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Major in Chem E, or Chemistry?

  1. Jun 18, 2005 #1
    Hello all, what is the major difference in these majors? What kind of job would I get with the chem E degree, what kind of job would I get with the chem degree?
    I am currently leaning more toward the chemical engineering degree, but am not entirely sure.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 20, 2005 #2


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    Moving this to a more active forum to hopefully get a response
  4. Jun 20, 2005 #3
    I guess it depends on the career path that you want.

    Having an undergraduate major in either one is great, but it is probably going to be your choice of graduate studies that really make the difference. If you are not planning on doing a grad degree, that is fine but you will be much more competitive with at least a masters in either. I forget the latest stats, but avg. salary (in the USA) for a bacch. degree is around $45k/yr, avg. for a masters is around $60k/yr and PhD $80k/yr; of course, this all depends greatly on the particular niche (pharma, chemical, petro, etc.) and industry (academia, gov, private industry). so for another 2 - 5 years you can significantly enhance your salary.

    My perspective has been that people majoring in chemistry are more prone to research jobs, and those in chemical engineering are more prone to areas related to commercial production, industrial chemistry, etc. However, it is possible for someone to move from one area into the other (e.g. there are chem. engineers doing organic research, and organic chemists doing industrial design, etc.)
  5. Jun 21, 2005 #4
    Thanks buddy, you have helped to clear up many questions I had. I am going down to Oklahoma State University on thursday to talk with a councelor, is there anything specific that I should be asking them in regards to these fields?
  6. Jul 8, 2005 #5
    Well, this is sort of a similar question:

    *Which chemistry major do I major in if I plan to work in medical research/"drug development" for a private firm (pzifer? genentech?)
  7. Jul 8, 2005 #6
    I work at a pharm company doing medicinal chem. You definitely want to concentrate on organic chemistry/biochemistry/biology. There are also probably schools out there that even have medicinal chem as a specialization. The other big areas of chemistry in use in the pharm industry is analytical chemistry and combinatorial chemistry. A new field arising in the pharm industry is also computational chemistry.
  8. Jul 8, 2005 #7
    yes, computational is a fast growing field since firms have learned that sometimes they can predict molecules that can dock very specifically with an enzyme and jump right into synthesis.

    also natural products chem has become big in pharma business (well, technically it has always been big, but the term "natural products" is new).
  9. Jul 8, 2005 #8


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    Well, you'll want to take more math courses for chemical engineering degree. Typically the pay for a chemical engineering B.S. degree is 52,000, the median while for the median for chemistry degrees in general is 32,000. With the latter you'll need to take calculus, integral calculus, multivariable calculus....you'll probably need to take linear algebra and differential equations in addition to these for the chemical engineering as well as more advanced physics courses.

    you can get all kinds of jobs with a B.S. in chemistry, you can work at a pharmaceutical coporation, teach at a local high school (academic field), or other research fields among them organic, general, analytica, physical, medical, biochemical etc...depends on your qualifications I presume.
  10. Jul 8, 2005 #9
    Well, actually, I want to primarily major in (these three) mathematics, physics, and chemistry (theoretical chemistry to be exact), aiming for a career as a university professor of math and physics, or---if not that, then as the chemist described in my earlier post :redface: :shy:
    (with minors in psychology, philosophy, if they can exist just as minors)
    --I graduate HS in 2006, but currently I have taken
    *AP Chemistry, Organic Chemistry (first semester)
    *AP Calculus BC (equal to second-semester college course i believe)
    *AP Physics (self-studied, integrated with second-semester calculus)
    (no pun intended on the last one)
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2005
  11. Jul 9, 2005 #10

    Sounds like you want to be a future physical chemist. Physical chemistry is all 3 physics, math, and chemistry all rolled into 1 thing. Another name for a physical chemists could be a chemical physicist. Having 3 majors with 2 minors is next to impossible to obtain, that is unless you want to be an undergraduate for 7 years and spend $250,000 on an education. Just remember man, chemisty is fundamentally just applied physics.
  12. Jul 9, 2005 #11
    Yeah--but I'm more interested in the theoretical fields of mathematics and physics, not the "applied," which is why I seek to be a "theoretical chemist" (it seems that that is an actual field of study)
    *Basically, I described a position as a research chemist of drug development, *assuming :redface: that "applied" knowledge should be easy/no problem if the theoretical skills are already there. For example, this is assuming that theoretical mathematicians already should have no trouble doing 'applied' work--with a Masters/(hopefully PhD) in mathematical theory-->'applied' work should not pose any problem.

    However, this is fundamentally an assumption! :redface: . But is this really wrong...or is somewhat safe to assume this?--?
  13. Jul 18, 2005 #12
    Well, I am doing a dual degree in ACS chemistry and professional physics and it will take me 5 years, with a couple of summers. He could probably pull off an added math degree in another year, assuming he is very careful about scheduling, anbd ensures he gets the most overlap between the degrees by choosing electives wisely. I am a junior in chemistry and a sophomore in physics. I will be done in 3 years, and that allows a couple summers to go to another university (University of Indiana, perhaps) to do an REU, which is VERY important if you plan on continuting to graduate school.

    But a dual degree in chem and physics gives someone a HUGE advantage when doing research in a field of study near the interface between chem and physics, like physical chemistry.

    I'd say go for at least the dual degree in chem and physics, and if you're not sick of undergrad school after 5 years go for the math degree too. But honestly, the math degree isn't REALLY that necessary, but if you want to get the degree, it can't hurt.
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