Chemistry and Food Science

A unique partnership of related fields that enriches both and offers more options to students

American Chemical Society Committee of Professional Training logoThe Department of Chemistry and Food Science is unique in that it offers strong majors in chemistry, biochemistry, and food science. The programs complement one other, producing Food Science majors with an exceptionally strong background in chemistry, and providing Chemistry and Biochemistry majors with the opportunity to take electives in more applied areas such as food chemistry, food analysis, and food engineering. Undergraduate research opportunities are also enhanced by the combination of these program areas. The excellent achievement records, employment opportunities, and graduate school placements enjoyed by Department graduates attest to the strength of these programs.

An excellent undergraduate education is provided by the structured curricula of the Chemistry, Biochemistry, and Food Science majors. Each program satisfies the University's General Education Domain II-B (Natural Sciences) and laboratory requirements. Go to bottom of page for links to specific course requirements for all majors and concentrations.

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Resources for undergraduate chemistry students

The Chemistry and Biochemistry majors offer a broad-based and rigorous chemistry education that gives students intellectual, experimental, and communication skills to become effective scientific professionals.

What are the benefits of an ACS-certified degree?

Chemistry Major

The Department offers two concentrations in chemistry. One is approved by the American Chemical Society (ACS). The other is the General Chemistry Concentration. The ACS-Approved Concentration allows flexibility to specialize in a particular area through choice of the elective, the advanced course, and the senior research project. The General Chemistry Concentration requires a minor in secondary education or one of the following areas: business, computer science, earth science, or mathematics.

Biochemistry Major

The Department offers two concentrations in biochemistry, the ACS-Approved Biochemistry Concentration and the General Biochemistry Concentration. Both concentrations allow students to select courses covering a wide range of topics in chemistry and biology. The General Biochemistry Concentration requires a minor in secondary education or one of the following areas: biology, business, communication arts, journalism, mathematics, or nutrition.

Program Learning Objectives

1. Demonstrate an understanding of the key concepts of the traditional areas of chemistry.
2. Communicate complex technical information in written and/or oral format.
3. Interpret and draw conclusions from experimental data.
4. Demonstrate safe lab practices.
5. Retrieve chemical information from the chemical literature, books, and databases.

Related Programs: Pre-Health Studies

Chemistry and Biochemistry majors interested in pursuing a medical, dental, pharmacy, veterinary, or another health-related career will need to take additional courses beyond their major requirements in order to qualify for entry into the appropriate professional school. The Pre-Health Studies Program, jointly run by the Biology Department and the Chemistry & Food Science Department, provides career-specific course guidance to these students, as well as the opportunity to apply for a composite letter of recommendation. Visit the Pre-Health Studies Program page for more information.

Related Programs: Chemistry Teaching

Chemistry majors with a concentration in either General Chemistry or Biochemistry may minor in secondary education to obtain Initial Licensure at the high school level. Students choosing to minor in secondary education must take CHEM 301 Biochemistry I.

Facilities and Equipment

The Department has nine chemistry teaching labs and several dedicated research labs. Chemistry equipment and instrumentation include the following:

•  Varian 400 MHz NMR
•  Thermo Fisher LC-MS
•  Waters Breeze HPLC
•  Perkin-Elmer Frontier FT-IR Spectrometer
•  Cary 50Bio UV-Vis Spectrophotometer
•  Cary Eclipse Spectrofluorometer
•  Varian Atomic Absorption Spectrometer
•  Metrohm Ion Chromatograph
•  Buck Scientific Gas Chromatographs

Careers in Chemistry and Biochemistry

Getting a job in chemistry

The employment world for chemists can be divided into four main sectors: industry, government, academia, and entrepreneurship.

Industry job areas:
•  Manufacturing
•  Quality Control/Regulatory
•  Research & Development
•  Sales/Marketing

Government job areas:
•  Law and Policy
•  Military and Law Enforcement
•  Environment and Health

Academic job areas:
•  Higher Education
•  High School

Planning for graduate work in chemistry


What is Food Science and Technology?

"Food science draws from many disciplines such as biology, chemical engineering, and biochemistry in an attempt to better understand food processes and ultimately improve food products for the general public. As the stewards of the field, food scientists study the physical, microbiological, and chemical makeup of food. By applying their findings, they are responsible for developing the safe, nutritious foods and innovative packaging that line supermarket shelves everywhere.

"The food you consume on a daily basis is the result of extensive food research, a systematic investigation into a variety of foods’ properties and compositions. After the initial stages of research and development comes the mass production of food products using principles of food technology. All of these interrelated fields contribute to the food industry – the largest manufacturing industry in the United States."

from the website of the Institute of Food Technologists

Food Science Concentrations

The Department offers two different concentrations in the Food Science major: Applied Food Science, and Food Science and Technology. The two concentrations share a core curriculum that consists of two years of chemistry, two years of food science, one year of biology, one semester of biochemistry, and one semester of statistics.

Beyond the core curriculum, the Applied Food Science Concentration also requires one mathematics course, an introductory physics course, and a minor in biology, business, or nutrition. Additional requirements for the Food Science and Technology Concentration include one year of calculus, one year of physics, one or two semesters of physical chemistry, and a semester of human nutrition science.

Program Learning Objectives

1. Communicate complex technical information relevant to the discipline.
2. Apply complex concepts relevant to the processing of food products.
3. Evaluate the chemical interactions of nutrients and food additives and their effects on food products.
4. Formulate methods to analyze nutrients and food additives in food products.
5. Identify major safety hazards related to food products.

Facilities and Equipment

The Department has several food science teaching labs, a well-equipped food science pilot plant, and several dedicated research labs. Food science equipment and instrumentation include the following:

•  Spray dryer
•  Bench-scale extruder
•  HTST pasteurizer
•  Freeze dryer
•  Texture analyzer

Job Outlook for Food Science Majors

Food scientists at work

The employment world for food scientists can be divided into several sectors:

•  Food Health and Nutrition
•  Food Processing and Packaging
•  Food Safety and Defense
•  Public Policy and Regulations
•  Product Development and Ingredient Innovations
•  Sustainability
•  Education

The food industry is relatively sheltered from economic volatility, since people always need to eat. Graduates from the Food Science program have an excellent record of job placement with a starting salary range between $38,000 - $48,000. They may also go on to graduate school to obtain a masters degree and/or doctorate.

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