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Physical Chemistry Degree

Bachelor’s Degree in Physical Chemistry

To get admission into a 4-year bachelor’s level degree, you will need to have at least a high school diploma or a GED. This bachelor’s degree will help you develop a strong foundation in chemistry and will enable you to find employment in a number of technical positions. The curriculum of this program aims to expand the students’ knowledge in other disciplines of science as well by requiring them to complete basic-level courses in related subjects too. The typical course structure for a bachelor’s of Physical Chemistry degree would be as follows:

  • Principles of Chemistry
  • Chemistry Lab
  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Physical Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Calculus
  • Geometry
  • Introduction to Biology
  • Arts and Humanities

Master’s Degree in Physical Chemistry

This is a 2-year long program that teaches students advance level concepts in Physical Chemistry. Here students will learn how to make discoveries that will create a better understanding of the basic behavior of materials and molecules. Most of the research involved in this degree would revolve around synthesizing and characterizing new particles at the molecular and atomic levels. A trial and error system is widely used at this educational level to help teach students how molecular particles can be studied. This specialization will help you decipher the various qualities of molecules in different materials. For instance, how do pharmaceutical molecules arrange in unique formations and what affect do these formations have on their effectiveness as medicinal drugs? How does the structure of a polymer affect the utility and strength of various kinds of plastics? Research is conducted to find the answers to such questions.

To get admission into a master’s degree in physical chemistry, you will need to have at least a bachelor’s degree in a related field, with a minimum GPA requirement. Official transcripts and letters of recommendation might also be needed.

Typical courses for this degree would include:

  • Conduct of Research
  • Advance Physical Chemistry
  • Chemical Kinetics
  • Fundamentals of Quantum Mechanics
  • Thermodynamics and Introduction to Statistical Mechanics

The course structure would vary from university to university. So be sure to research well into the program you want to attend.

Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry

A Ph.D. degree in Physical Chemistry can take 3 to 6 years to complete, depending on the kind of research you are performing for your dissertation. You will be required to have at least a bachelor’s degree to be eligible for application to this graduate degree.

This advance level program would teach you the fundamental concepts of biological chemistry and organic synthesis, materials chemistry (polymer and inorganic), magnetic resonance, theoretical chemistry, computational chemistry, nanoscience, environmental chemistry and radiochemistry. Universities offering this program typically have advanced laboratory equipment to assist students in performing high level research.

For admission purposes, most candidates would be required to submit their official transcripts from all college level institutes attended in the past, along with letters of recommendation and GRE scores. Some colleges might also require a statement of purpose or a college essay.

The typical courses in a Ph.D. program might include the following:

  • Advanced Physical Chemistry
  • Molecular Phenomena
  • Statistical Mechanics
  • Applies Spectroscopy
  • Advanced Inorganic Chemistry
  • Solid State Chemistry

In addition to these courses, all students would be required to submit a well-researched dissertation at the end of their Ph.D. program.

Careers in Physical Chemistry

A physical chemist focuses on understanding the unique properties of atoms and molecules and the way chemicals interact with each other in various settings. Their work includes observing different kinds of materials, developing theories about the properties of materials, and figuring out new ways to utilize these materials. They make use of high-end equipment and lab instruments to conduct their research activities. They also use mathematical analyses and statistics on large datasets to reveal the hidden information about different kinds of compounds, processes and materials.

Industries where Physical Chemists may find Employment




GlaxoSmithKline, 3M, Aerospace, Fitbit

Wall Street, Law Firms, Venture Capital Firms

Drexel Burnham Lambert, Goldman, Sachs and Company


Pfizer, Merck, GlaxoSmithKline, Sanofi, Abbott, Bayer, Novartis


Environmental Protection Agency, Department of the Navy, Department of Health and Human Services

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics provides the following data for Chemists and Material Scientists:

2016 Median Pay

$75,420 per year

Typical Entry Level Education

Bachelor’s Degree

Work Experience in a Related Occupation


On-the-job Training


Number of Jobs, 2014


Job Outlook, 2014-2024


Employment Change, 2014-24


Work environment for Physical Chemists

Wherever they are employed, Physical Chemists mostly work in advance laboratories, conducting research and carrying out tests and procedures. They may be employed by different organizations to work in different work settings, but the inherent nature of their work remains pretty much the same across industries. Physical chemists may also be required to go in for meetings with management teams, conduct educational workshops or make presentations about their findings to the people who have hired them. Due to the highly technical nature of the job, they need to have really good communication skills to get their message across to others within the organization.

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