From pharmaceuticals to functional foods, smartphone displays, and biofuels: chemistry builds the foundation for many products of modern life. It imparts knowledge about the structure of all substances surrounding us – starting with the smallest particles, atoms and molecules, to daily substances, such as detergent, to large molecules, like human DNA.

Students learn not only what composes these substances, but they also acquire knowledge about how these are synthesized and how their structure and function can be determined.

This also includes predicting the structure of new substances in order to produce materials with specific properties.

At RWTH students learn early on about important aspects of industrial use, such as the implementation of reactions in commercial production or the manufacture and use of polymers.

In order to acquire the necessary knowledge, students study the three classic subdisciplines of chemistry: inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, and physical chemistry – supplemented with an introduction into technical chemistry and macromolecular chemistry.

For this sake of this extraordinarily detailed core education there are no specialization opportunities during the Bachelor's course of study. In the Master's program students can select two concentrations from the four focuses of chemical research at RWTH:

  • The research focuse bioactive compounds and synthetic methods concentrates on the development of new molecules with specific functions.
  • Catalysis research provides the scientific foundation for key technologies and is indispensable for sustainable chemical processes and products. It provides access to complex biologically active molecules and makes a significant contribution to the solving problems in energy storage and conversion.
  • The research focus materials and mescoscopic systems works on the development of hard and soft materials while taking suface and interface phenomena into consideration.
  • Research and teaching in computer chemistry and spectroscopy obtain experimental and theoretical methods, which make chemical relationships understandable and contribute to the clarification of chemical structures and their dynamic processes.

Programme structure

Semester Lectures and Internships
1 to 2 General Chemistry, Inorganic Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Physical Chemistry, Analytical Chemistry, Mathematics, Physics
3 to 5 Advanced studies in Inorganic Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Physical Chemistry, Technical Chemistry and Macromolecular Chemistry, Apply Spectroscopy and Instrumental Analytics, Theory of Chemical Bonding, Chemistry in a practical work environment
6 Modern Methods of Inorganic Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, and Physical Chemistry; Computational Chemistry
Bachelor's Thesis – 3-month research project


In a supplemental electives students acquire fundamental skills in another subject, for example engineering or economics or a foreign language.


A thorough fundamental education and a connection between theory and practice are important characteristics of the studies at RWTH. One of the focuses of the chemistry curriculum is experimentation, that is work in a laboratory. Students at RWTH have a total of ten laboratory classes and a research project, which put theory into practice. They may learn for example, to synthesize and analyze targeted substances. The link between theory and practice leads to a deeper understanding of the structure of molecules and substances, their reactions with each other, and causes and relationships in chemistry. Through practical training, students can independently work in the lab. As a result, they acquire the ability to develop research projects autonomously, conduct the project, and publish the knowledge gained.

All of the internships in the course of study are institute internships. An industry internship is not scheduled into the curriculum but it is recommended. During Master's studies there is the option of completing an industry internship or an internship abroad, for exam in an industry or research institution, instead of a research internship.

Entry Requirement

  • Abitur or equivalent HZB
  • Proficiency in German

Career Prospects


The career prospects for chemists are very good. Not just the chemical industry, but also the consumer goods industry, medicine, energy economy, pharmaceutical industry, suppliers – like car manufacturers –, and public service need well trained graduates.

The high percentage of practical training in the Bachelor's curriculum qualifies graduates for certain jobs in laboratories.

In order to conduct research, most natural scientists finish a Master's and doctoral degree, though. Basic knowledge from Bachelor's studies are expanded into comprehensive scientific expertise and research skills, that the job market promotes.

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