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PhD in Chemistry

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PhD in Chemistry

A PhD in chemistry, often abbreviated as PhD chem or chemical PhD, involves the in-depth study of various chemical processes, compounds, and their properties. Its focus lies in attaining a comprehensive understanding of the structure of specific substances, the changes they undergo, and their reactions under specific conditions.

In simpler terms, individuals with a PhD in chemistry can articulate chemical research and its significant findings, comprehending the underlying scientific principles. These professionals are well-positioned to choose from a broad spectrum of careers in industry, education, or public service.

This article will explore the chemical PhD fields, detailing the application procedure, job market, and other pertinent information within this discipline. Stay with us for a thorough examination of the subject.

Know more about PhD in chemistry

Chemistry is one of the three main branches of science, and its influence on our lives is extensive and impressive. It entails the study of substances, encompassing their composition, structure, and properties.

PhD researchers in chemistry undertake diverse research endeavors, exploring industrial chemical reactions, human health, climate change, and energy.

They contribute to the discovery of innovative approaches in medicine and technology by applying scientific principles, problem-solving, and data analysis. Additionally, they are sought after as consultants in various fields, including engineering, nuclear energy, and space travel, as their research continually pushes the boundaries of scientific knowledge.

Want to apply for a PhD in chemistry?

Considering pursuing a Chemistry PhD at prestigious institutions like Harvard University in the United States? The application conditions for a chemical PhD vary widely based on the country, chosen university, and your academic proficiency. Typically, universities with high global rankings expect a stellar GPA in both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemistry. Furthermore, having a portfolio of published articles or noteworthy research records (such as Q1 or Q2 scientific articles) significantly bolsters the likelihood of acceptance.

Some universities include the GRE test score as a criterion. Institutions with higher rankings and increased demand often impose more stringent competitive conditions. It’s advisable to meticulously review the minimum requirements for motivation letters, recommendation letters, and other criteria detailed on the universities’ websites. Non-native English speakers should be aware of the necessity to take an English Proficiency Test like TOEFL-iBT or IELTS Academic.

For a comprehensive guide on securing fully funded PhD positions, Applyindex provides a roadmap that can be incredibly beneficial in navigating the application process.

This revised version highlights the specific interest in applying to Harvard University in the United States for a Chemistry PhD, emphasizing the need to meet rigorous academic standards and providing guidance through the application process.

Best countries to study a PhD chem

If you are interested in undertaking specialized research projects in the field of chemistry, either theoretical or experimental, pursuing your studies as a PhD student in chemistry abroad opens up various options. Based on evaluations considering articles’ production and their references in scientific journals, the top 10 countries for studying a PhD in chemistry are ranked by the journal Nature as follows:

  1. China
  2. United States
  3. Germany
  4. Japan
  5. England
  6. France
  7. South Korea
  8. India
  9. Canada
  10. Spain

Therefore, if your goal for studying a PhD in chemistry abroad is to engage in research at the forefront of scientific advancements, we suggest considering one of these ten countries as your study destination.

Trending areas for studying a PhD chem overseas

Chemistry stands out as one of the most sought-after disciplines in the realm of basic sciences worldwide, offering a plethora of captivating avenues for educational exploration. The diverse landscape of this field allows aspiring scholars to tailor their academic pursuits according to their specific interests. For those considering a PhD in chemistry, the current trends highlight a spectrum of compelling areas ripe for exploration. These areas include, but are not limited to:

  1. Organic Chemistry
  2. Inorganic Chemistry
  3. Physical Chemistry
  4. Analytical Chemistry
  5. Biochemistry
  6. Environmental Chemistry
  7. Industrial Chemistry
  8. Polymer Chemistry
  9. Nuclear Chemistry
  10. Geochemistry
  11. Green Chemistry
  12. Medicinal Chemistry

Each of these areas represents a vibrant field of study, allowing passionate learners to delve into the intricacies of their chosen domain and contribute meaningfully to the advancement of scientific knowledge.

More details about the trending areas in PhD chem

In this segment of the article, we delve into intricate details surrounding the aforementioned trending areas. This exploration aims to equip you with comprehensive insights, empowering you to make informed decisions prior to any decisive actions. Do not miss out!

Organic chemistry

Organic chemistry is one of the most important branches of chemistry that deals with studying chemical compounds containing carbon elements with “carbon-hydrogen” bonds (hydrocarbons). This field is often referred to as the “chemistry of life”, which deals with the structure, properties, and reactions of organic compounds.

The study of organic chemistry helps PhD chem students to identify and classify different natural compounds and create compounds with desired properties and functions as well. Graduates of PhD in chemistry can work in various industries such as pharmaceuticals, fuel, rubber, cosmetics, plastics, detergents, agricultural chemicals, and coating industries.

Inorganic chemistry

Meanwhile, inorganic chemistry studies the structure, properties, and reactions of non-carbon chemical compounds, or those that do not contain carbon-hydrogen bonds. It can be considered as one of the study fields of PhD in chemistry that deals with inorganic chemicals in nature. It also includes the synthesis and behavior of mineral or organometallic chemical compounds in the earth’s crust and non-living materials.

Physical chemistry

Physical Chemistry examines the physical properties of chemical compounds using various laws and concepts of physics, such as motion, energy, force, time, statistical mechanics, quantum chemistry, and thermodynamics.

This field is one of the most exciting areas that allows students studying PhD in chemistry to understand the physical properties of chemical compounds such as temperature, volume, pressure, conductivity, plasticity, strength, surface tension in liquids, solubility, viscosity, boiling point, melting point, etc. which are studied using different mathematical models and formulas.

Analytical Chemistry

Analytical chemistry constitutes one of the quantitative facets of the chemical field, focusing on the recognition, isolation, and measurement of chemical entities. Pursuing a PhD in chemistry within this specialization equips individuals to ascertain the number of chemicals present in a specific substance.


Biochemistry stands out as a crucial area of concentration for individuals pursuing a chemical PhD, emphasizing exploration of the biological structure, composition, and chemical reactions occurring at the cellular and molecular tiers. Encompassing a broad spectrum of living entities, including plants, insects, viruses, microorganisms, and more, biochemistry amalgamates elements of biology with organic, inorganic, and physical chemistry.

Within this discipline, a multitude of subjects can be explored, ranging from disease-related inquiries to the chemical foundations of heredity, as well as investigations into how living organisms derive energy from food.

Environmental Chemistry

This field of chemistry includes biochemical processes that occur in the natural environment. Environmental chemistry combines various subjects such as biology, mathematics, and toxicology to find ways of sustainable development.

Industrial chemistry

Industrial chemistry is known as a trend toward the production of new products. In this area of PhD in chemistry, chemical raw products are dissolved, heated, filtered, and various other techniques are used to form a new product with desired specifications and properties.

Petrochemical products such as ethylene, propylene, benzene, styrene, and ceramic products including silica brick, ferrite, etc. are among the extensive applications of industrial chemistry.

Polymer Chemistry

Studying for a PhD in chemistry can be proceeded with focusing on polymers and macromolecules as well, which can be utilized in organic chemistry, analytical chemistry, physical chemistry, and nanotechnology.

Polymers are classified into thermoplastics, thermosets, elastomers, and synthetic fibers.

Nuclear Chemistry

As the name suggests, this trend includes the study of nuclear reactions. Especially those, which are used in the diagnosis and treatment of various diseases. This field of studying PhD in chemistry revolves around radioactivity, nuclear processes, and transformations.


Geochemistry is about the in-depth study of Earth-related systems and environmental sciences. Geochemistry can be considered one of the most important areas of studying PhD in chemistry because of understanding minerals, weathering agents, and other aspects of the environment.

Which field of PhD in chemistry is the best?

Students who opt to pursue a PhD in chemistry abroad can explore a diverse array of job titles within the field. However, a common question that arises for them is: What is the optimal field for undertaking a PhD in chemistry?

Students are perpetually in search of the most lucrative job opportunities in chemistry to secure a high income. To address this inquiry, this section of the article delves into the income levels and career prospects in various fields associated with a chemical PhD. The compiled information here will assist you in comparing the income potential across different chemistry specializations.

All chemistry branches: Chemistry professors

If you have completed your PhD in chemistry in any field, universities, colleges, and research institutes would be suitable workplaces for you. Chemistry professors are responsible for imparting the principles of this science to students. Given the conceptual nature of physical chemistry, it serves as an excellent foundation for comprehending and conveying complex ideas related to chemical and physical phenomena and understanding their interrelationships.

On Applyindex, you have access to a wide array of assistant professors, associate professors, and professors from around the world. Any of them could potentially serve as your future academic supervisor. So, feel free to visit their profile, obtain their email addresses, and reach out to them without hesitation.

Organic chemistry: Food science expert

Possible and proper workplaces for this field of study would be laboratories, food processing industries, and farms. As practical additional details, you would better know that food science experts are employed in the field of agriculture and food. They examine the chemical composition of food and perform various experiments on them.

Knowledge of organic chemistry helps food scientists understand the chemical reactions between food ingredients. Their tasks include increasing the usable life of food, improving its nutritional value, and inventing new methods of food production.

According to the prospects, 6% growth in the number of employments is expected until 2029, which is higher than the average of other fields. Based on the available statistics, food science experts earn about $ 68,830 annually on average.

Organic chemistry: Environmental expert

Usually, environmental experts are employed in laboratories, environmental institutes, consultant agencies, governmental agencies, academic institutions, etc. Environmental chemists study the presence and effects of chemicals in the environment. They analyze soil and water for contaminants, study how these substances behave in the environment, and determine how they affect animal and plant lives.

Research anticipations show that 8% growth in the number of employments in this field is expected until 2029, which is higher than the average of other fields. Also, employment in this field of study will earn you about $ 69,987 on average each year.

Organic chemistry: Forensic expert

Suitable job opportunities for forensic experts are often defined in police departments and criminology laboratories. Forensic chemists, also known as forensic analysts, assist police departments and other law enforcement agencies by analyzing samples of organic material left at crime scenes. They are responsible for collecting samples and analyzing them in laboratories.

Many forensic chemists have degrees in organic chemistry and they are trained to perform tasks such as analyzing blood and tissue samples and running toxicology-related experiments and tests. 14% growth in the number of employments for forensic experts is expected until 2029, which is much higher than the average of other jobs. The calculated average income for forensic experts for each year is $ 71,348.

Inorganic chemistry: Laboratory chemistry expert

Generally, we can say that academic institutes and drug manufacturers would be the most suitable workplaces for laboratory chemistry experts.

Laboratory chemistry experts are responsible for researching and testing products and chemicals. They often work in laboratories or chemical or pharmaceutical companies. A 3% growth in the number of job opportunities in this field is expected until 2029. Also, the average income for laboratory chemistry experts is calculated as $ 39,343 approximately.

Industrial Chemistry: Oil and Petrochemical Expert

Oil and gas, petrochemical, and industrial industries as well as the engineering services, and drilling sites would be the best available choices for the oil and petrochemical experts. Oil and petrochemical experts design suitable and optimized methods to extract oil and gas from underground reserves. They are responsible for monitoring the processes of extraction and production of petrochemical products.

Prospects suggest a 3% growth in the number of job opportunities in this field until 2029. The calculated average income for the oil and petrochemical experts for each year is $ 75,302.

1.7% growth in the number of employments in this field is expected until 2029, which is lower than the average for other jobs. Also, the average income for laboratory chemistry experts is calculated as $ 63,803 approximately.

Physical chemistry: Laboratory technician or manager

Food, chemical, pharmaceutical, and governmental organizations are the best possible selections for laboratory technicians and managers. Laboratory managers and technicians supervise the performance of other experts and researchers. These chemical scientists often start working as laboratory experts and over time reach the position of management.

Anticipates expected 5% growth in the number of job opportunities in this field until 2029, which is higher than the average of other jobs. The calculated average income for the oil and petrochemical experts for each year is $ 74,571.

Biochemistry: Biomedical Engineer

As a PhD chem graduate with a focus on biomedical engineering, you may find opportunities in healthcare centers, governmental agencies, as well as research or academic institutions. Biomedical engineers play a crucial role by integrating scientific and engineering principles to design and optimize equipment, systems, and techniques, ultimately enhancing the healthcare system.

Typically, biomedical engineers work collaboratively in interdisciplinary teams alongside healthcare professionals, engineers, and other scientists. Projections suggest a 5% growth in job opportunities for biomedical engineers until 2029, surpassing the average growth rate for other occupations. Additionally, the average income for laboratory chemistry experts is estimated at approximately $91,833.

Biochemistry: Biochemist

Biochemists find suitable roles in healthcare centers, governmental agencies, and research or academic institutions. Their expertise lies in studying the chemical aspects of biological processes in organisms, encompassing areas such as cell growth, disease, and heredity.

In laboratory settings, biochemists conduct biochemical tests and meticulously analyze the collected data. Collaboration is a key aspect of their work, often participating in research projects within interdisciplinary teams. A 5% growth in employment opportunities within this field is anticipated until 2029. On average, biochemists earn approximately $94,270 annually.


Studying for a PhD in chemistry opens up exciting and diverse research areas along with promising job opportunities. In this article, we explore trending fields within chemistry for those considering advanced studies at the PhD level. Furthermore, we compare potential job opportunities and their average annual incomes, providing you with a clearer perspective to make informed decisions about your academic future.