About the Department
Chemistry is central to modern science and, ultimately, most phenomena in biology, medicine, geology, and the environmental sciences can be described in terms of the chemical and physical behavior of atoms and molecules. Because of the wide appeal and utility of chemistry, UCSC offers many lower-division courses, differing in emphasis and style, to meet diverse needs. Students should also note the numerous upper-division course offerings and select those most suitable to their academic interests. The curriculum in chemistry exposes the student to the principal areas of modern chemistry, including organic, inorganic, physical, analytical, and biochemistry. The curriculum is designed to meet the needs of students who plan to end their formal education with a bachelor of arts (B.A.) or bachelor of science (B.S.) degree, as well as those who wish to go on for an advanced degree. The UCSC chemistry B.A. or B.S. graduate is well prepared to pursue a career in chemistry or an allied field.
Research in chemistry at UCSC is closely interwoven with graduate and undergraduate education. The chemistry and biochemistry research program is active at the graduate level, and faculty also encourage undergraduates to become involved in research. Research is done for academic credit in Chemistry 195A-B-C, Senior Research; or in Chemistry 199, Tutorial. There are also opportunities for interdisciplinary research spanning, for example, chemistry/physics, chemistry/geology, chemistry/oceanography, chemistry/biology, chemistry/computer science, and chemistry/microbiology and environmental toxicology. At UCSC, it is not uncommon for students to see their own original work published in research journals.
Chemistry and biochemistry faculty and approximately 90 graduate students and 30 postdoctoral fellows are housed in the Physical Sciences Building near the Science Library. Standard and specialized spectrophotometric equipment, a number of instruments devoted to structural studies, instrumentation for specialized analytical purposes, and computer facilities used in studies of structure and reactivity are all available. The Science Library has an excellent collection of current journals, in print and electronic form, and reference works, as well as earlier volumes of all the major journals. Additional source material can be readily and rapidly obtained on interlibrary loan.
A degree in chemistry opens the door to a wide variety of academic careers. Some UCSC graduates are working as researchers in industry in areas such as electronic materials, biotechnology, medicinal chemistry, or laser technology. Others have entered government service as research chemists in the Food and Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, or law enforcement crime laboratories. Fields such as patent law, commercial development, and scientific writing are open to graduates. Many chemistry majors go on to university graduate programs across the nation to prepare for careers in research, teaching, or a combination of the two. The degree in chemistry also provides a strong disciplinary background in preparation for a career in the important and much needed area of science teaching in high school. A major in chemistry is also an excellent beginning for one of the many opportunities in the health sciences.
The UCSC Chemistry and Biochemistry Department offers both B.S. and B.A. degree programs. The B.S. program has more requirements, and a student in this program earns a degree that meets the requirements of an American Chemical Society certified program. The B.S. degree should be the choice if a student is interested in getting a job in industry immediately after receiving his or her college degree. The B.S. program also provides a good background for graduate work in chemistry. The B.A. program has fewer requirements and should be considered by students who wish to take more science courses outside of chemistry to enter an interdisciplinary area. Examples might be chemical oceanography, geochemistry, chemical physics, environmental chemistry, and health sciences. The B.A. might also be a good choice for students who wish to become high school teachers. However, for either degree, the courses stress the fundamentals of chemistry and allow students to pursue independent research.
A minor in chemistry is also offered for those who wish to have a strong complementary program in chemistry while majoring in another course of study.