What is Chemistry & Biochemistry?

Chemistry & Biochemistry Department


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Faculty at whiteboard

One of our faculty members Dr. Alessandro Cembran is working with student researchers in his computational lab.

What is it?

Chemistry explains the physical world and its processes, and chemists study substances - composition, structures, properties, and reactions. Chemists are leading the way in solving the world's energy and environmental problems. Biochemistry focuses on the study of life at the molecular level. This field is both a life science and a chemical science, exploring the chemistry of living organisms and the molecular basis for the processes that occur in living cells.

The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry provides classroom and laboratory learning opportunities and research experiences across these disciplines designed to meet the needs of students in engineering, liberal arts, and pre-professional programs, as well as those who wish to pursue careers or graduate studies in chemistry or related disciplines.  

What do Chemists do?

American Chemical Society (ACS) Career Info 

Graduating Chemists have multiple career options in industry, government, and academia ranging from research and development, quality control and manufacturing support, environmental and health law, policy and enforcement, education, activism and management.

The placement of UMD chemistry majors splits between:

  • Pursuit of graduate degrees (Masters, PhD), professional degrees (for example M.D. and Pharm.D.).
  • Employment in small to large regional and national industries. These can include jobs in chemical manufacturing, biomedical companies, environmental agencies, medical and clinical testing, food and agrochemical companies, law enforcement, and government.
  • Careers in education are also a possibility.

They benefit from the technical and soft skills acquired during their time at UMD and are well prepared to face new challenges and roles.

What do Biochemists do?

American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) Career Info

Graduating Biochemists have multiple career options ranging from research, to teaching, to health care work, to policy making.

Surveys of graduating UMD Bulldog Biochemistry majors show a pretty even split between three main areas:

  1. Professional programs, such as Medical school, Pharmacy school, Dental school, PA programs, Optometry schools or related programs
  2. Graduate schools, such as PhD or MS programs in Biochemistry, Bio-engineering, Genetics, Molecular Biology, Pharmaceutical Sciences, or related programs, all leading to teaching and research careers
  3. Employment in local and regional industries, including work at drug companies, biotechnology companies, environmental and medical testing companies, and food companies

In all of these careers, our students benefit from their deep knowledge of the modern chemistry of living things, their know how with modern biochemical instrumentation and their strengthened teamwork and communication skills.

Career Opportunities

A bachelor's degree in chemistry or biochemistry positions students for careers in a wide range of fields that can include:

  • Biotechnology companies
  • Environmental and medical testing companies
  • Chemical companies
  • Manufacturing
  • Food companies
  • Law Enforcement
  • Government
  • Education

UMD graduates in Chemistry and Biochemistry are currently working for a diverse array of organizations, from local government in Superior, WI and to high-tech corporations in the Twin Cities like 3M and Beckman Coulter.

UMD's most recent graduate follow-up report for Chemistry and Biochemistry majors shows that we have a 100% and 97% placement rate (respectively) for our graduates! That means that almost everyone responding to the survey either found a job in their field or was enrolled in graduate school soon after graduation.