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State’s only industrial chemistry master’s program launched

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The University of Louisiana at Lafayette will offer the state’s only master’s degree in industrial chemistry beginning in Fall 2021.

The Louisiana Board of Regents approved the graduate degree program in June.

Dr. Azmy S. Ackleh, dean of the Ray P. Authement College of Sciences, said the new program will help meet workforce demands in Louisiana, which is second in the nation in chemical production.

“Lafayette is positioned at the hub of a region where substantial job growth is expected in the chemical industry, particularly along the I-10 corridor between Baton Rouge and Lake Charles,” he said.

“That growth is driving a need for graduate-trained industrial chemists, and there aren’t any master’s in industrial chemistry degree programs in Louisiana."

There is now.

Dr. Thomas Junk, a professor who leads UL Lafayette’s Department of Chemistry, said UL Lafayette's program will create more hiring options for small and mid-size companies without the resources to “employ teams of Ph.D.-level chemists and engineers like larger companies do.”

“Smaller companies often have to choose between highly-specialized, Ph.D.-level scientists, or employees with bachelor’s degrees who need on-the-job training,” Junk said.

“This clearly leaves a void, which we intend to fill.”

The 30-33 credit hour program offers thesis and non-thesis tracks. It will enable students to specialize in chemistry, chemical engineering or environmental impacts, thanks to its interdisciplinary curriculum.

Core courses will focus on subjects such as industrial organic chemistry, the chemistry of solid-state materials and polymers, and advanced analytical and physical chemistry.

“Based on their career goals and needs of current or future employers, students can also take courses related to management, regulatory compliance, engineering product safety, manufacturing and other areas not typically included in chemistry curriculums,” Junk said.

Students with bachelor’s degrees in chemistry, chemical engineering “or closely-related fields – biochemistry, or a range of less traditional programs including environmental, soil, and forensic chemistry – can apply for admission,” Junk said

The program is geared toward students who have recently earned a bachelor’s degree and intend to enroll in graduate school before entering the workforce; it also targets working chemists who want an advanced degree.

“We expect a significant percentage of nontraditional students who are currently in industry and want to assume positions of leadership to enroll,” Junk said.

Dr. Mary Farmer-Kaiser, dean of the Graduate School, said the new master’s in industrial technology program is indicative of an ongoing, University-wide effort to increase access to graduate education.

“Graduate degrees can better prepare students for the workforce, and often translate to higher starting salaries and greater opportunities for career progression,” Farmer-Kaiser said.

For more information about the program, visit the master’s degree in industrial chemistry website, or email Dr. August Gallo, the Department of Chemistry’s graduate coordinator, at gallo@louisiana.edu

Photo caption: UL Lafayette’s Ray P. Authement College of Sciences will offer the state’s only master’s degree in industrial chemistry beginning in Fall 2021 to help meet workforce demands in Louisiana. Photo credit: Doug Dugas / University of Louisiana at Lafayette