The challenging path to earning a doctorate in chemistry demands hours of laboratory work and classroom lectures–and all these render distance learning unfeasible. The traditional educational set-up ensures quality education for future research scientists. If the fees related to accommodation and living expenses make you rethink pursuing this career, worry not because almost all institutions offer scholarships to worthy applicants.

The Doctor of Chemistry (D. Chem) is a rare title awarded by some universities. The most popular degree is “Doctor of Philosophy in Chemistry (Ph.D. Chem.)”. The academic degree “Doctor of Science in Chemistry (D.Sci. Chem.)” is also another equivalent title.

What does a chemist do?

A chemist is a scientist who studies the properties of matter and the changes it undergoes. They observe and measure chemical reactions of compounds through experiments in laboratories. Chemists also engage in fieldwork to collect data samples to be analyzed using sophisticated scientific instruments.

In the modern world, chemists work in teams with scientists and professionals from other disciplines. Practical applications of advanced knowledge in chemistry include industrial production, waste recovery, food, hormones, medical drugs, explosives, environmental sciences, and many more. Chemists also work with engineers to develop new product prototypes, materials, and protocols.

It is also important to note that chemists and chemical engineers are different. While both professions deal with chemicals, the latter focuses more on the application of principles of math and physics to produce new material that is deemed to benefit the future. On the other hand, chemists emphasize the organic, inorganic, and analytical aspects in their discipline.

What sort of accreditation should I look for in a school?

In the United States, doctorate programs in Chemistry, whether D.Chem, D.Sc., or Ph.D., are accredited by American Chemical Society (ACS). The Council of Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) may also provide accreditation to interdisciplinary programs.

How do I earn my D.Chem. Degree?

If you are willing to earn a doctorate in Chemistry, you must have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in the scientific field.  Upon application, you might need to undergo an examination to assess your scientific knowledge and research skills. The graduate school committee might test you further, like requiring to conduct sample research, before they consider you for admission. Other documentation includes the statement of intent, recommendation letters, and official scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and TOEFL/IELTS if you are a non-native English speaker.

A Chemistry doctorate degree program usually lasts for 3-8 years. For those who have previously earned a bachelor’s degree, a straight D.Chem. program might be offered. This means that in 3 to 8 years, the graduate student will receive both masters and doctorate degrees. Aspirants who enter with a master’s diploma might need to study the prerequisite subjects in the coursework. In many cases, a graduate student may assist professors in their research work or teach in lower-level classes.

Doctorate programs in Chemistry revolve around the classroom and laboratory (and sometimes on the field). Specialization is required for the training. You can specialize in the following subdisciplines in chemistry:

  • Inorganic chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Nuclear chemistry
  • Thermochemistry
  • Analytical Chemistry
  • …and many more

Like many Ph.D. programs, the dissertation is necessary for the completion of the D.Chem. course. Most programs focus on independent research while some slowly adapt team research endeavors.

What type of degree do I need to pursue research or educate others in Chemistry?

A Ph.D., D.Sci., or D.Chem degree is necessary to assume a teaching position in Chemistry institutions. Continuing education is also essential for the security of tenureship and career advancement. Lastly, there are several peer-reviewed journals in circulation that chemists have published. Attending to these academic conferences will build ties with other scientists in your field and, consequently, create opportunities to propagate new knowledge.

How do I earn a transitional or bridge D.Chem. Degree?

Because lab work is essential in the D.Chem curriculum, an online program might be a problematic and ineffective option. Graduate students in chemistry perform the daunting task of checking their specimens in the lab periodically. Performing lab tests in a remote setting undoubtedly affect the quality of training and education.

What kind of career and salary can I expect with my D.Chem. Degree?

Chemists with doctorate-level degrees can work either in the academic or industrial setting. In the academic setting, they work in as professors and researchers. By teaching students and conducting experiments in the lab, they make an average of $76,280 per year. Chemists working in various industries (e.g., oil) can earn anywhere from $78,300 to $129,420 annually. In both settings, D.Chem graduates work with a team of scientists.

Do I need a license to be a chemist?

As of 2018, there is no licensure exam in the United States for those who want to work as chemists or chemical technicians. Masters and doctoral diplomas double as certificates that permit the transport of chemicals for experimental purposes. Thus, even without a license, a chemist may work for a research and development department in any setting.

The US government through agencies like the Food and Drug Authority (FDA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) oversees the rules in transporting hazardous chemicals. Chemistry graduate degree holders are allowed to be in possession of these chemicals for scientific purposes.

What schools offer Doctor of Applied Science degrees?

There are more than 200 ACS-accredited schools in the US and all of them follow the traditional educational brick-and-mortar format. Most of them offer scholarship grants to applicants with good academic standing like the following institutions: The University of Akron in Akron, OH; University of Oregon in Eugene, OR; and Michigan State University in East Lansing MI.

The following schools bridge programs – John Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD; University of Houston in Houston, TX; University of California Berkeley in Berkeley, CA; The University of Mississippi in University, MS; and Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne, FL.

Be the next Marie Curie or Alfred Nobel. Pursue a doctorate degree in Chemistry and be deployed to the frontline of this ambitiously experimental and solution-finding era of human civilization.