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B.S. Polymer and Color Chemistry

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What is polymer and color chemistry?

Our Bachelor of Science in Polymer and Color Chemistry (PCC) is a specialized version of a traditional chemistry degree with applications in textiles, medicine, pharmacy, cosmetics and more. 

Our students graduate prepared to enter such a wide range of fields because polymers and dyes are the building blocks of the world around us. Polymers play a critical role in all living organisms and most of the materials we use every day. Almost all materials are dyed, printed or painted to achieve a specific color.

In this degree, students:

  • Study all aspects of color science: dye chemistry, polymer chemistry and physics and their properties for different applications.
  • Learn structure-property relationships and how those properties at the molecular level influence a material’s performance. 

Hands-on education sets our program apart. You’ll learn about dye chemistry, color science, and textile wet processes in our Dyeing and Finishing Lab Pilot Plant and DataColor Lab. This experiential learning wraps up with a capstone project covering a range of projects unavailable anywhere else.

Max A. Weaver Dye Library

The one-of-a-kind research resource is housed in the Wilson College of Textiles.

You’ll learn about:

Polymer chemistry; Color Science, coloration and dye chemistry; Fiber science and chemistry; Finishing: Chemistry that makes different properties present in fibers (including water and oil repellency, antimicrobial, flame retardancy and soil release); Forensics; Biochemistry; Biotechnology; Biology; Microscopy; Health medicine; Material science; Physics; Mathematics

When I could learn about chemistry through the experience of synthesizing a dye molecule, or synthesizing a polymer, or dyeing or printing a swatch of fabric, or spinning a fiber in the lab, it just made all of those theories and principles that I learned much more tangible.

Brian Edwards ’08

Senior Scientist, Textile Application Development Team
Eastman Chemical Company

Concentration options:

  • American Chemical Society Certified: This concentration is for students looking to enter the textile, polymer and color-based industries and is designed for students looking to pursue a graduate degree in chemistry upon graduation. Focuses on polymer chemistry, fiber formation, color physics, dyeing, finishing, and chemical modification of fabrics, as well as how those disciplines are applied in industry. 
  • Medical Sciences: Students looking to enter the medical field or some sort of medical school, including ophthalmology or dentistry, will find this concentration helpful in achieving their goals. The flexibility of this concentration helps students complete all prerequisite courses needed to apply to medical school. Students completing this concentration with a good GPA have been successful in gaining entrance into medical schools.
  • Science and Operations: The course flexibility in this concentration allows students to select more elective courses to specialize a PCC degree to their interests. While it still prepares students for graduate school, this program is designed for students interested in direct entry to employment. This is also the best concentration for those seeking to double major in PCC and Engineering and Life Sciences.

Popular Minors:

Chemistry; Textile Engineering; Biochemistry; Biomedical Engineering; Biotechnology; Chemical Engineering; Materials Science and Engineering; Global Health; Microbiology; Health, Medicine and Human Values; Biological Sciences

Making a difference with polymer and color chemistry:

Polymer and color chemists have endless opportunities to advance the areas of sustainability, health and safety. Here are just a few examples of how our students and faculty are taking advantage of that opportunity.

PCC graduate standing in cap and gown

What can I do with my degree?

Employers across the country and the world that specifically seek out our students for their unique and in-demand knowledge. From apparel and more traditional textile applications to chemical companies, plastics, cosmetics and even forensics, our graduates are anything but boxed in by this unique degree. 

  • Apparel: Nike, GAP, Victoria’s Secret, Under Armour, HanesBrands Inc., Abercrombie & Fitch
  • Forensics: FBI, SBI
  • Cosmetics: L’Oréal, Revlon, Burt’s Bees, Coty (parent company of Kylie Cosmetics)
  • Traditional Textiles: Unifi, Milliken, ITG, Guilford Performance, LORD Corporation, PVH Corp., Mohawk Industries
  • Fiber Producers/Chemical Companies: PGI, DuPont, Monsanto, Eastman Chemical Company, Cotton Inc., Teijin, Highland Industries, Honeywell 
  • Plastics: Plaspak Inc., IPS Adhesives 
  • Other: Eisai Pharmaceuticals, Merc, Underwriters Laboratory, Ideal Fasteners, APJeT, Greenology

A bachelor’s in PCC also regularly prepares students for admission to top advanced degrees in the medical field, from Johns Hopkins University to Harvard Medical School.

Sample Careers

  • Color Scientist: Using dye theory, chemistry and technology, match new colors, and adjust new and existing colors and shades for textiles/apparel, paints, and more. Improve color application processes.
  • Dye Chemist/Textile Chemist: Develop new dye formulas for textile application and adjust existing ones. Ensure color matching across different materials through testing methods. 
  • Research and Development (R&D)  Polymer Chemist: Set up, conduct and analyze the results of research experiments to find new uses for polymers (such as creating new textiles or composite materials from polymers) and test the performance of existing uses of polymers. Develop processes for newly discovered polymer applications. In pharmaceuticals, medical science, medical technology, cosmetics, dyeing and more.
  • Pursue an advanced medical degree to become: physician, dentist, pharmacologist, optometrist or veterinarian. 
  • Forensic Chemist: Conduct chemical testing to analyze evidence to detect the presence of drugs, heavy metals, biological fluids as well as chemical and trace materials such as gunshot residues, hairs for the purpose of criminal investigations. 
  • Plant/Development Chemist: Develop methods to produce a new product/material at an industry (manufacturing plant) scale efficiently while still following government regulations and meeting industry standards. 
  • Process Manager and/or Production Manager: Ensure progress on a project from start to finish in order to meet deadlines, quality standards and sustainability standards. This could include managing orders, collaborating with technicians and other engineers and adjusting production schedules. Communicates this progress with any clients, vendors or other stakeholders.
  • Laboratory Director: Oversee all operations of a lab. This includes maintaining proper supplies and equipment, enforcing policies and procedures, setting budgets and hiring new lab staff. 
  • Quality Control Chemist: Analyze raw materials and final product for consistency, quality and compliance with government regulations and industry standards. Investigate machinery, lab instrumentation and other technology to make sure it is safe to operate and up to working order. 
  • Health Care Manager: Combine healthcare knowledge and business sense to oversee operations for hospitals and other healthcare facilities. This includes policy and programs, human resources, information systems, and compliance and risk management.