University of South Carolina


Chemistry: What to Expect

The University of South Carolina offers a Bachelor of Science with a major in Chemistry and a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry with an American Chemical Society Certification. The Department was recently ranked number 32 in the nation in the National Research Council’s rating of chemistry departments based on research funding and publications. As a chemistry major you will be exposed to outstanding undergraduate research opportunities. Conducting research opens a new world of career opportunities for students and is strongly encouraged for Chemistry students at the University. You will be able to take courses in popular fields including Environmental, Forensic, and Aquatic Chemistry. You will develop critical thinking and problem solving skills through the challenging curriculum. The lecture and laboratory courses that you will take hone these skills and provide practice for decision making in the world and in daily living.

Students pursuing the Bachelor of Science with a major in Chemistry will develop a strong base for continued study in medical, dental, pharmacy, and other professional schools. Students who choose the Bachelor of Science in Chemistry with the American Chemical Society Certification will develop the skills necessary for a career in chemistry. As a chemistry major, you will learn from acclaimed scientists in every field of chemistry. You will also be provided with good general and organic chemistry opportunities and work with state-of-the-art instrumentation and equipment through laboratory experiences.
The following courses fulfill some of the course requirements for a Bachelor of Arts with a major in Chemistry and a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry.

  • Algorithmic Design I or Scientific Applications Programming
  • Essentials of Physics I and II (with labs)
  • General Chemistry I and II or Principles of Chemistry I and II
  • Quantitative Analysis (with lab)
  • Organic Chemistry I and II (with labs)
  • Physical Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry

On average, there is a 35 to 1 student-faculty ratio in upper-division major-specific lecture courses and a 6 to 1 student-faculty ratio in lab courses. A detailed list of degree requirements can be found in the Undergraduate Bulletin.

Enhancing your Experience

Study Abroad allows you to earn academic credits toward your USC degree while seeing the world! Overseas study can complement any academic program or major. You may also choose to intern, volunteer, or conduct research abroad. You are encouraged to visit the Study Abroad Web site for more information on opportunities to broaden and extend your knowledge and perspectives.
Student Organizations can be instrumental in helping you adjust to life on campus and network within your field. The University of South Carolina has a family of nearly 300 student organizations. Chemistry majors can get involved with The American Chemical Society Student Affiliates. You will be able to network within your major and attend regional and national conferences. As a Chemistry major, you will also have the opportunity to participate in student research poster and presentation competitions. Getting involved in an organization that interests you can help you network, meet new friends, and develop leadership skills. You can also seek out volunteer opportunities that relate to your major. You can find additional student organizations on campus that interests you!
Graduate School is one of many possibilities following graduation. The majority of Chemistry majors go on to advanced studies. Graduates often pursue doctorate programs in Chemistry, medical school, pharmacy school, dental school, and law school.
Distinguished Faculty can help enhance your overall academic experience while at the University. Seven faculty members in the Department of Chemistry have received the Michael J. Mungo Undergraduate Teaching Award. Five faculty members earned the University’s highest honor for excellence in teaching, the Amoco Foundation Award.
Departmental Scholarships may be awarded to outstanding entering freshmen or current students. The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry offers additional scholarships each year.

Internship and Research Opportunities

Internships can be an important asset to your overall educational experience. Internship experiences often help you confirm your career interests, give you hands-on experience in a professional setting, help build your resume, reinforce what you’ve learned in class and can often lead to full-time employment. Likewise, pursuing professional research opportunities as an undergraduate student can also help enrich your academic experience while at the University. As an undergraduate student, you can work closely with faculty research mentors and explore a discipline that interests you. Both internship and research opportunities help you build a competitive edge in the job market. Chemistry majors are strongly encouraged to conduct research. There are also many government and privately sponsored internships for the sciences and specifically for chemistry available.

As a USC student you will have numerous resources at your disposal to assist you with locating internship and research opportunities. The USC Career Center is the central location at USC for assisting students with internship preparation and finding an internship. In addition, be sure to visit your academic department as many programs offer supplemental internship guidance specific to your major. The Office of Undergraduate Research assists all USC undergraduates by providing research and scholarly experiences in their chosen fields.

Student Spotlight

Chemistry major Victoria Samples had the opportunity to conduct research through the prestigious Magellan Scholars Program. Victoria conducted research at the Graduate Science Research Center in Dr. Ken Shimizu’s lab.  While at the Graduate Science Research Center, Victoria worked on the study of pi-stacking interactions using a molecular balance where she synthesized 10 balances with benzene and ethylene surfaces and measured their folding ratios. During her research experience, Victoria developed valuable skills including the ability to use various machines such as H NMR, mass spectroscopy, x-ray crystallography, and TLC. “I have learned to think like a researcher,” she said. “Sometimes there are great outcomes and sometimes there are poor outcomes, but that is also where I have learned to be creative in my work.” The courses Victoria took at USC helped prepare her for her research opportunity. ”The major courses required by the department gave me my chemistry background knowledge,” she said. “By USC giving me this grant, I have been challenged and intrigued to push my knowledge further in this field.” Victoria hopes to continue doing research in chemistry and obtain a higher degree of knowledge by attending graduate school and eventually working in an industry setting. Victoria encourages current Chemistry majors to seek out research opportunities. “This is such a great opportunity to learn new aspects of your field and there are so many topics to explore.” Through her experience, Victoria was able to learn more about opportunities available after obtaining her degree. “Graduate school is a great option if you want to continue learning in your field,” she said. “However, if you wish to search for a job after undergrad, there are many lab tech positions available or beginning research positions.”

Career Opportunities

Chemistry majors typically pursue careers in industrial chemistry, medical and environmental labs, government agencies, and high school teaching. The average salary for Chemistry majors within the first five years after graduation is $50,000. Chemistry jobs can be found in any state or country and unemployment for Chemistry majors is usually very low.

You can find more information about career options in the US Department of Laborís Occupational Outlook Handbook.

The USC Career Center offers numerous resources which provide more information about career opportunities for students in this major. Once admitted, a Career Development Coach is available to help you assess your interest areas, make decisions about your career path, and identify the experiences and skills that will help you accomplish your goals. Spur Connections will help you locate mentors from among USC alumni, employers and community members who can provide insights based on their careers and experiences. Early planning and preparation are keys to success.

About the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of South Carolina focuses on training professional chemists and providing a base degree for advanced study in medicine, pharmacy, and other professional schools. The Department offers a Bachelor of Science with a major in Chemistry and Bachelor of Science in Chemistry with the American Chemical Society Certification along with master and doctorate degrees in Chemistry. The department places an emphasis on undergraduate research and has outstanding faculty members. The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry is in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Points of Pride

  • We are ranked No. 32 in the Nation in the recent National Research Council’s ratings of chemistry departments. The rankings are based on research findings and publications.
  • Our new research building has outstanding instrumentation and research variety.

Additional Resources
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry Website
College of Arts and Sciences Website
University Career Center
Undergraduate Bulletin