Wheaton College Color Logo
Wheaton College students during chemistry lab
Wheaton College Chemistry Student Johanna Barbour
Chemistry Flask

Why Study Chemistry?

The study and practice of chemistry is for anyone who seeks to understand, care for, and allow to flourish the material things God has created. With roots in physics and mathematics and branches extending into biology and environmental science, chemistry is at the center of science and technology. Disciplined study of chemistry enhances our worship of the triune God by providing insight into the molecular details of God’s world and strengthens our service, both to the church and to society, by providing foundational knowledge about matter and the interactions of matter. Our graduates are prepared to advance Christ’s kingdom through a wide range of vocations in chemistry and beyond.

degree options, including ACS-certified degrees
full-time faculty
subdisciplinary areas—organic, inorganic, physical, analytical, and biochemistry

Why Study Chemistry at Wheaton?

Mastering analytical and problem-solving techniques provides an excellent basis for a wide range of service, management, and leadership roles in science. Upon graduation, you will be able to apply fundamental knowledge in five core areas of chemistry—organic, inorganic, physical, analytical, and biochemistry.

At Wheaton, you will learn chemistry through hands-on experiences that span the classroom, teaching and research laboratories, and seminars. Experimentation and practical applications infuse our curriculum at all levels and our faculty maintain active research programs driven by undergraduate participation. Our Chicagoland location also provides a rich resource for internship opportunities with renowned scientists at local research universities, Argonne National Laboratory, and many science and technology businesses.

Chemistry majors gain practical experience working with advanced instrumentation and research equipment as part of their regular coursework and research activities. At Wheaton, all of our instrumentation is available for use by undergraduates.

Our faculty maintain active research programs across all subfields of chemistry. As a student in our department, you will be invited to participate in a variety of research projects alongside a faculty mentor. Our research-active students regularly travel to meetings and conferences to present their research and network with other scientists.

In our long history, we have had students accepted at virtually all the top graduate and medical schools. The chemistry major has been offered since 1905 and our program has been continually certified by the American Chemical Society since 1948. 

Our department honors outstanding chemistry majors with annual awards for student achievement in General, Organic, and Physical/Analytical Chemistry. Included are the Nelson and Wright Prizes, in honor of two long-serving former Wheaton College Chemistry Department faculty. We also award a research prize, the Hanchett Prize, to an outstanding undergraduate researcher.

To honor current outstanding chemistry majors, one sophomore, one junior and two senior students are chosen to receive internal awards. Included are the Nelson Award and the Wright Award, in honor of two former Wheaton College Chemistry Department Faculty.

  • Departmental student groups perform chemistry demonstrations at local schools, host high school students at Wheaton for a day of forensics investigations, and gather for social activities.
  • Student employment as laboratory assistants, teaching assistants, and peer tutors provide additional practical experience.
  • Human Needs and Global Resources: Cultivate a commitment to justice, intercultural humility, compassion, hospitality, environmental health, and peacemaking through multi-disciplinary coursework, a six-month international internship, and whole-person formation through experiential learning
  • Study abroad at international universities
  • Summer research with faculty

What Will I Learn?

Our four major tracks give you the flexibility to tailor your program to best meet your needs and interests.

  • Our Chemistry major prepares you for engaging a wide range of vocations in chemistry and related fields.
  • The Chemistry major with Biochemistry concentration builds on the foundational chemistry degree by incorporating courses at the interface of chemistry and biology.
  • The Chemistry major ACS Certified offers additional advanced courses that provide a strong foundation in each of the major subfields of chemistry, the best preparation for a career in professional chemistry.
  • The Chemistry major ACS Certified in Biochemistry is similar to that above, but has a greater emphasis on biochemistry.

The Chemistry minor includes the first two years of the chemistry program plus some advanced electives that help you develop good scientific laboratory techniques.

Consult the course catalog for full listing of current courses available in this field.


Chemistry major Johanna Barbour ('18), in the Lovaasen Research Lab, published a paper in "Inorganic Chemistry," a publication of the American Chemical Society. Congratulations Johanna and Dr. Lovaasen!

Possible Careers for Chemistry Majors

Chemistry majors don’t always become chemists. The mastery of analytical and problem-solving techniques provides an excellent basis for a wide range of service, management, and leadership roles in society. The Center for Vocation and Career is happy to partner with you as you further explore the many career options for Chemistry majors.

  • Pursue graduate studies in chemistry and related fields.
  • Enter health professions.
  • Work in industry and government.
  • Work in business, especially technical areas.
  • Teach at the secondary level.
  • Become lawyers.

Here are a few of the medical schools our students have been admitted to in the past five years:

  • Indiana University School of Medicine
  • Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine
  • Mayo Clinic School of Medicine
  • Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
  • Rush Medical College
  • University of Illinois School of Medicine
  • University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine
  • Vanderbilt University School of Medicine
  • Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis

Here are a few of the chemistry doctoral programs our students have been admitted to in the past five years:

  • California Institute of Technology
  • Northwestern University
  • Princeton University
  • Texas A&M University
  • University of California, Berkeley
  • University of Wisconsin
  • The University of Chicago
  • University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
  • University of Minnesota
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Purdue University
One of my greatest opportunities for worship at Wheaton College was in the lab. I was constantly in awe of the mechanisms and pathways that cells participated in, which would point me directly to the intricate nature of God. — Natasha Narang '16, M.S. (in progress), Molecular Targets and Drug Discoveries, Johns Hopkins University
The advice I’ve received from my chemistry advisor has been invaluable. Not only do they help with class advising, but career advising as well. The faculty are truly concerned for you as a person. — Steven Rongley '18
The Wheaton Chemistry Department taught me to find my value in God, rather than in my academic success. I have found the Christ-centered purposefulness provided by the robust, integrative perspectives I gained at Wheaton to be crucial for my intellectual, emotional, and spiritual well-being. — Meredith Triplet '12, Ph.D. '17, Chemistry, UC-Berkeley