Modern chemistry is an interdisciplinary subject with roots in physics and mathematics and with applications in biology, geology, neuroscience, and a wide range of technology. The courses for Chemistry and Biochemistry majors are designed to emphasize the fundamental principles of the science and their application to observed phenomena. These courses develop chemical reasoning and experimental skills, reflect chemistry’s interdisciplinary nature, and prepare students for success in graduate or professional programs.
Chemistry is an experimental science. Graduate study in chemistry is centered on the research thesis, and most chemists engage in research themselves or make use of the results of research. Physicians and others who use chemical material should have some experience in research in order to evaluate the results of research. Accordingly, opportunities are provided, and students are strongly encouraged to gain research experience through an in-term research project, summer research, a Winter Term project, or a combination of these.
A major in chemistry or biochemistry can lead to a variety of careers besides chemical or biochemical research. Among these are medicine, teaching, patent law, business, and interdisciplinary sciences such as molecular biology, environmental science, pharmacology, toxicology, materials science, geochemistry, and chemical physics.
The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry is approved by the American Chemical Society and certifies graduates who satisfy the ACS guidelines. For certification, Chemistry majors must take, in addition to the minimum major requirements: Chemistry 254, and a year of research with a comprehensive written report. For certification, Biochemistry majors must take, in addition to the minimum major requirements: a year of research with a comprehensive written report.
Students with good preparation in chemistry should apply for admission to Chemistry 103, a one-semester course that takes the place of Chemistry 101, 102. Entering students who have scored 3 on the Chemistry Advanced Placement examination of the Educational Testing Service can receive four hours of transfer credit (equivalent to 101) and can begin college chemistry with 102 or 103. Students entering with Chemistry AP scores of 4 or 5 can receive eight hours of transfer credit (equivalent to 101, 102).
Entry-Level Course Sequence Suggestions.
Chemistry 050, 145, 151, and 163 (FYSP 114) are courses of general interest which do not presume any prior knowledge of chemistry and are aimed at non-science majors. Chemistry 050, 145, or 151 may serve as a bridge to 101 for students who have not had high-school chemistry. Most students who major in a science and most premedical students begin their study of college chemistry in the first year with 101, 102 (or 103), which is open also to other students who want a thorough introduction to the subject.
All potential majors are strongly advised to complete 101, 102 (or 103) and at least Mathematics 133 in the first year. Potential Chemistry majors should take Physics 103, 104 (or 110, 111) in the sophomore year and should complete Mathematics 134 by the end of the sophomore year. Potential Biochemistry majors should take Biology 118/119 or 120 no later than the sophomore year and should complete the mathematics and physics requirements as early as possible.
All majors should take careful note of prerequisites for later courses. For example, physical chemistry depends upon prior work in mathematics and physics as well as a background in general chemistry. Majors who plan to take advanced courses in chemistry or in other sciences, including research courses, find their senior-year schedules most manageable if they take physical chemistry in the junior year.