Chemistry - FAQ's

About the Chemistry Program at CMU:

At CMU, you are an individual not just a number in a crowd. Chemistry class sizes are very often 10 or less, giving you a chance to really know your professors. All chemistry professors have a doctorate degree in chemistry which is the highest degree that can be earned. These individuals are teaching your classes and the labs, not student instructors or graduate assistants. Professors will also serve as academic advisors giving you the best possible guidance toward your desired future.

Icassien the labs, you get the opportunity to learn to operate the instrumentation instead of it being operated for you. This will help you grow into being more of an analyst with a real understanding of how the instrument works and, perhaps more importantly, when it isn’t working correctly.

You will get an opportunity to pass along your chemical knowledge while you are at CMU as a lab assistant or tutor. This type of work is often reserved for graduate students at larger schools. However, at CMU we need your help. We simply cannot do all that we need to do without our student assistants. Your work in the lab and with students in the evenings is critical for their success.

Lastly, you will get an opportunity to interact socially with other chemistry students outside of the class as a part of Gamma Sigma Epsilon, a national chemistry honor society. You will have the opportunity to grow in your leadership skills along with having lots of fun and fellowship at chemistry cookouts and demonstration events held for the university and broader community.


What skills and abilities do I need to excel in this major?

Chemistry majors need to be tremendously inquisitive and stick with a problem until it is solved. A good chemist is always willing to ask and pursue the all-important question, "why?" A good chemist also understands that mathematics is the language of science including chemistry.


What skills can I expect to develop through this degree?

At CMU, you will gain a firm background in chemical theory and practical laboratory experiences. As a chemistry major, you will become familiar with classical techniques of chemical analysis and production along with current instrumental applications in the formulation and analysis of chemical compounds. You will leave with a strong ability to design experiments and collect, analyze, manipulate and communicate scientific information.


What opportunities are there for internships or other hands-on learning experiences?

Chemistry majors will have an opportunity to participate in a wide variety of internship experiences with local chemical companies, including ABC Labs in Columbia and Inovatia Labs in Fayette, and companies across the country. These experiences have ranged from water maintenance at outdoor recreation centers to analysis of food products.

As a chemistry major you will have the opportunity to do an individual research project under the mentoring of a chemistry professor. These projects allow you to mature scientifically as you apply chemical knowledge in the development, design and implementation of experiments to answer unique chemical questions. These experiences can also happen through a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program. In an REU program, students travel to another university during the summer where they are provided room and board along with a stipend to do research for up to 10 weeks. CMU students have gone to several major universities including the University of Kansas, University of Arkansas, University of Nebraska, Northwestern University and the University of Arizona.

Chemistry majors routinely get to serve the communities within Missouri as they travel to schools where they have the opportunity to perform and engage students in chemical experiments. From high school to elementary school, students all enjoy the "chemistry show." Our majors often serve as judges for local and regional science fairs. These are valued opportunities for you to give back to communities around the state.


What are some possible entry-level careers with a degree in this field?

There are entry-level positions within the government through the Environmental Protection Agency and US Geological Survey. There are positions within the food industry, the cosmetic industry, NASA and even for students interested in law as patent attorneys. Of course, there are many opportunities for chemistry majors interested in the health professions including medicine, pharmacy, dentistry and veterinary medicine. After completing the education requirements, students interested in teaching can find themselves in classrooms around the state and country. Virtually any field of interest has some type of opportunity for students studying chemistry.


What are some CMU graduates with this degree doing?

Graduates with a chemistry degree have found employment in chemistry labs as analysts and production chemists in major companies including Sigma Aldrich in St. Louis. We have had student immediately go to work for the Missouri State Highway Patrol's crime lab, and other students have gone to work as technicians in our regional nuclear power plant. Several of our majors also completed the education course work to be able to teach chemistry and science at the high school and middle school level. Lastly, several of our students have pursued advanced degrees in chemistry, and several have attended professional schools including medical school.

Want more information? Check out the Major Resources provided by the Career Development Center.