Create a Positive Reaction: Exploring a Career in Chemistry

Chemists do life-saving work behind the scenes, developing how our foods and medicines are formulated and produced. Like many other STEM fields, unfortunately, black chemists have seen poor representation in both the academic and professional spheres. The more representation there is, the better all of us are prepared for solving problems that span all of humanity. 

Why Should You Go into Chemistry?

Since chemistry is a required class for most high schools, you’ll likely have an opportunity to start exploring your interest in chemistry. In addition, a few characteristics in particular lend themselves to a successful career in the field. Successful chemists are detail-oriented problem-solvers. They are skilled in math and science. Their work requires them to be effective both working individually and as a team.

Male and female Dillard University students outside on campus

Dillard University

Thanks to the versatility of their skillset, chemists will find well-paying, stable work in many different industries. Both in your studies and in your future career, you can focus on an area of the field that interests you the most; possible areas of specialization include chemical engineering, teaching, forensics, pharmacology and toxicology.

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Male Xavier University student working in laboratory

Xavier University

Preparing for Success

Chances are, your high school offers several classes that will help you develop key skills needed in the chemistry field. Take as many advanced math and science courses as you can. Science classes that require lab work are a great way to get a head start on developing practical skills. Taking AP chemistry, if it’s available, is especially helpful. 

As you go through the process of selecting a college, find a school with a chemistry major that graduates students who go on to successful careers in their field. Ask about the technology available in campus labs. Is it up-to-date with what professional chemists are using today? By working with professional-grade technology in your studies, you’ll be better equipped to hit the ground running for a future career. 


Schools to Check Out

As you explore different schools, Xavier University of Louisiana is a can’t-miss. The chemistry department is one of Xavier’s largest, and it offers seven different major programs: chemistry, chemistry with American Chemical Society Certification, biochemistry, chemistry pre-med, chemistry pre-pharmacy, dual-degree chemical engineering (3+2) and chemical education. Fisk University is a great fit for career-minded students seeking stability and opportunities for growth within a profession, especially as more and more companies and organizations seek innovative ways to “go green.” Fisk’s bachelor of science and bachelor of arts degrees in chemistry prepare students seeking careers such as natural sciences managers, clinical research coordinators, secondary and postsecondary teachers and more. 

Group shot of female Stillman College students using microscopes

Stillman College

The Dillard University chemistry major is housed in the School of STEM and features research and laboratory facilities and a state-of-the-art computer lab. Stillman College’s Department of Natural Sciences houses the chemistry program, which prepares graduates for positions in industrial, academic or government laboratories; or for entry into graduate or professional schools to train for careers in academics, medicine, dentistry, optometry, pharmacy, physical therapy, public health, veterinary medicine or other allied health professions. If you think you might want to take your chemistry degree on to medical school, make sure to check out Morehouse College. While Morehouse is an all-male institution, the Morehouse School of Medicine is open to both women and men students. Long story short, wherever you want your chemistry degree to take you, there’s a UNCF HBCU with a program that can help get you there. 

Scholarships and Programs

Some of the most exciting opportunities out there are geared toward STEM students, giving any future chemists a wide array of options to explore. The Fund II Foundation UNCF STEM Scholars Program offers high-achieving students pursuing a degree in STEM with scholarships, mentorship, and internship opportunities. If you’re interested in chemical engineering, the DTE Energy Foundation Scholarship is an especially appropriate opportunity to explore. And, regardless of your major, the BASF/Alfred Chisholm Memorial Scholarship is worth checking out.

Participants in Fund 2 Foundation UNCF Stem Scholars program

UNCF Fund II STEM Scholars

Choosing to study chemistry is to accept a challenge. But with all the rigorous work ahead of you, we know that a chemistry career is likely to be rewarding in many ways. For advice specific to your plans to study chemistry, submit a major interest form and we’ll be in touch. It’s also a smart idea to follow us on UNCF social media, where you can be among the first to hear about scholarships and opportunities at our member HBCUs. Becoming a chemist won’t be easy, but you don’t have to do it alone. The rewards for you and your future will be worth it. Reach out today!