Department of Chemistry


A challenging program approved by the American Chemical Society

It’s hard to imagine a world without chemistry — a world without conveniences that range from soap and clean water to cars and space shuttles. While chemistry plays an important role in improving our lives, the study of matter at its most basic level gives us a new perspective on the world and a deeper appreciation for its beauty.

As a chemistry major at Elon, you will explore this exciting and crucial field through an active curriculum that emphasizes the use of the most current technologies and instrumentation in the classroom, in laboratories and in undergraduate research. You also will receive excellent instruction from faculty who have a wealth of professional experience and scholarly expertise. When you graduate, you will be prepared to enter the chemical profession, graduate school or a variety of fields, from medicine, dentistry and other health-related areas to teaching, environmental science, forensics and business.

“Originally, I thought I wanted to go to a larger school. When I came to Elon and actually got to sit in on a chemistry class and meet some of the professors, I realized a smaller school was much better for me and was a lot better for my science career.” 

Ashley Black ’08
Duke Ph.D. student

Premier facilities

Elon chemistry majors experiment and learn in the McMichael Science Center, which is designed to foster experimentation in class and in spacious research laboratories. Students work with modern computer hardware and software, and with sophisticated instrumentation rarely found at the undergraduate level. For example, students can operate the nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer in the instrument suite or from remote sites such as classrooms, research labs and faculty offices.

First-rate faculty

Elon’s award-winning chemistry professors actively seek and encourage students to join them in conducting and presenting chemical research. Professors have doctoral degrees from institutions including Stanford University, Duke University, University of California, University of North Carolina, University of Tennessee, University of Iowa and Iowa State University. 

Faculty members include a recipient of Elon’s distinguished Daniels-Danieley Award for Excellence in Teaching and several endowed professorships, including the T.E. Powell Jr. Professor of Chemistry. They have published in leading scientific journals, presented at prestigious conferences and obtained highly competitive grants. Faculty stay current in their field through membership in the American Chemical Society (ACS), Sigma Xi national research society, North Carolina Academy of Science, Council for Undergraduate Research and other professional organizations.

“The chemistry department at Elon challenges students to exceed their academic limits while supporting them during the process. In my four years, I have discovered that I can exceed even my own expectations with the support and encouragement of my mentors." 

Zach Koontz ’09
Clemson Ph.D. student

Degrees offered

Elon offers an ACS-certified Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry and a Bachelor of Science degree in biochemistry. These degrees provide the preferred course of study for entrance into graduate school and an excellent foundation for premedical studies. A Bachelor of Arts degree in chemistry is also offered; it, too, is excellent preparation for studies in chemistry and medicine. Because it requires fewer credit hours than the B.S. degree, the A.B. degree in chemistry is an ideal option for a double major. 

Elon offers an engineering dual-degree program in conjunction with North Carolina State University, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Columbia University, Washington University in St. Louis and North Carolina A&T State University. Students spend three years at Elon and complete the program by taking engineering and related courses for two years at an affiliated university. Upon graduation, students receive a A.B. in chemistry from Elon and a B.S. in chemical engineering from the affiliated institution. 

Challenging fellows program

Exceptional high school students planning to major in chemistry or biochemistry may qualify for the Elon College Fellows or Honors Fellows program. Elon’s Fellows programs offer scholarship assistance, study abroad grants, special programming and much more. Visit the Elon Fellows programs Web site for more information.

Chemistry majors may join Elon’s student affiliate chapter of the American Chemical Society. In addition, students secure on-campus employment as teaching assistants in laboratory courses and in the chemical stockroom. 

Rewards of research

Learning through discovery is one of the hallmarks of an Elon education. As a chemistry major, you can launch an original research project during the academic year or in the summer. You will work closely with faculty mentors who will guide you through the discovery process. All students can present their research findings at Elon’s annual Spring Undergraduate Research Forum (SURF). Students are also encouraged to travel to professional regional and national scientific conferences to make presentations and meet students from other colleges and universities. 

In addition, chemistry majors have completed internships with organizations such as the Florida Crime Lab, Cirrus Pharmaceuticals, Burlington Research and Mother Murphy’s Spices. 

Four chemistry majors recently received Elon’s prestigious Lumen Prize, Elon's premier award for academic achievement. Also, a biochemistry major received an honorable mention for the 2009 Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, a highly selective national award for students who major in the sciences.

After graduation

Armed with a solid foundation in the field, Elon chemistry graduates have pursued careers in government, private industry, college and high school teaching, medicine, sales and management. Chemistry majors are encouraged to pursue advanced training in chemical fields such as analytical chemistry, biochemistry, inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, physical chemistry, environmental science and forensic science. Alumni have gone on to graduate school at many institutions, including:

  • Emory University
  • University of South Carolina
  • University of North Carolina
  • University of Tennessee
  • Penn State University
  • University of Southern California
  • University of Colorado at Boulder
  • University of Florida
  • Purdue University
  • Duke University
  • University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
  • Georgetown University.