BS in Chemistry in the Philippines

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Program Overview

Bachelor of Science in Chemistry (BS Chem) is a four year degree program that teaches students the conduct of standard laboratory procedures involved in chemistry and the use of chemical instrumentation in analytical and synthetic work. Important skills such as monitoring, observation and measurement of chemical properties and systematic recording and documentation are also included in the course. The program also teaches students how to design experiments and understand the limitations of the experimental approach.

The BS in Chemistry program provides students with a strong background in the different areas of chemistry: organic, analytical, biochemistry, physical and inorganic chemistry.

Subjects and Curriculum

The subjects in the BS Chem curriculum are divided into four main categories:
  • General Education Courses:
    Language and Humanities, Mathematics, Natural Sciences and Information Technology Social Sciences, Mandated Subjects
  • Core Courses:
    • Physics: Fundamentals of Physics, Modern Physics, Mechanics and Heat, Electricity, Magnetism and Optics
    • Mathematics: Algebra, Trigonometry, Analytic Geometry, Differential Calculus, Integral Calculus
  • Chemistry Core Courses:
    General Chemistry, Principles of Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Analytical Chemistry, Biochemistry, Inorganic Chemistry, Physical Chemistry, Instrumental Methods of Analysis, Instrumental Methods of Analysis Laboratory, Chemistry Seminar, Chemistry Research
  • Chemistry Electives:
    Advanced Organic Chemistry, Advanced Biochemistry, Advanced Inorganic Chemistry, Advanced Analytical Chemistry, Materials Chemistry, Polymer Chemistry, Environmental Chemistry, Natural Products Chemistry, Food Chemistry, Industrial Chemistry, Agricultural Chemistry, Computational Chemistry, Advanced Physical Chemistry1
The BS Chem program is taught to students in a variety of teaching methods. Its curriculum places great emphasis on hands-on experience, so laboratory work takes a big part of the curriculum. To gain practical experience, field trips are scheduled where students are able to see and observe firsthand what goes on inside different laboratory industries and companies. The program also exposes students to seminars and educational talks where current trends, news and issues related to the field of Chemistry are raised.

Some schools who offer the BS Chem program require students to complete both an OJT and a thesis paper, however this is not obligatory, and some schools require only one of these.

BS in Chemistry vs BS in Chemical Engineering

Although both programs belong to the field of Chemistry, they are two very different programs. BS in Chemistry focuses on the mastery of the properties of chemicals and chemical reactions as well as a basic understanding of the relationship between chemistry and other sciences. BS in Chemical Engineering focuses on knowledge of how chemistry and chemical reactions can be manipulated and turned into products and materials that are useful for human consumption.

BS in Chemistry’s curriculum contains Chemistry and Chemistry Elective subjects, while BS in Chemical Engineering’s curriculum combines Chemistry subjects, Engineering subjects and an intensive set of mathematics subjects.

As for duration, BS in Chemistry is a four year program while BS in Chemical Engineering is a five year program. Both programs have licensure examinations that must be taken by students in order to become certified professionals.

As for admission requirements, both programs may have special requirements for admission, however, this depends on the institution offering the program.

Is Chemistry a profession?

Chemistry is a profession. A graduate of BS Chem who passes the Chemistry Licensure Examination is called a Licensed Chemist.

The responsibilities of a Chemist include:
  • Prepare test solutions, compounds, and reagents for laboratory personnel to conduct test
  • Analyze organic and inorganic compounds to determine chemical and physical properties, composition, structure, relationships, and reactions, utilizing chromatography, spectroscopy, and spectrophotometry techniques
  • Develop, improve, and customize products, equipment, formulas, processes, and analytical methods
  • Compile and analyze test information to determine process or equipment operating efficiency and to diagnose malfunctions
  • Confer with scientists and engineers to conduct analyses of research projects, interpret test results, or develop nonstandard tests
  • Direct, coordinate, and advise personnel in test procedures for analyzing components and physical properties of materials
  • Induce changes in composition of substances by introducing heat, light, energy, and chemical catalysts for quantitative and qualitative analysis
  • Write technical papers and reports; and prepare standards and specifications for processes, facilities, products, and tests
  • Study effects of various methods of processing, preserving, and packaging on composition and properties of foods

What are the admission requirements for the BS in Forestry program?

Requirements at each school may differ, but these are the common requirements:
  • Must be a high school graduate.
    Those who did not complete high school education may opt to first attend Alternative Learning System (ALS) and pass the Philippine Educational Placement Test (PEPT) to qualify for college. However, some universities only offer selected courses for PEPT passers.
  • General Weighted Average (GWA) requirement: some schools require a specific GWA upon graduation from secondary school.
  • A minimum Grade average in Mathematics and Science: some schools require students to have a minimum grade average in subjects such as Math and Science.
  • College entrance exam: must pass the college entrance examination with a specified rating set by the school.
  • Interview: pass the interview conducted by the college.
(See sources 1, 2, 3)

What skills, traits and attitude will help you succeed in this course?

  • Aptitude for Chemistry and related sciences – the foundation to passing this course is centered mainly on having a keen interest in Chemistry and related sciences. Students must have the innate ability and understanding of Chemistry prior to taking this course because although some lessons can be learned it will all stem down to whether you have a connection with the sciences or not.
  • Aptitude for Physics and Mathematics – while the course curriculum is filled with Chemistry subjects it also contains a considerable amount of Physics and Mathematics. Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics go hand in hand therefore a student must also have the aptitude for the first two subjects and possess the ability to apply them in chemical problems.
  • Logical Intelligence – this is a must when taking up BS Chem. Scientific experiments, laboratory work, mathematical and chemical computations all need to follow a specific concept, a step by step process. However, most often is up to the student to think in an abstract manner and create a problem-solving process of his own based upon the concepts that he/she has learned. Logical Intelligence means that you are able to recognize patterns and logically analyze problems. You must be able to think conceptually about numbers, relationships and patterns.
  • Analytical skills – chemistry is a very complex subject matter. Strong analytical skill is essential because you will be dealing with a lot of chemical process so you should be able to integrate knowledge across chemical sub-disciplines and apply this knowledge to solve problems
  • Abstract thinking – the ability to evaluate and interpret data derived from laboratory observations and measurements in terms of their significance, and to relate them to appropriate theories
  • Problem-Solving skills – taking into consideration that Chemistry is a subject that is taught to students in high school they students should be able to apply the scientific method: define a problem clearly, develop testable hypotheses, design and execute experiments, analyze data, and draw appropriate conclusions.
  • Attention to details – during scientific experiments and lab exercises you must pay attention to the smallest detail, committing even the slightest mistake will yield a different result or may even cause laboratory accidents.
  • Strong Observational skills – having strong observational skills will be very helpful when you study this course. When solving problems or doing computations and laboratory experiments your professors will demonstrate the task to you at first, however, they will do this only once and you will be left alone doing the rest thus you must be very good in observation.
  • Technical skills – since you will be doing a lot of laboratory work the ability to use complex equipment and modern chemical instruments both safely and accurately are important
  • Research skills – the ability to undertake in depth investigations, collecting complex data, using a variety of different approaches, in order to reach conclusions about a range of scientific issues
  • Memorization skills – while most of the subjects in the BS Chem need deeper understanding, there are certain concepts, theories and formulas that you have to memorize so that you will be able to carry on more complex tasks in chemistry.
  • Communication skills – covering both written and oral communication; this includes the ability to present scientific information in a clear and concise manner and to discuss them intelligently, both in writing and orally.

How difficult is BS in Chemistry?

BS in Chemistry is a very difficult course. Three of the most difficult subjects, chemistry, physics and mathematics are all integrated in its curriculum. Aside from dealing with difficult subjects, almost all lecture subjects are paired with laboratory. Long lecture hours coupled with long laboratory hours, highly technical exams and case analysis projects wear students down, which is why many decide to shift to easier programs.

What makes this program even more difficult is the fact that you have to think independently. Chemistry concepts, theories and laboratory procedures will be taught inside in the classroom but how students will understand and execute these will mainly depend on them. The thesis paper in Chemistry is another difficult obstacle in this program.

How long does it take to complete the BS in Chemistry program in the Philippines?

The BS in Chemistry program takes four years to complete (Note: this may change due to the K-12 integration). The program may be completed in a shorter time in schools that follow the trimestral curriculum.

On the job training

There are schools who require students to complete both an OJT, however, this is not an obligatory, so not all schools integrate an OJT into their curriculum.

If the college you are going to has an OJT, it will be done during the fourth year of the program, and students attend an On the Job Training in private companies that deal with pharmaceuticals, food and beverage, cosmetics, oil and petroleum, mineral and metals, environmental analysis, textile, quality control, chemical manufacture, agricultural products research, hospitals, pulp and paper, among others.

During the OJT students are given the opportunity to apply their knowledge and practice their skills in actual settings. The OJT is done under the supervision of licensed chemist in the agency which will evaluate the student periodically and submit the evaluation form to the assigned faculty member.

The required number of hours for the OJT varies from one school to another. (See source)

Thesis

There are schools who require the completion of a thesis paper as part of the BSChecm curriculum. For these schools, thesis writing usually starts in the fourth year of study. BS Chem students are required to choose a topic of interest and obtain the approval of the research teacher. They will then be guided accordingly in the entire process of writing by a research adviser who they will personally choose.

The thesis paper must be completed by the end of the year. Once completed, students will face a panel of experts who will critic and evaluate their work. The same panel as well the research teacher will grade the student and determine whether he/she passes or not.

Chemist Licensure Examination

To become a Licensed Chemist in the Philippines, a graduate of BS in Chemistry needs to pass the Chemist Licensure Examination. The examination is conducted by the Board of Chemistry under the supervision of the Professional Regulations Commission (PRC). The exam is conducted once a year.

In order to pass the examination, a candidate must obtain a weighted average of at least 75% with no rating below 60% in any subject. (See source)

Career opportunities for BS Chemistry graduates

  • Jobs for licensed Chemists (board exam passers)

    • High School Chemistry Teacher – teaches chemistry in private and public secondary schools; may need a few units in education subjects
    • Chemistry Professor – teaches Chemistry class in universities and colleges; requires a master’s degree in the same field and additional education subjects
    • Process Chemist – perform quality control analysis which will require you to conduct tests and inspections of scientific instruments and ensure that proper laboratory procedures are followed.
    • Industrial Chemist – studies physical and chemical properties to determine the composition of various organic and inorganic substances.
    • Bench Chemist – perform a large variety of routine and complex analytical procedures in the analysis of pharmaceutical products and raw materials by various testing techniques
    • Agricultural Chemist – focuses on chemical compositions and changes involved in the production, protection, and use of crops and livestock
    • Air Quality Chemist – perform highly specialized chemical testing and analysis of air quality samples
    • Analytical Chemist – use a diverse range of methods to investigate the chemical nature of substances. The aim of such work is to identify and understand the substance and how it behaves in different conditions.
    • Clinical Biochemist – carry out complex analytical work. They analyze and interpret data relating to patients' samples to assist with the investigation, diagnosis and treatment of diseases.
    • Forensic Scientist – provide impartial scientific evidence for use in courts of law to support the prosecution or defense in criminal and civil investigations. They are primarily concerned with examining contact trace material associated with crimes.
    • Research Scientist – study non-living systems to increase the understanding of how the physical world works; designs and conducts experiments to collect observable physical evidence of natural phenomena.
    • Toxicologist – plan and carry out laboratory and field studies to identify, monitor and evaluate the impact of toxic materials and radiation on human and animal health, the environment, and the impact of future technology.
    • Astrochemist – investigate atmospheric phenomena and interpret meteorological data, gathered by surface and air stations, satellites, and radar to prepare reports and forecasts for public and other uses.
    • Cement Chemist – to perform many types of chemical analysis on all materials used for the cement production such as: clinker, gypsum, slag and others when necessary.
    • Cereal Chemist – work in basic research, examining the biochemical components of cereals, including their carbohydrates, proteins, lipids, and enzymes. Some of these studies are very technical, employing sophisticated analytical techniques and instrumentation.
    • Chemical Analyst – collect information about the composition of chemical substances, and process and communicate this information through the principles of science and mathematics.
    • Chemical Laboratory Chief – plan, direct, or coordinate activities in such fields as life sciences, physical sciences, mathematics, statistics, and research and development in these fields.
    • Coagulating Drying Supervisor – supervises and coordinates activities of workers engaged in operating coagulation tanks, vacuum filters, atmospheric driers, hammer mills, calendar machine, and cutting, stacking, and wrapping machines to convert synthetic-rubber latex to crumbs (solids) and to prepare rubber for shipment.
    • Control Chemist – prepare and test samples from all phases of a manufacturing or other handling process, with the goal of determining if the substance meets the standards or requirements of the project.
    • Cosmetic Chemist – develops improved, safer, and novel cosmetic products for people to use.
    • Environmental Chemist – attempt to locate and neutralize threats of pollution to people, animals and plants using their knowledge of chemical properties and reactions
    • Food and Flavor Chemist – concerned with the chemistry of food products. In basic research, they examine properties of proteins, fats, starches, and carbohydrates, as well as micro components such as additives and flavorings to determine how each works in a food system.
    • Formulation Chemist – assist in the testing and development of pharmaceuticals and household products. Formulation chemists play an important role in drug and product safety and effectiveness.
    • Medical Product Development Chemist – apply their research techniques in the area of pharmaceuticals, with most focusing on discovering or improving drugs.
    • Method Development Scientist – depending on the industry they work in, these scientists will participate in characterization of process starting materials, process streams, and refined products; develop and validate assays for active ingredients and impurities; and test samples using these methods.
    • Nuclear Chemist – involved in several areas of research, from nuclear reactions, nuclear imaging in medicine to nuclear engineering in power generation
    • Physical Chemist – seek a fundamental understanding of how materials behave and how chemical reactions occur at the molecular and atomic level.
    • Sanitary Chemist – performs chemical analysis of solid and liquid physical properties in connection with various environmental and health programs; operates laboratory instrumentation and equipment within the laboratory to evaluate wastes from water and sewage disposal plants, industrial waste treatment systems, surface and ground water monitoring and stream pollution areas
    • Soil Chemist – gathers, interprets and evaluates information about the chemistry, biology and physics of soils to inform and influence issues as diverse as agricultural production, environmental quality, human health, climate change, land remediation and biodiversity.
    • Textile Chemist – studies the characteristics of fibers and filaments---natural and synthetic---to learn how they react to different conditions.
    • Water Chemist – responsible for collecting, testing and analyzing water and other related samples in order to maintain and/or improve overall water quality.
    • Wet Chemistry Analyst – responsible for conduct of routine analytical work performed on pharmaceutical products and medical devices
    • Energy Chemist – involved in developing modern sources of energy, such as battery systems to be used for large-scale energy storage and electric vehicles, conversion of coal to liquid or gaseous fuels, and solar energy conversion.
    • Exploration Geophysicist – use geophysical techniques to forecast where mineral deposits may be located for extraction purposes.
    • Nanotechnologist – research and work with structures at the atomic and subatomic levels developing molecular structures that are smaller than 100 nanometers in size; may require a master’s degree
    • Geochemist – study the amount and distribution of chemical elements in rocks and minerals. They also study the movement of those elements into soil and water systems.
  • Jobs for Non Board Passers:

    • Chemical Technician – responsible for helping chemists and engineers to develop, research, produce, and observe chemical products and processes; works in laboratories, conducts experiments, and monitors production processes.
    • Technical sales and service agent – manufacturers of chemicals, scientific instruments and equipment and products based on chemicals require technically trained people for direct sales and to provide problem-solving assistance to their sales division.
    • Technical and Science Writer – careers in this field include writing of technical material for industrial companies, science writer for magazines or newspapers, and editor of scientific publications.
    • Testing Technician – examine and test the functionality and performance of an object or material in a way that will not affect its usefulness.
    • Food and Beverage Processing Grader – test or grade ingredients and finished food, beverage or tobacco products to ensure conformance to company standards
  • Salary Levels

    A Chemist with 1 to 4 years of experience can expect a month salary of P 12,000 to P 18,000 per month while those who have work experience of 5 years or more may receive as much as P 18,000 to P 25,000 (see source).

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Reviews of BS in Chemistry graduates:

P. J.
◈ Studied Bachelor of Science in Chemistry
◈ At University of the Philippines Diliman
◈ Graduated 2013

list bulletWhy did I choose Chemistry: I thought Chemistry was the easiest among all subjects when I was graduating in high school. I also would like to pursue pre-med course because I really want to be a doctor that time.

list bulletAbout my college education: Bs Chemistry was really, really hard. It was fun doing experiments but the point that you have to understand everything that is happening to your experiments annoyed me. It is very tedious that if you don't study, you won't pass. One cannot be happy go lucky. You really have tor be studious and patient. Chemistry is a science with a lot of math so you have to be good in both stuff.

list bulletMy current job: I am into a business. I decided to get into this business few weeks after graduation.

list bulletAm I using what I learned in college: The things that I learned in school were very theoretical. I can still somehow apply the things that I learned in my business now. However, little.

list bulletDo I recommend studying Chemistry: There is a lot of job opportunities for BS Chemistry graduates but the salary is very low especially in the Philippines.

list bulletAdvice to people who are thinking of studying this course: Try to ask yourself if you really want to pursue and you are really ready for the challenge.
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