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Student in organic chemistry lab

Why Chemistry

Chemistry is the study of the basic structural units of matter—what things are made of, what their properties are, and how they act and interact.

Chemical biology applies logic and methods from chemistry to the study of complex and challenging questions in biology. To a significant extent, interest in chemical biology has been inspired by the growth of the biotechnology industry.

Chemistry plays an integral role in today's scientific endeavors. As science has become increasingly interdisciplinary, fundamental scientific problems focus on the chemical nature of matter.


What is the Chemistry department like?

The faculty and staff of the Department of Chemistry provide an environment where students at all levels can explore, discover, and learn chemistry through coursework and research.

We place a strong emphasis on high-quality classroom teaching. Professors teach lecture and laboratory courses and conduct research with undergraduate students.

See Chemistry undergraduate programs

Qualities and skills of a chemist

The habits developed through the study of chemistry and chemical biology are ones that will serve you for a lifetime. Scientific research requires not only evidence and logic, but also honesty, creativity, patience, and openness to new ideas. The problem-solving and reasoning skills you develop, as well as an increased understanding of science, will provide a great foundation for approaching any type of work and engaging your community.

  • Creative, Methodical, Analytical And Precise
  • Careful, Patient and Detail-Oriented
  • Communication and Quantitative Skills (PUL*)
  • Excellent Observational Skills
  • Excellent Time Management Skills
  • Mechanically-Inclined
  • Critical Thinking and Problem Solving (PUL*)
  • Professional Values and Ethics (PUL*)

*PUL = Principles of Undergraduate Learning define a set of abilities and skills that undergraduate students are expected to master. They reflect the expertise that graduate and professional schools and the workforce are seeking.

What can you do with a Chemistry degree?

Students with B.A. or B.S. degrees in chemistry go on to a variety of professional callings. In addition to graduate work in chemistry, biochemistry, medicine, or other health-related disciplines, the department's graduates find their broad scientific training useful in fields such as business management and law.

Here's what our recent graduates are doing with their degrees:

  • Analytical Chemist for Roche Diagnostics (BA)
  • Associate Analytical Chemist for Covance (BA)
  • Automation Technician for Dow AgroSciences (BA)
  • Chemist for Pace Analytical (BS)
  • Chemistry Instructor for Ivy Tech Community College (PhD)
  • Lab Technician for Eli Lilly (BA)
  • Lab Supervisor for Indiana State Dept of Toxicology (PhD)
  • Lead Chemist for Haynes International (MS)
  • Method Developer for AIT Bioscience (MS)
  • Quality Control Technician for Alcon (BS)
  • Research Scientist for IU School of Medicine (BA)
  • Research Technician for IU School of Medicine (BS)
  • Senior Research Scientist for Vertellus, Inc. (MS)
  • Chemistry and AP Physics Teacher for Lawrence Township (MS)

43% of our graduates went on to graduate or professional school and are currently enrolled in the following programs:

  • Secondary Education at Ball State University (MA)
  • Pharmacy at Butler University (Pharm D)
  • Optometry at Illinois College of Optometry (OD)
  • Public Health at IUPUI (MPH)
  • Medicine at Indiana University School of Medicine (MD)
  • Physcian Assistant at IUPUI (MPAS)
  • Pharmacy at Manchester University (PharmD)
  • Chemistry at Purdue University (PhD)
  • Medical Chemistry at SUNY Buffalo (PhD)
  • MD/PhD at University of Michigan (MD/PhD)
  • Pharmacology at University of Illinois (PhD)

What careers are available in Chemistry?

Students with B.A. or B.S. degrees in chemistry go on to a variety of professional callings. In addition to graduate work in chemistry, biochemistry, medicine, or other health-related disciplines, the department's graduates find their broad scientific training useful in fields such as business management and law.

Many chemistry graduates pursue careers that make direct use of their chemistry training. Other chemistry graduates pursue careers that make use of their analytical and technical skills. A degree in chemistry can also provide an educational foundation for admissions to professional schools or to advanced degrees in fields such as medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, law, business, engineering, etc.

  • Biotechnology Firms
  • Colleges and Universities
  • Engineering, including Robotics
  • Environmental Protection Organizations
  • Federal Agencies, including NASA and Center for Disease Control
  • Forensic laboratories
  • High Schools
  • Hospitals and Other Health Care Facilities
  • Industrial and Research Laboratories
  • Industries related to petroleum, coal, wood products, plastics, textiles, paint, fertilizers, pesticides, food, industrial organic and synthetic chemicals, mining, electronics, electrical, nuclear, gas, heat, or light energy, paint, cosmetics
  • Information Technologies
  • Law Firms
  • Medical Research Firms
  • Pharmaceutical Research Firms
  • Pharmaceutical Supply Companies
  • Publishing Firms, including Books, Scientific and Research Journal
  • Scientific Libraries
  • Waste Management Firms

IUPUI chemistry grads have been employed by:

  • Eli Lilly & Co.
  • Marion County Health Department
  • Indiana Department of Environmental Management
  • Indiana University
  • Roche Diagnostics
  • Dow Agrosciences
  • Covance Laboratories
  • Kelly Scientific Services
  • Purdue University

IUPUI chemistry grads have been accepted for post-graduate study at:

  • Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine: Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine
  • Harvard University: Biological and Biomedical Science Program
  • Indiana University, Bloomington
  • IU School of Medicine
  • New York University: Medical Scientist Training Program (M.D./Ph.D.), 
  • Purdue University, W. Lafayette

Occupational outlook and average salary

Employment for chemists is expected to grow by 7% for the 2016-2026 decade. Graduates with a master's degree or a PhD will experience better opportunities, especially at larger pharmaceutical and biotechnology firms. (2010-2011 Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bureau of Labor Statistics.)

Salaries earned by chemists are dependent on degree level and whether they are employed by industry, government or academia. According to the most recent survey by the American Chemical Society, the overall median salaries by degree are the following:

  • BS: $72,600
  • MS: $82,000
  • PhD:$101,000

According to the May 2012 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates for Indiana, average salaries for biologists were as follows:

Pre-Professional & Career Preparation (PREPs)

The School of Science Office of Pre-Professional and Career Preparation (PREPs) for Science students offers career and professional development related to academic and career planning to help translate professional goals into reality.

Career Resources & Job Boards

Organizations and Associations

Visit the Science career website

Goldwater scholar prepares for career bridging research with patient care

Devin Bready Biochemistry, Undergraduate
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