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Posted by on Saturday, June 27, 2009 at 6:04pm.

I'm know I'm interested in the chemistry field. The problem is that I have to further narrow down my field of interest.

I was curious to know what type of chemistry did you specialize in in the past.


  • Dr.Bob - Question - , Saturday, June 27, 2009 at 6:23pm

    To answer your question. Analytical chemistry, specifically chemical spectroscopy. But I would be cautious about choosing a field based upon majors in the last 50 years. To be honest about it, I'm the last of a dying breed. When I took my first job, they told me they had been searching for a Ph. D. in chemical spectroscopy for three years before I came along and handn't had a nibble. The point is that workers in that field were scarce as hens teeth. That is true today,too, HOWEVER, there is no demand for chemical spectrographers today (at least not emission spectroscopy). I worked in trace elements and at the time that was the best technique to find elemenst in the nanogram range. Now there are many techniques that will do much much better than that. Biotechnology, nanotechnology, and some of those fields are the hot topics now.

  • Dr.Bob - Question - , Saturday, June 27, 2009 at 6:28pm

    I think the biochemistry field is wide open and will remain so, as will polymer chemistry. I have two ex students in enviromental chemistry, and both love it (I don't think I would, too much repetitive lab testing). Biomedical Science is a very related degree, and is wide open, and will remain so.

  • Dr.Bob - Question - , Saturday, June 27, 2009 at 8:51pm

    Thanks for your responses, Dr.Bob and bobpursley.
    I'm not too good in the area of biochemistry unfortunately.
    I was thinking about Analytical, Organic, Environmental, and Inorganic Chemistry.

    I haven't taken any inorganic classes in my school though, because they don't offer it. As for the environmental chemistry field, I read that one has to have taken classes related to that before even thinking about applying.

    Could someone like me take classes elsewhere that are not needed for one's degree?
    i.e. polymer chemistry course and inorganic courses

  • Dr.Bob - Question - , Saturday, June 27, 2009 at 8:55pm

    Yes, of course. Education never ends, and its goal is NOT a degree. Its goal is understanding.

  • Dr.Bob - Question - , Saturday, June 27, 2009 at 9:59pm

    I would like to try the other chemistry classes and see how I like them.

    Thanks bobpursley.

  • Dr.Bob - Question - , Saturday, June 27, 2009 at 10:37pm

    Christina, when it comes to choosing a major (that comes before choosing a specialized area within a major), the question is not "what do I want to be?" but "what do I enjoy doing?". My suggestion would be to simply major in chemistry. That is all you can really do as an undergraduate. By the time you get your degree you will know what kind of chemistry (if any) you want to specialize in. You begin to specialize when you start getting ready for graduate school and look for a graduate advisor, then a research topic. Specialization starts in graduate school even if you have developed some specific interest as an undergraduate.

  • Dr.Bob - Question - , Saturday, June 27, 2009 at 11:19pm

    I have just 1 year left before I graduate with another degree that is science related. It is not in chemistry but I have taken almost all of the chemistry classes that are usually taken by a chemistry major.
    (excluding inorganic and other more specific chemistry classes)There is also no available chemistry major available at this time in my school.

    I was specifically refering to grad school above. (I do think that I need to know what I want to do before I actually apply, though as it makes more sense that way)

  • Dr.Bob - Question - , Sunday, June 28, 2009 at 12:10am

    To follow up on the comments by GK and your last comment, pause to think this through. As GK has stated, you major in chemistry in undergraduate school. There is no specialty there. I know you have no pure chem major at your school; however, since you have taken most of the chem courses anyway, you aren't far from that major. You can go to grad school. My experience is that many don't know when they enter grad school exactly what specialty they will take. Most grad schools that I'm familiar with have a first semester, and in most cases, a second semester also, that is fairly typical for entering students. That is the first semester students have little choice for the courses they take. I had little choice the second semester, also. During the second semester students begin to ask around, talk to various advisers, other students, etc prior to choosing a research specialty. As GK points out, most don't choose a specialty BEFORE entering grad school.

  • Dr.Bob - Question - , Sunday, June 28, 2009 at 12:52am

    I was just trying to figure out what I wanted to do. It's good to know that I don't have to choose right away though. I'll start getting things together and then apply.

    I appreciate your advice, Dr.Bob and GK. :-)

  • Dr.Bob - Question - , Sunday, June 28, 2009 at 7:49pm

    For a chemistry major, a good college chemistry curriculum should be consistent with recommendations of the American Chemistry Society (ACS). Here is one of them to look at:
    If you do not have a chemistry major already based on the ACS recommended curriculum, you may want to take a few more chemistry courses. Some advanced math courses (Group Theory, Discreet Math, Partial Differential Equations, etc.) may be desirable , also. Anyway, before you do anything, talk to an academic advisor in the graduate school you are planning to attend, to avoid taking many more courses than you need.

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