You are here: American University College of Arts & Sciences Chemistry Master of Science in Chemistry

Professor displays model of molecule

Research-Based Study

The MS in Chemistry will prepare you for a doctoral program or for a number of careers in research, development, education, and administration. You will learn the skills you need to conduct specialized laboratory research in the highly competitive chemical and biological industries.

Our department cultivates a collegial and congenial environment where you can pursue a flexible program of study designed to fulfill your intellectual interests and professional goals. You can develop your expertise in one of two specialized tracks of study: applied chemistry or clinical biochemistry. You will receive individual mentorship from our faculty members in your coursework, while performing research, and in learning to write grant proposals for research funding.

Our program emphasizes student research. You will learn to design, conduct, and analyze research in advanced laboratory courses. Our modern teaching and research laboratories are fully equipped with chemical instrumentation, including spectrometers and chromatographic equipment, and we have specialized laboratories for work requiring an inert atmosphere, biochemistry, polymer chemistry, nanomaterials chemistry, electrochemistry, and computational chemistry. By learning and experiencing the chemical research process, you will graduate fully prepared for your career as a scientist.

Build Expertise Through Specialization

Our 30-credit MS program offers two tracks of specialization. The clinical biochemistry track will prepare you for careers in clinical laboratories, the pharmaceutical industry, and biodefense. Throughout the program, you will get hands-on experience in a clinical lab setting. Upon completion of the program, you will be able to operate analytical instrumentation used in clinical settings, safely handle clinical samples, and effectively explain your results to a wide audience. The course content includes regulatory and toxicological topics, which are growing areas of interest in the clinical laboratory setting.

The applied chemistry track is more flexible. With a broader selection of courses, you can customize your program of study—focusing on analytical and inorganic chemistry, biochemistry, or organic chemistry—to prepare for a variety of careers or further graduate study.

In either track, you will build a solid foundation in methods, statistics, and research design in your core courses. You will apply what you’ve learned as you engage in your own original research to produce a master’s thesis of publishable quality.

Students can take a for-credit internship as part of the capstone experience. Full-time and part-time options are available.

See complete Admissions & Course Requirements.

Expert Scientists Dedicated To Your Success

Our professors are respected, cutting-edge scientists with connections to a number of research facilities in the DC area. They conduct research in a variety of fields, including analytical chemistry, biochemistry, computational chemistry, inorganic chemistry, biotechnology, organic synthesis, electrochemical energy conversion, nanomaterials chemistry, environmental chemistry, forensic chemistry, physical biochemistry, and green chemistry. With our faculty’s broad range of research interests, you are sure to find a faculty expert in your area of specialization.

This City Has Chemistry

Consistently ranked as one of the best cities for job-seekers, Washington, DC, is a hub of scientific research in public and private institutions. Home to numerous laboratories and policy organizations, the area offers a wealth of intellectual and professional opportunities. 

Thanks to AU’s location and well-connected faculty, our students enjoy special research opportunities through internships, work-study programs, special arrangements, and cooperative programs at a number of top-ranked government laboratories, including the Center for Advanced Research in Biotechnology, Food and Drug Administration, National Institute of Standards and Technology, National Institutes of Health, Naval Medical Research Institute, Naval Research Laboratory, Naval Surface Weapons Laboratory, Mid-Atlantic Laboratory of the Drug Enforcement Agency, US Army Mobility Equipment Research and Development Command at Fort Belvoir, the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, and NASA. By participating in these programs, you will obtain experience with specialized equipment, work with research scientists outside the university, and get a head start on your career.

Outstanding Opportunities For Chemists

The laboratory and computational skills learned in the MS program are highly valuable in doctoral study, and many of our students go into respected PhD and MD programs such as Princeton University, Thomas Jefferson University, the University of Delaware, and the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.   

Our graduates are also extremely competitive in the job market. Biochemistry plays a vital role in medicine, the pharmaceutical industry, the food industry, and biodefense. Employment of biochemists is projected to grow eight percent over the next ten years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The BLS also reports Maryland as the state with the third highest number of jobs for biochemists in the country, most of them in the DC metropolitan area, which is home to numerous biotechnology, pharmaceutical, forensics, and clinical laboratories that are constantly looking for qualified workers to serve in their labs. We have alumni working at private chemical companies like Solenis and PolyLC and in government laboratories for agencies including NIST, the Department of State, the DEA, and the Prince George’s County Police Department. With your MS in Chemistry and a head start on your career from a local internship, you will be well equipped to start your career in the DC research hub.


Department of Chemistry Seminar
Dr. William Tarpeh - October 13
Dr. Thomas Forbes - November 17


Alex Lutz

MS, Chemistry

Headshot of Alex Lutz

Alex Lutz has loved chemistry since eighth grade. Now he is an MS in Chemistry candidate at American University, and he’s received an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant to pursue exciting research on the next generation of antibiotics. 

In Associate Professor of Chemistry Monika Konaklieva’s lab, Alex is synthesizing and purifying novel antibiotic compounds to test their effectiveness against antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Some of the compounds have also demonstrated effectiveness in treating Alzheimer’s and other viral diseases.

Alex says he first became interested in American University because of its post-baccalaureate program. While he was studying in that program, he took a class on organic chemistry, which rekindled his love for chemistry and narrowed it down more to organic synthesis. He is planning on applying to PhD programs to continue his education in chemistry and hopes to focus on organic synthesis. He is also hoping to directly use the skills and techniques that he uses in the lab now in his future research.

“I would like to recognize and thank Dr. Monika Konaklieva for her constant support and guidance during my time as a graduate student,” Alex says. “Her constant patience and support during my research have been invaluable to me. Her guidance not only helped my selection of work, but has been vital in keeping me on track.”