Stevenson’s Chemistry Program Redesigns to Help Students Find Their Career Fit Earlier

August 17, 2022 7 AM

This year, Stevenson University’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry launched a redesign of the major to update curricula, mentoring, and academic experiences to strengthen career pathways for students.

“We asked ourselves, ‘Where do our students end up in their career paths after college, and what do they need to be poised for success after graduation,’” said Professor Jeremy Burkett, Ph.D., Chair of the Department. “We’re ensuring that our curriculum matches not only what they need to know but also the skills and mindset that students will need to pursue further education or careers in chemistry.”

In redesigning the program, Burkett and his colleagues considered three factors. First, they surveyed recent alumni, collecting data about what courses most benefited them. Then they developed a department advisory board. The board includes employers, and Burkett and fellow faculty asked them, “What is it you want from your job applicants?” These conversations helped the program assess how to make students ready for the job market post-graduation. Finally, Stevenson looked at other institutions’ approaches. The main takeaway from all this research? Fit and flexibility for students’ professional success.

Now, students can custom design the program to fit their specific career needs. For example, a student with an interest in food science will take courses geared toward that job market, which would differ from what a future environmental scientist or teacher might take. Meanwhile, career readiness served as the guiding principle for the program’s redesign process.

“Careers have become so specialized in the past 10 years,” Burkett says. Thus, the program offers flexibility in what courses students need to take. This versatility allows faculty to teach one major that can get students ready for a career in the private sector, government, or education, all while serving as advisors who regularly check in with students, asking the question, “What’s next for you?”

Stevenson chemistry and biochemistry graduates work for a variety of non-profit institutions and private industries in the state and region, including the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Institute of Genetic Medicine; Maryland State Police Forensic Sciences Division; McCormick & Co.; National Cancer Institute; National Institute of Aging; National Security Agency; and Proctor & Gamble. Stevenson’s graduates are also pursuing advanced degrees at the New York Medical College, School of Medicine; Ohio State University, Graduate School in Biochemistry; University of Maryland, School of Pharmacy; and University of Virginia School of Medicine, among others.