How Can You Specialize a Master’s in Chemistry?

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Updated August 4, 2020

If you are in the process of entering a Chemistry graduate program, it is important that you know how to specialize a Master's in Chemistry so that you tailor your education to prepare you for professional life. Chemistry is the study of matter and how chemicals react when they come into contact with substances. As broadly as the definition is, it is easy to understand that there are several different areas of specialization that you can choose from when you take an advanced terminal degree program. If you would like to become a specialist in chemistry rather than a generalist, here is a guide to concentrating your degree.

Distinguish Between the Various Areas of Concentration

The very first step to specializing your Master of Science in Chemistry degree is deciding which area of chemistry to concentrate your studies. There are several areas of study that will prepare you for different careers within the discipline. If you would prefer to conduct research, analyze findings and use your findings to solve a wide range of problems, you may want to specialize in analytical research chemistry. If you would prefer to integrate knowledge in physics and biology with your knowledge of chemistry, a degree concentrating on biophysics may be more appropriate.

Knowing what areas of study are available is important when you are career planning. Some of the other areas of specialization that are attracting grad students from all walks of life with a passion and talent for chemistry include:

  • Inorganic Chemistry Research: Research of properties and reaction of all elements
  • Materials and Nanoscience: Used to develop new electronic devices and materials
  • Organic Chemistry Research: Research of the properties of carbon-based elements
  • Physical Chemistry: Mechanical properties of materials, processes and matter
  • Theory and Computation: Development of new modeling methods for phenomena relating to the field

Choosing an Institution With a Respected Chemistry Faculty and Respected Programs

Now that you have a brief idea of available concentrations, the next step is to research graduate schools and evaluate their chemistry programs. Some schools with terminal programs have very respected Colleges of Chemistry with expansive options and resources for their chemistry majors, but others may channel resources and funding into other colleges and departments.

To be sure that you are attending the right school, you should check the grad school's accreditation status to see if they have been accredited by a specialized body that accredits and oversees chemistry programs. One reputable accreditation agency for chemistry programs is the Royal Society of Chemistry. RSC-approved programs are required to have a breadth of knowledge, a depth of knowledge, and tools to help students develop practical skills. By checking the society's database and searching for schools with accreditation, you can be sure the program is of the highest quality.

Once you choose a specialization and a program, the next step is preparing your application. An undergraduate degree, along with completion of a set of prerequisite courses, is typically required for graduate programs. It is also imperative that you complete the Graduate Record Exam to show that you are ready for the advanced studies required to earn a Master's in Chemistry in your chose specialization.

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