What is Chemistry?

Chemistry, known as “the central science,” is the study of the nature, properties, and transformations of matter – the stuff that everything in the universe is made of, including everything here on earth. Studying chemistry will enable you to understand the natural phenomena around and within you at a basic, fundamental level.

Because chemistry is the study of matter, it’s critical to all other fields of science from biochemistry and cell and molecular biology to environmental science, genetics, medicine, pharmacology, and others.


What is Chem

What can you do with a Chemistry degree?

Working as a chemist is rewarding in and of itself, and a degree in chemistry can open doors into many disciplines. Chemistry is widely recognized by graduate schools, professional schools, and employers as one of the most rigorous degrees that teaches not only a fundamental science curriculum, but also equips students with critical problem solving skills. College is about learning a specific discipline as much as it is about learning how to learn and solve problems, and majoring in chemistry is one of the most outstanding ways to do both. The study of chemistry is not only critical to graduates moving on to careers in Chemistry, but for other fields as well - for example, Chemistry, Biochemistry, and Organic Chemistry make up a major component of the all-important MCAT exam for admittance into medical school!

Graduates with a bachelor of science in chemistry will find they have immediate job opportunities available to them -- the chemical industry hires more than 10% of all scientists and engineers, and the United States produces about $550 billion in chemical products every year. Other areas where chemists are directly hired include research and analysis in biomedicine, biology, marine science, and environmental science.

Possible career opportunities include

Chem research
  • Pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies - on the front lines to fight disease and develop treatments and cures.
  • Analytical laboratories - such as environmental monitoring (e.g., air and water quality), medical diagnostics, and medical research.
  • Chemical industries and material science companies - creating alternative fuels, high tech material designs, perfumes and flavorings, synthesizing of organic molecules, etc.

An undergraduate degree in chemistry can serve as a gateway to other careers if you choose to go on to graduate or professional schools. A strong record as a chemistry major will make you competitive for acceptance into many such programs such as

  • All medical profession schools - to study medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, optometry, veterinary medicine, and more.
  • Academic professions - as a research professor studying in your field while instructing and mentoring the next generation of chemists.
  • Environmental and Ocean Sciences - among many other science disciplines.
  • Legal Professions - particularly helpful to patent or environmental law.
  • Education - depending on your highest degree and personal preferences, you may find opportunities at a liberal arts college, community college, or high school.


Hawaii Loa

Why study Chemistry at HPU?

In our program, you will receive an exceptional chemistry education. As a faculty and a program, our primary focus has always been -- and continues to be -- delivering an outstanding and thorough undergraduate education that prepares our graduates to be highly competitive when they leave HPU. Our approach to a solid chemistry education consists of two intertwined parts: classroom learning and laboratory research methods. The laboratory component is extensive and provides students with “real world” experience in research and analytical methods while further honing their scientific problem solving skills. This experience will also be recognized and highly valued by prospective graduate schools, professional schools, and employers. Furthermore, ongoing involvement in research keeps our faculty energized, current, and engaged with the latest developments in their respective fields of study while creating undergraduate research opportunities.( Click here to see recent publications from our faculty and students).

A concerted effort to build our research program has enabled us to accrue an impressive array of high-tech instrumentation identical to what can be found in large and small biomedical companies and top research labs. With each new instrument we acquire, a conscious effort has been made to implement a new exercise into the undergraduate laboratory coursework that utilizes the instrumentation. By doing so, students engage in hands-on experiences with highly technical research instrumentation and learn techniques that are relevant to the practice of chemistry in the context of real-world research methods. This is contrary to the more common approach of keeping high tech instrumentation only in the arena of research. Our approach at HPU is driven by our overriding commitment to deliver a distinct, high quality education while continuously expanding and enhancing our chemistry program. ( Click here to see our list of scientific instruments).

On a personal level, we are a close-knit group of faculty who takes pride in being outgoing, welcoming, and involved with our students. We are active collaborators in both our research efforts and our teaching. HPU’s low student-to-faculty ratios translate to more student / faculty interaction -- you will know our names, and we will know yours! ( Click here to see our Chemistry faculty).