Chemistry Major Options
The department of Chemistry offers several options of majors for students who are interested in chemistry and biochemistry. These degrees provide training in not only chemistry subject matter and laboratory techniques, but also impart strong problem-solving skills that are broadly applicable to many different fields and career paths. Students who major in one of our degree programs frequently pursue careers in not just chemistry and biochemistry (although those are certainly possible paths), but also are well-equipped for medical school and other health-science post-graduate training. Others pursue jobs in the chemical industry, including at companies that produce pharmaceuticals, develop new materials, or are focused on energy. Others’ potential careers include government positions at national labs or agencies such as the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Energy, or the Environmental Protection Agency. Careers in education, science communication, and technical consulting are also commonly pursued by students with degrees in chemistry and related fields.
Each of the five degree programs/majors offered by our department are described below. If you have additional questions, please contact the Chemistry Undergraduate Office.
Please see our Advising page for more information and worksheets for all of our majors.
B.S. Degree in Chemistry
The B.S. Degree in Chemistry is the most rigorous degree in pure chemistry offered by the department (and it has an interesting history; ask us if you are curious - it is a unique degree at UM), and should be the degree of choice for students who plan to pursue Ph.D. studies in one of the traditional sub-areas of the field (Organic Chemistry, Inorganic Chemistry, Physical Chemistry, and Analytical Chemistry) or students who plan to seek careers in the Chemical Industry immediately after obtaining their B.S. degree. Students are exposed to in-depth coursework in all of the traditional sub-fields, and also spend at least two semesters working on undergraduate research projects in a faculty member’s research lab. This is also an excellent degree choice for pre-health students who have a strong interest in chemistry, and/or who may be considering M.D./Ph.D. paths.
B. S. Major in Biochemistry
The B.S. Major in Biochemistry is ideal for students who are interested in learning about life from a chemical perspective. Students will gain a solid foundation in chemistry through traditional sub-discipline courses, but will also take a number of chemistry courses that are focused on the role of chemistry in biological systems. Students will also have the option to take elective courses in molecular biology, and also may pursue undergraduate research in lieu of, or in addition to, one of the traditional laboratory courses. Students that pursue this degree will be well equipped for graduate studies in biochemistry, chemical biology, and many other fields of inquiry in the life sciences. The degree will also provide excellent preparation for students intending to pursue professional careers in the Biotechnology Industry as well as the Health Sciences.
B. S. Major in Biomolecular Science
The B.S. Major in Biomolecular Sciences provides students with the core knowledge necessary to understand the chemical principles underpinning biology and the option to explore other courses in chemistry, biophysics, and molecular, cellular and developmental biology. This degree provides exposure to all of the core topics in the area of biochemistry, but also provides more flexibility in course selection than the B.S. Major in biochemistry. This degree provides a good foundation for students planning to attend graduate school in an interdisciplinary field related to chemistry and biology, and also provides good preparation for those who intend to pursue graduate studies in biochemistry. This degree also provides a solid foundation for students who plan to pursue degrees in the health sciences by providing opportunities for broad exposure to chemistry, biochemistry, biophysics, molecular biology, and related fields.
B. S. Major in Chemical Sciences
The B.S. Major in Chemical Science exposes students to all sub-disciplines in Chemistry, but provides more flexibility in course selection than the BS Chemistry degree. Undergraduate research is a strongly encouraged option, particularly for students who plan to pursue graduate studies in chemistry or a related field, but is not a requirement for this degree. This degree is similar to chemistry majors at many other institutions, and provides good preparation for those who intend to pursue graduate degrees in chemistry. The degree also provides a solid foundation for those planning to attend graduate school in an interdisciplinary field where chemical knowledge will be beneficial, and for students interested in chemistry but planning to pursue post-graduate degrees in the Health Sciences.
B.S. Major in Interdisciplinary Chemical Sciences
The Interdisciplinary Chemical Sciences (ICS) major allows students the flexibility to supplement a core study of chemistry with courses in complementary fields. This major can be effective preparation for graduate study in the sciences, graduate studies in an interdisciplinary area that might benefit from a strong science background, for medical, law, and business schools, or for direct entry into the job market. Because students pursuing the ICS degree have a wide variety of career goals, advising from a chemistry departmental advisor is especially important.
For further information, please contact the Chemistry Undergraduate Office