A Formula to Connect Chemistry with Connecticut's Workforce

The Chemistry Department has developed a couple of new formulas designed to bolster student success in the workforce.

The department will launch its new accelerated B.S./M.S. degree program in the fall. Commonly referred to as the "Four Plus One" program, it will allow students to earn both a bachelor's and master's degree in five years. Typically, it would take a student six years (four years for the bachelor's and two years for the master's).

Chemistry General PhotoStudents can apply for acceptance into the program after their junior year as an undergraduate. If accepted, they will be required to conduct two years of research, eventually leading to their master's degree thesis. They also take two graduate-level courses in their senior year. A total of 18 credits are needed in their final year in the program.

"Two of the biggest advantages of this program are that students can enter the workforce a year earlier than normal, which also reduces the cost of their education, and they are involved in significant research that will bolster their resumes when they apply for a job," says Andrew Karatjas, assistant professor of chemistry and program coordinator.

"The research will be conducted alongside a full-time faculty member, where students will learn advanced techniques not ordinarily taught," he says. "These techniques include training in current instrumentation. They will gain valuable skills that are highly coveted by graduate programs, medical programs and potential employers."

The program is designed for undergraduate chemistry majors and acceptance requires a minimum 3.0 GPA, according to Karatjas. Students also must maintain at least a 3.0.

"There are only a few 'Four Plus One' programs in Connecticut right now," says Karatjas, who points to Yale and Wesleyan universities as among the few offering them.

Meanwhile, the Chemistry Department also is starting a professional science track within the current Master of Science degree program. The track is designed for students who seek advanced training in both chemistry and business. The 36-credit curriculum is divided equally between credits in chemistry and business administration.

"This program is intended to help students who are in the chemistry field and wish to pursue a managerial position," says Karatjas, who also serves as program coordinator for the professional science track.

Among the benefits are the development of analytical and critical thinking skills needed when interpreting data, and improving communication skills for the dissemination of chemical information to colleagues and the public. It is intended primarily for students seeking a career in the sciences in business, government or non-profit organizations.

The new graduate-level chemistry track follows the creation of an M.S. in applied physics program, which also includes a curriculum that combines science and business courses. That program, which began last semester, has two focus areas – materials science/nanotechnology and optics/optical instrumentation.

Both are part of a university effort to enhance students' marketability upon graduation and to meet Connecticut's changing workforce needs for the years ahead.

Anyone seeking additional information about either program can contact Karatjas at (203) 392-6271 or at karatjasa2@southernct.edu