Chemistry degree

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

As a chemistry degree is training for diploma - chemist or student teachers at a university or college called. In Germany, Bachelor 's and Master' s courses in chemistry have been the normal training options since around 2010 , which have largely replaced the diploma courses.

History of chemistry studies

The scientific study of chemistry only developed under the teachers Justus Liebig (theoretician of fertilizer theory) and Karl Wilhelm Gottlob Kastner around 1844 from industrial and craft disciplines or from chemical sub-areas of medical studies to pure chemistry studies with laboratory lessons at universities.

Between 1848 and 1854 severe crop failures occurred in agriculture in Germany; the governments believed that the revolutionary moods that were expressed in the revolution of 1848/49 had been triggered in the population by the deterioration in agricultural yields. This was followed by constant support from university chemistry based on Justus Liebig's ideas.

For the first university professors, the inner urge to find the truth was decisive for qualification to study chemistry. An innovative attitude based on scientific work and observation as well as logical derivation and the formation of hypotheses was a basic requirement for access to chemistry studies. The idea of ​​making a lot of money through a discovery or invention was pronounced, but not the sole aim of the students.

Justus von Liebig criticized Francis Bacon's idea of seeing science only as useful, for economic benefit:

“The principle, which asks for purposes of usefulness, is the open enemy of science, which seeks truth and reasons, and we know with certainty which stage of civilization an otherwise gifted people can reach, which the practical ends higher than which science has asked. ... Even a shoemaker, no matter how skillful, if he has a bad character, he will make bad shoes for his customers, because it is much more difficult to make good shoes than bad ones, because for good shoes he has to choose good leather, and with Look carefully at the work, and so he will always only ask about his use; his talent and skill will turn against us who trust him, and he will prefer, where he can, to make bad shoes look good, and deceive us in fabric and work. "

Other chemists, such as Friedrich Bergius , however, had an economic view of chemistry and science.

Between 1870 and 1900 there were discussions about the content of chemistry studies. Industry representatives wanted practical training and comparable qualifications. University professors like Adolf von Baeyer or Wilhelm Ostwald wanted freedom in research to be preserved.

The physical chemist Paul Günther wrote in 1963: "Knowledge is considered the noblest and most humane act, provided that it encompasses contents in which people develop and in which they enrich themselves internally."

To this day, the inorganic-analytical internship trains logical thinking and precise scientific work and is thus the first major practical proof of qualification for a chemistry degree.

In the early phase of pure chemistry studies (after 1872), career prospects for chemists were by no means favorable, many trained chemists were unemployed and the subject was by no means recognized as a science. So lived Friedrich August Kekule as a lecturer at Bunsen in Heidelberg entirely from its own money and paid his research and the rent for the laboratory from its own resources. From 1888 to 1914 the number of chemistry students increased dramatically. The chemistry students came almost without exception from the bourgeoisie, there were hardly any sons from the nobility or the working class. A ten-semester course in 1913 with exam fees cost around 10,000 marks.

Chemical laboratory of the University of Leipzig, 1898

In 1888 there were 20 universities with a chemistry department and 9 technical universities in Germany. Between the more scientifically oriented universities and the more practice-oriented technical universities - especially with the introduction of the subject of technical chemistry - a dispute about the merits of the types of university ignited. Mechanical engineering, building construction and machine drawing were also taught at the technical universities.

As early as 1900, studying chemistry included classic laboratory work with qualitative and quantitative inorganic analyzes and organic preparative internships. Also, physics , biology , mathematics , and later strengthened physical chemistry were taught. After an average of two years the oral preliminary diploma was completed, after one or two more years the diploma thesis was completed. The standard qualification for chemistry studies was the doctorate to Doctor philosophiae (Dr. phil.) Or Doctor rerum naturalium (Dr. rer. Nat.), Which required 8-10 semesters.

In 1913, 3240 chemistry students were enrolled at German universities. About 320 chemists left the universities every year. After the decline in the number of chemistry students during World War I, it rose rapidly, peaking in 1922 with 7,325 students and in 1923 with 1,000 chemistry graduates. In 1927 the prospects for young chemists darkened, 2,000 chemists were unemployed - even if industrial chemists like Carl Bosch emphasized that chemists would be hired even in bad economic years and that they would sometimes be "put on hold" for a while.

From 1950 to 1985 unemployment among chemists was very low. In 1969 there were over 8,800 chemists in the old federal states who had found employment in the chemical industry . Another 8,000 were employed at universities in research and teaching. Chemists have also found employment in other areas of the economy as well as in state and municipal investigation offices. The total number of chemists at that time - in the old federal states - was 20,000.

In the old federal states, more men than women studied, and male applicants were also preferred in the chemical industry. In the sixties and seventies the percentage of female chemistry students was only about 10%. In 1989 there were only 17.5% female doctoral students in chemistry. In the GDR (or the new federal states) the number of male students (1325) and female students (1350) in chemistry was balanced in 1990; however, the number of students had been determined in the planning. In the old federal states, the number of chemistry students in the same year 1990 - also due to the baby boom generation - was already 36,400 (about a factor of 15 compared to the new federal states).

Since the mid-1980s, the job market opportunities for chemists in the old federal states had deteriorated. In 1983 the number of doctorates was still around 1,000 per year, in 1992 it was already over 2,200 per year. The annual survey of the GDCh at the universities (see below) showed at the beginning of the nineties that over 20% of the registered chemistry graduates were looking for a job. The number of looking for graduates was probably even higher, as many “parked” in temporary positions. In 1993, the worst job market crisis for Germany's chemists since 1929, there was a discussion at the GDCh on "Career prospects and first-year students". The tenor of the discussion was that the new hires in the chemical industry should be reduced to 50%, new fields of activity should be opened up for chemists (for example in banks and insurance companies), a stronger selection and the "courage to change studies" strengthened for less talented chemistry students should be.

In 2005, the unemployment rate for chemists in the old federal states was 9.1%, in the new federal states it was 24.3%. According to the GDCh, the proportion of chemists with a PhD in Germany looking for a job was 8% in 2009, and 13% in 2014.



The chemistry course is characterized by a large number of labor-intensive internships and is only suitable for students who are not particularly sensitive to common laboratory chemicals and are able to work standing for several hours.

In the biochemistry course, zoological exercises are sometimes provided in the basic or main course, which can also include the section (almost always) and killing (very rarely) of laboratory animals.

Expenditure of time

Template for drawing chemical devices, such as those used for writing test protocols
Template for drawing chemical formulas

The chemistry course requires a lot of time, which is mainly due to the various laboratory internships. The working days often include the time from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Often this is followed by the creation of test protocols for the aforementioned laboratory internships and the processing of exercises; In addition, exams carried out every semester require additional learning effort.

Admission restrictions

Nationwide admission restrictions do not exist. The chemistry studies (diploma, state examination, bachelor's degree) have not been covered by numeric clausi in the last 10 years , however, due to the high expected number of applicants due to the high school graduation from 2013, an admission restriction was applied for in Bochum , which will come into force from the winter semester 2011/2012 . At RWTH Aachen there has been a numerus clausus for the bachelor's degree since the 2009/2010 winter semester. Food chemistry is restricted at some universities. However, the majority of applicants are also admitted here, as the number of applicants is relatively low.

Subjects such as biochemistry or business chemistry often have local admission restrictions set by the university. Information on this can be obtained from the university of your choice (chemistry faculty, student advisory service ).

Degree in chemistry

The chemistry course exists in Germany at universities and technical colleges. Usually it was completed with the academic degree Diplom- Chemiker or more recently at most universities with a Bachelor / Master of Science . At the moment, the TU Freiberg is the only university where you can re-enroll in a degree in chemistry. In addition, chemistry can usually also be taken as a minor in a master’s degree . At technical colleges in particular, the degree in chemistry engineering is also possible (usually in conjunction with compulsory lectures and a diploma examination in technical chemistry ). In addition to lectures and exercises, the chemical internships are an essential part of the chemistry course. Through a large number of exams (around two per subject), oral intermediate exams and successfully passed internships, the chemistry student is assessed in his performance by university professors. Many young students have difficulties with the chemical internship. In particular, the complex full analyzes, through which the student learns to work carefully and conscientiously, to analyze the observations in detail and to make hypotheses, are a certain hurdle for some chemistry students. During the semester break, chemistry students prepare intensively for the main oral exams in inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, physical chemistry, experimental physics, analytical chemistry, and biochemistry. In each of these exams, the student must be able to prove that they have knowledge of the entire spectrum of subjects (e.g. a textbook with 300 to 400 pages). The basic studies conclude with the preliminary diploma examination, after which the student receives a preliminary diploma certificate. Usually, the order of the courses in the basic course is largely fixed. The intermediate diploma is usually taken after four semesters.

Upon completion of the intermediate diploma, the student receives an intermediate diploma certificate. This is followed by the main diploma, which is usually completed after another four to five semesters. In the main diploma, the student can specialize in a subject and write his thesis there. In the diploma thesis, the student has to prove his skills in chemistry within six months to a full year.

As a rule, the minimum study period of nine semesters has been and is exceeded by many students. The chemistry faculties of the universities of Essen, Frankfurt, TU Berlin and Duisburg, for example, have particularly long average study times (sometimes over 12 semesters).


The contents of the undergraduate and graduate courses vary somewhat depending on the university location. Some of what is reproduced under the basic course is the subject of the main course at another university location and vice versa.

In addition, the compulsory subjects in the main course are determined differently. At some universities, technical chemistry is usually a compulsory subject or there are special interdisciplinary synthesis internships. In addition, at some universities, theoretical chemistry is integrated into physical chemistry, at others it is an independent (compulsory) subject. There is also a large number of compulsory elective subjects, but the offer at the individual university locations varies greatly depending on the other subjects taught.

General and inorganic chemistry are usually taught together rather than as separate subjects.

Usually there are also areas of law for chemists and toxicology. In this way, the expertise according to the Chemicals Prohibition Ordinance is acquired if the lectures are recognized by the responsible state authority and the attendance is noted in the preliminary or main diploma certificate.

Statistics of chemistry students

Year after year, the Society of German Chemists carries out very extensive surveys of the number of chemistry students and graduated and doctoral chemists at universities and technical colleges. Statistics are also kept on the professional fate of chemistry graduates. The statistics appear in June with the data from the previous year. The data are made available to the GDCh by the chemistry departments of the individual universities.

The conversion of the diploma courses to bachelor's and master’s degrees from 2000 made the evaluation more difficult, as some chemistry students chose both the diploma and the master’s degree or students who started their diploma studies before the reform switched to the new bachelor’s degree. , Master system are transferred. These problems will be resolved in a few years with the end of the diploma courses.

Between 1980 and 1985, the number of chemistry students - due to the baby boom between 1960 and 1965 - increased sharply. Since teacher training students for schools were less in demand in those years, high school graduates chose other courses such as computer science, law, economics and chemistry. The number of first-year students in chemistry remained very high between 1980 and 1991 (sometimes over 6,500 students per year), but has weakened since 1993. Between 1993 and 1999, only around 3,000 high school graduates began studying chemistry each year.

Chemistry can be studied at 55 universities and technical colleges. According to the GDCh, a total of 7,199 beginners began their chemistry studies in 2011, including 157 in business chemistry. This was a significant increase compared to the previous year (5549). 36% of first-year chemistry students were women and 7% were foreigners. On the cut-off date of December 31, 2011, a total of 16197 students were studying chemistry in Bachelor, 4288 Master and 4490 Diploma. There were also 7,403 doctoral students, so that the total number of students was 32,378.

In 2011, 323 students passed the intermediate diploma. 1,378 people, including 61 business chemists, completed their studies with a diploma. 1941 graduates successfully completed the Bachelor’s course and 785 people, including 13% foreign students, completed the Master’s course. The number of doctorates was 1670 in 2011. The proportion of foreign graduates among the doctorates was 25%. The average duration of the doctorate was 8.3 semesters and the median 7.4 semesters.

Around 91% of the newly graduated chemists started their doctorate after graduating. 19% changed the university and 4% the subject. Almost 6% started their professional life without a doctorate. Of the master’s graduates, 88% started their doctorate and 8% started their careers. Of the bachelor's graduates whose whereabouts are known, 96% stayed at the university and took up a master's degree.

Of the chemists who obtained their doctorate in 2011, 37% were employed in the chemical and pharmaceutical industry, which was significantly more than in the two previous years. 10% took up a job in the rest of the economy. 15% took an initially temporary job in industry, a research institute or a university in Germany. The proportion of those who initially went abroad after completing their doctorate, in most cases for a postdoc stay, is almost unchanged at 19%. 6% of the graduates stayed in research at a university or a research institute after completing their doctorate, 5% found jobs in the public sector. 7% of the PhD graduates were looking for a job at the time of the survey. In the previous year, this value was slightly higher at 8%. The value of the “real” job seekers is likely to be lower, as in every year, since the data is requested on December 31st. Graduates who start their new position in January or February are therefore still recorded as job seekers.

Even if many chemists strive for a secure job in large chemical industry or in the public service after completing their doctorate, many initially accept temporary positions or look for a job in other industries. The labor market is sometimes more, sometimes less receptive. Many companies have been restructured and the corporations are also investing more and more abroad. The young chemist is expected to be able to think like an entrepreneur and possibly have ideas for starting his own company. At the University of Karlsruhe there is even the subject “Chemical Entrepreneurship” to improve the start-up mentality among chemists.

Situation in Austria

In Austria, the Bachelor-Master system was introduced for almost all courses in the 2006 academic year. The student numbers have been recorded centrally for several years. For the 2018/19 winter semester, the following figures from the chemistry and process engineering study areas were published:

University Type of study number
Universities Bachelor 5,803
master 1,771
Teaching position 560
Diploma / other 1,333
FHen Bachelor 826
master 425

Biochemistry course

Diploma course

Undergraduate studies

The basic course in biochemistry is very similar to the basic course in chemistry (diploma).

The following subjects are included in courses.

  • General Chemistry
  • Inorganic chemistry
  • Organic chemistry
  • Physical and theoretical chemistry
  • biochemistry
  • Experimental physics with mathematical basics
  • biology

The scope of physics and theoretical and physical chemistry is somewhat reduced compared to the chemistry diploma course, but biochemistry and the basics of biology are added.

Main course

The main course is included

  • Inorganic chemistry
  • Organic chemistry
  • biochemistry
  • Indentations

The thesis lasts 6 months.

Bachelor degree

The Bachelor of Science also includes the classic elements of the basic course:

  • General and analytical chemistry
  • Inorganic chemistry
  • Organic chemistry
  • Physical and theoretical chemistry
  • Macromolecular Chemistry
  • Experimental physics with mathematical exercises
  • Basics of biology
  • Biochemistry (basics)

Master's degree

The curricula of the master’s courses in biochemistry are all very research-oriented and thus reflect the local conditions. An in-depth education in biochemistry is the only constant. The other focal points in the compulsory and elective modules then show a variety that corresponds to the biosciences that are represented on site. Correspondingly, there are now many master’s courses whose names indicate the respective focus areas. It is difficult for Bachelor graduates who are looking for a suitable Master’s course to get an overview of the entire range. That is why the working group “Studies in Molecular Biosciences” of the Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology maintains a list of relevant courses (see links).

Statistics of students in biochemistry and life sciences

According to the GDCh, the total number of new students in biochemistry in 2011 was 1410 people. The number of beginners has increased continuously for 12 years. In 2011, 84 students took the intermediate diploma, 217 the diploma. The number of master’s exams was 324 and the number of bachelor’s degrees 550. The universities reported a total of 160 doctorates in biochemistry in 2011. As every year, probably not all doctorates in biochemistry are recorded because around a third of the biochemists for their doctoral thesis change university or department. Doctoral degrees that were completed at a university without its own course in biochemistry should then have been recorded in the course in chemistry.

About 73% of the Bachelor graduates knew about their further career path. 98% of them continued their studies in a master’s degree. Most of the Master’s graduates also stayed at the university. 95% of them started a doctorate.

Food chemistry course

The course is very closely related to the diploma course. At universities where graduate and food chemists are trained, internships are often carried out together in the basic course.

The course ends with a state examination, the degree is "state-certified food chemist". Most universities also award the degree of "Diplom-Lebensmittelchemiker" (Diplom Food Chemist), since in addition to the oral examination, a practical thesis must also be prepared. This is then treated as equivalent to a thesis.


  • Undergraduate studies
    • Inorganic, General and Analytical Chemistry
    • Organic chemistry
    • Physical chemistry
    • physics
    • Biology (focus on botany)
    • mathematics
    • special fields of law for chemists
  • Main course
    • Chemistry of food
    • Chemistry of consumer goods
    • Technology of food and consumer goods (corresponds to a large extent to technical chemistry)
    • biochemistry
    • Nutrition
    • Microbiology and hygiene
    • Toxicology and Environmental Chemistry

The exam is a state exam . On this page you will also find more information about the course of the exams and the examination subjects.

If the subjects of law and toxicology are recognized by the competent state authority as an examination in the sense of the Chemicals Prohibition Ordinance and this is noted in the diploma, then expertise in trading hazardous substances is acquired.

Statistics of students in food chemistry

According to the GDCh, 539 high school graduates began their studies in food chemistry in 2011, 142 of them as a bachelor's degree. The total number of students in food chemistry is 2041, the proportion of women is 71%. 291 students completed the pre-diploma examination, 383 the main examination (diploma or 1st state examination), 65 the doctorate. An average of 9.9 semesters were required until the main examination.

Business chemistry course

Degree programs in business chemistry take into account the fact that companies in the chemical industry are increasingly looking for skills at the interface between chemistry and business administration, for example in production, sales and controlling, in addition to qualifications for chemical research and development.

Diploma and consecutive Bachelor / Master programs

The business chemistry course is in addition to the normal chemistry course at various universities. It is only in the main course that it differs from the pure chemistry course through the additional integration of business and chemical management content. Theses deal with an integrated problem of business chemistry. After completing the degree, a doctorate in chemistry (Dr. rer. Nat.), A doctorate in business administration (Dr. rer. Pol.) Or in business chemistry (Dr. rer. Pol.) Is possible.

Another approach is to deal with the integration of business and chemical content from the outset, ie from the first semester on, courses in both subjects are attended almost equally. This results in the familiarization with the different cultures of the subjects, in their working methods and thought structures, and the development of the ability to work at the intersection of the subjects, as if by itself. These courses are mostly carried out jointly by the faculties of mathematics and natural sciences and the faculties of economics . The bachelor, master or diploma thesis can also be prepared at both faculties.

Masters courses

There is also a master’s degree in business chemistry. You can study it at five universities: At the Westphalian Wilhelms University in Münster , at the Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf , Kaiserslautern, Kiel and Ulm. Entry requirement is a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry or an equivalent degree. In this master's degree, a focus is placed on a current chemistry research branch (e.g. nanochemistry) with a strong application focus (several are offered). In addition, a focus is set on the interdisciplinary business management focus, particularly in the area of ​​chemistry, which is supplemented by legal aspects. The master's thesis contains an integrated problem in business chemistry. The master’s program prepares for top management positions or positions in management consultancies and banks. A doctorate in the field of business chemistry, chemistry or business administration is also possible (PhD or doctorate).

Teacher training

The teacher training program are very different in Germany by state law and therefore from country to country.

teacher in grammar schools

The teacher training course in Germany lasts at least 9 semesters and traditionally ends with the 1st state examination; no academic degree is awarded to the graduate. The teaching degree is currently being converted to the Bachelor / Master system. The teaching degree for the teaching degree at grammar schools is very similar in the federal states and is divided into a 4-semester basic course and a 5-semester main course. Both subjects have to be studied at 40% each and educational science at 20%.

Chemistry can usually (but not in all countries) be freely combined with other school subjects, but it is mostly taken in combination with mathematics , biology or physics .

Components of the undergraduate and graduate courses are:

In addition, the basics of higher mathematics and experimental physics are taught, but in a much more condensed form than in the diploma course.

In Austria, the chemistry teaching program has also been converted to the Bachelor (8 semester, 240 ECTS) + Master (3–4 semester, 90–120 ECTS) system, with teaching being studied in combination with a second subject.

Other teaching posts

In elementary school (primary level) chemistry is not taught as a separate subject, but is part of the subject lesson with a natural scientific character, although biological and physical aspects dominate.

In the lower secondary level ( Hauptschulen , Realschulen , Unter- and Mittelstufe of the comprehensive schools , regular schools , middle schools, ...) chemistry exists as a separate subject.

The course takes place in Baden-Württemberg and Austria (all countries) at universities of teacher education , in the other German countries at universities .

Contents of the course are also included

  • General and Inorganic Chemistry
  • Organic chemistry
  • Physical chemistry
  • Chemistry didactics

The structure and depth of the course are regulated very differently in the federal states. In some countries there are considerations of a merged science subject that includes chemical components. However, this has met with criticism from professional associations.

Statistics teaching chemistry

In 2008 there were 56 universities and colleges of education offering chemistry teaching courses. The number of beginners for the lower secondary level was 505, for the upper secondary level 865 people, 1138 were studying a double bachelor's degree. There were 277 degrees for the lower secondary level, 516 degrees for the upper secondary level, 97 degrees in the two-subject bachelor's degree. Since 2009 the statistics of student teachers have not been collected by the GDCh.

See also

Web links

Wiktionary: Chemistry studies  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Otto Krätz: The chemist through the ages. Verlag Chemie, 1972, ISBN 3-527-25518-4 , p. 263.
  2. a b Otto Krätz: The chemist through the ages. Verlag Chemie, 1972, ISBN 3-527-25518-4 , p. 264.
  3. Hans-Werner Schütt : The chemist through the ages. Verlag Chemie, 1972, ISBN 3-527-25518-4 , p. 285.
  4. Hans-Werner Schütt: The chemist through the ages. Verlag Chemie, 1972, ISBN 3-527-25518-4 , p. 308.
  5. Hans-Werner Schütt: The chemist through the ages. Verlag Chemie, 1972, ISBN 3-527-25518-4 , p. 288.
  6. Hans-Wolfgang Fritzsche: The chemist through the ages. Verlag Chemie, 1972, ISBN 3-527-25518-4 , pp. 334-336.
  7. Homepage GDCh: “Chemiestudiengänge in Deutschland”, Statistical Data 2006, p. 11.
  8. Rüdiger Kniep: Summa cum laude and no chance !? In: News from chemistry, technology and the laboratory . tape 41 , no. 6 , June 1993, p. 728-729 , doi : 10.1002 / nadc.19930410617 .
  9. Report on the Year of Chemistry 2009 .
  10. ^ The GDCh statistics of the chemistry courses .
  11. ^ Preliminary information from the RUB (PDF; 15 kB).
  12. Information on Numerus Clausus at RWTH Aachen .
  13. Germany- wide only diploma course in chemistry introduced at the TU in Freiberg. TU Freiberg , August 10, 2015, accessed on June 21, 2017 .
  14. Statistics on chemistry courses at universities. GDCh , accessed June 21, 2017 .
  15. Stefan Bräse: Thinking and acting entrepreneurially . In: News from chemistry . tape 56 , no. 7-8 , July 2008, pp. 845-847 , doi : 10.1002 / nadc.200857845 .
  16. UniData - Austrian University Statistics. BMWF , accessed on August 20, 2019 . - Studies - Universities - Ordinary studies by type of study: Sum of ISCED- F 0531 Chemistry and ISCED-F 0711 Chemistry and Process Engineering, cut-off date February 28, 2019.
  17. UniData - Austrian University Statistics. BMWF , accessed on August 20, 2019 . - Studies - Universities - Ordinary studies at study level: sum of chemistry UF, chemistry UF B and chemistry UF M
  18. UniData - Austrian University Statistics. BMWF , accessed on August 20, 2019 . - Students - Universities of Applied Sciences - Full-time students in universities of applied sciences courses by type of course, chemistry and process engineering, deadline November 15, 2018