Chemistry Bachelor of Science (B.S.) Degree On-campus

About Chemistry

Develop a sound foundation to prepare for a career or further study.

As a career field, chemistry focuses on studying the nature and structure of matter and transformations that take place during chemical reactions. In the Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Chemistry program at PennWest California, you will explore fundamental concepts of atomic and molecular structure, function and reactivity that create materials that make up everyday life. 

Since 2012, PennWest California's B.S. in Chemistry degree has been accredited by the American Chemical Society (ACS) based upon its rigor, thorough curriculum coverage and unique laboratory experiences. The chemistry degreeā€™s capstone experience, a year of laboratory research with a faculty advisor, culminates in the opportunity to present research findings at national scientific meetings.

Gain a career advantage with PennWest California's top undergraduate program in chemistry.

In the world economy, there will always be a great demand for men and women trained in chemistry subfields - biochemistry, analytical, environmental, inorganic, organic and physical chemistry. PennWest California's undergraduate chemistry program provides you with a strong foundation to prepare for employment in the private and public industrial sectors, as well as for advanced professional or graduate study. Because chemistry is a foundational natural science, this degree creates opportunities in a wide range of fields that touch into other scientific disciplines and career paths, such as:

  • Forensic Chemistry
  • Pharmaceutical Sciences
  • Bio- and Nanotechnology
  • Chemical Manufacturing
  • Environmental Analysis
  • Health and Safety
  • Secondary Education
  • Plant Medicinal Chemistry
  • Technical Sales and Marketing
  • Chemical Engineering

Required courses provide a strong foundation in chemistry, physics and mathematics with a focus on using developed skills and knowledge in a full-year capstone research project. Together with your faculty adviser, you'll develop and execute a four-year chemistry degree program that may include a particular emphasis in biology, forensics, environmental science, nanotechnology, computer science, electronics and/or secondary education based upon your future career interests.


High-tech labs:  Our chemistry laboratories are equipped with state-of-the-art materials, supplies and instruments. You'll have an opportunity to conduct experiments using nuclear magnetic resonance and infrared spectroscopies, high-performance liquid chromatography, gas chromatography, atomic absorption, mass spectrometry and electro-analytical chemistry. A multidisciplinary nanoscience research area includes an atomic force microscope and a visible/UV-fluorescence tissue-grade optical microscope with computerized image analysis.

Distinct experience: Our program uses the Studio Chemistry approach to teaching and learning in introductory-level courses. In this format, lecture and laboratory experiences are integrated into an active, hands-on learning experience. A wide range of senior-level chemistry elective courses allows students to further explore various disciplines in the field of chemistry.

Chemistry students benefit from multiple opportunities to use instrumentation as they go from learning basic theory to learning to analyze data to independent use of these tools in research. Chemistry faculty members are focused on student research and ways to enable students to present their research at national conferences.

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Student-to-faculty ratio at PennWest California.
Credit hours for the bachelor's degree in chemistry, which can be completed in eight semesters or four years.
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Degree Benefits

The American Chemical Society (ACS) accredited Bachelor of Science in Chemistry degree will challenge students to acquire factual and theoretical knowledge of chemistry, develop laboratory knowledge and skills while sustaining a commitment to safety, employ technology to obtain and utilize chemical information, and communicate effectively. Completion of the bachelor's degree in chemistry provides sufficient training for graduates to obtain entry-level positions as industrial chemists in the private or government sectors, as technical writers, or as industrial sales personnel. Chemistry majors are also well prepared to pursue careers in research, medicine, dentistry, law, pharmacy, management and/or teaching.

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Graduate Outcomes

Over the years, chemistry graduates have obtained industrial jobs both locally and outside the region. Employers of our graduates include Bayer Corp., Mylan Pharmaceuticals, Eastman Chemical, U.S. Steel Eli Lilly Pharmaceuticals, state crime labs in Erie and Greensburg, Pennsylvania, and the Allegheny County Medical Examiner's Office. In particular, Mylan Pharmaceuticals has hired 20+ students from our program over the past few years. Our chemistry graduates hold a wide range of positions, including analytical chemist, quality control specialist, industrial management trainee, technical writer, chemical purchasing agent and salesperson in the chemical industry.

Chemistry (B.S.)
A chemistry professor helps a student with a project.

Advance Study

PennWest California chemistry graduates have found success at top graduate programs for master's and doctoral degrees at both regional and national institutions, such as

  • Carnegie Mellon University
  • West Virginia University
  • Rutgers University
  • University of Pittsburgh
  • Duquesne University
  • University of Utah
  • University of Delaware
  • University of Nebraska-Lincoln
  • Arizona State University
  • Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM).
An anthropology professor shows an artifact to a student.

Campus Connections

The Chemistry Club is very active, and students attend monthly research meetings sponsored by the SAPC at Duquesne University.  The Chemistry Club maintains a tradition of taking students to a different city every year during spring break to visit graduate programs in chemistry, as well as the city's historical and tourist sites. Chemistry students are eligible for special scholarships and awards, including the J. Robert Craig, Calvin Flemming, Clyde and Kay Clendaniel, Serene, and Lazzaro Family scholarships, each awarded annually to distinguished chemistry majors with high academic achievement. The Spectroscopy Society of Pittsburgh (SSP) Award and departmental Achievement Awards in academics, research and service are given annually to graduating seniors.

A chemistry student conducts a balloon gas experiment.

Professional Focus

For more than a decade, PennWest California chemistry faculty members have been involved with regional and national chapters of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the Society of Analytical Chemists of Pittsburgh (SACP), and Pittsburgh Conference on Analytical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy (Pittcon). Pittcon is the largest scientific conference in the world, attracting more than 20,000 scientists, students, researchers and instrument manufacturers. Each year, PennWest California chemistry and physics research students are given the opportunity to attend Pittcon as student aides. They have the opportunity to present their research findings, attend technical presentations, take advantage of an employment bureau and visit the industrial exhibit floor to see virtually every state-of-the-art tool for chemical analysis.


Chemistry Degree Courses


Course Credits
General Education Courses 41
Building a Sense of Community
UNI 100  First-Year Seminar
ENG 101  English Composition I
Public Speaking
Any Public Speaking Course
Mathematics and Quantitative Literacy
MAT 281  Calculus I
Health and Wellness
Any Health and Wellness Course
Technological Literacy
Any Technological Literacy Course
Any Humanities Course
Fine Arts
Any Fine Arts Course
Natural Sciences
PHY 101  College Physics I
Social Sciences
Any Social Sciences Course
General Education Options
  • Any Ethics and Multicultural Awareness Emphasis Course
  • ENG 102  Composition II
  • Additional General Education Courses (two courses)
Required Major Courses 52
CHE 101  General Chemistry I 4
CHE 102  General Chemistry II 4
CHE104  Intro to Exp Chemistry 3
CHE 306  Inorganic Chemistry 3
CHE 320  Analytical/Instr. Method 3
CHE 331  Organic Chemistry I 4
CHE 341  Organic Chemistry II 3
CHE 415  Biochemistry I 4
CHE 461  Physical Chemistry I 3
CHE 462  Physical Chemistry II 3
CHE 371  Intermediate Lab I 1
CHE 372  Intermediate Lab II 1
CHE 471  Advanced Lab I 1
CHE 472  Advanced Lab II 1
CHE 491  Research I 2
CHE 492  Research II 2
MAT 282  Calculus II 3
MAT 381  Calculus III 3
PHY 202  College Physics II 4
Related Courses 6 or 7
Select two courses from the following:
  • CHE 381  Environ Chemistry (4 credits)
  • CHE 420  Adv. Analytical Chemistry (3 credits)
  • CHE 421  Adv. Inorganic Chemistry (3 credits)
  • CHE 433  Adv. Organic Chemistry (3 credits)
  • CHE 497  Special Topics (3 credits)
6 or 7
Free Electives* 20 or 21
Total 120

Additional requirements, not counted toward the General Education requirements, include:

  • Special Experience Course (1 course required): Any Special Experience Course
  • Writing-Intensive Component Courses (2 courses required): CHE 472 Advanced Laboratory II AND CHE 492 Research II
  • Laboratory Course (1 course required): CHE 101 General Chemistry I

* Your chemistry coursework is strengthened by taking additional courses in science and technology. Students are encouraged to enroll in additional courses in biology (BIO), chemistry (CHE), computer science (CSC), earth science (EAS), electrical engineering technology (EET), environmental science (ENS), industrial technology (ITE), mathematics (MAT) or physics (PHY). Students should work with their adviser to explore possible options for a minor.

Program Notes: 42 total credits must be 300 level or above. At least one elective course (3 credits) must be 300 level or above.

Chemistry - Minors, Concentrations, and Certificates

  • Chemistry - Minor