Student looking at vial


Chemistry is more than the study of matter and the changes it can undergo. It is the central science, sitting at the interface of biology, physics, math, medicine and environmental science. Immerse yourself in this field with hands-on learning and research experiences.

Why Study Chemistry?

Chemistry is everywhere. In what we touch, what we see, what we hear, and it drives physiological processes. Chemists explore the many ways the elements combine to make something new, seeking to control these unique properties. It is more than beakers and laboratories. It is about discovering, starting at the molecular level, how the world works. As a chemistry major at USD, you will develop critical thinking and analytical skills that are crucial to obtain a job in the modern world. Our program will help you expand your interests in chemistry, make connections to coursework in other disciplines, and gain hands-on research experiences that will prepare you for success in a range of careers in science and medicine.

Our majors most often pursue three career tracks: attend graduate school in a STEM discipline, pursue professional careers in medicine, pharmacy, or dentistry, or obtain jobs in the chemical industry, medical laboratories or as teachers. The chemistry department offers degrees that will prepare you for your goals, while offering flexibility to pursue other interests in the spirit of a liberal arts education. Faculty will work with you to choose a minor, or double major, that best prepares you for your future.

Prepare yourself for a broad spectrum of careers in the chemical industry, academia, medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, and secondary school teaching as a chemistry major at USD.

Degrees & Offerings

Chemistry (B.S.)

  Vermillion Main Campus

A degree in chemistry prepares you for a broad spectrum of careers in the chemical industry, academia, medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, and secondary school teaching. Hands-on training and flexible degree options to allow students to choose the best curriculum to ensure success upon entering a global workforce. For those interested in graduate programs in chemistry or careers in the chemical industry, we offer a B.S. degree certified by the American Chemical Society (ACS). For those interested in careers at the interface of chemistry and another discipline, the Coordinate Major offers flexibility for double majors or choosing multiple minors.

Chemistry: American Chemical Society (B.S.)

  Vermillion Main Campus

For those interested in graduate programs in chemistry or careers in the chemical industry, we offer a B.S. degree certified by the American Chemical Society (ACS).

Chemistry (B.S.) with Secondary Education Certification

  Vermillion Main Campus

For a teaching major in chemistry, complete the chemistry degree along with the appropriate teaching certification courses.


  Vermillion Main Campus

A minor in chemistry will help you think at the molecular-level, a skill complementary to many fields. Interested in biology? Take courses focused on biomolecules? Interested in physics? Take thermodynamics or quantum mechanics from a chemistry perspective. Interested in sustainability? Take environmental chemistry. This program will enable you to expand your knowledge from your major and approach your studies with an interdisciplinary perspective.

Program Details






Student Opportunities

As a student at USD, the opportunities available to you extend beyond the classroom. Explore your interests, find your community and experience your education to the fullest extent through the following opportunities.
A Chemistry student doing lab research during a project.

Faculty in the chemistry department have active research programs and a long tradition of undergraduate research. Majors in our American Chemical Society (ACS) certified degree all perform research as a requirement for the degree, while the vast majority of coordinate majors engage in research either in our department or elsewhere on campus. Undergraduate researchers use state-of-the-art instrumentation and are encouraged to lead their portion of the research project. Our faculty have expertise across the areas of chemistry and have been awarded competitive federal research grants and research excellence awards. Apply for our intensive 10-week summer research program that includes support for an Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program funded by the National Science Foundation. Students can earn up to $6,000 in the summer conducting research in laboratories of USD chemistry faculty mentors on the Vermillion campus. Undergraduate students work side-by-side with an international team of graduate students and postdoctoral scholars. They learn science communication skills by presenting their work and are trained to perform research in a collaborative team. Our faculty encourage students to get involved in research as soon as possible. It is never too early to start! The students most engaged in research are often those who go on to receive competitive scholarships and graduate fellowships.

Chemistry coursework is rooted in the four core disciplines: analytical chemistry, inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, and physical chemistry. Our department offers lab courses in each of these areas that complement the traditional courses. Beyond these core courses, we offer courses in instrumental analysis, the organic chemistry of biomolecules, environmental chemistry, and advanced chemical characterization. Our faculty also teach honors seminars. For top-performing first-year students, we offer an Honors in Principles of Chemistry series that offers a small class and specialized lab experience designed to challenge students and prepared them for upper-level science courses.
Students in lab coats posing in the Sereda Lab.

Join the Chem Club, an extracurricular group of like-minded individuals interested in expanding their knowledge of chemistry. Chem Club activities include local field trips, outreach activities at local schools that help kids get interested in science, charity involvement and other social events. You will meet a network of new people and broaden your understanding of chemistry outside the classroom.

Explore Student Organizations

The chemistry department sponsors a weekly seminar series that brings leading experts from around the country to the Vermillion campus to speak about their research. Students also are encouraged to meet with the visitors during their time on campus. Our premier lectures are the Estee and Haines lectures. The Estee Lecture Series, established in 1991, is named in honor of Charles R. Estee, Ph.D., who served the Department of Chemistry for 50 years, beginning in 1947. The Estee Lecture is dedicated to the topic of chemical education and is held annually in the fall. The Haines Lecture Series, established in 1956, is named in honor of Professor Arthur L. Haines, who served the Department of Chemistry for 71 years, beginning in 1904. The lecture is held annually in the spring.

USD offers a wide range of scholarships for students, including scholarships specifically for chemistry majors. The Department of Chemistry annually awards over $20,000 in scholarships and grants awards to about 30 undergraduate students. This is a testament to the generosity of our alumni and friends of the chemistry department. Our alumni include numerous nationally competitive scholarship winners, including a Rhodes Scholar, two National Science Foundation Graduate Research fellows, and two Goldwater scholars. Not only do the faculty support students in these applications, but our alumni play a critical role in this continued success. Together, they mentor the next generation of scholars through the application process. 

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Departments & Facilities

Explore the departments, facilities and centers that contribute to your education in chemistry.
Chemist Student Examining a Piece of Material


USD Chemistry is a tight-knit community of scholars. Undergraduates, graduate students, post-docs, and faculty work together in the classroom and the laboratory to solve some of today's biggest challenges in health, energy and the environment.

Faculty & Staff

Get to know the faculty & staff in the Department of Chemistry. Our faculty are internationally recognized scholars and continually update and improve their knowledge and skills as chemists. We aim to develop relevant skills so that our graduates are highly marketable in the job force.
Bio Image for Faculty Member James Hoefelmeyer

James Hoefelmeyer

Bio Image for Faculty Member David Hawkinson

David Hawkinson

Associate Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Chaoyang Jiang

Chaoyang Jiang

Coordinator-Graduate Programs, Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Kadal Mariappan

Kadal Mariappan

Senior Lecturer
Faculty Default

George Schoendorff

Visiting Assistant Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Haoran Sun

Haoran Sun

Bio Image for Faculty Member Andrew Sykes

Andrew Sykes

Bio Image for Faculty Member Joseph Vitt

Joseph Vitt

Associate Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Rick Wang

Rick Wang

Bio Image for Faculty Member Steven Wu

Steven Wu

Assistant Professor
Student Taking Notes During a Lecture

Honors Chemistry 

Set yourself apart from others by taking Honors Chemistry at USD. The Department of Chemistry offers an Honors Chemistry course for entering high achieving freshmen that have a strong high school chemistry background, often including AP Chemistry, or have dual credit for General Chemistry already. If you are interested in a graduate career in Chemistry or medical or dental school, it would be very beneficial to be involved in the honors program.

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Student Taking Notes During a Lecture.

High Quality Program 

Our Department of Chemistry has produced many of the University’s national award winners including Rhodes, Goldwater, Fulbright Scholars and NSF Graduate Research Fellows. Many of our graduates have presented their research at conferences, published their research in scientific journals and won awards. Our bachelor of science chemistry degree is approved by the American Chemical Society (ACS) for superior preparation for industry, postgraduate studies or professional careers. You will work on projects related to solar energy, environmental remediation, catalysis, artificial viruses, polymer chemistry and much more.

Surprisingly Affordable

USD offers low tuition rates for in-state and out-of-state students, as well as scholarships, financial aid and employment opportunities to help make your education even more affordable.

Undergraduate Tuition & Costs

Learn more about tuition and fees for undergraduate students and see how your out-of-pocket costs at USD compare to those at other colleges and universities. Visit the Undergraduate Tuition & Costs Detailed page for program specific costs and fees. 

Financial Aid

Navigating options for how to pay for college can be challenging, but you are not alone. The Office of Financial Aid will work with you and your family to explore how you can make your college education even more affordable.


USD awards nearly $9.5 million in scholarships each year. View our scholarships to see which ones you may qualify for and how you can apply.

Alum success story

Success story Jade Fostvedt smiling.
My time at USD helped me grow as a scientist, as a teacher and as a communicator; I would not be where I am today without the support of the faculty at USD. A liberal arts education ensures that the scientific leaders who graduate from USD are able to effectively and elegantly convey the high-level ideas that shape our present and future. 

Jade Fostvedt 

B.S. Chemistry '17
Doctoral Candidate studying Inorganic Chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley

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