A Central College chemistry major opens doors to diverse careers in research, medicine, pharmacology, public health, biochemistry, teaching, industrial lab work, environmental testing and forensic science. Individualized attention, research opportunities and hands-on instruction in facilities certified by the American Chemical Society mean that chemistry graduates are ensured to have the strong scientific background needed for graduate school or careers in the field. 

of recent chemistry graduates are employed in their area of interest or attending grad school
  • Central is one of only seven Iowa private colleges or universities with a chemistry program approved by the American Chemical Society
  • 100% of Central chemistry graduates are accepted to their first- or second-choice graduate school

The Real World


Successful Careers

  • Chemist, Cargill, Des Moines
  • Scientist, Genentech, South San Francisco, Calif.
  • Research scientist, Air Force Research Laboratory, Dayton, Ohio
  • Assistant professor of chemistry, University of Oklahoma
  • Pharmacist, Providence Medical Group, Portland, Ore.
  • Chemist, Integrated DNA Technologies, Coralville
  • Senior scientist, Bracco Suisse, Geneva, Switzerland


  • Bio-Chem Club
  • SCATE (Students Concerned About The Environment)

No matter what your interests are, Central has a student group for you! Learn how you can get involved with groups and organizations at Central.

April Hill

April Hill

April Hill '04 saves blind students from boring chemistry labs with talking gadgets.

Read More

Graduate Placement

Chemistry majors are eligible for admission to the chemical engineering programs at Washington University in St. Louis and Iowa State University following completion of their junior year.

  • University of Kansas, medicinal chemistry
  • North Carolina State University, chemical engineering
  • University of Missouri-Saint Louis, optometry
  • University of Michigan, public health
  • University of Wisconsin Madison, chemistry 
  • University of Iowa, medical school, pharmacy


Students with internship experience have a proven track record in a professional environment, which often leads to employment following graduation. 

  • Pfizer, St. Louis, Mo.
  • Iowa Hygienic Lab, Ankeny
  • Thermo Fisher Scientific, Johnston

Courses & Faculty

The chemistry department offers a strong foundation in concepts, coursework and laboratory skills in organic, analytical, inorganic, physical and biochemistry. The curriculum, certified by the prestigious American Chemical Society, means graduates are ensured the strong scientific background and the research opportunities needed for graduate school or careers in chemistry or the health professions.

The department also offers students flexible course options in order to incorporate study abroad, research and other liberal arts interests during their four years on campus.   

Learn more about chemistry in the course catalog.

Chemistry photo
Meet the faculty:
  • Glenn Barnett, B.S., M.S., Ph.D., Associate Professor of Biochemistry, interest areas include biochemistry and molecular genetics
  • James Dunne, B.S., Ph.D., Visiting Assistant Professor of Chemistry, interest areas include organometallic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, catalysis, kinetics and reaction mechanisms
  • Ashley Garr, B.S., M.S., Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Chemistry, interest areas include physical chemistry and computational chemistry
  • Cathy Haustein, B.A., M.F.A., Ph.D., Professor of Chemistry, interest areas include analytical chemistry, inorganic chemistry instrumental analysis, the extraction of alkaloids from natural products, fluorescence spectroscopy and fiction writing
  • Neluni Perera, Lecturer of Chemistry
  • James Shriver, B.S., M.S., Ph.D., Professor of Chemistry, interest areas include organic chemistry, molecular engineering and design, supramolecular chemistry and anion binding
  • Jay Wackerly, B.S., Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Chemistry, interest areas include organic chemistry: synthesis and supramolecular chemistry

Sample Schedule

First year
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Introduction to Cells
  • General Chemistry
  • Calculus I
Sophomore year
  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Calculus II
  • General Physics I and II
  • Organic Chemistry I and II
Junior year
  • Biochemistry
  • Physical Chemistry I
  • Research
  • Advanced electives
  • Study abroad
Senior year
  • Physical Chemistry II
  • Research
  • Advanced electives

The Central Difference

Research Opportunities

Nearly all students pursing chemistry or biochemistry take responsibility for an independent research project. These students benefit from close one-on-one interaction with faculty in many ongoing research endeavors or brand new research ideas.

Study Abroad

Students are encouraged to study abroad with one of Central’s international programs to enhance their development as global citizens, or with partner programs in Chicago, Washington, D.C. or New York City. Learn more about Central’s study abroad programs.

State-of-the-Art Equipment

Students have direct access to classrooms and laboratories equipped with state-of-the-art instrumentation and presentation technology, including: 

  • 300 MHz Bruker NMR
  • Spectrum Rx Perkin Elmer ATR-FTIR Spectrometer
  • HP 6890 GC with an HP 5973 quadrapole mass selective detector
  • HPLC series 1100 with UV-Vis detector
  • Two HP 6890 gas chromatographs with TCD

Central College chemistry student.

Central is one of only seven Iowa private colleges and universities with a chemistry program endorsed by the American Chemical Society.


When C Stands for Connections

When C Stands for Connections

Cancer researcher Nyla Heerema '63 got her start at Central, then helped Athena Puski ’12 and Sam Palmer ’17 build science careers too.

Read More

Summer Research Crew
Summer Research Crew

Twenty-three students turned full-time researchers this summer. They investigated bats, bees, polymers, criminal sentencing and more — and received research grants to do it!

Read More

Haustein Publishes Novel
Haustein Publishes Novel

Cathy Haustein ’76, professor of chemistry, published her first science-romance novel.

The post Haustein Publishes Novel appeared first on Civitas.

Read More

Learn More

Want to find out more about chemistry at Central? Contact us to learn more about this major and our other strong academic programs. Visit campus to observe classes and experience The Central Difference firsthand.