Study Chemistry Abroad

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A Guide to Studying Chemistry Abroad

It’s in the food you eat, the water you drink, and the shoes on your feet: chemistry is everywhere. Chemistry majors know that studying abroad can help further your understanding of some of life’s greatest mysteries; from the smallest of small to the grandest of grand, it all matters (or “it’s all matter?”). If you haven’t had any luck getting your name-ium tacked onto the periodic table back home, it’s time to take your efforts to the international stage. Study chemistry abroad, try your corny science jokes on a new audience, and connect with worldly, brilliant thinkers in your field of Fluorine Uranium Nitrogen.

Why Study Chemistry Abroad

Chemistry is an international field of study with the advantage of being a scientific “language” that crosses over all cultural barriers. By studying chemistry abroad, you will be able to study new skills and techniques utilized by professionals in the field on a global scale. You will learn how other countries approach the field of chemistry, with their own unique scientific skills and knowledge. Known as the central science that connects all of the physical sciences, chemistry is always evolving with new research from all over the world that affects every part of our lives.

Your time abroad will be beneficial both when looking for a job or advanced study opportunities as a post-graduate. This is because you’ll be able to utilize the various skills you learned at home and abroad to be an attractive candidate for a job or degree program in the field of chemistry. 

Chemistry has been around for centuries, and the best part about it is that there is still so much about the field that is unknown and left to discover. By studying chemistry abroad, you could be a part of something that can possibly change the field one day. Take a look at one of the biggest names in chemistry: Madame Marie Curie. She was born in Poland, and later studied abroad in France. In 1898, she went on to discover two new radioactive chemical elements: polonium (named after her home country!) and radium. The successes seen in the field are rooted in these glowing examples of international relations, and people from different countries and cultures learning from one another. Without international study, the field of chemistry may not be as successful as it is today.


Chemistry is unique in that you can study it at basically any university abroad. The best way to start looking for a location to study chemistry abroad is to find out which universities are most well-known for their chemistry departments. The study abroad experience is not only about traveling, it is also about intellectual challenges that allow you to learn from some of the brightest minds in the field!

China. With an estimated 300,000 international students, China has quickly become one of the world’s largest study abroad destinations. With a continually growing, deep appreciation for higher learning, China has developed an education system focused on science, mathematics, and engineering. There are currently around 1,000 colleges and universities, some of which are internationally renowned: Peking University, Tsinghua University, and Fudan University to name a few. With a long history of making scientific contributions to civilizations all over the world, such as the “four great inventions”, China has always been on the forefront of scientific breakthroughs. Why NOT study chemistry in the birthplace of gunpowder, papermaking, printing, and the compass? Without understanding elements and chemistry, these inventions may never have been created. When you’re not studying, you’ll be able to take time to see some of the beautiful historical sites in China, like The Great Wall of China, the Terracotta Army, and the giant pandas.

Germany. Well known for its popularity amongst international students, Germany is the world’s third most popular destination for study abroad students. One of Germany’s most lucrative industries is the chemical industry, offering more employment opportunities than any other industry in the country (hello potential chem jobs after graduation). With many well known universities, like Technische Universität München and Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München in Munich and Universität Heidelberg in Heidelberg, it is no wonder Germany is a highly desired location for chemistry study abroad. Additionally, Germany has cities for every student, from the hustle and bustle of its modern and trendy capital Berlin to the more traditional and historical Munich.  

United Kingdom. Home to some of the top research universities in the world, the UK (England and Scotland in particular) is the place to be if you’re interested in studying chemistry abroad. Since major universities in the UK continue to develop some of the most cutting edge projects and research in cancer treatment and neuroscience, they are equipped with some of the best equipment available in the field of chemistry. As a chemistry student in the UK you might be able to work on research and product development for the next big treatment for a seemingly incurable disease! When you’re not studying or in the lab, you’ll be able to enjoy the beautifully untouched scenery that dominates the British countryside.

Chemistry Study Abroad Programs

Since chemistry is an international field, the types of courses available to students do not vary much from country to country. Of course, chemistry majors start off with introductory courses and lead up to more advanced courses that focus on the type of chemistry you would like to focus on. Consequently, there may be some prerequisite requirements for you to have full access to your host university's course catalog.

In term of subjects within the discipline, traditional chemistry has been broken down into five disciplines: organic, analytical, physical, inorganic, and biochemistry. The chemistry courses you take while studying abroad will be dependent on what type of chemistry subdiscipline you plan on pursuing in your career or degree track. You should take advantage of the opportunity to study chemistry abroad by taking courses not offered at your current institution, even if they aren’t exactly in line with your concentration in the field. Regardless of the subdiscipline, in most cases, chemistry courses are accompanied by lab time, which will be added on class time devoted to putting some of the learned concepts into action. 

Most chemistry study abroad programs will be taught in the native language of your host country. If you are not looking to learn a new language, but still want to pursue chemistry study abroad in a diverse cultural setting, fear not; there are plenty of English-speaking locations where you can study chemistry abroad. 

Benefits & Challenges

Chemistry is a worldwide field with large companies boasting multiple locations all over the globe. By studying chemistry abroad, you will be able to show future employers that you are already coming into the job with a global mindset.

Although studying chemistry abroad will come with its own set of challenges, understanding the local language will not be a necessary component for fully understanding cultural specificities of the university you are studying abroad at. For example, some universities grade on a bell curve, which can make students more competitive with one another. It will take a little getting used to, but do try to learn about the education system, course structure, and other cultural perspectives before you decide on a program. Always remember, the challenges you encounter will make you a stronger and more equipped student and future chemist. 

Chemistry has been around for thousands of years but it still has a large influence on the way the world has been shaped today. By deciding to study chemistry abroad, you will be grabbing the opportunity to travel the world and become part of something truly inspiring! 

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A Guide To
Studying Chemistry Abroad


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