College of Liberal Arts & Sciences Advising - Zulauf Hall 201 - 815-753-0114

A 2 + 2 Plan Leading to a
Bachelor of Science Degree in Chemistry


All degree requirements are subject to the provisions and notices in the Undergraduate Catalog. Information is valid through August 2015.


B.S. Degree in Chemistry

Chemistry at NIU

The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry is located in the shared complex ofFaraday Hall/La Tourette Hall, complete with specialized laboratories for instruction and research; a library with approximately 18,000 volumes and 438 scientific periodicals; and shops for electronics, metalworking, and glassblowing. The department has the modern instrumentation needed to investigate the overall physical and chemical properties of compounds, to characterize and to determine the molecular structures of solids, and to study the magnetic and photonic properties of molecules.

All undergraduate chemistry majors are required to take at least 28 semester hours of courses in analytical, biological, inorganic, organic, and physical chemistry. In addition, all students must take a minimum of 16 semester hours of courses in calculus and physics. Additional requirements vary depending on the student's particular area of interest. An undergraduate may receive a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry with a choice of five different emphases, which are summarized below.

Students who intend to pursue advanced degrees in chemistry or biochemistry, or who are planning careers as professional chemists or biochemists, should select emphasis 1 or emphasis 5, respectively. With appropriate electives, either emphasis 1 or emphasis 5 will be appropriate for students interested in forensic science. Emphases 2 and 3 are designed to prepare students for careers in teaching at the junior and senior high school levels. Emphasis 4 is designed for students intending to use training in chemistry as a preparation for professional school. An honors program is available for outstanding students in all emphases by completing 13 semester hours of honors courses in chemistry, presenting a senior thesis, and maintaining a grade point average of at least 3.50. Both emphasis 1 and emphasis 5 require a minimum of 2 semester hours of supervised research.

Emphasis 1--Chemistry: The emphasis in professional chemistry is recommended for students who intend to pursue graduate studies in chemistry. This emphasis is accredited by the Committee on Professional Training of the American Chemical Society. In addition to 43-44 semester hours of core courses in chemistry, professional chemistry students must complete 11-12 semester hours of mathematics and 8 semester hours of calculus-based physics courses.

Emphases 2 and 3--Secondary Teaching and Environmental Science Teaching: The secondary teaching and environmental science teaching emphases are tailored to the needs of students who want to teach at the junior high, or high school levels. In addition to the 51-62 semester hours of required chemistry courses, both these emphases require professional education courses to meet the requirements for teacher certification in Illinois. Students should also be sure to read very carefully the requirements for teacher certification.

Emphasis 4--Chemistry for Preprofessional Students: This emphasis is for students who intend to pursue careers in medicine, pharmacy, veterinary medicine, or other professional disciplines. With the appropriate electives, it is also an excellent preparation for a career in technical writing or sales, pharmaceutical or chemical sales, etc. It requires 32-33 semester hours of chemistry courses, plus 37 semester hours of biology, mathematics, and physics.

Emphasis 5--Biochemistry: The biochemistry emphasis, which is also certified by the Committee on Professional Training of the American Chemical Society, is geared toward students with an interest in biochemistry. It also prepares students for advanced studies in chemistry, or in professional disciplines such as medicine. The emphasis requires 42 semester hours of chemistry courses, a minimum of 16 hours of calculus and calculus-based physics courses, and 11 hours of biology courses.

Career Opportunities

Once a student obtains a bachelor's degree in chemistry, careers and job opportunities are varied. Graduates with a B.S. degree in chemistry may enter the job market without any further education, but students often wish to obtain an advanced degree to increase their expertise and specialization in a particular area of interest. Students may also wish to attend medical, veterinary, dental, or pharmacy school. Both the Master of Science and the Doctor of Philosophy degrees prepare the individual for more specialized research, independent laboratory work, a professional management position, or teaching at the college and university level.

Job Outlook

Currently, the job outlook for chemistry majors with a bachelor's or a master's degree is excellent. The chemical industry and school systems actively recruit all degree candidates.

For a new graduate with a bachelor's degree in chemistry who accepted employment in 2007, the median starting salary was $36,700, rising to $44,800 with two to four years of experience. Salaries for high school teachers are set by the individual school districts, but teachers with a science degree often are at a premium and may receive a higher level of pay than non-science teachers.

The employment statistics for chemists with a bachelor’s degree are excellent.  In 2008 only 2.5% were unemployed seeking employment.  In general, there is a national shortage of chemists and employment prospects remain very good.  While many NIU chemistry graduates obtain advanced degrees at NIU and other fine institutions, the ones who chose to go directly into the working world are highly successful in obtaining jobs.

NIU Career Services and the departmental office can assist students in searching for employment.  The department receives notices of job openings and posts them regularly.  Frequently, NIU chemistry graduates in management positions will inform the department of any current openings they wish to fill.

Transferring to NIU

To make the transfer process as smooth as possible and to avoid graduation delays, it is essential that students work closely with their community college counselors from the outset. Students who are considering a degree in chemistry are also strongly encouraged to contact the NIU Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the time they enroll at their community colleges. It is never safe to assume that a particular course will transfer to NIU or that courses sharing the same or very similar names will carry equivalent credit at NIU. When planning your curriculum, be sure your adviser checks the NIU Articulation Tables. If your college does not have a copy of the articulation tables, you may be able to check course equivalencies online for your institution. 

Suggested Semester Plans

Course numbers listed below are those at NIU; see the online articulation tables for course equivalencies at your institution.

Fall     Spring  
CHEM 210, Gen Chem l 3   CHEM 211, Gen Chem ll 3
CHEM 212 , Gen Chem Lab l 1   CHEM 213, Gen Chem Lab ll 1
MATH 229, Calculus l 4   MATH 230, Calculus ll 4
ENGL 103, Rhet & Comp l 3   ENGL 104, Rhet & Comp ll  3
Gen Ed/Electives 3   Gen Ed/Electives 3
  17     17
CHEM 336, Organic l  3      
CHEM 338, Organic Lab 2   CHEM 337, Organic ll 3
PHYS 253, Physics l 4  
Gen Ed/Electives 3   PHYS 273, Physics ll 4
  Gen Eds/Electives 9
  15     16

If the organic sequence of CHEM 336, 337, and 338; the physics sequence of PHYS 253 and PHYS 273; and the calculus sequence of MATH 229 and 230 are not completed prior to transferring to NIU, completion of the degree within two years would be difficult, and most likely, not possible.

Depending on your transfer instituition, the organic chemistry courses may articulate as either NIU CHEM 330, 331, and 332 OR CHEM 336, 337, and 338; either will satisfy the required organic sequence.

Recommended electives for Emphasis 1, Chemistry: Calculus lll (MATH 232) or Differential Equations (MATH 336).

Recommended electivies for Emphasis 4, Chemistry for Pre-professional Students, and Emphasis 5, Biochemistry: Fundamentals of Biology and Lab l (BIOS 208 and 210); and Fundamentals of Biology and Lab ll (BIOS 209 and 211). 

A minimum of 120 semester hours is required to graduate. Of those hours, at least 40 must be at the 300-400 level.


For More Information

Professor Jon W. Carnahan, Chair
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Northern Illinois University
DeKalb, Illinois 60115­-2862

(815) 753­-1131
Fax: (815) 753-4802



For a current NIU Undergraduate Catalog and application materials, contact:

Office of Admissions
Northern Illinois University
DeKalb, Illinois 60115-­2857
(800) 892-­3050 (toll­-free in Illinois)
or (815) 753­-0446


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