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FAQs

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Please send your questions to cakbay@uncfsu.edu and/or dautrey@uncfsu.edu.

faqs

Here, you will find many answers to your questions:

  1. About the Department
  2. About Academic Requirements
  3. About Career Options
  4. About Undergraduate Research Opportunities
  5. and more…

1. About the Department

What types of chemistry degrees are offered? 

The Department of Chemistry and Physics at Fayetteville State University offers three degree programs: Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Chemistry, Bachelor of Science (BS) in Chemistry, and a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering (BChE) as a 3 + 2 dual program in conjunction with North Carolina State University (you can receive two degrees, BS Chemistry and BS Chemical Engineering, in 5 years). As a central discipline, chemistry is critical for solving the world’s most important problems and making significant positive impacts on human life. The BS Chemistry degree prepares students intending to pursue a graduate degree or a career in chemistry as a professional chemist. The BA Chemistry degree provides a broad chemistry-based background in preparation for a chemistry-related career, for professional training in many fields including, but not limited to, medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, optometry, and for secondary school science teaching. The BChE degree will prepare students to work in a wide range of industries to solve technical problems, create and improve products, or for graduate study in the medical sciences, materials science, or patent and environmental law.

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What is the difference between chemistry and chemical engineering? 

There is some overlap in the training of chemists and chemical engineers, but they are typically involved in different aspects of the chemical enterprise. Chemists typically are interested in how processes work and developing new understanding of chemical reactions and the structure of chemical materials. In industry, chemists typically work in developing new or improved materials. Chemical engineers tend to focus on the process by which chemical materials are produced. In industry, chemical engineers typically focus on developing efficient processes for manufacturing chemicals. Thus, engineers tend to focus on optimizing processes, while chemists work to develop new processes.

What types of minor degrees are offered? 

The Department of Chemistry and Physics offers the following minors: chemistry, physics, and materials science. These minors designed for students who would like additional coursework in chemistry, physics, and materials science. The Department is in process of developing two additional minors: biochemistry and chemistry entrepreneurship.

Current minors:

chem_matsci_phys

Upcoming minors:

biochem_chementrep

What student organizations are there for chemistry majors? 

The Department of Chemistry and Physics hosts three student organizations for undergraduate students. The Student Chapter of the American Chemical Society (SCACS) is open to all students interested in chemistry. This organization hosts external speakers to discuss careers in chemistry, attending graduate school, and other topics of interest to chemists. SAACS also is involved with activities sponsored by the North Carolina section of the American Chemical Society. For more information, visit ACS Student Chapter. The Pre-Pharmacy Association serves as a resource providing its members with essential information, opportunities, and activities in preparation of admission into a degree program of one of the pharmaceutical sciences (Pharm. D., BS/MS Pharmaceutical Sciences, BS/MS Clinical Research, etc.). For further information, visit Pre-Pharmacy Association. Materials Research Society Student Chapter serves as a resource providing its members with essential information, opportunities, and activities in preparation of admission into a degree program of one of the materials sciences.

2. About Academic Requirements

What courses should I take in high school to be prepared to major in chemistry?

Students interested in majoring in chemistry should have a strong foundation in mathematics and science in high school. A good foundation in mathematics that includes algebra, geometry, and trigonometry is critical for success in college chemistry. While taking calculus in high school is helpful, it is not necessary to succeed in freshman chemistry. The most important mathematics skills for potential majors are the ability to set up algebraic equations from word problems, be able to manipulate exponentials, and know the basics of plotting data. Students should take as much high school chemistry as possible to help ease the transition to college chemistry. High school physics and biology are also helpful.

What is the biochemistry track, and how is it different from the regular chemistry track?

We are in process of developing biochemistry track. Once developed, we will list the requirements here.

How does the pre-health track differ from the other chemistry tracks?

The pre-health track is equivalent to the BA Chemistry degree with an increased focus on pre-requisite courses for pre-health schools. Also, the mathematical requirements are less than the traditional BS Chemistry degree. This degree satisfies all requirements for health professional programs (medical, dental, pharmacy, veterinary, etc.). Due to the less rigorous mathematics and chemistry requirements of this degree, students may not be qualified for chemistry graduate programs or BS chemistry jobs should they not gain acceptance to a health professional program. The pre-health track is suggested for students who are very sure they wish to pursue a health professional career and feel confident that they will be accepted to these programs upon graduation. The regular BS Chemistry track will provide a wider range of options upon graduation for students who are less sure of their future career plans.

What are the requirements for a minor in chemistry?

The minor in chemistry requires 22 hours. You should take the following chemistry courses: CHEM  141  And  CHEM  142  And  CHEM  161  And  CHEM  162  And  CHEM  211  And  CHEM  212  And  CHEM  223 And  CHEM  224  And  CHEM  225  And  CHEM  226. Grade of C or higher in all minor requirements.

What are the requirements for a minor in materials science?

The minor in materials science requires 18 hours. You should take the following courses: MATS  160  And  MATS  204  And  MATS  260. Select three courses from the following electives:  FORS  400  Or  MATS  214  Or  MATS  301  Or  MATS  311  Or  MATS  321  Or  MATS  360  Or  MATS  423  Or  MATS  460. Grade of C or higher in all minor requirements.

What are the requirements for a minor in physics?

The minor in physics requires 18 hours. You should take the following courses: PHYS  125  And  PHYS  125L  And  PHYS  126  And  PHYS  126L  And 10 credits of PHYS electives (200-level and above). Grade of C or higher in all minor requirements.

How do I declare that I want to be a chemistry major?

Admission to the university does not guarantee admission to a specific degree program. Therefore, you must submit the online Declaration of Major form to declare a chemistry major or minor. You must have a grade of “C” or higher in MATH 129 and a grade point average of 2.0 or better to be able to declare a chemistry major. However, you can declare a pre-chemistry major if you have not taken MATH 129. Once you take and receive a grade of “C” or higher in MATH 129, you can declare a chemistry major. You need to contact Mrs. Andrea Bennett, Professional Advisor, via phone (910-672-2913) or email abenne18@uncfsu.edu should you need assistance. For help to declare a double major, change your major/minor, drop your minor, visit Office of the Registrar’s How-To page.

Do I have to have a minor? If so, what minor should I take?

If you are pursuing the BS Chemistry degree you are not required to have a minor; however, if you are pursuing the BA Chemistry you are required to complete a minor in order to graduate.

How do I get advised before registration?

You must meet with Mrs. Andrea Bennett, Professional Advisor, in person, prior to registration for each semester. You will need to make an appointment to see her. Visit the Advisement and Transfer site for more information.

What are the prerequisites for CHEM 141?

You must have a grade of “C” or higher in MATH 129 or MATH 131 to be eligible to take CHEM 141. Please visit Chemistry and Physics Course Descriptions page for prerequisites for all astronomy, biochemistry, chemistry, physics, and materials science courses.

Do I have to take the laboratory courses at the same time as I take the lecture course?

All laboratory courses are separate courses from their corresponding lectures and thus they can be taken separately. For example, you can take General Chemistry I Lecture (CHEM 141) in one semester and General Chemistry I Laboratory (CHEM 142) in the following semester; however, you can anly take General Chemistry II Lecture (CHEM 161) and General Chemistry II Laboratory (CHEM 162) after you take and pass CHEM 141 and CHEM 142.

I got a grade of “D” in a chemistry course. Do I need to retake and get a higher grade before going on to take next course (e.g., to take CHEM 161 after getting a “D” in CHEM 141)?

Students must have a grade of “C” or higher in all required courses; thus, you need to retake the course to get a grade of “C” or higher before taking next course. You should be aware that retaking a course will not remove it from your GPA calculation. You should also be aware that a GPA of 2.0 (for BA Chemistry) and 2.5 (for BS Chemistry) or higher in all science and mathematics classes is required for graduation.

3. About Career Options

What can I do with a chemistry major once I graduate?

The chemistry degree is a very versatile tool that opens up a wide range of career opportunities. Most chemists work in the chemical industry where they develop new chemical materials upon which the modern world relies. Students with chemistry degrees are also in great demand as K-12 teachers or can go to graduate school to prepare for a career as a college professor. There are a wide variety of opportunities beyond the traditional chemist jobs; students with chemistry degrees can pursue careers in forensics, toxicology, environmental science, patent law, science writing, museum curation, science librarians, and many more. Visit our Alumni Page to see where our chemistry graduates are currently working.

What do Fayetteville State University chemistry graduates do after graduation?

Most Fayetteville State University chemistry majors pursue advanced study, either in health professional programs (medical, dental, pharmacy, veterinary, etc.) or graduate programs in chemistry or related fields, including education. A smaller group of students go directly into the workforce, either as high school teachers or working as industrial chemists. Still other students pursue nontraditional careers for chemists. You can see where our graduates have gone by looking at our Alumni Page.

I hope to go to medical school, which track is best for me?

Any of the chemistry major tracks will provide adequate preparation for medical school. Chemistry majors from Fayetteville State University have typically been very successful in being accepted to medical schools. The pre-health track is designed for students interested in medical school and fulfills all medical school requirements. Students in the BS Chemistry track will need to take additional biology courses to satisfy medical school requirements. Students in the BS Chemistry track may want to minor in biology as preparation for medical school. Because the regular BS track is more rigorous than the pre-health track (additional calculus, and more difficult physics and chemistry courses), medical school admissions committees may rank students with the standard BS Chemistry degree more highly than those in the pre-health track provided they have similar GPA and MCAT scores. As a matter of fact, majority of the courses that are required by most of the medical schools are offered by our department (see the pre-med banner below).

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I am interested in a career in chemistry, which track is best for me?

Students who may consider going to graduate school in chemistry or taking a job as a chemist, they should pursue BS Chemistry track. BS Chemistry will provide students with the intensive chemistry knowledge expected by chemistry graduate schools and employers. Students interested in careers in chemistry should generally not follow the BA Chemistry or pre-health track. Since this track does not include some advanced courses (e.g., physical chemistry), students with the pre-health major will not have all of the necessary prerequisites for graduate school and will be less marketable as chemists on the job market.

I am interested in forensics/environmental science/toxicology/biotechnology. Does the Department of Chemistry and Physics offer classes or degrees in these areas?

The Department of Chemistry and Physics does not offer specific training in these fields; however, a degree in chemistry will provide excellent training for students interested in exploring careers in these and many other fields related to chemistry. Fields such as forensic science rely heavily on basic chemical concepts that are learned in the course of the chemistry curriculum. Students with chemistry degrees are well qualified to take jobs in these fields, or may pursue advanced study in forensics, environmental science, or other areas upon completing their degree.

In addition to my chemistry major, what else should I do to prepare to go to graduate school in chemistry or a related field?

If you are interested in going to graduate school in chemistry or a related discipline, the most important thing you can do besides being successful in your classes is become involved early in undergraduate research. Graduate schools strongly value students who have spent one or more years working on a research project with a faculty member. In addition, this experience gives you a very good idea of what graduate school will be like. Toward the end of your junior year and definitely before you senior year you should take the GRE exam, which most graduate schools require. You should begin applying for graduate schools in the fall of your senior year. Seek advice from your faculty mentor about what graduate schools to which you should apply.

What skills do employers want from college graduates?

Each year the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) surveys employers to determine the top 10 personal qualities/skills employers seek. Note that the list below emphasizes transferable skills. These are not found in any one particular job or major, but can be gained in a variety of ways including coursework, extracurricular activities, volunteer work, athletics, internships, group projects in the classroom. We strongly encourage you to participate in activities and jobs outside of the classroom to help you develop and strengthen these important transferable skills.

skills-rating A good GPA is, of course, important but employers look at other attributes, too. Year after year, the number one skill employers say they want to see in job candidates is good communication skills: the ability to write and speak clearly. Employers also want new hires who have teamwork, problem-solving and analytical skills, and are tech savvy.

Ironically, communication skills not only top employers’ list of most-desired skills, but also their list of the skills most lacking in new college graduates. Many employers reported that students have trouble with grammar, cannot write and lack presentation skills. Taking technical writing and public speaking courses, practice mock interviews, and going to etiquette or networking programs will offer a head start on these valued skills.

In addition, employers pointed to other skills and attributes that had made their “wish list,” and cited those qualities and abilities as lacking in many new college graduates, e.g., relevant work experience, strong work ethic, team work skills, and the like. They also faulted new college graduates for not conducting themselves in a professional manner. What this means is, real-world experience before graduation is very important where a student can build many of the skills employers find lacking. An internship, for example, is not just an opportunity to gain experience, but it’s also a setting to learn professional behavior, learn what it means to work in a team, and practice interpersonal communication. An internship or co-op position helps a student see the professional skills employers seek in action and how to fit into the world of work (source).

I want to get a job as a BS Chemist after graduation. How do I go about finding a job?

Before graduation, get at least one internship… but more than one is better. Many employers select their employees among their interns. Many research, internship, co-op opportunities are listed on ACS’ GETexperience site. Try to visit this site frequently.

getexperience

Internships.com is another good source for internships.

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If you are interested in getting a job as a chemist after graduation, you should begin looking no later than the beginning of your last year. Check with the FSU Career Services Center for tools and leads on possible jobs. Companies looking for chemists will interview on campus during the Fall Career Fair. USAJobs.gov is a good source for jobs.

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Watch the following helpful videos: 1) Job Search Strategies for Chemical Professionals, 2) Interview Skills for Chemical Professionals, 3) Careers in Chemical Engineering, Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. If you want to stay in North Carolina, you will find most jobs for BS chemists are in the Research Triangle Park (RTP). There are also several chemical companies in Fayetteville. Look in newspapers and chemistry-specific job sites.

Talk to your professors in the Department too, as they may have connections to jobs that you have not heard about.

4. About Undergraduate Research Opportunities

How do I learn about which faculty member’s research might interest me?

The best way to start is to talk to friends who are currently doing or who have done undergraduate research with any faculty member in the Department of Chemistry and Physics.  Also, read the descriptions of the faculty members’ research interests on their websites (click here).

How do I approach a faculty member about doing research in his or her group?

After you have identified a few faculty members whose research looks interesting to you from reading a description of their research interests, it is time to contact them directly for more information. When you call (call your favorite first), tell them that you are an undergraduate major in chemistry interested in pursuing undergraduate research with a faculty member in the Department of Chemistry and Physics. If you contact the faculty member by email, you can tell them in the first message a little about yourself: 1) your year in the program, (sophomore, junior, etc.); 2) what classes you have taken relevant to the research position (e.g. if you are interested in research in analytical chemistry, tell them how you did in analytical chemistry; 3) what your plans are in terms of a higher degree (“I hope to go to graduate school in chemistry” or “I am planning to be a medical doctor”); 4) if applicable, a sentence describing prior research you have done.

If you contact the faculty member by telephone first, ask them if they have a couple minutes now or if you should call back later (ask them what time is good), before you launch into a description of yourself. In addition to the information above, they might be interested in knowing if one of the other faculty in the department know you well enough to vouch for you. The goal of a short email message or telephone call to faculty members is to set up an appointment to talk with the faculty member in person about research opportunities in their group. Telling them a bit about yourself during this call is up to you, but sometimes it helps a faculty member who is already over committed to research associates know if they should still meet with you.

When you go to the appointment to meet with the faculty member, they may ask you about yourself, your class work, and your interests, and they should tell you about what research opportunities there are in the current year or coming year in their group. In many groups you learn the most day to day from the undergraduate students in the group, so you may want to ask whether you will collaborate with an undergraduate student or work alone. If at the end of the conversation you are still enthusiastic and comfortable, ask the faculty member if they can take you on and how you should proceed (settle on what afternoons or evenings they can expect you to be in laboratory, when group meetings are, etc.). If you want to learn about opportunities in a couple more groups before actually asking a faculty member if you can work with them, let the faculty member know when you plan to contact them again and thank them for taking the time to let you know about possible research opportunities (do not take more than a week or two to look around once you have had serious conversations with one faculty member). It is most usual to approach your favorite person first so that if they spend a half hour telling you about their research and then tell you they have a spot available for you, you can tell them you are delighted to accept. Do not get discouraged if your favorite group is already over committed so cannot offer you a position; this is often a first come-first serve situation so just ask their advice on what other research groups in the department they would recommend and go on to contact the other research groups that interest you).

Keep in mind that when you first work with a group it is a time to learn to be productive. If it is a good research project, it will take time to learn how to make a contribution. You should not expect to be paid a salary during the academic year (although some faculty may do), but your work with the group during the academic year is very valuable in preparing you for a paid summer internship (many faculty offer summer jobs first to students who have been working with them during the academic year, if things have gone well).

What are the benefits of Undergraduate Research for me?

  1. You are engaged and empowered in hands-on learning, which leads to retaining up to 90% of knowledge (according to Dale’s Cone of Experience)
  2. You enhance your learning experience through working closely with your research mentor
  3. You tend to remain in your field, which increases retention in the STEM disciplines
  4. You explore and are prepared for future careers; discover personal interest, develop interest in graduate or professional schools
  5. You develop critical and analytical thinking, creativity, problem solving, self-confidence, and intellectual independence
  6. You tend to gain innovation-oriented culture and apply concepts learned in your courses to “real life” situations
  7. You develop marketable skills, such as written and oral communication
  8. You build network via local, regional, national and/or international conferences you attend

How do I secure a paid position on campus over the summer?

 

 

What other summer research opportunities are there outside of the university?

 

 

Credit for questions and answers: ua.edu and uchicago.edu

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