What is the Best Chemistry Major, You Say?
Chemical biology is a major scientific field spanning the disciplines of genetics and chemistry. The field involves the use of various chemical methods, such as experimental, molecular, and even small molecule synthesis, to study and manipulate living biological systems. Chemical Biology is one of the most important subspecialties in the field of biology. It is also one of the few areas in the life sciences that has seen tremendous growth over the last two decades. There is an estimated five hundred thousand Chemical Biology specialists in the United States alone.
The Chemical Biology student will have a variety of options available to them as they pursue their education. They can pursue graduate studies in either of the main fields of biology: Genetics and Genomics, Comparative Genomics, or Infection, Disease, and Immunology. Another avenue that many Chemical Biology students take to their graduate degrees is the field of Chemistry. Chemical Biology researchers can apply their knowledge in these areas for development of new medications and treatments. Many graduates also choose to work in the pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical industries as they continue their studies.
In order to qualify for a PhD in Chemical Biology, students must first complete a four-year undergraduate degree from an accredited university. During this time, they should have taken all general education courses, including chemistry, physics, biology, and chemistry for their majors. After graduation, these students must then complete a four-year graduate program at an accredited university or college. During the graduate program, students must continue to pursue post-graduate studies in chemistry and biochemistry in order to qualify for a doctorate degree in chemical biology.
Chemical biology has a broad range of disciplines, which span plant biology, microbiology, zoology, and the natural and physical sciences. These areas of study are then divided between those that are considered to be experimental and those that are considered to be fundamental. Chemical research is the basis of much of the knowledge of the field of chemical biology, and there are many subdisciplines within this broad field of study. These subdisciplines include biochemistry, physiology, and cell and molecular biology, which each detail the methods of how biological systems function.
As it pertains to the structure of living matter, chemistry is considered to be the language of life. In addition to the major fields of biology and chemistry, there exist numerous subdisciplines within chemistry that relate to the different areas of life and how they are related. These subdisciplines of chemistry include protein bonding, structural biology, the chemistry of enzymes, metabolic pathways, the chemistry of genetics, and the chemistry of organic compounds. Students who earn a bachelor's degree in chemistry typically start with a minor in biology. On the other hand, students who earn a master's degree typically focus on either a major in physics, or a specific area of chemistry.
As a student who is pursuing a phd program in either of these fields, you would be somewhat better prepared for a job that combines the two topics. For example, if you were planning to become an endocrinologist, then you would do well to take some chemistry classes alongside your studies in biochemistry. The endocrinologist would likely study hormone regulation, while the biochemist would study metabolism and the regulation of genes. This combination of learning the basic chemistry courses along with the more advanced endocrinology, genetics, or molecular biology courses would help to give you a strong foundation for working in a hospital or laboratory setting.