What is theoretical chemistry?
Theoretical chemistry is a sub-field of chemistry where physics and mathematics are used to develop theories that predict and explain the behavior, dynamics, and properties of chemical systems and phenomena.
Read a more detailed definition from Chemistry Explained!
A related field is computational chemistry, for more information take a look at the overview from ACS.
What does this actually look like?
- Reading textbooks and articles
- Pencil and paper math
- Developing and coding algorithms
- Running calculations
- Thinking about the physics of molecules
What careers follow a Ph.D. in theoretical chemistry?
- Academia: professor at a research institution, primarily undergraduate institution, or community college
- Industry: software engineering, research and development, computational chemistry companies
- Research scientist at a national lab
- Read more through ACS
Future employment trends from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Useful Introductory Resources
- “Molecular Quantum Mechanics” by Atkins and Friedman
- “Modern Quantum Chemistry: Introduction to Advanced Electronic Structure Theory” by Szabo and Ostlund
- Quantum Mechanics Programming Projects by the Crawford Group
Fellowship and Scholarship Programs:
Interested in conducting research as an undergraduate?
- Work hard in your classes, ask questions, show interest, attend office hours
- Look at department and group websites and read the research descriptions to gauge your interests
- Send a professor a professional email asking to meet and talk about research opportunities
Considering Graduate School?
- Developing critical thinking and problem solving skills
- Contributing to and designing your own projects
- Expanding the limits of knowledge in your field
- In most sciences, including chemistry, you get paid!
Applying to Graduate School
The Graduate School Reality Check from ACS that includes a lot of great tips!
Things to think about when choosing a graduate program…
- Do I want to live in this city? Consider climate, seasonal depression, political demographics…
- Do I get along with the graduate student community?
- Does the stipend cover my living costs?
- Does the health care benefits fulfill my needs?
- Does the department have resources for students from marginalized groups?
- Are there at least 3-4 professors I would be interested in working for?
- Does the school have a top-notch mascot?…Go Bears!
The article “Making the Most of Graduate School Visit” (on page 14-16) is a helpful resource for setting goals and forming questions for graduate program visit weekends.