New Master’s in Applied Chemical Sciences (MACS)

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The Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry plans to announce a new two-year Master’s degree in Applied Chemical Sciences (MACS) with a focus on non-academic careers. 

The goal of the MACS program, which is currently under review by the UC Office of the President, is to train students to be well-rounded chemists, equipped with a broad level of critical skills and the necessary knowledge of applied chemistry, and be highly competitive in a non-academic workforce. This professional 2-year program will aim to recruit recent college graduates who are trying to improve their skills and become more competitive in the non-academic job market. The program is expected to begin in Fall 2022. Further detailed announcements regarding the student enrollment and recruitment for the inaugural class will be made in Fall 2021. 

A typical educational background of a chemist in the United States consists of a Bachelor’s of Science degree in chemistry. This can be followed by a Ph.D. degree in chemistry and related fields normally requiring a 5-6 year time commitment. The new two-year MACS program, which would be one of the first of its kind at an R1 institution in the United States, is meant to disrupt this longstanding paradigm and offer an alternative to those who are looking for a non-academic career.

The MACS program will be different from a Bachelor’s degree in chemistry in that it will focus on practical applications of chemistry, with an emphasis on soft professional skill development, such as public speaking, project management, team work and networking. A tailored one full year capstone project will directly interface with industry collaborators and applied research projects. The program is also distinctively different from a Ph.D. degree in chemistry in that students will have a more structured and less “exploratory” research project with a shorter timeline, consistent with the modern industry pace and timescales.

During their first year, MACS students will be exposed to a mix of applied chemistry coursework, laboratory modules, and survey courses covering soft professional skills and project management. Students in the MACS program will have unlimited individual access to the state-of-the art equipment the Department acquired recently in a partnership with Agilent Technologies Inc. to facilitate educational and research activities using modern tools and techniques. In their second year, students will take elective courses and be part of an independent small group research project with an industrial partner. Throughout both years, industry experts will be brought in for seminars, and to enhance networking and learning. The program will feature two tracks, one in medicinal and one in materials chemistry, reflecting industry trends and current needs.

MACS courses will be taught by UCLA Chemistry & Biochemistry faculty and each student will be provided with an individual mentorship by one of the program’s faculty advisors. The program will also routinely interface with industry research and business leaders from corporate sector, which includes materials and energy (3M, ExxonMobil, GE, Tesla, Applied Materials, IBM) and pharma and biotech (Pfizer, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Corteva Agrosciences) companies as well as multiple start-ups and several government and non-profit organizations. 

Penny Jennings, UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry,