A master's degree in chemistry prepares you for a career in teaching, research or working in industry by developing products for sale. Course work for a graduate program in chemistry is rigorous, and it requires a strong foundation of scientific knowledge, built during undergraduate studies. Though a bachelor's degree in chemistry is not required to be admitted into a master's program, it is strongly recommended.
The majority of master's degree programs for chemistry require that applicants either complete a bachelor's degree in chemistry or that they complete the courses equivalent to completing a bachelor's degree at the graduate program's institution. For example, at the University of Colorado Denver, students must complete two semesters of organic, analytical and physical chemistry, with laboratories, and one semester of inorganic chemistry, in addition to other math and science classes that would have been required for undergraduate students at the University of Colorado. While earning a bachelor's degree in chemistry is not required -- as these classes can be taken while completing the requirements towards another degree -- the most efficient way to meet the requirements is to simply complete a bachelor's degree in chemistry.
Taking Additional Courses
Students who chose not to major in chemistry as an undergraduate have other options for completing the requirements for admission. Students who have already graduated without a bachelor's degree in chemistry can complete the requirements by taking whatever courses are missing from their academic record at a local community college through a continuing education program at a local four-year university or through online classes. Depending on how many classes a graduate is missing, this could take just a semester, or it could take a year or more.
Fulfilling Requirements Later
Some graduate programs admit students who do not have a bachelor's degree in chemistry and who have not completed all of the appropriate undergraduate courses if they complete the courses as a graduate student. The University of San Francisco and The University of California Long Beach have such policies. An adviser will work with the student upon admission to determine what courses are required. Students will then complete those courses in addition to the courses required for their master's degree program.
Other Admissions Requirements
Because a master's degree in chemistry is a rigorous program, admissions standards are high. In addition to complete the necessary course work, students should have a good GPA, good test scores and good letters of recommendation. At the University of San Francisco, students must have at least a 2.7 GPA in their upper-division undergraduate courses as well as at least a 3.0 in their upper-division chemistry courses. Students must take the GRE General Test, but not all programs require the subject test in chemistry. For example, Villanova University does not require it, and while it is recommended at the University of Colorado Denver, it is not required. The better the score, the better a student's chances of being admitted to the top programs.
Maria Magher has been working as a professional writer since 2001. She has worked as an ESL teacher, a freshman composition teacher and an education reporter, writing for regional newspapers and online publications. She has written about parenting for Pampers and other websites. She has a Master's degree in English and creative writing.