Chemistry is the science of matter and the changes it goes through. While physics also deals with matter with a largely fundamental and general approach, chemistry is more specific by understanding the properties of atoms and molecules, and various chemical properties and structures, among others. While a bachelor’s degree covers the fundamental concepts of chemical and even biological systems (via biochemistry), a master’s in chemistry degree allows the student to conduct original physical, polymer, analytical, organic, inorganic, and biochemistry research. It also serves as a step towards pursuing a Ph.D. or gaining additional knowledge and experience for an industrial career. According to Data USA, the total degrees awarded in chemistry in 2020 was 21,951, growing at 0.541% and commanding an average wage of $111,355 across chemistry-related jobs. A typical program of master’s in chemistry emphasizes research and coursework. At the end of the program, there are comprehensive examinations and, sometimes, the submission of a research-based thesis. This guide contains detailed information on graduate education in chemistry.

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PROGRAM: Online Masters Degrees

Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit, accredited institution with more than 3,000 on-campus students and over 60,000 online students, making us one of the fastest-growing universities in the country. Founded in 1932, we’ve been relentlessly reinventing higher education ever since and have gained national recognition for our dedication to helping students transform their lives and the lives of those around them.

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Best Online Masters in Chemistry

The best online master’s in chemistry programs offer a fair balance of several aspects of the course, such as the quality of teaching, subjects covered, duration of the program, experience of the faculty, infrastructure, curriculum, and cost. Awarding the best online master’s in chemistry program to one, in particular, is therefore hard to accomplish. Some factors may be important for some students, while others are vital to other students.

However, based on all key aspects and factors that can peg a master’s in chemistry online program onto the ‘best list,’ we have prepared a Rankings Table:

<a href="">Masters in Chemistry Online</a>

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College Name & AddressTuitionGraduation Rate
University of California, Berkeley
200 California Hall, Berkeley, California 94720
University of California, Los Angeles
405 Hilgard Ave, Los Angeles, California 90095
Harvard University
Massachusetts Hall, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138
Columbia Video Network
West 116 St and Broadway, New York, New York 10027
Stanford University
Stanford, California 94305
Princeton University
1 Nassau Hall, Princeton, New Jersey 08544
University of North Carolina-wilmington
601 South College Road, Wilmington, North Carolina 28403
Illinois Institute of Technology
10 West 35th Street, Chicago, Illinois 60616
Ohio university
020 Chubb Hall, Athens, Ohio 45701
University of Saint Joseph
1678 Asylum Avenue, West Hartford, Connecticut 06117

Source – Integrated Post Secondary Education Data System & University Data
*Tuition rates are for in-state and per year. Program specific rates may apply.
**NA – data not available

Understanding Online Masters in Chemistry

Traditional masters in chemistry programs offered by universities across the United States predominantly focus on two key areas – coursework and research work, and also have a fair amount of lab-related study. Online master’s in chemistry programs make do with a similar structure, where coursework is mostly through online learning, with live classes, video classes, online discussion groups, and online seminars or workshops. Much of the research work is also online, but the student’s presence is required for working in a lab, for practical sessions, and hands-on learning.

Master’s in chemistry programs are broken down into semesters or quarters. Each semester or quarter contains theory lessons, practical sessions, group discussions, research, etc., during the first year. The second year has very little to do with actual academics; it is spent mostly on research and writing a thesis based on that research. (Some universities offer a non-thesis option as well.)

The biggest advantage of studying online is the flexibility available for students and working professionals. Depending on their background and experience, interested students can study at their own pace, rearrange the order of study and revisit topics they may find hard to understand.

Degree Types

Choosing a chemistry education program is rather straightforward. There are two similar MS and M.Sc. programs and an MA program to choose from. Overall, the three degrees broadly offer similar subjects and courses, but each one is unique in its own right.

MS Chemistry

A Master of Science (MS) largely has two parts – coursework and research work. In most cases, both parts are equally emphasized and culminate in a research-based thesis being submitted. It must be noted that an MS is also a rather ‘hands-on’ graduate offering, with a fair amount of exposure in a lab and acquiring practical experience in one. To apply for the Master of Science, a student must have a bachelor’s degree in any science subject.

M.Sc. Chemistry

A Master of Science (M.Sc.) is pretty much identical to an MS. However, opting for this program would require the student to have a bachelor’s degree, specifically in chemistry. The M.Sc. is usually found overseas, in countries such as the UK, and is uncommon in the U.S.

MA Chemistry

A Master of Arts (MA), unlike an MS, is more theoretical. An MA usually does not require research or a thesis to be submitted at the end of the course but, in lieu, typically requires the completion of additional course credits.


Specializations equip the student with more teeth, strengthening their master’s. An MS in chemistry will require a student to pick a concentration from a plethora of options. While choosing a specialization, one must bear in mind what career path one chooses and what one’s interests are. For example, there is no sense in opting for say Medicinal, or Advanced Analytical Chemistry, if one is thinking of entering Petrochemicals.

Specializations and concentrations in chemistry education include, but are not limited to:

  • Computational Chemistry
  • Photochemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Genetics
  • Nanomaterials
  • Quantum Mechanics
  • Medicinal Plant Chemistry
  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry

Curriculum and Skills Gained

The curriculum and syllabus of a chemistry education are made up of courses that are by and large similar to undergraduate chemistry courses. There are a few staple or basic courses, and several electives one could choose from. Overall, some of the online courses largely covered in graduate-level chemistry are:

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Physical Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Laboratory Safety
  • Molecular Modeling
  • Medicinal Chemistry
  • Advanced Analytical Chemistry

Some of the electives students can pick from are:

  • Advanced Separations
  • Bioanalytical Chemistry
  • Advanced Organic Synthesis
  • Advanced Instrumentation and Analysis
  • Medical Biochemistry
  • Organometallic Reaction and Structures
  • Chemistry of Elements
  • Chemical Education
  • Energy and Environment
  • Science in Chemistry

By the end of the chemistry science degree, students will have developed the ability to understand and articulate complex concepts in the field and its subdivisions, such as Analytical Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Inorganic Chemistry, Medicinal Chemistry,  Physical Chemistry, Biochemistry, and so on. They would also be able to read and evaluate scientific literature and make critical assessments and observations of scientific ideas. The knowledge graduates gained from their degree could be used to identify complex industrial and research problems, and examine ways and means of overcoming them, using rationale, dealing with consequences, and underpinning conclusions.


For the money one would spend for a master’s in chemistry, it would be a good idea to check if the program in question is accredited, as well as accepted industry-wide. Several online degree programs are accredited, which should always be preferred over ones that do not have any accreditation.  Accreditation adds extra value to the degree, making it easier for graduates to seek jobs, in addition to endorsing the extent of their knowledge on the subject or any sub-division of chemistry. For example, the Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC) issues standards and ensures compliance with Forensic Chemistry Programs’ standards.

More information on accreditation is available in the Accreditation Guide.

Timeline for graduation

The timeline for graduation from online master of science in chemistry programs is largely fixed at a standard 2 Years. However, depending on the university, faculty, concentrations, online courses, seminars, discussions, lab and research work, etc., a university may allow the student to complete the graduate study within up to 5 Years. There are almost no colleges that offer a part-time program, as the course can be quite demanding, requiring a tight schedule, and a good deal of course and research to be undertaken. Although chemistry studies bring with it the flexibility of time and location, the duration of the program is directly related to the pace at which the student progresses in each course, whether or not they have picked writing a thesis or chosen the non-thesis option, and any on-campus requirements of the university as well.

Admission Requirements

In general, admission requirements for entry into graduate-level chemistry are not many. The basic requirements are the Application Form and Transcripts, along with References and/or Essays. An undergraduate degree is also required to have been completed in almost all cases. As for GPA, most universities will admit students with a GPA of 2.75 and above but require GRE scores not older than five years.

Free Chemistry Education Programs

A free chemistry degree is virtually non-existent. Since studying the subject requires a well-trained and experienced faculty of chemistry teachers, and a reasonably strict instruction schedule, most offerings are usually paid and not free. Of course, there are enough courses that can give students a leg-up on the subject and help them in their professional studies, but these too do not award a complete degree in chemistry.

Several sites offer hundreds of courses in their main menu, related to chemistry. Many of these sites have free and paid content and issue a ‘Completion Certificate,’ which may or may not be of value for jobseekers. Here are a few to check:

  • Open Culture – Open Culture has online courses from several leading universities. There are video lessons as well as audio lectures that can be downloaded for offline use. Most of the catalog contains free courses.
  • Khan Academy – The popular Khan Academy offers online classes and courses in chemistry taught by excellent faculty, but most of them are suitable for basic to intermediate studies. While it is hard to assess each course’s true depth, the portal’s chemistry library does a decent job of breaking the subject down, which could help with graduate studies.
  • Future Learn – Future Learn also offers chemistry courses based on different sub-topics of the subject. While some of these may be free, most come with the requirement of a subscription to the site.
  • Coursera – There are some 129 results connected with chemistry on Coursera; some are free courses, most are paid. These courses may be useful for studying specific topics but are far from being an entire graduate program.

How to Pay for Chemistry Online Master’s

Graduate education is, more often than not, an expensive affair across the United States. Data USA reports that the median in-state public tuition for university education in chemistry costs $7,369, growing at 2.13%, and median out-of-state private tuition costs $36,000, growing at 2.71%. To keep costs in check, graduate students should explore avenues and options for external funding.

Some available options to pay for master’s in chemistry programs are:

Program Funding

Universities sometimes allow students to break down the cost of tuition into equated, incremental, or deferred payments for a master’s program.

Scholarships & Grants

Several universities offer a scholarship or grant either from a bursary or in association with an organization. There is a fairly good chance for the tuition to be completely waived, or at least partly funded.

Teaching or Research Assistantships

In return for working as a Teaching or Research Assistant at a university, students are offered rebate tuition or a stipend that could help them balance costs. Of course, the student’s background should be suitable for such posts, and they should be willing to spend hours teaching/researching and pursuing their studies at the same time.

Employer Sponsorship/Reimbursement

Working professionals should check with their employers for schemes they may have for higher education. Many companies offer to sponsor or reimburse the tuition fee for a graduate degree, in exchange for a stipulated duration of mandatory service.

FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)

FAFSA is a viable option to fund chemistry education programs. Students should check to see if they are eligible for financial aid, through a FAFSA application.

More information on financial aid is available on the Best Financial Guide.

Scholarships for Online Graduate Students of Chemistry

Before enrolling for chemistry graduate studies, it is recommended for students to check for available scholarships and their eligibility to apply for them. A Scholarship is based primarily on academic performance, past or planned research, and recommendations from professors. Here are a few scholarships for students to explore:

Office of Science Graduate Student Research (SCGSR) Program

The SCGSR offers outstanding US graduate students of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) supplemental awards through benefits and stipends of some $5,000. Application Deadline: May 05, 2023.

NSF Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Program (S-STEM)

The S-STEM funds higher education institutions, which in turn award scholarships to select eligible graduate students. Interested students should enquire with the Institution’s Office for the availability of this program and application requirements. Application Deadline: Varies.

ACS Scholars Program

American Chemical Society (ACS) offers students studying Chemical Sciences or Chemical Technology, renewable scholarships of $5,000. Underrepresented minority students who want to enter the field of chemistry too are eligible to apply. ACS awards over $1,000,000 in scholarship funds to 300+ students every year. Application Deadline: March 01, 2023.

Get Educated Online College Scholarship

Distant Learners and students of online master’s programs should check to see if they are eligible to apply for the ‘Get Educated Online College Scholarship’ of $1,000. Application Deadline: March 15 & October 15 every year.

FAQs about MASTERS Programs

Frequently Asked Questions

What is MA in chemistry?

The Master of Arts or MA is a more theoretical professional science degree. It does not necessarily mandate the submission of a thesis at the end of the graduate study.

What is MS chemistry?

 Is it possible to graduate in chemistry online?

Are there on-campus classes that I will have to attend?

How much does an online master’s cost?

Will I get a job with a master’s I obtained online?

Is a master’s in chemistry worth it?

What can you do with a master’s in chemistry?

Careers and Salary Outlook

A completed master’s degree in chemistry, along with the chosen concentration, can determine what sort of role would be suitable for a graduate in the job market. One could become a chemistry teacher in community colleges and other educational institutions, or pursue one’s research interests in the subject. There are many opportunities in a host of other settings as well, where graduates can take up jobs as  Data Scientists, Research Scientists, Researchers, and Chemists, or even opt to work in Forensic Science or Applied Chemistry.

Here are a few from the many possible work settings:

  1. Pharmaceutical Research
  2. Textiles
  3. Oceanography
  4. Material Science
  5. Medical Research
  6. Hazardous Waste Management
  7. Military Systems
  8. Petroleum and Natural Gas
  9. Plastics
  10. Pharmacology
  11. Chemical Engineering
  12. Environmental Science
  13. Physical Chemistry
  14. Environmental Chemistry

Based on the choice of career, the salary would differ. For example, according to ‘,’ an Oceanographer’s median pay is $74,454 while the median is $130,730  for a Pharmaceutical Researcher.

Certifications and Licensing

Since Chemistry is a relatively vast subject that one can break down and specialize in, most institutes, industries, and governments look for certification and/or a license, along with a degree. Many universities tie-up with independent agencies to assess and evaluate their programs based on certain criteria and are approved to be in a nationally recognized list of chemistry programs if these criteria are met. There are several certifications and licensing options for online masters in chemistry graduates, one of them being the American Chemical Society Certification.

It is best to check for a license or certificate that will make an individual’s chemistry online degree complete, and one that is specific to their chosen field or career. For example, working with pharmaceutical companies or petrochemical companies may require the candidate to be certificated from agencies/bodies approved by these companies. Licensure also varies depending on the state in which the candidate works, and the nature of the job.

Additional Resources

Chemistry may sound like a confined subject, but in reality, it is a vast one, spanning several sub-fields and industries. Since much of chemistry development is based on research, it is essential to interact with other scientists in this or relevant fields and be part of the chemists’ community. After graduation, joining a community of fellow professionals, peers, and faculty members allows one to access ideas, theories, laboratories, research papers, and much more – enhancing knowledge while keeping you up to date with periodic trends and the latest in chemistry. Tap into journals, attend live and online Seminars, find out where the next workshops will take place, and more, though some of these:

  1. American Chemical Society (ACS): American Chemical Society is a go-to portal for students and professionals of chemistry. The site offers a wealth of information apart from showcasing events, exploring careers, and working with chemistry forums and communities.
  2. Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC): Royal Society of Chemistry is a membership-based online resource with chemistry-related journals, books, communities, and events.
  3. ChemSpider: Associated with RSC is ChemSpider that defines itself as a ‘free chemical structure database providing fast text and structure access to over 100 million structures from hundreds of data sources’.
  4. American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE): An interesting resource for chemical engineers is the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), which offers journals, industry news, publications, technical groups, and more.
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