Polymer Chemistry, Chemical Physics, Environmental Chemistry, Forensic Chemistry, and Theoretical Chemistry. These areas of specialization open up a variety of career choices to students.

Chemistry Degrees Decreasing

#44 Most Popular Major
22.2k Degrees Awarded
-1.1% Increase in Graduates

In 2018-2019, chemistry was the 44th most popular major nationwide with 22,156 degrees awarded. This represents a 1.1% reduction in chemistry degrees awarded over the prior year's total of -22,389.

Approximately 1,229 colleges in the U.S. offer a chemistry degree of some kind. This year's Best Colleges for Chemistry ranking compares 109 of them to identify the best overall programs in the country. Continue reading to check out one of our many unbiased rankings of chemistry programs later in this article.

Requirements for Getting a Degree in Chemistry

Students should have a strong background in science and math. You will be required to use and memorize a variety of formulas when conducting experiments. Strong critical thinking and analytical skills will help you look at data and draw conclusions. Problem solving skills will help you use this data to solve issues. You will also be required to give presentations or write articles about your findings.

Both your undergrad work and most future careers will involve a lot of time spent in a lab performing experiments and recording data. Experience in this field is helpful when you are looking for a job after graduation. You can gain this experience by working in research labs on your campus while working towards to undergraduate degree, through internship, or through fellowships.

A bachelor's degree will allow you to work as a chemist, but you must obtain a master's or Ph.D. if you wish to conduct research or lead experiments. Typically, you will specialize in a certain aspect of chemistry when you earn an advanced degree.

Prior Education for a Chemistry Program

chemistry degree applicants generally need have finished high school or their GED. Many schools may also have GPA and SAT/ACT score minimums that must be met. Once you obtain your degree, additional chemistry certifications required to pursue a career in this field.

Types of Chemistry Degrees

There are various different levels of chemistry degrees. You can spend many years getting as high as a research / scholarship based doctorate's in chemistry to something that takes less time like a associate's. The type of chemistry degree you choose will determine how long it takes to get your diploma.

Degree Credit Requirements Typical Program Length
Associate Degree 60-70 credits 2 years
Bachelor’s Degree 120 credits 4 years
Master’s Degree 50-70 credits 1-3 years
Doctorate Program required coursework including thesis or dissertation At least 4 years

A bachelor's degree is the most common level of education achieved by those in careers related to chemistry, with approximately 37.7% of workers getting one. People currently working in careers related to chemistry tend obtained the following education levels.

Level of Education Percentage of Workers
Bachelor’s Degree 36.3%
Master’s Degree 23.8%
Doctoral Degree 17.7%
Post-Doctoral Training 9.8%
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate 3.6%

About 50.7% of workers in careers related to chemistry obtain at least master's degree. View the chart below to get an idea of what degree level most of those in chemistry careers have.


The education level required is different depending on the chemistry career you are seeking.

Career Opportunities for A Degree In Chemistry Graduate

Above Average Number of Jobs
$38.7k Average Starting Salary
8% Growth Job Outlook 2016-26

Chemists work in a variety of locations from research and development labs to medical manufacturing. Graduates have been hired by manufacturers to develop new materials, private industries to perform tests for pharmaceuticals, and by companies to monitor environmental conditions. You will be able to employ your strong understanding of chemistry concepts to any number of industries.

Growth Projected for Chemistry Careers

Want a job when you graduate with your chemistry degree? Chemistry careers are expected to grow 8.0% between 2016 and 2026.

The following options are some of the most in-demand careers related to chemistry.

Occupation Name Projected Jobs Expected Growth
High School Teachers 1,095,500 7.5%
Environmental Scientists and Specialists 99,400 11.1%
Chemists 94,000 6.5%
Natural Sciences Managers 62,300 9.9%
Chemistry Professors 28,900 9.9%

How Much Money Do People With a Chemistry Degree Make?

Recently graduated chemistry students earned an average of $38,704 in 2017-2018. Earnings can range from as low as $11,100 to as high as $89,400. As you might expect, salaries for chemistry graduates vary depending on the level of education that was acquired.


Highest Paid Chemistry Careers

Salaries for chemistry graduates can vary widely by the occupation you choose as well. The following table shows the top 5 highest paying careers chemistry grads often go into.

Occupation Name Median Average Salary
Natural Sciences Managers $139,680
Physics Postsecondary Professors $103,830
Chemistry Professors $92,360
Environmental Science Professors $91,330
Chemists $83,850

Getting Your Chemistry Degree

With over 2,460 different chemistry degree programs to choose from, finding the best fit for you can be a challenge. Fortunately you have come to the right place. We have analyzed all of these schools to come up with hundreds of unbiased chemistry school rankings to help you with this.

Chemistry is one of 7 different types of Physical Sciences programs to choose from.

Majors Similar to Chemistry

Related Major Annual Graduates
Physics 13,927
Geological & Earth Sciences 9,522
General Physical Sciences 4,527
Astronomy & Astrophysics 1,168
Atmospheric Sciences & Meteorology 1,072

View All Chemistry Related Majors >


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