College of Science and Mathematics
Chemistry is the study of how matter behaves at its most basic level. The central science, chemistry is involved in everything we do. Its applications stretch across all areas of life, including medicine, engineering and agriculture.
The chemistry curriculum includes general, analytical, inorganic, organic, and physical chemistry as well as biochemistry. Courses emphasize laboratory work, especially current techniques and the use of instrumentation. The program provides opportunities for independent research under faculty guidance, including a senior project.
General chemistry is taught in studio classrooms in a uniquely effective combination of lecture and lab. In addition, courses may contain the following labs:
- Advanced Spectroscopy Lab
- Biochemistry Lab
- Chromatography Lab
- Coatings Formulations Lab
- Computational Chemistry Lab
- Inorganic Synthesis Lab
- Nanoscale Imaging and Materials Characterization Lab
- Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) Spectrometer Lab
- Organic Synthesis Lab
- Polymer Characterization Lab
- Polymer Synthesis Lab
- Protein Techniques Lab
- Quantitative Analysis Lab
A wide variety of undergraduate research opportunities in faculty labs are also available outside of course work or for credit.
Polymers and Coatings Concentration
The polymers and coatings program is the only one of its kind in the Western U.S. and prepares you for graduate study or careers in a wide range of fields including paints and coatings, resins, plastics, adhesives and sealants. The concentration is certified by the American Chemical Society.
The department offers a flexible chemical education degree option if you are interested in a career in K-12 science education.
Chemistry majors are able to participate in a blended program where you can earn your bachelor's and master's degrees at the same time.
There are two blended programs available to chemistry students and requirements are different for each program:
About the Program
The chemistry program involves a deep study of matter and its properties.
In your classrooms and labs, you will synthesize, analyze and test substances to gain understanding of how and why they combine or separate to form other substances, as well as how they interact with energy. You will also have opportunities to work with faculty on real-world research and work full-time in industry or government for pay or academic credit. The program is certified by the American Chemical Society.
Learn by Doing
From your first day on campus, you will learn to be a scientist by being a scientist and work your way up to developing and testing your own hypotheses. You will create new substances, test theories using chemical analysis, create processes to make unstable molecules more stable, and more. At Cal Poly, you will be a part of the process of creating new scientific knowledge.
Many of our graduates go on to doctoral programs at prestigious universities throughout California and across the country.
Others pursue careers in environmental analysis, the health professions, biotechnology, industrial research and production, pharmacology, teaching, toxicology, food science, wine and viticulture, and fermentation. Because chemistry is a foundational science, you will have a broad choice of career options.