Chemistry and Biochemistry
Chemistry is everywhere...
Virtually everything we do involves chemistry in some way or another. From the clothes we wear to the detergent we wash them in, from the food we eat to the packaging it comes in, from our cars to our computers, chemistry has improved our health, our lives and even our environment. Do you know someone whose life was saved by epinephrine after a bee sting or by an airbag in an auto accident? If so, you can thank a chemist! Although chemists often work behind the scenes, their impact is everywhere.
...with research! Picture yourself in a lab, performing research alongside faculty and graduate students. If this is something you'd like to do, come to NIU, where undergraduate students in our chemistry B.S. degree programs have research experience. Funding for our research regularly comes from some of the top sources in the country, including the National Science Foundation and other federal and state agencies, private foundations, national laboratories (including Argonne National Laboratory and Fermilab), industrial firms and private donors.
With more than 66,000 square feet of research, instructional, and office space, the Chemistry Department is well-equipped for exploration and discovery! Our facilities include an analytical lab with spectroscopic instruments, state-of-the-art computer labs, and electronics, glass, and machine shops, along with a library that subscribes to over 200 chemistry periodicals and contains more than 10,000 volumes.
The NIU Chemistry experience, combined with our proximity to the Chicagoland area and an excellent job market for chemists, provides our graduates with tremendous employment opportunities. Our graduates work in basic and applied research, academic positions, governmental agencies, and industrial and manufacturing sites; many pursue advanced degrees and education, all with high levels of success.
Affiliated with the American Chemical Society, the NIU Chemistry Club sponsors numerous fun and educational events each year, including Chem Demos, a themed evening of experiments and demos that is a hands-down favorite with the public.
What can I do with this degree?
Most chemists work in research, with about two-thirds of baccalaureate chemistry graduates working in the for-profit sector and in a variety of settings, including:
- Chemical manufacturing companies
- Cosmetic companies
- Environmental assessment firms
- Medical laboratories
- Petroleum companies
- Pharmaceutical companies
- Utility companies
Chemistry majors also work in educational settings and in government. A small percentage are employed with nonprofit charities or research foundations. the majority of our graduates go on to pharmacy, medical, and/or graduate school.
"The undergraduate research required in the chemistry and biochemistry program is an invaluable experience for any student. I feel more confident about my abilities as a chemist and understand more of the expectations required of me in a professional lab because of the experiences I gained in research."
- Sara Billenstein, Undergraduate Student
The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry offers a program leading to the B.S. degree with a major in chemistry and a choice of four emphases, each of which requires courses in calculus, physics, and certain core courses in chemistry.
Emphases 1 (Chemistry) and 2 (Biochemistry) are for students either planning to pursue advanced degrees in chemistry or biochemistry, or planning careers as professional chemists or biochemists. With proper electives, either emphasis would be appropriate for students interested in forensic science. Emphasis 3 (Secondary Teaching) is for those who want to teach in middle school and high school. Emphasis 4 (Chemistry for Pre-Professional Students) is designed for students who plan to enter medical or pharmacy school.
Who Majors in Chemistry?
- Isaac Asimov, science fiction writer
- Gerald Hatten “Jerry” Buss, Los Angles Lakers owner
- Frank Capra, director
- Catherine Coleman, astronaut
- Anna Lee Fisher, astronaut
- Jennifer Garner, actress
- Douglas La Follette, Wisconsin Secretary of State
- John C. Lechleiter, COO, Eli Lily
- Dolph Lundgren, actor
- Indra Nooyi, CEO, PepsiCo
- Janet Reno, former attorney general for the U.S.
- Chulabhorn Walailak, Princess of Thailand
- Jack Welch, Jr., former CEO General Electric