Healthcare related professions are the fastest growing sector of the economy and are among the highest paying jobs. Medicinal chemistry is on the front lines of healthcare as the discipline responsible for the creation of new drugs, with medicinal chemists as the third most abundant chemistry occupation behind analytical and organic chemists according to a recent American Chemical Society survey. The Medicinal Chemistry concentration provides a focus on the design, synthesis, and mechanism of action of drugs as part of an overall broad-based chemical education that emphasizes organic and analytical areas to complement the specific medicinal chemistry coursework. This understanding will be valuable to students interested in the pharmaceutical industry, a career as a drug rep, or as preparation for a healthcare profession such as medicine, dentistry, or pharmacy.
Chemistry is the study of matter, and an understanding of matter and materials is necessary in healthcare, manufacturing, and scientific research. It is a fundamental area of knowledge that provides a foundation for most other STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) areas. Chemistry graduates also have skills in data gathering, data interpretation, and problem solving that translate well into desirable careers outside of science.
STEM graduates have a wide variety of career options, both in STEM areas and in non-STEM areas. The 2012 STEM Report by the Georgetown University Center on Education and Workforce provides interesting data on the value of a STEM degree. STEM graduates will have lifetime earning substantially greater than non-STEM graduates ($2.2 million vs. $1.7 million). Nationally, 43% of STEM graduates work outside of a STEM area, often choosing a highly-paid non-STEM occupation, demonstrating the versatility of a STEM degree. Meanwhile, STEM occupations such as chemistry are growing more quickly than the economy as a whole (17% vs. 10%).
The American Chemical Society 2013 Salary Survey shows that chemists have low unemployment (3.5%) compared to the overall unemployment rate (7.4% according to Bureau of Labor Statistics). The median salary for a BS Chemist is $73,300. Using your chemistry degree for a graduate or professional degree results in higher salaries (e.g. median for PhD chemist is $102,000). While the average BS Chemistry graduate earns a 23% higher salary than the average BS degree graduate, a medicinal scientist earns an average 48% higher salary than the average BS chemist (www.salaryexplorer.com).
Skills and interests suited to a career in chemistry
Successful chemistry majors develop strong problem-solving skills, including comfort with math and working with abstract ideas. While facts and knowledge are present, chemistry courses focus on understanding how and why nature behaves as it does, and relies little on rote memorization. Many chemistry majors enjoy tinkering with things and find great satisfaction with the laboratory work including manipulation of materials and operating analytical instruments.
About the program
The Medicinal Chemistry Concentration focuses the curriculum on organic and analytical areas to complement the medicinal chemistry courses. Students will learn about drug design, mechanism of action of drugs, classes of drugs, and modern methods of synthesis. Major elective hours allow customization of the degree and facilitate the ability to satisfy prerequisite courses for pre-medical, pre-dental, or pre-pharmacy preparation. Participation in undergraduate research may be completed for credit towards major electives and is highly recommended.