Why Take Chemistry for a Computer Degree?


Computer degrees often have a general science requirement, and chemistry can fulfill that requirement. Why might a computer science student choose to take chemistry classes? Because they're broadly useful to an understanding of structures and scientific techniques.


  • In chemistry classes, students learn about the basic structure of everything in the universe. Some colleges, such as University of Northern British Columbia, offer joint degrees in computer science and chemistry because of the compatibility of these disciplines. Students who excel in computer science and chemistry can train for careers that use computer applications in chemistry. For example, students at Carnegie Mellon may specialize in computational chemistry and take classes such as computer science, programming and software design along with courses in chemistry, physics and biology.

Understanding Structure

  • Chemistry fosters an understanding of structure. Dealing with computer code and system architecture requires this type of thinking. A student who takes chemistry for a computer degree learns to recognize the ways in which pieces fit together, and from there he is able to predict the behavior of systems more effectively. In a more direct application of this knowledge, learning electrochemistry can foster a better understanding of the microchips and semiconductors that support all modern electronics.

Dealing with Magnitude

  • Every chemistry student becomes very familiar with orders of magnitude: comparing very tiny-scale objects, such as atoms and molecules, with medium-scale objects such as ourselves and larger scale objects such as the environment and the planet. This also lends itself to an understanding of computers and a deeper ability to visualize the proportions of memory and disk capacity. Chemistry classes teach the meanings of prefixes such as nano, micro, mega, giga and tera that computer users take for granted on a daily basis. The classes also familiarize students with the metric system of measurements, which is especially useful to Americans not practiced in metric measurements.

Scientific Method

  • Computer science relies on the scientific method just as much as any other science. Laboratory science can help students become more intimately familiar with this reliable process of trial and error, recording and testing, and help them understand the reasons why it works. Anyone studying for a computer degree should understand how to formulate and test a hypothesis, according to information from the Elon University Computer Science Department.


  • A computer science student seeking a chemistry class has many to choose from. Some colleges and universities offer short-form introductory classes; others require or encourage a complete course such as the year-long cycle of general chemistry. Students should consider the academic requirements for their desired computer degree before deciding on a particular course. Taking more extensive chemistry classes, such as organic chemistry and beyond, can constitute a minor or even a double major. At higher levels, courses such as computational chemistry can unite the subjects, creating an academic grounding suitable for employment in fields related to both chemistry and computer science.

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