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Degree: BS, BA

Campus: Columbus

College: Arts and Sciences

Chemistry is the study of the composition, structure, properties and reactions of matter, so the study of chemistry is central to understanding many other scientific disciplines. All human activities deal with a material world, which consists of chemicals both natural and manufactured. The contributions of chemistry to modern society occur in diverse fields, such as pharmaceuticals, polymers, agricultural chemicals, petroleum products and biotechnology. Chemistry also plays a role in cleaning up the environment; improving methods of producing, processing and packaging food; and making automobiles safer and more fuel-efficient. Thus, a world of opportunities awaits the student who majors in chemistry.

Upon admission to the university, students can declare a major in chemistry within the College of Arts and Sciences. Students should then contact the Undergraduate Chemistry and Biochemistry Office to make an appointment with a chemistry advisor to map out an appropriate program of courses. 

The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry offers both the Bachelor of Science and the Bachelor of Arts degrees. The BS is the degree of choice for the professional chemist. The BA is a liberal arts degree, often chosen by students who want a background in chemistry as a basis for future work in other areas of science or in professional programs such as medicine, secondary education, pharmacy or law. 

The BS degree in chemistry requires 42 credit hours beyond general chemistry in the major program; 14–17 hours in calculus, analytic geometry and differential equations; and 10 hours in physics. 

The BA degree in chemistry requires 35 credit hours beyond general chemistry in the major program, 10 hours in calculus and analytic geometry, and 10 hours in physics.

For well-qualified and highly motivated students, Honors courses are available in general chemistry, organic chemistry and quantitative analysis.

The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry supports an active Honors Program. The honors sequence General Chemistry 1910H and 1920H must be started in the fall semester and is recommended for well-qualified entering freshmen. In addition, there is an Honors organic chemistry sequence and an Honors analytical course in the second year with access to extensive lab work. These courses offer more intensive investigations into these topics and provide an excellent foundation for pursuing advanced levels in chemistry. 

Scholars programs of interest to chemistry majors include the Biological Sciences, Health Sciences Scholars, and STEM Exploration and Engagement Scholars programs. The Biological Sciences Scholars Program emphasizes research, with individualized advising and significant lab and field experience. The Health Sciences Scholars Program is focused on preparing students for careers in health sciences and health care. The STEM Exploration and Engagement Scholars Program connects students with other science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields through mentoring and community outreach. 

In addition to specific course requirements and electives, both the BS and BA programs offer chemistry majors the opportunity to conduct undergraduate research projects with chemistry and biochemistry faculty. The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry encourages all of its students to become involved in research with one of its faculty members in one of many active research programs. This is an excellent opportunity to learn about and become involved in the cutting edge of chemistry discoveries.

The Undergraduate Chemistry and Biochemistry Club provides opportunities for students to interact with faculty, discuss careers and research areas with scientists from the Ohio State campus and beyond, and participate in service activities. 

Students can also participate in exciting opportunities for outreach to elementary schools through the Wonders of Our World (WOW) program.

Chemists are employed in industrial, government and academic positions. Chemistry graduates find positions in research and development, analytical services, quality control, chemical sales, and marketing. Chemistry graduates with education credentials are in demand to teach in high schools and middle schools. Chemistry majors earning a Bachelor of Science often go on to graduate school to earn a master’s or doctorate degree. Graduate students in chemistry usually receive a tuition waiver and a modest salary for their work as a teaching or research assistant while pursuing advanced studies and research. A chemist with an advanced degree qualifies for a variety of opportunities in both industry and education. Chemistry professors at colleges and universities are PhD chemists who teach chemistry to undergraduate and graduate students and conduct research in chemistry.

Chemistry majors earning a Bachelor of Arts have excellent credentials for admission to professional schools such as medicine, pharmacy, dentistry, optometry and veterinary medicine or admission to graduate programs in areas such as business, law, education and journalism.

The median annual wage for chemists was $77,630 in May 2019, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The lowest 10% earned less than $44,460, and the highest 10% earned more than $133,690. 

In May 2019, the median annual wages for chemists in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

  • The federal government, excluding postal service: $111,840   
  • Research and development in the physical, engineering and life sciences: $90,290 
  • Chemical manufacturing: $75,510   
  • Administrative and support and waste management and remediation services: $67,280
  • Testing laboratories: $59,540

Students who complete the chemistry major will be prepared to:

  • Understand the relationship between chemistry and broader areas of science in a historical context
  • Apply mathematical and physical concepts to describe chemical processes
  • Apply chemical concepts to explain basic physical phenomena 
  • Use scientifically valid reasoning to investigate and articulate how chemical knowledge is acquired

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Chemistry at Ohio State is ranked as the best program of its kind in the state of Ohio. The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry has been ranked among the top chemistry departments in the nation by The National Research Council and U.S. News and World Report.

The department's faculty includes 20 recipients of an NSF Career Award, 16 fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, three DOE Early Career recipients, three fellows of the American Chemical Society, three Ohio Eminent Scholars, two Distinguished University Professors, and one Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor.

The department receives over $12 million in federal funding annually with approximately 90 percent of the faculty supported by federal research grants.  

Interested in a career in the STEM fields?

Check out the STEM Pathway to discover the many majors Ohio State offers that can lead to a career in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.