Free Online Chemistry Courses

Chemists explore the changes and interactions between chemical materials. Students in this major will study the reactions of organic and inorganic elements at the most basic levels. Chemistry is both highly academic and highly experiential. Students interested in hands-on study will enjoy the heavy lab component both in college and in their careers. Research is traditionally conducted within a lab equipped with the proper safety tools, such as goggles and eye wash stations, to prevent and reduce injury.

Aspiring chemists should consider their ideal careers early, since they are often required to choose a specialization during their undergraduate years. Chemistry graduates will find their skills are valued by a wide range of employers. Manufacturers in the food, cosmetics, and pharmaceutical industries rely on chemists to develop stable products and to perform quality control tests, to make sure these substances are healthy and safe for public use. Forensic teams leverage chemists to find trace components at crime scenes, which can be used as evidence during a trial.

Sample Courses

Undergraduates often start their chemistry studies by learning the fundamentals, covering lab safety protocols, the periodic table of elements, stoichiometry, thermodynamics concepts, and atomic interactions. Much of the information within these courses will be illustrated practically during lab experiments, where students will get to manipulate gases, liquids, and solids within a controlled environment. Most schools require students to take math courses concurrently, up to the calculus level, so they can keep up with the calculations used in upper-division chemistry courses. As students progress beyond key concepts, they can begin exploring courses in organic chemistry, biochemistry, or physical chemistry.

Possible Specializations

Unlike most undergraduate programs, students have a wide array of specializations they can declare right as they apply. Most schools don’t just offer a general chemistry degree program – they allow undergraduates to specialize in fields like chemical education, biochemistry, environmental chemistry, materials chemistry, or biophysical chemistry. Graduate students will often carry the torch and continue to work on these specializations well into their master’s and Ph.D. programs. The unique, early specialization encouraged by chemistry departments allows students to spend more time mastering a particular field.

Degree Types

Chemistry majors can enroll in degree programs at the bachelor’s through doctoral levels. Since there are so many math and introductory lab requirements, chemistry programs are not traditionally offered at the two-year associate level.

Bachelor’s

As mentioned earlier, most colleges allow students to declare a chemistry department specialization when they apply to a four-year program. Students that graduate with a bachelor’s degree can qualify for entry-level roles known as bench chemist jobs. A bench job includes tasks that can be completed at a workbench, such as the mixing of liquid compounds.

Master’s

Students who pursue this graduate degree will most likely continue research within their undergrad chemistry specialization. Students who graduate with a master’s degree often find research jobs with school or government laboratories, pharmaceutical companies, or chemical manufacturers. Chemists are also needed in many quality control jobs across various industries, such as cosmetics, food, and nuclear energy.

Ph.D.

Before entering a doctoral program, chemistry students might be expected to pass a qualification exam. This is a common practice within science departments at the Ph.D. level. Doctoral candidates are often expected to conduct guided research on chemical interactions within their chosen specialization, and then deliver their findings to a committee with their dissertation. Ph.D. grads can then pursue a faculty role, to teach college students and upcoming chemists, or they can seek employment as chemists with labs in various industries.

Students who wish to network with other academics and professionals should consider joining a national honors society, such as Gamma Sigma Epsilon or Phi Lambda Upsilon. These groups provide students with unique opportunities to present at national conventions and earn merit-based scholarships. Students nearing graduation should also explore professional organizations, such as the American Chemist Society
, which provides members with exclusive news, publications, networking groups, and funding opportunities.

Ideal Candidates for Chemistry

Chemistry requires individuals to pay attention to detail, since the smallest measurement errors can ruin an experiment or lead to unstable mixes. Chemists often deal with exactitudes, measuring, mixing, and heating elements with precision. It is best for students to cultivate careful laboratory habits early on in their academic careers.

Patience is another excellent trait for chemists. As in other natural science fields, like physics or biology, scientists can find themselves waiting for long periods of time to complete an experiment, collect enough data, or retest elements after an error or instrument failure. Patience will also come in handy during redundant tasks, such as cataloging a component’s reaction when mixed with different elements.

Impartiality is key when it comes to chemical research and experimentation. Chemists cannot let their expectations, emotions, or preconceptions cloud their analysis – they must remain as objective as possible, even if they do not reach their desired results. Ultimately, chemists seek to test theories with empirical research, instead of drawing hasty conclusions or manipulating data to get the results they expect or want.

Career Pathways

Professionals who hold an undergraduate chemistry degree can find work as chemists in many different environments – from forensic investigation labs to quality control departments at manufacturing companies. These scientists research chemical interactions, log data, and deliver reports analyzing the results of their experiments. The median pay for chemists is $73,060 a year, or $35.13 an hour. Nearly a fifth of chemist positions are in research and development industries, and another 17% of jobs are in pharmaceutical and medical manufacturing industries.

Aspiring chemists can learn more about their college degree options by contacting admissions advisors, reaching out to chemistry department faculty members, and by talking with current chemistry students. While in college, students can prepare to enter the workforce by visiting their campus career center and joining a professional chemistry association. Students shouldn’t shy away from reaching out to the numerous resources they have access to as chemistry scholars and graduates.

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When it comes to analyzing cell components or body fluids or developing new medications, there is no way around mass spectrometry. Mass spectrometry is a highly sensitive method of measurement that has been used for many years for the analysis of chemical and biological materials. Scientists at the Institute of Immunology of the University Medical Center of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) have now significantly improved this analytical method that is widely employed within their field. They have also developed a software program for the integrated analysis of measurement data called ISOQuant. Their optimized mass spectrometric workflow allows to identify and quantify significantly more proteins than before. The development of this enhanced method of measurement and the specially designed software is described in an article recently published in the prestigious journal Nature Methods.

Phys.org, Phys.org
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Chemistry in the News

Source: IHS Chemical Week

Our Favorite Chemistry Blogs

Chemistry Journals & Trade Magazines

  • Journals

    • Chemical Reviews

      This ACS publication is one of the highest-ranked journals in chemistry and provides reviews of recent research across all chemical fields.

    • Chemistry Central Journal

      CCJ is a peer-reviewed journal covering each major topic in the field. It's also an open-access journal, meaning students and professionals can read it without a subscription.

    • Journal of Materials Chemistry A

      This journal covers the chemistry of energy and sustainability. This new publication is a digital reboot of the discontinued Journal of Materials Chemistry.

    • New Journal of Chemistry

      Publishing innovative new research and articles, this journal is aimed at professionals interested in some of the lesser known applications of chemistry.

  • Trade Magazines

    • ASMBM Today

      The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology publishes this magazine that features interviews, current news, and history from the field.

    • Chemistry World

      With numerous awards to its name, Chemistry World is one of the field's most popular trades. It includes print and multimedia features on all areas of the ...

    • ChemMatters

      This magazine is aimed at teenagers interested in chemistry and focuses on how elements of the discipline find their way into our everyday lives.

    • ChemViews

      Published by ChemPubSoc in Europe, this magazine includes insightful analyses of research and news topics, as well as interviews with leading chemists.

    • inChemistry Magazine

      This is the official student member magazine of the ACS, with each quarterly issue covering topics pertaining to undergraduate chemistry majors.

Chemistry Grants & Scholarships

  • Grants

    • ACS GCI Pharmaceutical Roundtable Grant

      Deadline: June 4

      Award Amount: $50,000

      This grant backs research toward developing pharmaceutical and chemical alternatives to currently used compounds. The grant will go to the team of chemists proposing the most compelling chemical ...

    • ACS Hach High School Chemistry Grant

      Deadline: April 1

      Award Amount: $1,500

      This grant is for high school chemistry teachers who have unique project or experiment proposals to enhance the level of rigor, engagement and curiosity in their chemistry classrooms.

    • ACS Undergraduate Research Grants (UR)

      Deadline: March 14

      Award Amount: $70,000 over three years

      These grants provide seed money for scientists and engineers currently participating or studying in an undergraduate lab or research program.

    • Dreyfus Foundation: Special Grant in the Chemical Sciences

      Deadline: August 18

      Award Amount: Varies

      Open to group research proposals aimed at advancing the study of chemical science, this grant is meant to further education and careers in the field.

    • National Science Foundation Chemistry Research Experiences for Undergraduates

      Deadline: Varies

      Award Amount: Varies

      The NSF grants in chemistry are for undergraduates who want to conduct active research in chemistry or a related field and may include an international focus.

  • Scholarships

    • ACS Summer Research Awards

      Deadline: N/A

      Award Amount: $4,000

      This scholarship is given to an Ithaca College undergraduate in chemistry who wants to conduct research over the summer as a means of moving toward a graduate ...

    • American Council of Independent Laboratories Scholarship

      Deadline: April 4

      Award Amount: $4,000

      This academic scholarship is for an undergraduate junior or senior in chemistry; the award is given based on academic excellence, career goals, leadership and ...

    • Intel Student Talent Search

      Deadline: November 15

      Award Amount: Varies

      Intel welcomes high school student applicants interested in engineering, chemistry, and related fields who have created a project applicable to Intel's work ...

    • Priscilla Carney Jones Scholarship

      Deadline: May 1

      Award Amount: Minimum of $1,500

      This award from the ACS is given to female undergraduates in chemistry, who are in their junior or senior year, to help that student with tuition, books, and ...

    • Saint John's University: The FoCuS Chemistry Scholarship

      Deadline: N/A

      Award Amount: $20,500 per year

      This "Future Chemists Scholarships and Support" award is given to freshmen students interested in studying chemistry or biochemistry. Students will have a ...

    • Society of Plastics Engineers Foundation Scholarship

      Deadline: TBD

      Award Amount: Varies

      The SPE gives numerous scholarships to graduate chemistry students who are interested in particular in plastics engineering and have a demonstrated interest in ...

    • UNC: Jason D. Altom Memorial Award

      Deadline: September

      Award Amount: Varies

      This cash award from the University of North Carolina goes to a junior or senior undergraduate chemistry major who shows great promise in their research.

Chemistry Internships

  • Amgen Scholar Program

    Deadline: Mid-February

    These internships are hosted by Amgen through participating universities across both the U.S. and Europe; participating interns work with the company on biotechnology research.

  • BASF: The Chemical Company

    Deadline: Three to four months before desired start date

    Students wishing to intern with BASF should submit an application either for a specific position for preemptively; chosen interns will work on chemical research both independently and with a team.

  • Brookhaven National Laboratory: Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internship

    Deadline: January 10

    This internship gives undergraduates in chemistry and related fields the chance to participate in cutting-edge scientific projects alongside BNL's own premier staff researchers.

  • Continuing Umbrella for Research Experience (CURE) Program

    Deadline: Rolling

    This internship in biochemistry is for ethnic and racial minority students who are first generation college attendees and from participating New Jersey high schools.

  • Department of Homeland Security Summer Internship Program

    Deadline: TBD

    This summer position with the government is for undergraduate students majoring in chemistry, technology, engineering and mathematics fields who want to conduct research with DHS.

  • Dow Commercial Summer Internship Program

    Deadline: TBD

    This 10-week internship gives interns a chance to work with the chemical company in the sales, marketing, technical service, customer service, and other public-facing areas.

  • Institute for Defense Analysis Summer Associate

    Deadline: TBD

    The IDA hire undergraduate seniors and graduate students over the summer to work in its facilities in Virginia and Washington DC, collaborating with researchers in chemistry and other disciplines.

  • NASA One Stop Shopping Initiative

    Deadline: October, March, and June

    NASA asks students in chemistry and related fields to apply for one of its numerous internships; students are fitted into the appropriate internship for pre-college, undergraduate, or graduate.

  • Sigma-Aldrich Corporation Biochemical Internship

    Deadline: Varies

    These internships vary in focus but are designed for undergraduate students interested in chemistry who have completed at least one year of college and have strong academic records.

Chemistry Student & Professional Organizations

  • Professional Organizations

    • Alpha Chi Sigma

      This Greek organization is the co-ed professional chemistry fraternity, with chapters across the country promoting student excellence in the discipline.

    • American Association for Clinical Chemistry

      The AACC is an association of clinical researchers, scientists, physicians and other chemistry professionals interested in improving healthcare through laboratory medicine.

    • American Council of Independent Laboratories

      The ACIL is a diverse trade association of independent and commercial scientific engineering firms from all across the U.S.

    • American Institute of Chemical Engineers

      Boasting over 45,000 members from over 100 countries, the AIChE is one of the world's largest associations of chemical engineers.

    • Chemical Heritage Foundation

      The CHF is dedicated to collecting scholarship that uniquely captures the historical role chemistry, chemical engineering and related sciences have played and continue to play in human development.

    • International Organization for Chemical Sciences in Development

      This organization promotes the research and application of chemistry in ways that alleviate global poverty and promote human development and economic growth.

    • Royal Society of Chemistry

      The RSC is certainly the most premier professional organization of chemists in the UK — and also one of the most highly regarded chemistry associations in the world.