Chicago Online Chemistry Graduate Degrees & Programs

For those who have an undergraduate foundation in chemistry, an online chemistry degree program could provide the opportunity to engage in advanced coursework, in-depth study and independent research. A graduate degree in chemistry often helps students broaden their grasp of the chemical sciences, as well as deepen their understanding of a subfield. Analytical chemistry or inorganic chemistry are just a few potential focal areas.

Why earn a graduate degree in Chemistry

Why Earn an Online Chemistry Degree?

An online chemistry degree program could give students the flexibility needed to maintain professional and personal obligations while furthering their education. At-work graduate students who pursue a degree in chemistry online may want to align their studies with career goals. For example, those who want to conduct research in the pharmaceutical industry might consider a degree in medicinal or organic chemistry. Typically, a student designs their online chemistry degree program with the help of a faculty mentor or advisor. This might make it easier to figure out how to tailor studies around specific scientific interests.


Chemists who want to pursue a career in research, are often required to have either a masters or PhD in chemistry degree.i

Potential Learning Outcomes

Through their online chemistry degree courses, graduate students might learn the core principles and concepts associated with chemistry and/or biochemistry. In addition, most programs include a period of research. This could provide students with the chance to make their own discoveries as they apply theory and critical analysis to investigate scientific problems. Finally, some programs may highlight writing and research methods. These types of courses could help students build their ability to communicate the results of their scientific investigations both orally and in writing.

Format and Features

In terms of format, each university that offers online graduate chemistry courses and online chemistry degree programs may present material differently. However, often lectures, readings and assignments are posted to an online course management system for students to access and complete by a given deadline. Some schools might engage learners through multiple platforms. Threaded discussion, case studies, problem solving, online modules, essay writing, and peer review could be used to keep students connected to their peers and instructor(s).

Pace and Portability

Often, distance learners set their own pace, both in terms of when they log in and how they move through their course sections. While students need to complete assignments on time, they might be able to spend more time on a topic if it is difficult or unfamiliar. Also, students could take their studies with them anywhere with internet access.

Research Interests

Each graduate school with an online chemistry degree program may offer diverse research areas for students to choose from. Research focus areas could span topics such as biochemistry, inorganic and organic synthesis, medicinal chemistry, organometallic chemistry, atmospheric and marine chemistry and chemical education. For distance learners, graduate research could take place on-campus in school facilities and laboratories, or at the student’s place of employment. Although some stipulations are usually in place, a current chemist may find this option convenient and within reach.

Types of Online Chemistry Graduate Programs

For students who want to pursue a graduate degree in chemistry online, choices may be available predominantly at the masters and certificate levels. Those who want to move onto a PhD in Chemistry might find that accredited programs are offered on-campus, as they usually entail significant research as well as student teaching.

Admission and Application

Applicants to a graduate online chemistry program typically need a bachelors degree, earned at a regionally accredited university or college, either in Chemistry or a closely related discipline. Some schools also stipulate a minimum GPA requirement, such as a Science GPA of 2.8 or higher. In addition, prospective chemistry grad students may need to have completed some prerequisites. For instance, they may need experience in Analytical, Inorganic, Organic, and Physical Chemistry.

Other requirements tend to include transcripts, letters of recommendation, and a completed planned program of study. The planned program could be designed during an interview session with a program director. GRE scores may also be needed in some schools. Admission and application processes for each school and program does differ. Contact schools directly for details.

Online Masters in Chemistry Programs

An online Masters in Chemistry program typically awards a Master of Science (MS) degree. In some universities, the online MS in Chemistry is a 30-32 credit program which could be culminated with a thesis, or a non-thesis project option.

Coursework: To fulfill their program requirements, students might take required courses in Inorganic Chemistry, Advanced Inorganic Chemistry and Biochemistry. Other course credits could be from electives.

While coursework varies between schools and programs, students who work towards the MS degree might study some of the topics listed below. You could refer to individual schools to look at their syllabus, or contact a school advisor.

  • Medicinal Chemistry
  • Intro to Cancer Chemistry
  • Forensic Chemistry
  • Organic Spectroscopy

Thesis: A thesis option is sometimes limited to students who receive prior approval of their research proposal by a program director and a thesis advisor. Students on the thesis track generally present and defend their thesis as a final degree requirement, in lieu of a written comprehensive exam.

Sometimes, distance students look for a secure laboratory where they might conduct their research as a volunteer. Or, they may be able to use their work facilities if the research differs from their paid work and is done outside normal work hours. If this option appeals to you, contact the schools on your list for more details. 

Comprehensive Exam: A comprehensive exam could be designed for all students in a non-thesis online MS in Chemistry program. Students might take this exam after they have completed the required courses and a set number of credits. Students might also need to take other individual exams based on required courses and selected electives.

Online Graduate Certificate in Chemistry

In some universities, students who meet admission requirements might have the option to complete an online Graduate Certificate in Chemistry. This could be instead of, or to potentially prepare for, a Masters degree. The certificate option could allow students to take online graduate chemistry courses without the same commitment as to a full degree. In most cases, the courses belong to a related Masters degree curriculum and students may be able to transfer the certificate credits into the degree later.

While requirements vary, students might need to complete a total of about twelve credits. These could be divided between two core required courses and two electives. Because graduate certificates tend to target one theme, you might find them to be a focused way to build knowledge and skills. For instance, you might want to learn theories of spectroscopic methods in an Analytical Spectroscopy Certificate, which could leave the door open for you to think about a Master of Chemistry in Analytical Chemistry program in the future.


You might look for an online chemistry degree program that is offered at a regionally accredited school. Accreditation is a process that needs to be renewed by the school periodically. A type of ‘approval’, an agency determines whether a school meets or exceeds standards such as financial stability and student resources. This may be an important factor should you seek federal financial aid.

Take the Next Step in Finding an Online Chemistry Graduate Program

Since some online chemistry graduate programs may accept students year-round, students might choose between masters programs or start with an online certificate right away. To find a perfect online chemistry degree for you, browse paid programs right here and now. You could use the location and program level filters or just scroll down this page. From there, use the on-page form to contact graduate schools directly!


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