What Are the Five Major Divisions of Chemistry?

The five main branches of chemistry are organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, analytical chemistry, physical chemistry and biochemistry. Chemistry can be further divided into many sub-branches that may fall under more than one of the main branches. Some sub-branches include forensic chemistry, medicinal chemistry, materials chemistry and nuclear chemistry.

Organic chemistry is the study of materials that contain carbon and are thus considered living matter. This includes fuel, plastics, food additives and drugs. Sub-branches related to organic chemistry include stereochemistry, medicinal chemistry, organometallic chemistry and polymer chemistry.

Inorganic chemistry studies molecules and materials that lack hydrocarbons and are considered nonliving. Many materials that contain metal are inorganic. Sub-branches of inorganic chemistry include nuclear chemistry, bioinorganic chemistry, geochemistry and industrial inorganic chemistry.

Analytic chemistry consists of two sub-branches: quantitative and qualitative analysis of matter. This field also consists of the development of the tools necessary to perform analysis. Analytical chemistry is used in fields such as environmental science, forensic science and drug testing.

Physical chemistry is the study of the behavior of a molecule and how its physical properties help to hold it together. It relates the field of physics to chemistry. Sub-branches of physical chemistry include electrochemistry, thermochemistry, quantum mechanics and chemical kinetics.

Biochemistry is the study of how chemical processes occur within a living organism. Sub-branches of biochemistry include endocrinology, enzymology, clinical biochemistry and molecular biochemistry.