Environmental chemistry is a subfield of chemistry and focuses on understanding the relationship between environmental factors like pollution, contamination, and air quality and the field of chemistry. Students who obtain a graduate degree in this field could go on to have a number of different research and analytical-oriented careers in the fields of environmental science, technology, and research. Below, we will look at graduate programs in environmental science in greater detail by exploring the curriculum of these programs and what it takes to be admitted into a program.
Graduate Programs in Environmental Chemistry
Graduate programs in environmental chemistry are offered as master's degree and doctoral degrees. Depending on the school, these degrees may be offered as a Master of Science (M.S.) degree in chemistry with a concentration in environmental chemistry or as a Master of Science in Environmental Chemistry. Students are able to obtain a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Environmental Chemistry as well. Students who enroll in an M.S. degree program typically must complete a thesis in addition to the required coursework. Below, we will look at five different courses that are commonly found in these programs.
One of the first courses a student enrolled in a graduate program in environmental chemistry is likely to take is a fundamental or introductory course in environmental chemistry. In this course, students will learn how various chemicals behave in different environments, like aquatic environments. Students may focus on case studies and cover topics like gas exchange, chemical behavior, oxidation and reduction, and geo-chemistry.
These programs often include a course that is specifically focused on aquatic chemistry. In this class, students will study the chemistry of different aquatic systems and how various inorganic chemical species have evolved and developed in aquatic environments. Topics that may be covered in this class include complexation, precipitation and dissolution, and acid-base chemistry.
A course in atmospheric chemistry will focus on how the atmosphere is affected by different chemical pollutants and the chemical make-up of the atmosphere. This course may focus on the human impact on the environment, with particular emphasis placed on greenhouse gases, urban pollution and smog, and the destruction of the ozone layer. Other topics that may be discussed in this course include climate change, atmospheric reactions, and thermodynamics.
In this course, students will learn about the properties and chemical make-up of different environmental pollutants and toxins. Students will discuss specific environmental toxins, both natural and synthetic, and the impact that they have had or could have on the environment. This course may focus on different regions of the world, like the Arctic, to discuss the region-specific environmental problems that are present there.
Environmental Chemistry Analysis/Analytical Chemistry
These programs typically include a course in advanced analytical chemistry, which may focus specifically on methods of analysis that are used in environmental chemistry. In this course, students will learn about different analysis methods, like sampling and quality control, that they could use in real-world studies and research. The course may allow students to apply this knowledge to an in-class project.
General Admission Requirements for Graduate Programs in Environmental Chemistry
To gain admission into a graduate program in environmental chemistry, you will need to possess a bachelor's degree and undergraduate transcripts that exhibit a strong background in chemistry. Programs may have varying admission standards, so it is best to contact each program you are interested in to learn about their specific requirements. When applying, you will need to submit an application form, transcripts, letters of recommendation, a resume, personal statement, and results from the GRE. Some programs may require that students have achieved a certain GPA during their undergraduate career.