Chemistry students in classroom

Major in Chemistry

What is a chemistry degree?

Chemistry deals with matter, including how we identify, quantify, interact with, and transform various substances. Chemists study how atoms and molecules interact or react with one another, with the goal of understanding these processes so we can use them to create new materials. Often dubbed “the central science,” chemistry teams up with physics and mathematics to explain problems in other fields like biology, medicine and Earth science. A degree in chemistry helps to understand the world in which we live and to become better stewards of it. A Bachelor of Science in chemistry prepares students to create new things, solve global challenges, and discover new knowledge about the materials we interact with every day.

Why study chemistry at Furman?

Pursuing a degree in chemistry at Furman prepares you with the tools to solve global challenges related to health, security and energy independence. Partnering with research-active faculty, 100% percent of our students work in laboratories fully outfitted with modern instrumentation and technology – an experience that sets you up for an advanced degree or a career at some of the nation’s top graduate schools, medical schools and corporations.

Among Primarily Undergraduate Institutions (PUIs), Furman’s chemistry department offers one of the nation’s largest summer research programs for students to work alongside faculty members in an intensive and meaningful research environment.

Our focus on undergraduate research provides an experience that is rare across PUIs. You’ll conduct independent research projects typically reserved for graduate students at other schools. In fact, our students often present their research in partnership with faculty and graduate students from other institutions.

With a central mission to build creative thinkers and problem-solvers, the Department of Chemistry helps students acquire the skills to address current and future problems. Collaborate with professors to create entirely new realms of scientific and chemical knowledge. Plan a visit to Furman’s beautiful campus or start your application today.

How will you learn?

Research starts early for undergraduates at Furman. Begin the journey of intellectual exploration and discovery in your first year working with practicing chemists in laboratories equipped with cutting-edge instrumentation, such as two high-field, superconducting Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectrometers. In our research laboratories containing more than $5.6 million in assets, you’ll gain hands-on experience with equipment you’ll use throughout your career.

Home to the sciences at Furman, the Charles H. Townes Science Center is among the best undergraduate research facilities in the Southeast. The $62.5 million complex features multimedia classrooms, research and computer labs, the Sanders Science Library, and study lounges to support students and faculty.

Student researchers receive a stipend for their work – competitive pay and housing made possible through endowed fellowships and other funding sources. As a National Science Foundation-Research Experiences for Undergraduates (NSF-REU) site, Furman welcomes research groups from other institutions, expanding the network for chemistry students and faculty working on summer research. All summer researchers present their work in at least one professional conference outside of Furman, exposing them to the broader chemistry community. Some students also present at international conferences.

Careers for chemistry majors

As a chemistry major, you’ll become workforce- or grad-school-ready with finely tuned critical thinking, data analysis, quantitative reasoning, collaboration, instrumentation, and verbal and written communication skills. About 77% of our graduates seek advanced degrees after graduating Furman, and 23% of our graduates go directly into industry. Our alumni have landed positions such as:

  • Chemist
  • Physician
  • Dentist
  • Patent lawyer
  • Quality assurance laboratory technician
  • Operations analyst
  • Quality control technician
  • Clinical researcher
  • College professor
  • Management analyst
  • Industrial engineer
  • Registered nurse
  • Social scientist
  • High school teacher
  • Clinical laboratory technologist
  • Product development manager
  • Technical sales and marketing representative
  • Research manager

Chemistry courses: What will you study?

Across the three ACS-certified chemistry tracks available at Furman – chemistry (standard), biochemistry, or environmental chemistry – some sample courses include:

Experimental Techniques

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Environmental Chemistry

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Biological Chemistry

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100%
Chemistry majors who conduct research with faculty
No. 1
Furman’s rank in the Southeast among Primarily Undergraduate Institutions (PUIs) for students who finish their doctoral degrees post-graduation
No. 5
Furman’s national rank among PUIs who graduate ACS-certified chemistry majors
95
Peer-reviewed papers from Department of Chemistry faculty in the last five years – the majority having student coauthors

What our students say

Chemistry lab

“The chemistry program at Furman has had an immense impact on me and my career goals, even though I’ve only been a part of it for less than two years. The faculty push you to do your best and demonstrate a tremendous passion for not just instructing students, but also helping them achieve their goals in any way possible.” – Conor Bready ’24, chemistry, B.S., and applied mathematics, B.S.; data analytics minor; 2022 Goldwater Scholar

Our faculty

Your academic advisor will help you explore your passions, define your interests and achieve your goals. You’ll tap into a widespread network of community and alumni mentors to help you on your individual educational path – and to the opportunities at the end of it. Furman’s chemistry faculty represent decades of study and real-world expertise. Take your first steps by contacting admissions or reading more about how to apply.

  • Mary Elizabeth Anderson
    Title:

    Associate Professor, Chemistry

    Headshot of Mary Elizabeth Anderson, new professor

    Mary Elizabeth Anderson
    Title:

    Associate Professor, Chemistry

    Phone Number: 8642942101

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  • Meghan Breen
    Title:

    Assistant Professor, Chemistry

    Meghan Breen

    Meghan Breen
    Title:

    Assistant Professor, Chemistry

    Phone Number: 8642942404

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  • Karen L. Buchmueller
    Title:

    Associate Professor, Chemistry

    Karen L. Buchmueller

    Karen L. Buchmueller
    Title:

    Associate Professor, Chemistry

    Phone Number: 8642942683

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  • Mary Beth Daub
    Title:

    Assistant Professor, Chemistry

    Headshot of Mary Beth Daub, new professor

    Mary Beth Daub
    Title:

    Assistant Professor, Chemistry

    Phone Number: 8642942078

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  • Brian C. Goess
    Title:

    Professor, Chemistry

    Brian C. Goess

    Brian C. Goess
    Title:

    Professor, Chemistry

    Phone Number: 8642942318

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  • Mac Gilliland
    Title:

    Assistant Professor, Chemistry

    Mac Gilliland

    Mac Gilliland
    Title:

    Assistant Professor, Chemistry

    Phone Number: 8642942166

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  • Timothy Hanks
    Title:

    Charles Ezra Daniel Professor and Chair of Chemistry

    Timothy Hanks

    Timothy Hanks
    Title:

    Charles Ezra Daniel Professor and Chair of Chemistry

    Phone Number: 8642943373

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  • Lauren Jarocha
    Title:

    Assistant Professor, Chemistry

    Lauren Jarocha

    Lauren Jarocha
    Title:

    Assistant Professor, Chemistry

    Phone Number: 8642942416

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  • Jeffrey T. Petty
    Title:

    Professor, Chemistry

    Jeffrey Petty

    Jeffrey T. Petty
    Title:

    Professor, Chemistry

    Phone Number: 8642942689

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  • George C. Shields
    Title:

    Professor, Chemistry

    George C. Shields

    George C. Shields
    Title:

    Professor, Chemistry

    Phone Number: 8642942008

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  • Greg Springsteen
    Title:

    Professor, Chemistry

    Greg Springsteen

    Greg Springsteen
    Title:

    Professor, Chemistry

    Phone Number: 8642942763

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  • Paul S. Wagenknecht
    Title:

    Professor, Chemistry

    Paul S. Wagenknecht

    Paul S. Wagenknecht
    Title:

    Professor, Chemistry

    Phone Number: 8642942905

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  • Laura L. Wright
    Title:

    Professor, Chemistry

    Laura L. Wright

    Laura L. Wright
    Title:

    Professor, Chemistry

    Phone Number: 8642943375

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  • FAQ

    What can you do with a chemistry degree?

    An array of transferable skills such as critical thinking, data analysis, quantitative reasoning, collaboration, instrumentation, and verbal and written communication competencies position you for a wide range of career options. Most of our graduates seek advanced degrees, usually in chemistry, medicine or another STEM aligned field. Our chemistry majors have gone on to become chemists, physicians, dentists, patent lawyers, quality assurance laboratory technicians, operations analysts, clinical researcher, college professor, registered nurses, social scientists, high school teachers any many others.

    What is the average salary for chemistry majors?

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a Bachelor of Science in chemistry commands an annual starting salary of $80,680.

    What opportunities are there for students to publish and present their findings in collaboration with faculty?

    Paired with faculty mentors, you’ll present findings on contemporary problems such as preparing and characterizing novel nanomaterials, understanding the chemistry of living systems, developing new energy technologies, expanding the toolbox for chemical and medical diagnostics, and synthesizing natural products and pharmaceuticals. In the last five years, 95 peer-reviewed papers have been published by Furman chemistry faculty, most of them with undergraduate coauthors.

    In the past five years alone, we have sent more than 150 students to present at national research conferences. Since 2010, our undergraduates have co-authored scores of peer-reviewed manuscripts, including articles in prestigious journals such as Analytical Chemistry, Angewandte Chemie, Biochemistry, Inorganic Chemistry, The Journal of Chemical Education, The Journal of Organic Chemistry, and The Journal of Physical Chemistry. This experience ensures our graduates are well positioned for pursuing careers or earning advanced degrees in chemistry.

    Can I do a May Experience or study away in chemistry?

    Three May Experience (MayX) courses are geared specifically for chemistry majors to prepare students for summer research, or for rising seniors who are gearing up for their theses. Or explore other MayX opportunities in places near and far. With careful planning and forethought, chemistry majors can seek semester-long study away options.

    How long does it take to earn a chemistry degree?

    The chemistry B.S. at Furman is a four-year program.

    Are there any teaching opportunities for chemistry majors?

    Students may serve as a teaching assistant for one of the chemistry department’s labs, or serve as a tutor for the Catalyst program, a peer tutoring program of the student affiliate chapter of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

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