Master's Degree in Chemistry: Program Information and Requirements

Those interested in working as chemists and materials scientists typically need a bachelor's degree in chemistry for entry-level jobs. However, graduate programs might interest individuals who want to perform more advanced research or specialize in a subspecialty of the field, such as organic chemistry.

Essential Information

Chemists and materials scientists examine how various substances interact with each other for the purposes of improving and creating new products and processes. Students in these programs have the option of focusing their studies in a specific area, such as chemical biology, environmental chemistry, or molecular structure; both thesis and coursework-only options are available.

  • Program Levels in Chemistry: Master's degree
  • Program Length: About 18 to 24 months
  • Prerequisites: Applicants must possess a bachelor's degree in a related discipline
  • Other Requirements: Thesis required for some programs, oral exams

Master's Degree Programs in Chemistry

Master of Science in Chemistry programs prepare students for a number of career options through coursework in physical chemistry, organic chemistry, biochemistry, or computational chemistry. Students learn how to apply the scientific method in order to solve complex problems through laboratory work and classroom training in theory. A student's selected focus area will dictate relevant course topics, but commonly available courses include:

  • Instrumental analysis
  • Forensic science
  • Environmental chemistry
  • Quantitative analysis
  • Biochemistry

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that chemists and material scientists were expected to see a slower-than-average job growth rate of 6% from 2012-2022 (www.bls.gov). This growth rate was projected because major chemical corporations have recently started partnering with scientific R&D companies based outside the United States as well as universities to complete research projects. The BLS revealed that chemists reported median annual wages of $73,480, as of May 2014.

Continuing Education

The BLS reports showed that employers were increasingly seeking chemists with a doctoral degree in chemistry. As a result, some students may want to pursue their Doctor of Philosophy in Chemistry to increase employment opportunities, expand on their current knowledge, or perform independent research. Students may be required to acquire teaching experience, complete written and oral examinations, and defend a thesis to complete the program.

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