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25 Best Colleges for Chemistry 2020

By the GradReports team | Updated 2/21/2020

This list features the top 25 colleges that offer a bachelor's degree in chemistry based on the median salary of students one year after graduation. College of the Holy Cross is ranked #1 with a median starting salary of $45,800 for chemistry majors. Graduates of University of California - Berkeley had the lowest median debt on the list, at $12,812. Students at these top-ranked chemistry schools had median starting salaries in the $39,300-$45,800 range.

Tuition, median salaries, and median debt were reported by the U.S. Department of Education in November 2019. View our methodology for more details about these rankings or read more about the top-ranked schools.

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Salary and debt data reported by the U.S. Department of Education
Salary and debt data reported by the U.S. Department of Education
Rank School Location Annual Tuition Median Debt Median Salary
#1 #1 Worcester (MA) Worcester (MA) $52,770 $27,000 $45,800
#2 #2 Madison (WI) Madison (WI) $36,805 $22,440 $45,700
#3 #3 Houston (TX) Houston (TX) $21,273 $17,625 $45,400
#4 #4 Burlington (MA) Burlington (MA) $51,522 $25,500 $45,300
#5 #5 Baton Rouge (LA) Baton Rouge (LA) $28,627 Not Reported $44,300
#6 #6 Bridgewater (MA) Bridgewater (MA) $16,507 $27,000 $43,300
#7 #7 Amherst (MA) Amherst (MA) $34,570 $27,000 $43,100
#8 #8 Houston (TX) Houston (TX) $16,460 $19,375 $42,800
#9 #9 State College (PA) State College (PA) $34,858 $26,250 $42,800
#10 #10 Allendale (MI) (and 1 other) Allendale (MI) (and 1 other) $17,762 $27,000 $42,700
#11 #11 Columbus (OH) Columbus (OH) $30,742 $19,750 $42,500
#12 #12 College Station (TX) College Station (TX) $37,495 $24,766 $42,100
#13 #13 La Crosse (WI) La Crosse (WI) $17,776 $21,300 $41,900
#14 #14 Denver (CO) Denver (CO) $20,847 $28,298 $41,600
#15 #15 New Brunswick (NJ) New Brunswick (NJ) $31,282 $21,500 $41,100
#16 #16 Cheney (WA) Cheney (WA) $24,444 $19,883 $41,000
#17 #17 Edwardsville (IL) Edwardsville (IL) $12,132 $21,750 $40,500
#18 #18 Storrs (CT) Storrs (CT) $38,098 $23,497 $40,000
#19 #19 Bloomington (IN) Bloomington (IN) $35,456 $20,875 $39,900
#20 #20 Berkeley (CA) Berkeley (CA) $43,176 $12,812 $39,800
#21 #21 University Center (MI) University Center (MI) $24,215 $18,511 $39,700
#22 #22 Champaign (IL) Champaign (IL) $31,664 $21,000 $39,700
#23 #23 Philadelphia (PA) Philadelphia (PA) $29,066 $25,872 $39,700
#24 #24 San Diego (CA) San Diego (CA) $19,340 $14,996 $39,500
#25 #25 Charlotte (NC) Charlotte (NC) $20,287 $22,757 $39,300

2020 Best Colleges Highlights

Learn more about the top colleges for a Bachelor's in Chemistry degree. You can also read student reviews of each school by clicking on the stars. Although student reviews were not used as a ranking factor in this list, we provide ratings and reviews so students can consider the experience of alumni in their decision-making process.

#1
Worcester (MA)
Median Salary $45,800
Median Debt $27,000
Annual Tuition $52,770
Graduation Rate 92%

College of the Holy Cross created the "Discovery Chemistry" lab-based guided inquiry style of teaching, which serves as a model for the national chemical education community. Laboratory intensive, this program provides students with hands-on experience to build a strong background in fundamental principles and theories of chemistry. With core courses in general and organic chemistry, the program also offers advanced courses that equip students with the knowledge and training to become effective scientists and independent researchers.

Students will gain experience and knowledge in all the major areas of modern chemistry, such as biochemistry, physical, inorganic, analytical, and organic. Classes offered by the program include Drugs and Biotechnology, Atoms & Molecules, Organic Chemistry, Equilibrium & Reactivity, Nanotechnology, Quantum Mechanics & Spectroscopy, and more. Because the faculty members are committed to providing students with opportunities within their research, chemistry undergraduates regularly contribute to scientific publications and professional conferences. Students who also complete one year of research are eligible to become accredited by the American Chemical Society.

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Median Salary $45,700
Median Debt $22,440
Annual Tuition $36,805
Graduation Rate 87%

The University of Wisconsin - Madison offers a bachelor of science or a bachelor of arts degree in chemistry, which are both awarded by the College of Letters & Science. The program provides students with many hands-on opportunities in scientific inquiry through laboratory courses and research laboratories. The degree program requires 37 chemistry credits in addition to the general and breadth requirements of their own college.

Students studying chemistry will gain knowledge, skills, and experiences to enable them to address real work chemical problems. Learning goals include communicating chemical knowledge effectively, demonstrating an understanding of basic chemical transformations, and more. Students can take courses such as Advanced General Chemistry, Fundamentals of Analytical Science, and Organic Chemistry.

With opportunities to hone their critical thinking and problem-solving skills, graduates can find a wide variety of careers in the chemical industries available, in addition to environmental, pharmaceutical, and other health-related sciences. Those who particularly succeeded in their undergraduate chemistry career often receive funding for graduate work through research assistantships and fellowships or through teaching.

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#3
Houston (TX)
Median Salary $45,400
Median Debt $17,625
Annual Tuition $21,273
Graduation Rate 59%

Offered by the College of Natural Science and Mathematics, the Department of Chemistry provides students with obtaining a Bachelor of Science or a Bachelor of Arts in chemistry. The Bachelor of Science degree requires 50 credit hours of Chemistry courses. At least 36 hours must be at the advanced level and at least 15 hours must be hands-on laboratory experiences. The Bachelor of Arts degree requires 32 chemistry hours. At least 21 hours must be at the advanced level and at least 8 hours must be hands-on laboratory experiences. Courses that students might take at the University of Houston when majoring in chemistry include Analytical Chemistry Laboratory, Organic Chemistry, Physical Chemistry, Engineering Mathematics, and more.

With a strong emphasis on cross-disciplinary research, the Department of Chemistry has faculty members who have been recognized nationally and internationally for their research and teaching, performing cutting-edge research in diverse areas of chemistry, materials chemistry, and chemical biology.

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#4
Burlington (MA)
Median Salary $45,300
Median Debt $25,500
Annual Tuition $51,522
Graduation Rate 88%

The College of Science at Northeastern University offers a BS in Chemistry. Studying the breadth and depth in chemistry fundamentals, students are provided with opportunities to develop quantitative and qualitative problem-solving skills. To help prepare students for chemically related careers or advanced study in fields related to chemistry, the program aims to provide scientific background and lab experience. Graduates from this program can also use their coursework for careers that require knowledge of biochemistry, materials science, medicine, forensic science, education, or the law.

The program requires 135 total semester hours, 79 hours must be in the major. Students can expect to take classes such as Organic Chemistry 2 for Chemistry Majors, Analytical Chemistry, Chemical Thermodynamics and Kinetics, Professional Development for Co-op, and more. Chemistry majors also have the opportunity to participate in the cooperative education program, which allows them to gain professional experience to enhance their classroom and laboratory work.

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#5
Baton Rouge (LA)
Median Salary $44,300
Median Debt Not Reported
Annual Tuition $28,627
Graduation Rate 66%

LSU's chemistry department offers eight areas of concentration such as biological chemistry, chemical physics, chemistry, environmental, materials, pre-professional, and chemistry and a second discipline. If students plan on pursuing an active career in chemistry or another profession, such as dentistry, veterinary medicine, medicine, or education, then LSU offers a concentration that can help them achieve their career goals. 

For students who are considering chemistry as a major, they should take CHEM 1002 by their second semester. This course provides information about career opportunities in Chemistry that might help them make a decision. Students can also join the Student Affiliates of the American Chemical Society (SAACS), which is a chemistry organization at LSU.

Since most tenure-track faculty include some undergraduates in some of their research group, LSU also provides opportunities for students to get involved with research, conducting experiments or calculations to investigate chemical phenomena. Students can register for classes where they research for credit, so it is important to plan ahead, especially since professors have limited space and resources for their research groups.

Visit Louisiana State University's website.