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Department of Chemistry and Physics

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What types of chemistry degrees are offered? 

The Department of Chemistry and Physics offers two degree programs: Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Chemistry and a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering (BChE) as a 3 + 2 Dual Degree Program in conjunction with the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at North Carolina State University. The department offers 5 (five) different concentrations to students seeking the B.S. degree in chemistry. For further information please visit Degrees Offered page on our website. 

What is the difference between chemistry and chemical engineering? 

There is some overlap in the training of chemists and chemical engineers, but they are typically involved in different aspects of the chemical enterprise. Chemists typically are interested in how processes work and developing new understanding of chemical reactions and the structure of chemical materials. In industry, chemists typically work in developing new or improved materials. Chemical engineers tend to focus on the process by which chemical materials are produced. In industry, chemical engineers typically focus on developing efficient processes for manufacturing chemicals. Thus, engineers tend to focus on optimizing processes, while chemists work to develop new processes.

What types of minor degrees are offered? 

The Department of Chemistry and Physics offers the following minors: chemistry, physics, and materials science. These minors designed for students who would like additional coursework in chemistry, physics, and materials science. 

What student organizations are there for chemistry majors? 

The Department of Chemistry and Physics hosts three student organizations for undergraduate students. The Student Chapter of the American Chemical Society (SCACS) is open to all students interested in chemistry. This organization hosts external speakers to discuss careers in chemistry, attending graduate school, and other topics of interest to chemists. SAACS also is involved with activities sponsored by the North Carolina section of the American Chemical Society. For more information, visit ACS Student Chapter. The Pre-Pharmacy Association serves as a resource providing its members with essential information, opportunities, and activities in preparation of admission into a degree program of one of the pharmaceutical sciences (Pharm. D., BS/MS Pharmaceutical Sciences, BS/MS Clinical Research, etc.). For further information, visit Pre-Pharmacy Association. Materials Research Society Student Chapter serves as a resource providing its members with essential information, opportunities, and activities in preparation of admission into a degree program of one of the materials sciences.

What courses should I take in high school to be prepared to major in chemistry?

Students interested in majoring in chemistry should have a strong foundation in mathematics and science in high school. A good foundation in mathematics that includes algebra, geometry, and trigonometry is critical for success in college chemistry. While taking calculus in high school is helpful, it is not necessary to succeed in freshman chemistry. The most important mathematics skills for potential majors are the ability to set up algebraic equations from word problems, be able to manipulate exponentials, and know the basics of plotting data. Students should take as much high school chemistry as possible to help ease the transition to college chemistry. High school physics and biology are also helpful.

How does the pre-health concentration differ from the other chemistry concentrations?

The pre-health concentration is similar to our BA Chemistry degree (discontinued) with an increased focus on pre-requisite courses for pre-health schools. Also, the mathematical requirements are less than the traditional B.S. Chemistry degree (e.g., General Chemistry concentration). This degree satisfies all requirements for health professional programs (medical, dental, pharmacy, veterinary, etc.). Due to the less rigorous mathematics and chemistry requirements of this degree, students may not be qualified for chemistry graduate programs or B.S. chemistry jobs should they not gain acceptance to a health professional program (however, there are exceptions; that is, several of our chemistry majors with B.A. has gone to graduate schools and found jobs in chemistry industry). The pre-health concentration is suggested for students who are very sure they wish to pursue a health professional career and feel confident that they will be accepted to these programs upon graduation. The General Chemistry concentration will provide a wider range of options upon graduation for students who are less sure of their future career plans.

What skills do employers want from college graduates?

Each year the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) surveys employers to determine the top 10 personal qualities/skills employers seek. Note that the list below emphasizes transferable skills. These are not found in any one particular job or major but can be gained in a variety of ways including coursework, extracurricular activities, volunteer work, athletics, internships, group projects in the classroom. We strongly encourage you to participate in activities and jobs outside of the classroom to help you develop and strengthen these important transferable skills. A good GPA is, of course, important but employers look at other attributes, too. Year after year, the number one skill employers say they want to see in job candidates is good communication skills: the ability to write and speak clearly. Employers also want new hires who have teamwork, problem-solving and analytical skills, and are tech savvy. Ironically, communication skills not only top employers’ list of most-desired skills, but also their list of the skills most lacking in new college graduates. Many employers reported that students have trouble with grammar, cannot write and lack presentation skills. Taking technical writing and public speaking courses, practice mock interviews, and going to etiquette or networking programs will offer a head start on these valued skills. In addition, employers pointed to other skills and attributes that had made their “wish list,” and cited those qualities and abilities as lacking in many new college graduates, e.g., relevant work experience, strong work ethic, team work skills, and the like. They also faulted new college graduates for not conducting themselves in a professional manner. What this means is, real-world experience before graduation is very important where a student can build many of the skills employers find lacking. An internship, for example, is not just an opportunity to gain experience, but it’s also a setting to learn professional behavior, learn what it means to work in a team, and practice interpersonal communication. An internship or co-op position helps a student see the professional skills employers seek in action and how to fit into the world of work.

What are the requirements for a minor in chemistry?

The minor in chemistry requires 22 credit hours. More information on minor requirements.

What are the requirements for a minor in materials science?

The minor in materials science requires 18 hours. More information on minor requirements

What are the requirements for a minor in physics?

The minor in physics requires 18 hours. More information on minor requirements.

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