Chemistry and Biochemistry

Modern chemistry is a broadly diverse science positioned at the interface of physics, biology and mathematics. The chemistry curriculum at Berry College combines a solid background in the fundamental principles of chemistry with firsthand experience using state-of-the-art laboratory equipment. 

There are two majors available within the chemistry department – Chemistry and Biochemistry. Both equip students with the knowledge and skills they need to secure careers in industry, research or education. The Biochemistry major is very popular with pre-medicine students because its requirements include the courses needed for successfully applying to medical schools.

Berry’s chemistry department is one of a select few in Georgia to be approved by the American Chemical Society (ACS). As a result, our ACS-accredited degrees can be especially helpful for those students who plan to pursue master’s and doctoral degrees in graduate school. The department is also accredited by the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

How does a chemistry degree from Berry College differ from one earned anywhere else?  

The smaller class sizes offered at Berry College provide a more personalized learning experience for students than the auditorium-sized classes often found at large universities. You’ll find that contact with chemistry professors can be as easy as waiting until after class to ask questions or planning a longer visit during office hours. Our faculty members are committed to knowing you as an individual and to helping you develop to your fullest potential. They want to help you achieve your personal goals. Chemistry is a hands-on science that involves much more than what can be learned from a book. Learning chemistry means learning how to do chemistry. This requires experience in the laboratory performing experiments that illustrate concepts discussed in class. Learning chemistry also means learning how to use state-of-the-art equipment and instrumentation. At Berry, you won’t just look at instruments, you’ll use them – starting in your freshman year!

Working in modern facilities

Berry’s science building was specifically designed to maximize your opportunities for firsthand learning. The laboratories are ultramodern and designed to stimulate interactive learning through coursework and cutting-edge research. The classrooms are spacious and encourage direct interaction between students and faculty. In addition, cozy reading lounges overlook some of the most beautiful scenery on Berry’s amazing 27,000-acre campus   

Learning doesn’t end in the classroom.

Engaging in research activities alongside faculty members is an enriching part of Berry’s Chemistry program. While classes and labs help you to learn the important concepts and experimental techniques crucial to your success as a chemist, a complete education in chemistry requires opportunities for independent thought and problem-solving that can only be experienced through true research. Our faculty members are active researchers, and as a student in the Chemistry program, you will be able to select from projects representing all areas of the discipline.

Students involved in research often contribute papers describing their work to the Berry College Journal of Chemistry. In many cases, these papers are converted to manuscripts that are published in major national and international chemistry journals. In addition, several students each year present their research findings via posters or oral presentations at regional and national scientific conferences, such as those organized by the American Chemical Society and the Georgia Academy of Science. Students engaged in research may gain academic credit or receive a paycheck for their efforts through the college’s Work Experience Program.

The chemistry department hosts three or four outside speakers each semester as part of our Cheminar Series, including faculty from other colleges and universities, representatives of industry and successful alumni. These speakers will provide knowledge and inspiration as they open your eyes to the many jobs and graduate programs in chemistry that are available nationwide. 

What other ways can I get involved with the department?

Many of our majors are employed by the department through Berry’s Work Experience Program. Some are paid as research assistants. More commonly, students are paid to work as laboratory and teaching assistants for the department. These students help to prepare the laboratories for lab courses and maintain instruments and equipment. Teaching assistants are present during laboratory sessions to answer questions and demonstrate techniques for other students. This type of assistantship has made our majors stand out from those at other schools when looking for jobs or applying to graduate school.   

Social interactions abound.

The Berry College Chapter of the American Chemical Society offers majors and interested non-majors a forum for getting together socially, being active in on-campus events and engaging in outreach projects for the local community, such as performing demonstrations at elementary schools. Whether it is a student lunch with visiting seminar speakers, the “Mole Day” pizza party or the annual senior dinner, there are plenty of opportunities for faculty and students to interact on a social level.   

Are there any chemistry-specific scholarships available?

Thanks to the generous bequest of Willis and Nora Pirkle, the department awards approximately $32,000 in scholarships to chemistry majors each year. Mr. Pirkle taught chemistry at Berry for nearly 30 years, and his dedication to Berry students lives on through this scholarship. 

Where do chemistry majors go after leaving Berry College?

Chemistry and Biochemistry majors have many options after graduation. Some of our majors take industrial research or sales jobs in such fields as pharmaceuticals, polymers, materials and cryogenics. Others decide to teach at the elementary or secondary school level. Some choose to enter medical, pharmacy or dental school, while others pursue advanced graduate studies at major universities. Berry chemistry alumni have attended a number of top-tier graduate schools, including the University of Texas at Austin, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the Georgia Institute of Technology, Washington University in St. Louis, the University of Florida, the University of Utah, Emory University, the University of Virginia and Vanderbilt University.      

How can chemistry help me obtain a position in the health fields?

Our Chemistry program offers an excellent starting point for pursuing studies in medical, pharmacy or dental school. These schools all require entrance exams (MCAT, PCAT and DCAT, respectively) that test for in-depth knowledge of chemistry and chemical principles. The biochemistry major, in particular, requires students to take the biology, chemistry, biochemistry, mathematics and physics courses necessary for obtaining a superior grade on these exams.