Mg₁C1₂ = MgC1₂ – formulas like these are familiar to many from school. This describes the chemical element magnesium chloride. In everyday life we are constantly surrounded by products that hide complex chemical processes. Medicines and detergents work because precisely controlled chemical processes are set in motion when they are used.
Computers, cell phones and television exist only because chemists helped develop them. And many current problems can only be solved with the involvement of chemistry. Chemists try to develop environmentally friendly fuels and are always researching new, effective drugs. The study of chemistry therefore contains a lot more than the cramming of element names and relative forms.
The subject of chemistry: an overview
According to Localcollegeexplorer, a degree in chemistry prepares those interested for the demanding tasks mentioned above. Chemistry is a classic natural science and so the basic subjects of mathematics and physics play a role at the beginning of the bachelor’s degree .
In seminars and lectures on general chemistry , students first learn the basics of their subject. Inorganic chemistry is later on the curriculum. Here the chemistry students deal with carbon-free compounds and learn about the structure and properties of metals, for example. In the higher semesters, organic chemistry is added: It deals with carbon-containing compounds, for example with proteins.
Later, the students specialize in a certain area. In physical chemistry, for example, they investigate how physical methods affect various substances. There are a number of sub-areas such as
- Technical chemistry
- Macromolecular Chemistry
- Analytical chemistry or
- Pharmaceutical chemistry
Most students plan to do research. The requirements for a scientific career are a master’s degree and a subsequent doctorate . Almost ninety percent of all chemistry students therefore add at least a master’s degree to their bachelor’s degree.
Master of Chemistry
In the master’s program, students devote themselves more intensively to the individual sub-areas of chemistry. The course is extremely research-oriented and the prospective chemists spend a lot of time in the laboratory . At most universities you can choose your own specialization. Depending on the university, you can choose from, for example, biochemistry, nuclear chemistry or environmental chemistry.
Studying chemistry: university or college?
More than a hundred universities and technical colleges offer chemistry as a subject. Some universities offer special study programs, such as food chemistry or physical chemistry. Studies at universities of applied sciences are generally more practice-oriented than at universities: studying at a university of applied sciences primarily prepares students for a job in engineering. Recently, there has been an increasing number of opportunities to complete a dual chemistry degree . Here, practical training phases in a company alternate with theoretical phases at a university.
Before you decide on a particular university, you should therefore find out whether the relevant degree program covers your areas of interest.
Personal requirements and (possible) admission criteria
For prospective chemistry students, the following applies: Good school grades in chemistry, mathematics and physics are essential. You should also enjoy experimenting and research and be interested in complex relationships in the field of natural sciences. You also need a solid knowledge of English , because a large part of the specialist literature is written in English.
After completing their doctorate, most chemists stay true to research. Many are drawn to university research . Research assignments at universities are often linked to a teaching assignment. Also, public and private research institutes such as the Max Planck Institute and the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft employ chemists.
Chemists also work in research and development departments in industrial companies . There they develop new products or optimize existing ones. The development of new processes in order to be able to produce the researched substances on a large scale is one of the tasks of a chemist. They monitor the production processes and carry out quality controls.
Chemists also find a field of activity in the areas of marketing , sales and customer service. In addition, jobs in environmental protection are in great demand. Chemists work for environmental and monitoring agencies and analyze the pollution of soil, water, sewage and air.
Graduates with a focus on food chemistry work in authorities for food control and check, for example, the ingredients of food, tobacco products and cosmetics. A job in the patent office or in the patent departments of companies is also possible.
Further professional fields arise in the IT area, where graduates are in demand due to their ability to think analytically. Jobs in consulting companies are also possible.
A large number of chemistry students study for teaching and go to school to pass on their knowledge to future generations.
Studying chemistry abroad – advantages
It is worthwhile for chemistry students to do part of their studies abroad. One or more semesters abroad offer you the opportunity to attend courses that German universities do not offer . You may have other equipment available in the laboratories than at your home university.
Studying abroad is therefore ideally suited to sharpen your academic profile . In addition, you will acquire or optimize your foreign language skills and soft skills by learning to work in international teams. Later employers show her flexibility, assertiveness and organizational skills.