Life After General Chemistry

Thousands of students take general chemistry here at Rutgers every year, many of which are freshman. But what are the options after that? Well, if you are in general chemistry, it is probably because you have an interest in the physical, or even biological sciences. Your interest may in fact be chemistry, but students from various majors will take the general chemistry sequence; in fact, most students in general chemistry have other majors, ranging from biochemistry to nutrition, to ecology, and much more. For a complete list of majors requiring general chemistry, choose from one of the schools below:

School of Arts & Science | School of Engineering | School of Pharmacy | School of Environmental & Biological Sciences

A Major in Chemistry

Chemistry often gets a reputation for being difficult, but chemistry majors will testify that it is also one of the most rewarding majors out there. As a chemistry major at Rutgers, you will be exposed to all types of chemistry: organic, physical, inorganic, biological, and more. Most chemistry majors will find their preference and take additional related coursework. In fact, there are several options available, including biological, business/law, environmental, and chemical physics, in addition to general and core options. Some of these options will lead to certification by the American Chemical Society. Regardless of the option chosen, it is certain that the courses taken will prepare students for the next step, whether it be graduate school, industry, medical school, or many other potential pathways. For more information about the major, including required coursework, the options available, and even a suggested sequence, please check out the major page.

A Minor in Chemistry

Many students may have interests in sciences that are not chemistry, but are chemistry-related. After all, chemistry is a foundation for any science: it is what stuff is made of! Organic chemistry is extremely relevant to biological sciences, like nutrition, medicine, and molecular biology; inorganic chemistry is important for geology and materials science; physical chemistry can provide the thermodynamic and quantum mechanical background required for upper-level physics courses and astrophysics. The connections are endless. Even if your main focus is not chemistry, it is likely that it will aid in your studies of other sciences.

Perhaps science is not your field of study. It could be mathematics, computer science, or even art history. Chemistry is not only about the science itself. It provides students with skills such as logic and problem-solving, which are applicable to everything. It explains why the world is the way it is. When you use an ice-pack, you will be able to understand how it works. When baking, you’ll see not only how the oil sits on top of the water, but you will know why the two do not mix. A minor in chemistry can provide students with the appropriate background needed for either another science major, or just give a better perspective on the world. For more information about minoring in chemistry, check out the minor page.

Research in Chemistry

There is no doubt that Rutgers University is a research university. With such a large amount of government-funding received every year, it is no surprise that such a large amount of undergraduates get involved in some type of research every semester. There are over 3,000 faculty members in the University who teach and conduct research. Past and present faculty members have been recipients of some of the most prestigious awards, including the Nobel Prize and the MacArthur Genius Award. Rutgers is the only public university in New Jersey to be a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU), which consists of the country’s leading research universities.

Chemistry is one of the most exciting, fast-paced, relevant fields to conduct research in. The Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology has faculty members engaged in a variety of concentrations, from diseases to spectroscopy and everything in between. It is highly encouraged that our majors get involved in research as early as possibly; some even do their freshman year. However, students from other departments have been involved in research in chemistry as well. For more information, see the page for undergraduate chemistry research opportunities

Career Paths

The possibilities for careers in chemistry are truly endless. People with degrees in chemistry can be found working in a lab testing local groundwater for contaminants, analyzing a piece of string found at a crime scene, or synthesizing a new drug meant to treat patients with HIV. But perhaps working in industry or the lab isn’t quite for you. Many chemists may go on to work in other fields, like law, sales, or even go on to become a doctor or veterinarian. A strong background in chemistry will show employers that you have been prepared in a field with challenging, appropriate coursework, and that you have developed basic skills, like math, logic, and critical thinking, which are important for any career choice. For more information, see the page for chemistry career paths.