Frequently Asked Questions

Is it possible for me to get a CHM degree and a music (or any other major) degree?

Yes! It takes a lot of planning though, starting with your first semester. The BA degrees are more flexible and allow for upper level science courses to count towards our requirements. Most non-science classes will not count towards our major's requirements so meeting with your academic advisor early will help you to plan ahead. Many of our students have several interested and often complete more than one major or have minors or co-majors along with your Chemistry or Biochemistry degree.

What is the best degree if I want to go into medicine?

A Chemistry or Biochemistry degree is great prep for a career in any health-related field. Our rigorous courses will help to prepare you for the MCAT and the rigors of medical school. Both our BS and BA in Biochemistry majors match up well with the university's Pre-Med Co-Major and many of our graduates go on to professional degree programs such as medical school, dental school, pharmacy school and physicians' assistant school.

Do graduate students teach your classes?

We have graduate students help us teach our multi-section lab courses, but there is always a faculty member present to oversee the multiple sections. Graduate students are trained for laboratory instruction in an annual TA training program, they regularly perform the labs before the students to increase their understanding and we have weekly TA meetings and grading meetings to ensure consistency and preparation.

Is it hard to get involved in research?

Nope, its easy! Check out our "Research" page and you can look up faculty by their research interests. Make a list of your favorites and then email the person on the top of the list. If they aren't available, try your next person. You don't need any experience, we start students with the basics and you learn as you go. Our students can get involved in a research lab as early as their first semester on campus. We welcome undergraduate researchers and rely on them as key members of our research labs. Many of our students publish peer reviewed journal articles and present their research at both the local and national level.

Are your class sizes big?

Freshman and sophomore classes range in size depending on the day and time they are offered. Because many other majors also take Chemistry, our classes sizes for first and second years are usually anywhere from 80 students up to 250 students. Just because a class is big doesn't mean you can't get to know your professor or that you can't get your questions answered. Every professor has office hours where you can get to know your professor and ask questions. Many courses also have supplemental instruction and the labs have TA office hours as well. Whether you know your professor is up to you to take the initiative to participate in class and visit in office hours. Advanced classes for juniors and seniors are, of course, much smaller, with perhaps 10–20 students.

What scholarship opportunities are there?

As a Chemistry or Biochemistry major, you will automatically be eligible for all of our merit based scholarships. We also have research based scholarships such as the Hershberger and Free Scholarships that you can apply for. Additionally, there are summer opportunities such as the USS and Hughes fellowships that you can apply for. The University Financial Aid Office is the best place to inquire about need-based financial aid.

If I have AP credit for general chemistry, should I take it over or start in organic?

This depends on your long term goals. Miami's Mallory Wilson Center recommends that pre-health students retake general chemistry because medical school admissions prefers that all sciences courses be taken at a student's home institution. They also recommend general chemistry because it will re-inforce key topics and give freshmen breathing room as they acclimate to college since they've already proven themselves proficient in general chemistry. If a student is not pre-med, I'd say it doesn't matter and to do what works best on an individual case by case basis. Each year we have 5–10 freshmen in sophomore level organic chemistry courses and, if they have good study habits, they do just fine.

Can I study abroad as a Chemistry or Biochemistry major?

Yes, but it will take planning. The best time to do it would be junior or senior year, unless you start out in organic chemistry. A BA degree is more flexible for study abroad, but BS degree students can do it with planning. The reason it is difficult is due to our year long sequences in general, organic and physical chemistry. Some students study abroad their junior year and push physical chemistry to their senior year. There are also many winter term and summer study abroad options out there that could work.

Can I graduate in 3 years?

Yes, with planning! It is easier to do with a BA degree than a BS degree, again due to the smaller number of upper level CHM requirements. It also helps if you come in with a lot of AP credit for Miami Plan type classes or start your freshmen year with organic chemistry.

Do you have internship opportunities?

Undergraduate research in a professor's lab is like an internship because you get extensive experiential learning. Faculty with industrial connections may also be able to help place students in other internships outside of Miami. Additionally, the Miami Chemical Society is a great group for students where they share internship and volunteer opportunities related to chemistry and biochemistry. Miami also has many resources, such as the program "Handshake", which connects current students to Miami alumni and other partners. We also have an active Career Center.

Is there support for students in both classes and advising?

Our departmental advisors hold open advising hours each semester before the scheduling windows open so that students can come in at their convenience to meet with an advisor to plan their schedule. Advisors also participate in the freshmen seminar class (CHM 147) and help first semester students with course planning. As far as support with classes, each instructor holds office hours and in the lab courses, the TAs staff help rooms where students can go to get help with lab specific questions. We want our students to succeed and we pride ourselves on providing the above resources.

What is the classroom environment like?

At Miami, we have a strong focus on undergraduate education and there are many resources for faculty (training courses, grants, etc.) that we can take advantage of to enhance our teaching. Every instructor is unique and has his or her own way of conveying the course material. Many instructors utilize active learning strategies, clickers, games and problem solving sessions to make the classroom environment interactive. Miami Students are generally collaborative and helpful to one another.

What kinds of jobs can you get with a Chemistry or Biochemistry degree?

The opportunities are truly endless. Most of our graduates go on to 3–4 types of positions: 1) professional schools such as medical school; 2) graduate school for a masters or Ph.D.; 3) industrial jobs, such as a position in the pharmaceutical industry; and 4) government work through positions in government labs at the National Institutes of Health, the FDA, the EPA, etc. These are not the only positions though! We have had students go on to law school to become patent lawyers and students who have become business owners, consultants, and so on. Chemists and Biochemists are versatile and they can work in many different fields. For more information about the different job opportunities for students with a chemistry or biochemistry degree, check out the American Chemical Society's "Chemistry Careers" page.