Chemistry B.A.

The Department of Chemistry, part of the College of Arts and Sciences, offers four undergraduate majors. Each features a very active undergraduate research program:

  • Chemistry B.S.
  • Chemistry B.A.
  • Biochemistry B.S.
  • Biochemistry B.A.

Chemistry is the study of matter, its properties, how and why substances combine or separate to form other substances, and how substances interact with energy. When pursuing a major in the department of Chemistry, you learn from award-winning faculty who consistently rank among the best in their respective fields.

The Chemistry B.A. major requires study in general chemistry, organic chemistry, and physical chemistry. You can then choose to take courses in other chemistry disciplines, such as analytical, biochemistry, nuclear, materials, and inorganic chemistry. The Chemistry B.A. degree is less rigorous in math, chemistry, and physics than the Chemistry B.S. degree. These degree requirements allow students more flexibility to take a breadth of courses and pursue combined majors more easily.

The Chemistry B.A. provides a solid foundation in the sciences for pre-professional students and a strong understanding of chemistry that is suitable for various careers such as a laboratory technician in the pharmaceutical industry, research assistant in medical school science departments in toxicology or biochemistry, or chemical technician in industry or the private sector. It can also be used as a gateway into careers in biotechnology, toxicology, biomedical engineering, clinical chemistry, plant pathology, animal science, and other fields.

The Department of Chemistry offers an undergraduate minor for students majoring in subjects outside of the department.

Coursework

Getting started

Students pursuing the Chemistry B.A. begin by taking an introductory chemistry course, and then proceed to the organic chemistry sequence.  It is recommended that you start foreign language study in the first semester and complete the calculus, English composition, Public Oral Communication, and Critical Approaches to the Arts and Sciences requirements within the first year.

Tracks and concentrations

There are no official tracks or concentrations in the Chemistry major. Students can choose to complete their elective hours with study in the disciplines of analytical chemistry, biochemistry, nuclear chemistry, materials chemistry, and inorganic chemistry. Elective courses are chosen by interest and performance in prerequisite courses.

Upper level coursework

Students are required to take upper-level coursework in organic chemistry and physical chemistry. Work with your academic advisor to choose upper level elective courses that match your academic and career interests. Options include analytical chemistry, biochemistry, nuclear chemistry, materials chemistry, and inorganic chemistry.

Commonly pursued majors, minors and certificates

Students often combine their Chemistry coursework with other areas of study by adding an additional major or minor. Common complements to the Chemistry B.A. include a major or minors in Psychology, Biology, Neuroscience, Exercise Science, or in a foreign language.

Popular certificates include The Liberal Arts and Management Program (LAMP) and The Business of Life Sciences.

Enhance your major

Working with faculty

When pursuing a Chemistry degree, you have the opportunity to work with faculty who have expertise and experience in many dimensions of the field. Take advantage of office hours to talk with your instructors about your performance in class, the content of readings and assignments, and how the course helps you work toward your goals.

The Department of Chemistry has a very active undergraduate research program. Students work closely with a faculty advisor and with graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, and other scientists in a group. They are expected to participate in all aspects of the research program: studying the original research literature, designing projects, and interpreting results.

Students interested in graduate school, careers in teaching, and/or any career involving managing people will be able to explore these careers in their role as an Undergraduate Teaching Assistant (UTA). UTAs assist faculty with the teaching mission of the department. Speak with an academic advisor if you are interested in this opportunity.

Honors

Highly motivated Chemistry B.A. students who wish to acquire a strong foundation in the field may want to take Chemistry Honors courses. The Chemistry Honors notation is awarded to students who complete a B.S. degree in Chemistry or Biochemistry, earn a 3.3 cumulative GPA, and complete a research thesis. Chemistry B.A. students can take honors courses but do not receive the departmental honors notation.

High achieving students may be recognized for Academic Excellence in the College of Arts and Sciences, or they may be eligible for admission to the Hutton Honors College.

Undergraduate scholarships and awards

Applications for departmental merit scholarships and summer research scholarships are due in early February. Merit awards are given to students based on their academic accomplishments. Summer research scholarships are intended for undergraduates already engaged in research activities who can benefit from essentially full-time summer research. See an advisor for more information.

Students can also apply for a Hutton Honors College research grant.

Internships

Internships offer you a chance to develop both technical and transferable skills while making vital professional contacts with others in the field. Many students begin exploring internship opportunities, including overseas study programs with internships, as early as their freshman year.

Previous Chemistry B.A. students have found internships with the following organizations:

Learn more about internships, and the possibility of earning credit, through The Walter Center for Career Achievement. You have access to many resources there for finding both domestic and international internships. It may be possible to earn academic credit for an internship by enrolling in ASCS-Q398 or CHEM-X373.

Foreign language study

Students pursuing the Chemistry B.A. are required to complete a single foreign language through the fourth semester. Many students continue their foreign language study in order to add a minor to their degree.

As one of the premier institutions in the U.S. for the study of languages, IU Bloomington offers courses and resources in over 60 languages. You can learn more about the foreign language requirement for a College of Arts and Sciences degree.

Here a sampling of the language study resources available to students at IU Bloomington:

Overseas study

Study abroad is an important part of undergraduate education in an increasingly interconnected world. Chemistry students often pursue language study and other coursework in the following locations:

  • Adelaide, Australia
  • Canberra, Australia
  • Perth, Australia
  • Wollongong, Australia
  • Canterbury, England
  • Oxford - St. Anne's, England
  • Christchurch, New Zealand
  • Cape Town, South Africa
  • Istanbul, Turkey

The College of Arts + Sciences also directly hosts a variety of study abroad programs, some even featuring IU faculty, that might be right for you.  Learn more about study abroad opportunities and locations through conversation with Chemistry faculty, your academic advisor, and the Office of Overseas Study.

Student groups

Chemistry B.A. students may find enrichment in the following organizations:

Explore beINvolved to connect with any of the 750+ student organizations that already exist, or to start a new one.

Residential Programs and Services at IU offers a variety of learning communities, which allow students to select to live among peers with a common interest. Some of the following learning communities may be of interest to Chemistry students:

For a complete list of Living Learning Centers, Academic Communities and Thematic Communities, visit the Residential Programs and Services website.

Volunteer opportunities

There are numerous opportunities for volunteer engagement, allowing you to give back to the local community while developing useful job skills. The organizations below can help you connect with others from the university and beyond:

Sign up to receive weekly emails from the Bloomington Volunteer Network to learn about local opportunities and organizations.

Professional organizations

The American Chemical Society serves as a valuable resource for Chemistry B.A. students.

Use the Indiana University Library system to search Associations Unlimited, an online directory of associations, professional societies, nonprofit organizations.

Build your skills

Through the major

The Chemistry B.A. degree provides you with the following set of skills and qualities that are relevant and transferable to many areas of study and work:

  • Discipline knowledge: possess diverse conceptual comprehension within all traditional subfields of chemistry
  • Critical thinking: gather, evaluate, and interpret relevant scientific data and make judgments
  • Technical skills: perform laboratory skills with accuracy and precision
  • Communication skills: utilize discipline conventions and formalizations to convey information, ideas, problems, and solutions
  • Career competencies: gain transferable skills and a deep foundation of knowledge

Through a College of Arts and Sciences degree

Your coursework provides many opportunities to develop the following five foundational skills that will serve you well in every career path: 

  • Question critically
  • Think logically
  • Communicate clearly
  • Act creatively
  • Live ethically

These foundational skills will aid you in landing your first job and advancing professionally throughout your working life.  Not only are these the skills that employers say they value most in the workplace, they provide the best preparation for lifelong success in a world of complexity, uncertainty, and change.

Skills desired by employers

Each year, the National Association of Colleges and Employers asks employers what skills and qualities they are looking for in recent college graduates.

The following are some of the most commonly desired attributes across many employment sectors:

  • Problem-solving skills
  • Ability to work in a team
  • Written and verbal communication skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Strong work ethic
  • Analytical and quantitative skills
  • Ability to take initiative
  • Being detail oriented
  • Demonstrating adaptability
  • Technical skills relevant to the field
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Computer skills
  • Organizational ability

As you explore various career fields, pay attention to specific job descriptions and requirements. If there are areas where your skills or knowledge are lacking, talk with your academic advisor and career coach about how you can develop in those areas while you are at Indiana University.

Your academic advisor  and career coach can also help you find ways to strengthen and deepen the knowledge you already have, becoming more prepared for whatever path you select after your college career.

Launch your career

Plan your search

A good career exploration starting point is an appointment with a career coach.

The Walter Center for Career Achievement offers job search resources, career courses, job fairs, information about internships and full-time jobs, and help with social media networking through professional organizations. Get advice about how to write your resume, ask for letters of recommendation from faculty and workplace supervisors, and prepare for job interviews, too.

Explore and enroll in Career Communities to learn more about industries relevant to your interests.  These offer unique information about each field, including alumni spotlights, opportunities and resources, and in-person events.

You might want to take a career course to help you maximize your career preparation at IU. ASCS-Q296 - College to Career II: Navigate Your Arts and Sciences Experience will provide you the opportunity to explore the relationship between your chosen field of study and life after graduation while developing a career and academic development plan for post-collegiate success.

The job market

Students with the Chemistry B.A. degree take their education in many directions. They are well prepared to work in federal and state government, industry (chemical, pharmaceutical, biotechnology, food, cosmetics, agricultural, environmental, petroleum, and consumer products), private research labs and organizations, and colleges and universities.

Graduates with the degree are prepared to enter the workforce in technical sales, marketing, customer relations, technical writing, and scientific editing. The degree is also sufficient for entry-level positions such as lab coordinator, research assistant, product tester, or service representative.

IU graduates with the Chemistry B.A. degree now hold many positions, including:

  • Product developer
  • Process developer
  • Analyst
  • Consultant
  • Quality Assurance/Quality Control

Want to see where your fellow majors go right after graduating from IU? Check out the Walter Center's First Destinations survey!

Need more ideas? The Occupational Outlook Handbook from the Bureau of Labor Statistics offers career information about hundreds of occupations.

Talk with Chemistry faculty, the academic advisor, and other students to gain insights into the career paths taken by graduates of the Chemistry department.

Post-graduate short-term experiences

After graduation, a short-term experience or internship can help you make connections, gain life skills, and assess your interest in future careers. Talk with your career coach  and use these and other resources to find opportunities that are a good fit with your educational experience and career goals:

The following resources can be of assistance to you if you are interested in teaching English abroad, further honing your language, teaching, and communication skills:

Fellowships for post-graduate study

Fellowships are temporary post-graduate opportunities to conduct research, work in a field, or fund graduate school. Most opportunities can be found through universities, non-profit, and government organizations.

Graduate students at IU find support through internal fellowships and awards, which is money that comes directly from IU. External fellowships and awards are also available, coming from organizations and corporations unaffiliated with the university.

Resources for finding fellowship opportunities include:

Graduate and professional study

When applying to graduate or professional schools, you will need letters of recommendation from faculty members who are familiar with your work. Make a practice of attending office hours early in your academic career in order to get to know your professors and discuss your options for advanced study in the field.

A Chemistry B.A. degree will prepare you for entry into graduate programs in a wide variety of fields, such as biochemistry, chemistry, dentistry, health administration, law, medicine, and optometry.

With careful planning, and in consultation with the Health Professions and Prelaw Center, you could also prepare to enter law school, medical school, or other programs in the health professions.

Advanced degrees in chemistry can lead to careers in industrial research and development in fields as wide-ranging as materials science (development of new alloys, polymers, and ceramics), biotechnology (using biological processes to produce materials), and medicinal chemistry (preparing new pharmaceuticals to combat diseases). In addition, advanced degrees in chemistry prepare students for academic careers in colleges and universities.

Combining a degree in chemistry with one in another field, such as law, enhances career possibilities to include patent law, medical research, environmental science, and chemical engineering.

You might consider these Indiana University graduate opportunities:

Alumni connections

Catch up on alumni paths through the IU Chemists Alumni Journal, a publication prepared in cooperation with the Indiana University Alumni Office.

The IU College of Arts + Sciences has thousands of active alumni. Check out the IU College Luminaries program, which connects students with the College's most influential, successful, and inspiring alumni.

Join the Walter Center Success Network to remain in touch, network directly with College of Arts + Sciences Alumni, and let others know where your path takes you.


Is it for you?

The Department of Chemistry attracts students from a variety of backgrounds and interests. They typically have some of the following qualities:

  • Curiosity about the sciences and the world around them
  • Ability to think critically and willingness to ask questions
  • Eagerness to work hard even when tasks are challenging
  • Interest in creatively seeking new patterns emerging from old ideas
  • Accuracy and precision when performing technical procedures
  • Capability to apply research concepts to new situations

Learn more

Contact the Chemistry academic advisor and schedule an appointment to explore your options. Complete information about the requirements of the major can be found in the College of Arts and Sciences Bulletin.

Department website
Advisor email address
chemadv@indiana.edu