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Programs / Science / Chemistry

Program Summary

As a student interested in chemistry, you can enrol in programs and courses in all the main areas of chemistry, including analytical, inorganic, organic, physical and environmental chemistry. If you wish, you can choose to pursue a concentration in Nanotechnology where you will study the atoms and molecules used to create computer chips and other devices that are the smallest permitted by current technologies. Co-op education and extensive lab experience are offered, helping you to round out your studies with practical experience.

The Department of Chemistry at Carleton University combines expertise in all the main areas of chemistry, including biochemistry and environmental chemistry.

The department carries out active research in a wide variety of areas, including:

  • the synthesis of new polymeric materials for use in optical storage devices in the computer industry;
  • development of new techniques for the removal of toxic materials from aquatic environments;
  • the search for new antioxidants with properties superior to Vitamin E;
  • development of new procedures for the detection of heavy metal contaminants in soil;
  • the identification of components of fungal metabolites in agricultural products; and
  • the synthesis of nanoscale materials for use in the microelectronics industry.

First-class facilities

As a student in our first-year Chemistry courses, you will be able to conduct your lab work in Carleton’s $5 million, 6,500 square foot Superlab. You will be assigned your own workspace, consisting of bench space, drawers and a shared fumehood. Sophisticated audio/visual equipment, preparation labs, storage cabinets for chemical samples and a hallway lined with blackboards for student use add to this unparalleled resource for Carleton students.

Hands-on research

At Carleton, we also believe you should gain real research experience before you graduate. That is why, in addition to your regular course work, we provide you with a number of valuable hands-on opportunities to assist faculty members with research and teaching.

Summer research scholarships are available after each undergraduate year, and faculty members regularly hire undergraduate students as summer research assistants. As a senior undergraduate student, you may also obtain a paid position as a laboratory demonstrator or marker to assist faculty, technical staff and graduate students in the operation of first- and second-year labs.

Over the years, the university has developed strong links with Ottawa-based hospitals, governmental departments, medical research facilities and high-tech organizations. Our location in the nation’s capital offers our students access to faculty members/lecturers involved directly in the scientific community, study space in national libraries, state-of-the-art laboratories and equipment, and excellent work and research opportunities.

Bachelor of Science (Honours)

Bachelor of Science (General)

Honours and Combined Honours programs

If you are planning to attend graduate school and your goal is to become a professional chemist, you should consider the four-year Bachelor of Science (Honours) program. This program offers the following options:

  • Chemistry
  • Chemistry, co-op stream (including 12 months of work terms)
  • Chemistry, with a concentration in Nanotechnology

It is also possible to complete a four-year Combined Honours degree in:

  • Chemistry and Physics
  • Chemistry and Earth Sciences

General programs

You can also choose to study Chemistry as a three-year General program. You can change from a BSc (General) to a BSc (Honours) program by taking additional credits and maintaining a certain Grade Point Average (GPA).

Course overview

Required courses in your first year include chemistry, physics, calculus and algebra. Electives can include one of biology, earth sciences or computer science, and one course in arts or social sciences.

You will begin to concentrate more on chemistry in second year with physical, organic and analytical chemistry courses, and computational chemistry as an option. Mathematics and a non-science course are also recommended.

In your third year, you can begin to specialize. You can also take optional courses in computational, industrial, biochemical, nano-, and environmental chemistry.

In the final year of the Honours program, you will undertake a research project with a faculty member that will help prepare you for independent work in graduate studies or employment upon graduation. This is a feature of our honours programs that is very attractive to potential employers.

Concentration in Nanotechnology

Students in the Bachelor of Science (BSc) Honours program in Chemistry can choose to pursue a concentration in Nanotechnology.

Nanotechnology techniques involve the synthesis and characterization of new materials containing only a few atoms deposited on a surface or a self-assembly of molecules.

Applications of nanotechnology have already given rise to a host of novel materials with enhanced strength and flexibility for the aerospace industry.

In medicine, new methods of drug delivery via controlled time release and new treatments for cancer have come about from nanotechnological advances. Undoubtedly, future applications of nanotechnology will be visible in many areas including the development of microchips for the electronics industry.

First-year experience

Carleton introduces you to issues of contemporary science in Seminar in Science (NSCI 1000), a first-year seminar course. You will attend six special lectures given by prominent Canadian researchers, as well as small group seminars led by a professor who acts as both your mentor and teacher.

Through assignments, presentations and discussions, you will develop the analytical and communication skills needed for success in the world of science.

Co-op opportunities

Our co-op option for Honours students allows you to integrate your classroom work with real work experience. You could be assigned to a four- or eight-month industrial work-term placement. Both you and the employer benefit from these longer work placements as they often allow you to see your projects through from start to finish.

Chemistry students can work on both co-op and summer projects with scientists at the National Research Council of Canada, Environment Canada, Health Canada and many other government agencies. Some students work in the area of high tech at such places as Canadian Bank Note (e.g., the inks and holograms used in passports and money are produced using sophisticated technology). Other employers include Syncrude Canada, the Department of National Defence, Environment Canada, and Natural Resources Canada.

The workplace

A Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry opens the door to a variety of careers. Chemists are needed in both the private and public sectors in jobs ranging from research to marketing. Companies hire Carleton graduates to conduct research on drugs, paints, petrochemicals and mineral extraction. Government laboratories hire our chemists for research on pollution control, drugs, water quality, crime detection and a host of other areas. The Combined Honours stream prepares you for careers in chemistry, physics or geology, depending on the program you choose.

Our General degree program will prepare you for the more technical areas of chemistry or for a career in another field, such as technical sales.

Graduate studies

Graduates of any of our Honours programs are also well qualified to go on to graduate studies in Chemistry. If you think that you may wish to pursue an advanced degree, you are encouraged to investigate graduate programs early in order to ensure that your program is suited to meet the relevant graduate-level requirements.

Professional programs

Many professional programs, including teaching, medicine, dentistry, business and law, encourage well-rounded applicants from a variety of backgrounds to apply. Chemistry provides a strong foundation for such programs.

What students are saying about Chemistry


The Chemistry program at Carleton is truly amazing. Whether you’re in a lecture, or doing an experiment in the lab, the instructors are there to guide you every step of the way. They show a passion for teaching that you won’t find anywhere else. Countless opportunities are available for students to get hands-on experience doing research in a laboratory environment. Carleton has empowered me with the skills I need to succeed in graduate studies, in the workplace, and in my future.
William Turnbull, Chemistry student