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Chemical Sciences Major

About the Major

Chemistry Lab and undergraduate student conducting researchChemistry is often known as “the central science” because of the key position it occupies in modern science and engineering. Most phenomena in the biological and earth sciences can be described in terms of the chemical and physical behavior of atoms and molecules, and chemical principles also underlie much progress in medicine and engineering. In addition, chemical systems are fascinating and often beautiful in their own right. Recent developments in the chemical sciences are increasingly directed toward the study of phenomena at the nanoscale, the size range intermediate between individual molecules and macroscopic matter. The ability to measure, understand, and control the properties of matter on these size scales allows us to draw conceptual and practical connections between the submicroscopic world of atoms and molecules and the macroscopic world with which we interact.

UC Merced offers an undergraduate major leading to a B.S. degree in the Chemical Sciences. All of our programs meet the requirements for approval by the American Chemical Society. The curriculum is designed to meet the needs of students who plan to end their formal education with a bachelor's degree as well as those who wish to go on for an advanced degree. The UC Merced chemistry B.S. graduate is well prepared to pursue a career in chemistry or an allied field. We offer both a basic chemistry program and three emphasis tracks in biological chemistry, environmental chemistry, and materials chemistry, which allow students to pursue interdisciplinary areas within a degree program that is still focused on chemistry.


A degree in the chemical sciences opens the door to a wide variety of careers in industry or government service, forensic chemistry in crime laboratories, commercial fields such as patent law and scientific writing, and high school science teaching. Many chemistry majors go on to graduate study to prepare for careers in teaching and/or research at the college or university level, or research positions in the chemical, pharmaceutical, electronics or other high-tech industries. A major in chemistry is also an excellent foundation for medical school or other careers in the health sciences.


Chemical Sciences Program Learning Outcomes

Graduates from the Chemical Sciences program will have demonstrated:

  1. Fundamental knowledge and skills: Students are able to describe the major concepts and theoretical principles in chemistry. They can identify the central ideas underlying the principal subfields of chemistry–analytical, inorganic, organic, and physical chemistry. Students are able to operated modern chemical instrumentation, perform chemical syntheses and carry out other essential chemical experiments with strict adherence to sound laboratory techniques as wells as good safety and hygiene practices. They know how to user modern web-based methods to effectively search the scientific literature.
  2. Scientific methodology: Students have developed the ability to integrate the aforementioned fundamental knowledge and skills into scientific inquiries. They can formulate well-defined and quantitative questions, develop testable hypotheses, design and execute experiments, analyze and interpret the results and reach appropriate conclusions. They are also able to critically analyze the work of other scientists and assess its correctness, importance, and relevance.
  3. Communication and teamwork skills. Students are able to write organized and concise reports and present technical information using electronic media, posters, and oral presentations. They have developed the communication and teamwork skills that allow them to work effectively both as leaders and as team members in a group.
  4. Citizenship, ethics, role of chemistry in society: Students have an appreciation for the role of chemistry in the global society as well as the central role chemistry plays in other scientific disciplines such as biology, medicine, environmental science, and engineering sciences. They conduct themselves ethically and responsibly in science-related professions.

Current information regarding the requirements for the Chemical Sciences major can be found at the Office of the Registrar Catalog website.

Chemical Sciences courses can be found at the Office of the Registrar Catalog Course website.