One Field of Study, Many Career Options

The Chemistry Major

Chemistry is an exciting diverse field. The discipline of working in chemistry gives you habits of mind that serve you well throughout your life. There is real value in tackling a hard task capably. That is what we offer you. Our major has a core requirement that includes one semester of undergraduate research. You may pursue a program leading to either a B.A. or B.S. degree. The major consists of 39 to 48 credits. The 39 hour sequence is often selected by double majors and pre-professional students. The longer sequence is strongly recommended for students contemplating a career as a professional chemist.

Areas of emphasis

  • You might be interested in a career in research chemistry. You might follow the example of Steve Chamberlain, a Millikin BS chemist now working for Merck and Co. Or you might be like Ann Louise Sumner who earned a PhD in Analytical Chemistry while studying the chemistry of the atmosphere. Or you might like to work in the food industry. ADM and Tate & Lyle, large companies in Decatur, have many Millikin alumni as employees including Mark Matlock, group vice president at ADM. John Hoots, PhD, a chemist at Nalco who has many patents in the field of corrosion chemistry, might inspire you.
  • You might be interested in the field of biochemistry. Millikin alumna Emilie Porter Huck received her PhD from Wisconsin in that field (2003) and now works as a patent attorney.
  • You might be interested in business. Some of our students have started their own companies including Tricia Cox, founder and president of The Culinary Palette. Karen Green owns a chain of children's clothing stores.
  • You might be interested in a professional career in medicine or dentistry. Rebecca Klepzig Pederson, practicing in Freeport, IL, Bob Kraus, neurosurgeon in Decatur, or Gary Simms, Decatur dentist, were among many Millikin chemistry grads who chose medical careers.
  • You might be interested in pharmacy. Norm Hoback, class of '78, owns a pharmacy consulting business called "Norm the Pharmacist".


Chemistry Areas of Study

Mission Statement

Do Chemistry as Chemists Do It

Use modern instruments from the first lab class in the first year; repeating experiments should be normal, not remedial. The desired outcome of an experiment is an accurate, reproducible, unambiguous result, not a predestined "right one."

Modern Chemistry is Integrated

Chemists address problems with concepts and techniques that span the various subfields of chemistry. Moreover, biologists, nurses, psychologists, and physicians also regularly use these same concepts and techniques.

The Main Goal of Laboratory is Tackling a New Problem Capably

We design experiments to develop maximum independence, not maximum coverage.

Department Student Learning Goals

  1. Demonstrate the skills to solve problems and communicate through writing and speaking.
  2. Discover how to integrate and apply knowledge and skills both within the chemistry community and between chemistry and other disciplinary communities.
  3. Develop the capacity to address real-world scenarios in which chemistry plays a role.


There are many career options available to chemists. The ACS has a site with Career Tools.

The Alfred P. Sloan foundation has funded 11 scientific societies to produce career materials. You can get more information at their website: Sloan Career Website

Planning for graduate work in chemistry? Many of our graduates choose further study at major research institutions such as Illinois, Ohio State, Indiana, U of California, Purdue, and Rice while others start graduate study more modestly at places such as Illinois State. The ACS has a new resource for students considering graduate work

The Internet is an interesting place to look for positions. Here are some sites that link you to possibilities:

Career Opportunities

  • Analytical Chemist
  • Attorney
  • Biochemist
  • Chemical and Drug Sales Representative
  • Chemical Engineer
  • Chemical Processing Plant Supervisor
  • Chemical Safety Officer
  • Chemist
  • Consultant
  • Dentist
  • Environmental Chemist
  • Food and Sanitation Inspector
  • Food Processing Specialist
  • Forensic Specialist
  • Hospital Administrator
  • Industrial Health Engineer
  • Industrial Manager
  • Instrument Specialist
  • Laboratory Director
  • Literature Researcher/Reviewer
  • Materials Engineer
  • Medical Technologist
  • Occupational Safety Officer
  • Pharmaceutical Chemist
  • Pharmaceutical Sales
  • Pharmacist
  • Physician
  • Polymer Chemist
  • Product Manager
  • Quality Control Specialist
  • Radiochemist
  • Radiation Safety Officer
  • Research and Development Scientist
  • Science Librarian
  • Stockbroker
  • Technical Writer or Journalist
  • University Professor
  • Veterinarian
  • Of course some chemistry majors go far afield from even science in making career choices

Graduate School Resources

If you decide you want to go to graduate school in chemistry, you should begin your search no later than fall semester of your senior year. The student ACS chapter maintains a list of links to various graduate departments.

Planning for Graduate Work in Chemistry guide provided by ACS

Chemistry Graduate Schools