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The Department of Chemistry at Illinois State University is one of the largest undergraduate chemistry programs in the nation. The department is consistently among the top producers nationally in number of Bachelor of Science graduates earning the professionally certified American Chemical Society degree.

Why Study Chemistry?

Chemistry is the study of the structure and composition of substances and the way they can be changed and transformed. There are almost 100,000 chemists in America and still the need for such individuals is on the rise. More than 75% of chemists are employed by the private sector and some chemists work as professors in colleges.

Related Majors

Related Skills

Graduates with a Bachelor of Science in chemistry are skilled at critical thinking, synthesizing complex ideas, and analyzing technical data and information. The degree opens many doors and leads to exciting, varied, and even unconventional careers.

Being Successful in the Field

  • Undergraduate degree sufficient for entry-level positions such as lab coordinator,research assistant, product testing or analysis, technical sales, or service representative.
  • Maintain high grade point average and secure strong recommendations for graduate school.
  • Master's degree sufficient for most applied research positions, industrial work, and some community college teaching.
  • Find research opportunities with professors and other experts in the field to gain experience.
  • Ph.D. degree required for university teaching and advanced positions in management and research and development. Postdoctoral experience is preferred for research positions in industry, universities, and government.
  • Advanced degrees help speed career advancement.
  • Develop strong computer, mathematics, and science skills/knowledge.
  • Obtain part-time, volunteer, co-op, internship, or summer experience.
  • Obtain practical experience using various laboratory equipment and high-techscientific equipment and data.
  • Complete an undergraduate research project.
  • Consider electives in computer science, engineering, business, public speaking, and writing.
  • Join related student professional organizations.

Related Fields

Many scientific, technical, engineering, manufacturing, legal, medical, and environmental industries rely on the expertise of a chemist. Chemists are involved in making products safer, better, and less expensive. They develop ways to monitor natural and man-made chemicals in the environment, and look for ways to prevent and clean up pollution. They use science to solve and deter crimes, to protect homeland security, and to craft legislative policy. All employment sectors hire chemists; academic institutions, private industries, the military, and governmental agencies all need chemists!

Unemployment rates among chemists are typically well below the national average, and starting salaries are higher than for most other sciences. For the latest information about the job market and information about starting salaries, visit the American Chemical Society website.

Following is a sampling of the types of careers a chemist might choose:

  • Agricultural chemist
  • Biomedical/Cancer researcher
  • Chemical safety officer
  • Chemical sales representative
  • Chemistry professor
  • Dentist
  • Drug discovery researcher
  • Environmental attorney
  • FBI Agent
  • Food scientist
  • Forensic scientist
  • High school teacher
  • Materials chemist
  • Patent examiner
  • Pharmaceutical sales representative
  • Pharmacist
  • Physician
  • Polymer chemist
  • Quality assurance chemist
  • Technical writer
  • Veterinarian
  • Water quality chemist

Career Advising

Name Office Email Phone
Megan Kayfish  110 Student Services Building  (309) 438-0735 

Internship Coordinator

Name Office Email Phone Note
Elisha Swanson  (309) 438-7232  Professional Practice 
Shawn Hitchcock  317 Science Laboratory Building  (309) 438-7854  Research 

Applying to Illinois State

Illinois State's preferred filing periodfor freshman students for the fall semester is September 1-November 15. Applying early is encouraged, as the University must limit enrollment due to space at the University and in specific majors/programs. Visit the Office of Admissions to apply today!

Plans of Study and Progress Tracking

This information is based on requirements for the academic year(s) indicated. Students should consult the catalog year they were admitted under for their academic requirements.

Applying to Illinois State

Illinois State's preferred filing period for fall transfer students is September 1-January 15. For the spring semester, the preferred filing period is from April 1-August 1. You are encouraged to apply early in the preferred filing period for best consideration for admission into competitive majors. Visit the Office of Admissions to apply today!

Minimum GPA


Middle 50% GPA

3.01 - 3.77

Required Courses

Completion of the following courses with grade of C or better: (for students 45 or more hours)

  • Calculus I (MAT 145),
  • General Chemistry I (CHE 140), and
  • General Chemistry II (CHE 141).

Recommended Courses

  • Calculus II (MAT 146)
  • One year of college or engineering physics
  • One year of organic chemistry

Plans of Study and Progress Tracking

Academic Advising

Name Office Email Phone
Hope Fine  Julian Hall 214A  (309) 438-1522 

Middle 50% GPA

3.01 - 3.77

Plans of Study and Progress Tracking

Application Period

Applications are always available.

Application Information

Current students can use the Apply to Your Program tool on

Major Requirements

If 45 or more earned hours: Grade of “C” or better in MAT 145, CHE 140 and CHE 141.

Academic Advising

Name Office Email Phone
Hope Fine  Julian Hall 214A  (309) 438-1522 
2016-08-03T11:23:40.188-05:00 2016