A Central College chemistry major opens doors to diverse careers in research, medicine, pharmacology, public health, biochemistry, teaching, industrial lab work, environmental testing and forensic science. Individualized attention, research opportunities and hands-on instruction in facilities certified by the American Chemical Society mean that chemistry graduates are ensured to have the strong scientific background needed for graduate school or careers in the field.

of recent chemistry graduates are employed in their area of interest or attending grad school
1 of 7
Central is one of only seven Iowa private colleges or universities with a chemistry program approved by the American Chemical Society
of Central chemistry graduates are accepted to their first- or second-choice graduate school

The Central Difference

Research Opportunities

Nearly all students pursuing chemistry or biochemistry take responsibility for an independent research project. These students benefit from close one-on-one interaction with faculty in many ongoing research endeavors or brand new research ideas.

Success Secrets of a National Scholarship Winner

“The greater the risk, the greater the reward,” says 2020 Goldwater Scholar Katie Wang ’21.

Off-Campus Experiences

Students are encouraged to study abroad with one of Central’s international programs to enhance their development as global citizens, or with partner programs in Chicago, Washington, D.C. or New York City. Learn more about Central’s study abroad programs.

State-of-the-Art Equipment

Students have direct access to classrooms and laboratories equipped with state-of-the-art instrumentation and presentation technology, including:

  • 300 MHz Bruker NMR
  • Spectrum Rx Perkin Elmer ATR-FTIR Spectrometer
  • HP 6890 GC with an HP 5973 quadrapole mass selective detector
  • HPLC series 1100 with UV-Vis detector
  • Two HP 6890 gas chromatographs with TCD


Central is one of only seven Iowa private colleges and universities with a chemistry program endorsed by the American Chemical Society.

Central College student

Beyond Central

Putting the “Hire” in Higher Education

  • Rick Ryan ’70, CEO, Apertus Pharmaceuticals, Ballwin, Mo.
  • Barbara Pettitt ’72, professor of surgery, Emory University School of Medicine
  • Joe Lubach ’02, scientist, Genentech, San Francisco
  • April Hill ’02, associate professor of chemistry and director of forensic science, Metropolitan State University of Denver
  • Dan Flaherty ’05, assistant professor of medicinal chemistry and molecular pharmacology, Purdue University, Lafayette, In.
  • Jana Olson ’10, scientific communications manager, Proportional Technologies, Inc., Houston, Tex.
  • Heather Reineke ’11, registered nurse, Mercy Medical Center, Des Moines
  • Adam Feenstra ’12, systems engineer, Meredith Corporation, Des Moines
  • Marissa Brandt ’16, lab technician, Eurofins, Des Moines

Peterson Joins MCRHC

Dr. Megan Kittleson Peterson, a 2012 Central College graduate, has joined Mitchell County Regional Health Center in Osage, Iowa.


  • Bio-Chem Club
  • SCATE (Students Concerned About The Environment)

No matter what your interests are, Central has a student group for you! Learn how you can get involved with groups and organizations at Central.

Graduate Placement

Chemistry majors are eligible for admission to the chemical engineering programs at Washington University in St. Louis and Iowa State University following completion of their junior year.

  • University of Kansas, medicinal chemistry
  • North Carolina State University, chemical engineering
  • University of Missouri-Saint Louis, optometry
  • University of Michigan, public health
  • University of Wisconsin Madison, chemistry
  • University of Iowa, medical school, pharmacy


Students with internship experience have a proven track record in a professional environment, which often leads to employment following graduation.

  • Pfizer, St. Louis, Mo.
  • Iowa Hygienic Lab, Ankeny
  • Thermo Fisher Scientific, Johnston
Central College student

Courses & Faculty

The chemistry department offers a strong foundation in concepts, coursework and laboratory skills in organic, analytical, inorganic, physical and biochemistry. The curriculum, certified by the prestigious American Chemical Society, means graduates are ensured the strong scientific background and the research opportunities needed for graduate school or careers in chemistry or the health professions.

The department also offers students flexible course options in order to incorporate off-campus experiences, research and other liberal arts interests during their four years on campus.

Learn more about this discipline in the course catalog.

Meet the Faculty

  • James Dunne, B.S., Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Chemistry
  • Ashley Garr, B.S., M.S., Ph.D., Associate Professor of Chemistry
  • Jim Shriver, B.S., M.S., Ph.D., Professor of Chemistry
  • Jay Wackerly, B.S., Ph.D., Associate Professor of Chemistry

Sample Coursework

First Year

  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Introduction to Cells
  • General Chemistry
  • Calculus I

Sophomore Year

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Calculus II
  • General Physics I and II
  • Organic Chemistry I and II

Junior Year

  • Biochemistry
  • Physical Chemistry I
  • Research
  • Advanced electives
  • Study abroad

Senior Year

  • Physical Chemistry II
  • Research
  • Advanced electives


Learn More

Want to find out more about Chemistry at Central? Contact us to learn more about this discipline and our other strong academic programs.

Visit campus to observe classes and experience The Central Difference firsthand.

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