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Department ofChemistry and Biochemistry


1) What is Chemistry? What can I do with a degree in Chemistry or Biochemistry?

Chemistry and biochemistry, its close relative, are often referred to as the central sciences because they unite physics and mathematics, biology and medicine, and the earth and environmental sciences.  These two sciences are fundamental to our existence, playing a role in nearly every aspect of our lives.  They are essential for meeting our basic needs of food, clothing, shelter, health, energy, and clean air, water, and soil.  Technologies based on chemistry and biochemistry enrich our quality of life in numerous ways by providing novel solutions to issues in health, materials, and the generation and use of energy. 

By studying chemistry and biochemistry, you open the door for understanding of the nature of chemicals and chemical processes, thereby providing insights into a variety of physical and biological phenomena.  It also puts you in an excellent position to choose from a wide variety of useful, interesting, and rewarding careers.  A person with a bachelor's level education in chemistry or biochemistry is well prepared to assume professional positions in the private sector, education, or public service.  The list of career possibilities for people with training in chemistry is long and varied.  Even in times when unemployment rates are high, the chemist remains one of the most highly sought-after and employed scientists.

2) What and where have SCU Chemistry graduates ended up in the past?

Santa Clara is one of 595 schools that offer a chemistry degree program certified by the American Chemical Society. During the past 10 years, 30 percent of Santa Clara's 74 graduates have chosen to earn this certified degree.

About one-third of these graduates have elected to pursue master's or doctoral degrees in chemistry. In addition, half have taken chemistry-related jobs at the bachelor's level, and one-fifth have undertaken professional study in medicine or dentistry.

In smaller numbers, Santa Clara graduates have entered the fields of pharmacy, law, chemical engineering, mathematics, physics, environmental science, and business. Over the years, Santa Clara graduates have been accepted for advanced study at more than 70 graduate and professional institutions throughout the country. In the last 10 years, 43 percent of Santa Clara chemistry graduates have been women.

3) Why study Chemistry at Santa Clara University?

The chemistry and biochemistry faculty is dedicated to providing its students with a superior undergraduate educational experience. Class sizes are kept small, typically about eight to 15 students in upper- division classes. The low student-to-faculty ratio allows the student ample opportunity to interact with faculty on a one-to-one basis, whether it is during office hours, review sessions, laboratory research, or just chatting in the hallways.

Students are encouraged to work with faculty on research, either for credit or as paid assistants. Besides serving as an introduction to the rigors of scientific investigation, this collaboration allows the faculty and undergraduates to get to know each other as friends and colleagues. This partnership of students and faculty members has been quite fruitful; many students have co-authored research papers with faculty members.

4) How long does it take to get a B.S. at Santa Clara University?

Normally everybody takes exactly four years to complete all the requirements for graduation. With a little bit of planning, however, one can complete a minor or even a second major in just four years.