Chemistry has a leading role in the technological challenges of the new century that touch all aspects of our lives. Global climate change, increasing demands on limited energy resources, the detection and treatment of human disease, concerns about environmental health, and the continuing need for new materials and synthetic strategies all demand an innovative response from chemists.
Chemistry majors gain the knowledge and skills needed to study environmental chemical pathways, produce efficient catalysts, develop new medicinal drugs, fabricate and use nanoscale materials, create new sensor technologies, identify methods for early disease diagnosis, find methods for remediation of environmental damage, and make new materials with unique properties.
Chemistry majors find jobs in a wide range of fields, such as environmental chemistry, forensic science, pharmaceutics, polymer and plastics chemistry, technical sales and writing, and education. Many go on to advanced study in the sciences or in professions such as medicine, dentistry, and law.
Why Study at Iowa?
The Department of Chemistry has a strong program that has been recognized in national rankings, including a recent one by the National Research Council. Departmental instructors are committed to the education of undergraduate students and have won numerous awards for outstanding teaching.
Chemistry majors are encouraged to participate in independent research with faculty members and may be a coauthor on a journal article or present findings at a scientific meeting. Students also benefit from opportunities to participate in chemistry-related student organizations and living-learning communities in the residence halls.
Graduates of the chemistry program have been highly successful finding jobs in business and industry, and many have entered some of the nation's best graduate and professional programs.
The department also collaborates with the UI departments of biology, geography, and geoscience to offer an Environmental Sciences degree program with tracks in biosciences, chemical sciences, geosciences, and hydrosciences.
Students majoring in chemistry earn a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree.
The BA program is a good choice if you're interested in earning a degree in dentistry, medicine, law, or other professional fields after you graduate. It's also good preparation for secondary school teaching.
The BS program will prepare you for graduate study in chemistry or related fields and for careers in business and industry. The BS degree in chemistry is certified by the American Chemical Society.
Course requirements are similar for BA and BS students. They include five courses in chemistry that will provide a foundation for the rest of your chemistry course work:
- Foundation courses in chemistry
- Foundation courses in organic chemistry (including a lab)
All BA students also take seven advanced chemistry courses; students in the BS program take 10 advanced courses plus two additional courses that may include undergraduate research.
Most BS students in chemistry and some BA students do undergraduate research. If you decide to do research, you'll have your own project, and you'll work closely with a faculty member. You'll be expected to prepare a report on your work, and you'll have the opportunity to present your research at an undergraduate research poster session.
Teacher Education in Chemistry
Chemistry students who plan to teach in secondary schools must complete the College of Education's Teacher Education Program. If you're a BA student who's interested in graduate study in teaching, you might decide to enter a joint degree program in which you'll earn a BA and a Master of Arts (MA) in teaching in five years.
See Chemistry in the UI General Catalog to learn more about the chemistry major and graduating with honors
Minor in Chemistry
Chemistry majors need to meet the requirements for admission to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
Admission Requirements Tabs
There are about 150 undergraduate chemistry majors and about the same number of graduate students at Iowa. Chemistry majors are among the university's best students. Student organizations at Iowa that are of special interest to chemistry students include the Undergraduate Chemical Society, which is affiliated with the American Chemical Society; a chapter of Alpha Chi Sigma; and Women in Science and Engineering (WISE).
Living-Learning Communities in the residence halls that may be of interest to chemistry majors include Health Sciences, Honors Research Opportunities in the Natural/Life Sciences, or Women in Science and Engineering.
Faculty, Facilities, and Resources
Department of Chemistry faculty members are well-known at the university and beyond. They win a substantial amount of funding for their research, have earned many awards, and hold important leadership positions.
The recently renovated Chemistry Building has state-of-the-art laboratories, classrooms, and lecture halls. You’ll work in laboratories outfitted with computers and instrumentation to facilitate experiments in laser spectroscopy, NMR, or atomic force microscopy. You'll also have access to the department's dedicated computer labs, which have workstations that run computational and chemistry software and are maintained by professional staff. In addition, you'll be able to use the Chemistry Building's undergraduate lounge and work spaces, which have wireless network access.
Iowa graduates have job placement rates ranging from 86-100 percent, depending on their area of study, and our Pomerantz Career Center offers multiple resources to help students find internships and jobs.
Students with a chemistry degree can pursue careers or graduate study in a wide range of fields. Learn more about career options for chemistry majors on the American Chemical Society website (ACS.org/careers).
Chemistry majors may qualify for the Shoemaker-Strickler Memorial Scholarship, the George S. Schaeffer Scholarship, the Marge and Don Burton Scholarship, the Cater Award, or other scholarships for chemistry students. Chemistry students also have won national awards, such as Goldwater and Rhodes scholarships.
Apply to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.