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Why study chemistry at UC Santa Cruz?

If you’re looking to study high-impact materials and biomedical science that changes the world, come to UC Santa Cruz to work with experts who are leading the charge to develop new “smart drug” delivery methods, remedy environmental pollutants, and invent new disease detection and medical imaging technologies using modern chemistry. As a graduate student, you’ll be involved in novel research studies and routinely win national accolades and research fellowships. As an undergraduate, it’s not uncommon for you to become a first-time author with original work published in prestigious research journals.

Research access

Our Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry has a high impact in materials and biomedical research, providing you with unparalleled access to state-of-the-art facilities and instrumentation that specialize in synthetic, structural, spectrophotometric, reactivity, and computational manipulations.

Materials research initiative

Our materials research aims to advance specific energy, sensing, and environmental applications. The main focus areas include the design, synthesis, and characterization of novel nano-materials and polymers, as well as new classes of inorganic materials with unique properties. Connect with our faculty experts in materials science.

Biomedical research initiative

Our biomedical research aims to advance our molecular understanding of human disease, as well as to develop novel diagnostic and therapeutic tools. Research focuses on various human pathologies, including cancer, neurodegenerative, metabolic, and inflammatory diseases. Connect with our faculty experts in biomedical science.

Research facilities

Research courses

Current research and course offerings include the latest in biochemistry, physical chemistry, biophysical chemistry, inorganic chemistry, bioinorganic chemistry, materials chemistry, physical-organic chemistry, bioorganic chemistry, bioinformatics, nanotechnology, and computational approaches to chemistry. Explore current chemistry course offerings.

Career advancement

The most telling success metrics for our chemistry degree programs are the quality of the students we attract and—more importantly—the professional success they achieve after they graduate. Chemistry at UC Santa Cruz is proven to give you:

  • A covalent bond research network
  • Mentorship by internationally distinguished faculty and researchers
  • The latest high-impact research and instrumentation knowledge
  • Project management and leadership skills
  • Involvement with large research projects, both government and private
  • Next-level science communications skills
  • Minimal to no debt

Undergraduate career success

Our Chemistry B.S. and B.A. should be your choice if you’re looking to get a job in the materials science, manufacturing, or biomedical industries immediately after graduation (70 percent report working in these industries). One-half of our undergraduates are employed within six months after graduation, and 55 percent receive multiple job offers (data from 2015). High-performing students who decide to delay graduate school and work in California report annual earnings of $70,832 within five years after graduation (data as of 2015).
We’re also ambitious: 80 percent of our Chemistry B.S. and B.A. graduates plan to pursue graduate school within five years after graduation. More than 35 percent are accepted to graduate school before graduating (data from 2015).

Graduate career success

A Chemistry Ph.D. at UC Santa Cruz gives you a highly competitive advantage in the job market. More than one-half of our graduates become research professors or work in higher education, 32 percent are on a coveted tenure track (data from 2013). One-quarter of our chemistry graduates work for private industry in materials, manufacturing, and biomedical science—largely in Silicon Valley. In fact, UC Santa Cruz ranks 13th worldwide for being one of the “top 20 universities that are most likely to land you a job in Silicon Valley.” The other quarter enter government service as research chemists in the Food and Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, or law enforcement crime laboratories.

Funding opportunity

Undergraduate student support

In addition to being highly employable and competitive graduate school candidates, our students also graduate with minimal debt. UC Santa Cruz is the second-best university in the nation for undergraduate social mobility, including financial support for students who come from households that earn less than $50,000 annually. In addition to this campuswide support, you’ll also have access to some of the strongest internal funding opportunities among undergraduate chemistry programs nationwide. A few of our undergraduate award opportunities for chemistry majors include:

  • Doug Drexler Chemistry Scholarship
  • Ellen Renard Memorial Scholarship
  • Joseph F Bunnett Undergraduate Research Prize
  • Sharon Ann Hibdon Undergraduate Opportunities Award
  • Tony Fink Memorial Student Award

Graduate student support

As a graduate student, you’ll leave UC Santa Cruz with minimal debt: 100 percent of our Chemistry Ph.D. students receive tuition and stipend support, with an average of $46,700 in total support (data as of 2018). We strongly encourage and support all our graduate students in the process of securing independent research funding. As a result, our students receive many distinguished awards, honors, and accolades. Current graduate student awards examples:

Alumni network

Banana Slugs help each other out. Get connected with 1,641+ chemistry alumni who hold leading positions at universities, private companies, and renowned research centers throughout the world. Here are a few of our notable alumni:

  • Sarah Gerhardt: Legendary big wave surfer, the first woman to ride Mavericks (Ph.D. ’03, Physical Chemistry)
  • Howard C. Hang: Inventor of novel chemical tools for the study of microbe-host interaction (B.S. ’98, Chemistry)
  • Lara K. Mahal: Known for pioneering work establishing lectin microarrays as a new technology for glycomics (B.A. ’95, Chemistry)
  • Pamela Silver: Award-winning cell and systems biologist and cofounder of the emerging field of synthetic biology (B.A ’74, Chemistry)


 

Recommended for you

Student academic support resources
Student research awards & opportunities

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree policies

Department: Chemistry & Biochemistry
Program Size: ~320 students
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 9.9:1

If you intend to pursue graduate school or a professional career in the materials, biotech, or biomed industry, our Chemistry B.S. is for you. The undergraduate major hands-on, rigorous, and broadly based. As a student, you’ll benefit from close faculty-student interaction, well-equipped laboratories, extensive independent research opportunities, and course offerings that integrate biology, mathematics, and physics with the fundamentals of modern chemistry and biochemistry.
Within the major, there are two optional concentrations you can choose from:

  1. Biochemistry Concentration
  2. Environmental Chemistry Concentration

How to declare

You may declare a major as early as you would like, if you have satisfied prerequisites or qualification requirements for the major.
Students who enter UC Santa Cruz as freshmen are required to be formally declared in a major before enrolling in their third year (or equivalent). Upper-division transfer students are required to be declared in a major by the deadline in their second term at UC Santa Cruz.
To initiate the process to declare, please complete the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry online declaration petition form below. For assistance, please contact the chemistry advising team.

Petition to Declare Online

PLEASE NOTE
Students enrolled in their final qualification policy course at the major declaration deadline may submit the petition, but will not be declared until satisfactory grades have been posted. To view the Petition to Declare Major form, you must be logged in to your UCSC email account.


 

Bachelor of Art (B.A.) degree policies

Department: Chemistry & Biochemistry
Program size: ~320 students
Student to faculty ratio: 9.9:1

Our Chemistry B.A. keeps course requirements to a minimum so that you can maximize your undergraduate education in custom fashion. The B.A. allows you the flexibility to pursue a double major, concentrate on your interests within the chemistry discipline, or complete major requirements late in your college career.

How to declare

You may declare a major as early as you would like, if you have satisfied prerequisites or qualification requirements for the major.
Students who enter UC Santa Cruz as freshmen are required to be formally declared in a major before enrolling in their third year (or equivalent). Upper-division transfer students are required to be declared in a major by the deadline in their second term at UC Santa Cruz.
To initiate the process to declare, please complete the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry online declaration petition form below. For assistance, please contact the chemistry advising team.

Petition to Declare Online

PLEASE NOTE
Students enrolled in their final qualification policy course at the major declaration deadline may submit the petition, but will not be declared until satisfactory grades have been posted. To view the Petition to Declare Major form, you must be logged in to your UCSC email account.


 

How to apply

Undergraduate student admissions to UC Santa Cruz are handled through the University of California’s online application system. Be sure to review the steps you must take, and when, to ensure that your application is considered.

Apply as a freshman Apply as a transfer

Master of Science (M.S.) degree policies

Department: Chemistry & Biochemistry
Program Size: ~3 Students/Yr
Student Funding: None

Our Chemistry M.S. is a terminal degree program designed to provide the latest general expertise in chemistry for teachers, technicians from industry, and business leaders. The program does not lead to a Ph.D. or include a research thesis.

Get advising

Contacts

Karen Meece, Graduate Program Coordinator
Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry

  • Phone: (831) 459-2023
    Email: kmeece@ucsc.edu
    Office: Physical Sciences Building (PSB), Room 230
    Office Hours: M–F, 9 A.M.–Noon & 1–4 P.M.

Karen advises all students in the Chemistry M.S., Ph.D., and CB3 program. She’s a good place to start for general advising questions. Please contact her first if you’re unsure with whom to speak.


 

How to apply

Application deadline: December 1, 2019
We receive more than 150 applications annually. Of these, we accept 15 to 30 into our competitive program. The majority of successful applicants have an undergraduate degree in chemistry with strong demonstrated academic and research performance. We look for strong letters of recommendation and read your “Statement of Purpose” and “Personal History Statement” carefully. Our goal is to identify enthusiastic students who are well-prepared to thrive in an exciting research environment, and who will make the best use of the particular strengths and opportunities in our department.
Detailed application materials and instructions are available through the UC Santa Cruz Graduate Division. You can check the status of your application online or by calling the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry office at (831) 459-4002 (9 A.M.–Noon & 1–4 P.M.).

Apply for master’s

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree policies

Department: Chemistry & Biochemistry
Program Size: ~28 students/yr
Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 4.2:1
Student Funding: >88% RECEIVE SCHOLARSHIp SUPPORT

Within the Chemistry Ph.D. program, students have the flexibility to design a course of study focused on personal research interests, and at the same time are expected to maintain the high intellectual standards associated with the doctoral degree. Research options include biochemistry, physical chemistry, biophysical chemistry, inorganic chemistry, bioinorganic chemistry, materials chemistry, physical-organic chemistry, and bioorganic chemistry. Some research groups are interdisciplinary and are involved in two or more of these areas.

Get advising

Contacts

Karen Meece, Graduate Program Coordinator
Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry

  • Phone: 831-459-2023
  • Email: kmeece@ucsc.edu
  • Office: Physical Sciences Building (PSB), Room 230
  • Office Hours: M–F, 9 A.M.–Noon & 1–4 P.M.

Karen advises all students in the Chemistry M.S., Ph.D., and CB3 program. She’s a good place to start for general advising questions. Please contact her first if you’re unsure with whom to speak.



 

How to apply

Application deadline: December 1, 2019
We receive more than 150 applications annually. Of these, we accept 15 to 30 into our competitive program. The majority of successful applicants have an undergraduate degree in chemistry with strong demonstrated academic and research performance. We look for strong letters of recommendation and read your “Statement of Purpose” and “Personal History Statement” carefully. Our goal is to identify enthusiastic students who are well-prepared to thrive in an exciting research environment, and who will make the best use of the particular strengths and opportunities in our department.
Detailed application materials and instructions are available through the UC Santa Cruz Graduate Division. You can check the status of your application online or by calling the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry office at (831) 459-4002 (9 A.M.–Noon & 1–4 P.M.).

Apply for doctoral

Minor (Min.) degree policies

Department: Chemistry & Biochemistry

If you wish to gain a strong knowledge base in chemistry while also majoring in another area of study during your time at UC Santa Cruz, we recommend exploring our Chemistry Minor program.

View requirements
How to declare

If you would like to declare the Chemistry Minor, follow these steps:

  1. Complete your Academic Planning Form.
  2. Complete your Petition for Declaration of Major/Minor Form
  3. Get both forms approved and signed by your primary major adviser.
  4. Make an appointment through Slug Success to meet with a Chemistry Minor adviser. Bring both signed forms to your appointment. Our advisers will help you update your academic plan to include your minor courses.

Once you have declared the minor, your primary major adviser and minor adviser will review your academic plan on a quarter-by-quarter basis to ensure that you complete the minor program following degree requirements and time-to-degree guidelines.