Master's in Chemistry Degrees

Masters in Chemistry programs typically award a Master of Science (MS) degree and offer students an advanced postgraduate education in the major branches of the Chemical Sciences. Students may be able to focus their masters degree in chemistry on areas such as organic chemistry, analytical chemistry, physical chemistry,  inorganic chemistry, materials science, and biochemistry. They may also be able to concentrate on key industries, such as pharmaceutical chemistry. Chemistry masters programs often seek to cultivating students’ proficiency to conduct specialized laboratory research. This may prepares students to purse a variety of potential careers in research, development, education, and administration, or for advanced study at the doctoral level.

Chemistry Masters Programs

The Basics of Chemistry Masters Programs

Chemistry Masters programs are typically two year, 30 credit graduate programs that combine classroom learning with independent research. Many students choose to earn the masters degree in chemistry as preparation to pursue a PhD, which is widely considered the prequisite degree to become a professional chemist. For these students, a key component to earning this masters degree in chemistry is the completion of a thesis.

There are also chemistry graduate schools that offer programs with non-thesis options. These may be designed to provide students with the skills they might need for leadership positions and culminate in a final project. Students enrolled in a course-based M.S. program in chemistry take more courses, than do students in a thesis master's.

Those applying to Chemistry Masters programs often must hold an undergraduate degree in chemistry, or in some cases, chemical engineering. Some universities may accept an applicant with a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry as well. Many colleges also require that prospective students meet the minimum required GPA for coursework in chemistry and submit scores for the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).

MS Chemistry Potential Curriculum

Students enrolled in a course-based Chemistry MS program may take courses that cover teh following topics.

  • Advanced organic chemistry
  • Advanced physical chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Advanced analytical chemistry
  • Environmental chemistry
  • Statistical methods

Choosing a Masters in Chemistry Program: Online or On-Campus

Students might consider looking into programs that are approved by the American Chemical Society, and whether they are looking for a general Masters program in Chemistry or one that allows them to pursue a specialization in a subfield, such as analytical chemistry, biochemistry, organic chemistry or inorganic chemistry, nanomaterials or polymer science.

Another important search criteria is program format. Some Chemistry masters programs are laboratory intensive ones, so a campus program may make sense since you would have access to the University’s facilities as a student. For busy working students, pursuing an online master in chemistry may be more convenient. You can initiate a search for chemistry graduate schools on by location; choose a city, state or country then browse the listings. Some of these options might include: Chemistry MS, and Chemistry PSM.

FACT: A relatively new type of degree, called the Professional Science Master’s (PSM), blends advanced training in a particular science field with business skills, such as communications and program management, and policy.[i]

    Chemists: Job Outlook and Salary

    Entry-level jobs for Chemists require a bachelor’s degree, however, a masters or PhD in Chemistry is required for many research and upper-management jobs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with a slow employment growth rate expected between 2014 and 2024 (3%), Chemists with advanced degrees, particularly those with a Ph.D. and work experience, are expected to have better opportunities[ii].  

    Chemists are employed in many industries; research and development, the pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing industries, laboratories, government and basic chemical engineering.

    In terms of salary expectations, the median annual wage for chemists was $73,480 in May 2014; the lowest 10 % earned less than $41,560, and the highest 10 % earned more than $126,220.[iii]

    Other Potential Careers For Chemistry Masters Graduates

    • Materials scientists
    • Natural Sciences Managers
    • Forensic Chemist
    • Air Quality Chemist
    • Agricultural or Food Scientist

    Ready to Pursue a Master of Science in Chemistry?

    Whether you are pursuing a master’s in chemistry as a portal to a PhD or to potentially increase your career prospects, the degree has many professional and vocational applications. Why not start browsing through the listings on to find the program that aligns with your goals!

    Sources: [i] [ii] | | [iii]

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