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Chemistry: BS, BA


Chemistry is the scientific study of matter, its properties, and interactions with other matter and with energy. It is a science applicable to a wide range of career goals, including medicine, law, physical and social sciences, engineering, and public health and policy. At USU, chemistry majors have the opportunity to conduct undergraduate research from the beginning of their studies, first as laboratory assistants and eventually moving on to their own research projects. Unique to USU, many undergraduates in the department are able to publish research papers. This gives USU students a competative advantage should they apply for graduate programs.

Students can choose not to have an emphasis if they obtain a bachelor of arts. To receive a BA, students must also gain proficiency in one or more foreign languages. This is an appropriate choice for students who wish to combine strong interest and preparation in chemistry with graduate study in law or business.


Students pursuing the BS must choose an emphasis.

  • Professional Chemistry (BS): This emphasis is for students who wish to be chemists with careers in test laboratories, such as government laboratories and hospital laboratories. Students graduating with this emphasis will also find jobs in research development, quality control, and manufacturing. This emphasis meets requirements for certification by the American Chemical Society, which can result in higher-paying careers for graduates than those without ACS certification.
  • Biochemistry (BS): Biochemistry is the study of chemical processes in living organisms and the structure and function of cellular components. Students study carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, nucleic acids, and other biomolecules. This emphasis meets requirements for certification by the American Chemical Society, which can result in higher-paying careers for graduates than those without ACS certification.
  • Environmental Chemistry (BS): This is the study of chemical alterations in the environment. Principal areas include studying soil contamination, water pollution, and air pollution. This emphasis meets requirements for certification by the American Chemical Society, which can result in higher-paying careers for graduates than those without ACS certification.
  • Chemical Education (BS): The chemistry major with a chemical education emphasis requires students to follow the ACS certification requirements and is for students wishing to teach chemistry and advanced placement chemistry in high school or for those who will enter employment emphasizing professional training in chemistry or biochemistry.
  • Life Science (BS): The life science emphasis is popular for students wishing to go on to medical or dental graduate programs. A major in chemistry gives these students a strong base for understanding the nature of chemical reactions in the body and the behavior of the drugs they will prescribe.

Education Component:

This is for the chemical education emphasis only. In order to obtain a secondary teaching license for grades 6-12, students must complete the 35-credit Secondary Teacher Education Program (STEP), which includes one semester of student teaching in a public school. This program is administered by USU’s School of Teacher Education and Leadership (TEAL) within the Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services. Student must apply to the School of TEAL the semester before taking STEP courses. This is usually the fall of their junior year. Students learn subject content through the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department, and spend the last year or two studying education techniques through the STEP program.

Students with a chemical education emphasis are required to select an approved teaching minor in order to expand their career options.

Those who emphasize in chemical education are prepared to teach chemistry and advanced chemistry courses in high schools. In general, a degree in chemistry also prepares students for further postgraduate studies in a variety of subjects, including chemistry, biochemistry, molecular biology, medicine, and patent law. Students can also pursue the following careers:

  • Work in research and development
  • Work as a biotechnician
  • Work in the pharmaceutical industry
  • Medical laboratory technology
  • Quality control technician
  • Associate chemist
  • Technical sales representative
  • Analytical chemist
  • Clinical technician

Career Services provides counseling and information on hundreds of job and internship opportunities and even helps students apply and interview.

Admission Requirements

In addition to Utah State University’s admissions requirements, the chemistry program has additional requirements:

  • Freshmen: New freshmen admitted to USU in good standing qualify for admission to this major.
  • Transfer students: Transfer students from other institutions need a 2.2 total GPA for admission to this major. Students transferring from other USU majors need a total GPA of 2.0 for admission to this major.
  • STEP Requirements (chemical education emphasis only): Please visit for more information.

International students have additional admissions requirements.

Professional Organizations, Honor Societies, and Clubs

American Chemical Society: ACS is a congressionally chartered independent membership organization which represents professionals at all degree levels and in all fields of chemistry and sciences that involve chemistry. With a membership of chemists, chemical engineers, and other practitioners of the chemical sciences, it is the world's largest scientific society. ACS is recognized as a world leader in fostering scientific education and research and promoting the public's understanding of science.

Chemistry and Biochemistry Club: This club meets once a week to focus on career exploration by going on fieldtrips and hosting guest speakers, doing community service, teaching children of all ages about chemistry, and helping facilitate networking opportunities with students, faculty, and professionals at national conventions, departmental seminars, and club socials.

Labs, Centers, Research

With the second oldest undergraduate research program in the nation, USU offers students a wide range of opportunities to gain hands-on research experience. USU’s Honors Program prepares students for excellent graduate programs by helping them build relationships with professors, participate in research projects, take smaller, more intensive classes, and develop leadership skills.

Center for Advanced Nutrition: The CAN provides a multi-disciplinary venue for the discussion, discovery, and dissemination of information about the biological, physiological, and psychological mechanisms of proper nutrition. The scope of discovery is broad and falls into four distinct but overlapping focus areas: bioactive foods, nutrition and the brain, ingestive behavior, and personalized nutrition.

Energy Dynamics Laboratory: EDL bridges the gap between academia and industry, confronting the challenges of prototyping, deployment, and commercialization of enabling technologies for renewable and advanced energy systems. USU researchers originate projects to derive energy from non-fossil fuels, such as biofuels, wind, and solar power. With EDL’s collaboration, research develops through pilot projects to commercial application.

Environmental Quality Laboratory: The EQL is located at the Utah Water Research Lab and is equipped for analyses of organic and inorganic constituents in air, water, and soil. The EQL consists of chemistry, microbiology, radiological and analytical instrumentation laboratories, two constant-temperature rooms, and research project areas.

Institute for Antiviral Research: The IAR is comprised of a recognized team of scientists representing a spectrum of disciplines, who are researching ways to control viral diseases. The IAR has been involved with the pre-clinical development of several FDA-approved drugs, including Tamiflu, which was recently used to combat H1N1. The main areas of emphasis are respiratory diseases such as influenza and infections caused by emerging viruses, including West Nile virus.

Metabolic Engineering Laboratory: Research areas in this lab include the discovery and identification of bioactive natural products, biosynthetic mechanisms of pharmaceutically important compounds, characterization and development of biocatalysts for structural modification, as well as improvement of useful enzymes using protein-engineering approaches. Combinatorial biosynthesis of novel biologically significant compounds for drug discovery is also being investigated.

USDA ARS Poisonous Plant Research Laboratory: The Poisonous Plant Research Laboratory identifies toxic plants, and its interdisciplinary teams of chemists, geneticists, pathologists, physiologists, plant and range scientists, toxicologists and veterinarians provide an interdisciplinary approach of applied and basic research to develop solutions to intoxication.



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