Overview of Bachelor's Degree in Environmental Chemistry
Students interested in studying environmental chemistry can choose from different bachelor's degree programs nationwide. These degree programs give students a well-rounded background in different kinds of chemistry with a focus on environmental applications. Most of these programs offer laboratory courses in conjunction with classroom work for interactive learning. Here we discuss detailed information concerning the degree program, including admission requirements and common coursework.
Admission Requirements for Environmental Chemistry Programs
Most environmental chemistry programs do not have separate admissions requirements outside of those for the specific college or larger institution. Incoming freshmen typically need to hold a high school diploma or GED and fill out the required admissions applications. Some schools or colleges may require a specific GPA and/or standardized test scores. Additionally, some institutions may ask for letters of recommendation and/or a writing sample.
Common Coursework for Environmental Chemistry Programs
Environmental chemistry programs are usually chemistry-heavy to equip students with the various types of chemistry they need to study and monitor different aspects of the environment. Below are a handful of some of the common chemistry courses found in an environmental chemistry degree program.
Students in the environmental chemistry program typically take multiple organic chemistry courses, as well as organic chemistry labs. These courses cover the structure and reactions of carbon compounds. The chemistry learned in these courses is applicable to the chemistry of all living things and many environmental issues.
Students also tend to take multiple physical chemistry courses, which also consist of laboratory coursework. Physical chemistry courses focus on thermodynamics, electrochemistry and other chemistry concepts that are important for study in the life sciences. Students also learn about theoretical and experimental approaches to studying various chemical mechanisms, such as enzyme kinetics.
Environmental chemistry courses may come in introductory and advanced forms. Students in introductory courses cover various chemical concerns with air, water and soil, while advanced courses may focus on chemical aspects of specific environmental concerns, such as waste handling and deforestation. Some environmental chemistry courses may have a laboratory component.
Atmospheric chemistry courses examine the chemical concepts involved in atmospheric processes. Topics include kinetics, photochemistry and thermodynamics. Students also examine the chemical aspects of specific atmospheric issues, like acid rain, climate change, the ozone cycle and greenhouse effects.
Marine or aquatic chemistry courses look at the chemical makeup of the ocean and other bodies of water. Students learn about how the chemical components of the seawater affect various marine environments and organisms. Additional topics discussed include ground water chemistry, water contamination and biological oxygen demand.
How to Choose a Bachelor's Degree Program in Environmental Chemistry
There are a few very important factors to consider when selecting a bachelor's degree program in environmental chemistry. Due to the hands-on nature of the field, students need to select a program with adequate opportunities for laboratory learning. Students should also consider schools that offer access to state-of-the-art laboratory equipment, as well as unique outdoor research areas for the environmental aspect of the degree. In order to gain valuable work experience, students may also look for programs that offer different internship opportunities.
Career Options for a Degree in Environmental Chemistry
Those with a bachelor's degree in environmental chemistry typically pursue a career as an environmental chemist or a chemist who primarily works with environmental issues. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a median salary of $73,740 for chemists in 2016. They also estimated a 6% job growth rate from 2016 to 2026 for chemists. Below are a few alternative career choices for graduates of the program.