Why study chemistry at USF?

Like many small liberal arts colleges, USF excels in delivering its curriculum in an environment much more intimate than that obtained from studying at a large research-based university. In fact, our largest class size is for General Chemistry (sections size of 50), which is far smaller than typical lecture enrollments (often in the hundreds) for General Chemistry courses taught at other universities. Most chemistry courses range in size from 10-30, including the oft-dreaded Organic Chemistry–a course that many view as a harbinger for a successful application to medical school. These small classes allow the teacher to know every student and monitor each student's progress carefully.

We also encourage our majors to get involved in undergraduate research. Five faculty members are involved in developing undergraduate-based research projects. In fact we have a course, Research Methods and Practice (Chem 397), offered  every year and that institutionalizes our commitment to undergraduate research. Our students present their findings at either regional or National American Chemical Society meetings. In addition, USF students have been listed as co-authors on American Chemical Society journals.

Finally, of our nine full time faculty, three have received the University's Distinguished Teaching Award–indicative of the commitment the Chemistry Faculty have to their students.

What can I do with a Chemistry degree?

Upon graduating from USF, our majors pursue different paths. There are three common scenarios: (1) the student follows a graduate program in Chemistry/Biochemistry; (2) the student begins a program at a professional school, such as an medicine, dental, or pharmaceutical; (3) the student obtains employment in the local chemistry/biotechnology industry.

Where do USF graduates go?

In the last 5 years our students have gone to the following Ph.D., graduate and professional schools: Columbia University, Yale University, UCLA, UCSF, USC, U. of Washington, UC Davis, Purdue University, University of Texas at Austin, University of Miami, University of the Pacific, University of Pennsylvania, Kings College (London), Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine and Keck Graduate Institute.

In the last 5 years our students have obtained employment in the following local industry: Chevron, Genentech, Gilead Sciences, Innova Dynamics, Quidel, SFPD Crime Lab, and UCSF.

If I want to go to medical school, should I be a Chemistry Major or a Chemistry Major with a Concentration in Biochemistry?

Both programs are excellent choices for medical school. Because the Chemistry Program does not require biology, chemistry majors who are interested in pursuing an M.D. would need to also take the year-long freshman biology class. Some of our chemistry majors who are interested in pursuing a graduate program in a health-related field (e.g., M.D., Dental, PharmD) also minor in biology or neuroscience in order to satisfy the professional school requirements. Because the Biochemistry Concentration program requires one-year of biology along with the year-long sequence of Biochemistry, following this trajectory more immediately fills the requirements for many medical schools.

What is ACS?

ACS is the acronym for the American Chemical Society–the world's largest scientific organization. It represents professional chemists of all degrees (B.S., M.S. Ph.D) and scientist who are allied with chemistry (e.g., engineering, chemical biology, pharmacology, etc). Both the Chemistry and Chemistry with a Concentration in Biochemistry programs are approved by the American Chemical Society. This means that our curriculum meets the rigorous standards of the ACS.

How important is obtaining ACS-certification?

The difference between getting ACS certification in your major versus not is primarily dependent on the number of lab hours you fulfill, coupled with lab skills that you obtain. Whether or not this is important to you depends on what you want to do with your degree. Some majors opt out of the ACS-certification because this enables them to pursue another major or a minor. Some majors want ACS-certification because they want to be more competitive in their job or graduate school applications.

Are there any opportunities for employment in the department as an undergraduate?

Yes. Numerous undergraduate majors gain employment by working as Teaching Assistants in General Chemistry; working in the Stockroom; or working as a Research Assistant.