May 27, 2020  
Course Catalog 2005-2006 
Course Catalog 2005-2006 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Chemistry and Biochemistry

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The Chemistry Department offers two majors, chemistry and biochemistry.

Chemistry. The minimum major in chemistry requires Chemistry 101, 102 (103 may replace 101, 102), 205, 211, 213, and 339. Nine hours of advanced courses from the following list also are required, including at least two hours from each of the two categories and one advanced laboratory course (327 or 341). Category I: 254, 325, 326, 327, 405; Category II: 341, 343, 349, 409. The major also requires Mathematics 134 and and Physics 103, 104 (or 110, 111). Students may not count toward the major more than one chemistry course in which they received a D.

Biochemistry. The minimum major in biochemistry requires Chemistry 101, 102 (103 may replace 101, 102), 205, 211, 213, 254, 339 (or 349), and 374; Biology 213/214; Mathematics 134; Physics 110, 111 (or 103, 104). Students may not count toward the major more than one chemistry course in which they received a D.

The minimum major in chemistry or biochemistry will prepare students for graduate study. However, the best preparation for competitive graduate programs involves additional advanced courses and laboratory work, related courses in other departments, and research experience. The latter may be accomplished through a summer research experience, a semester or two of research (Chemistry 525, 526), or an on-campus or off-campus Winter Term project.

Chemistry and biochemistry majors are encouraged to take additional mathematics courses such as multivariable calculus, linear algebra, differential equations, and statistics. Majors planning to pursue graduate studies in biochemistry or molecular biology should consider upperlevel biology courses such as molecular genetics, immunology, and microbiology. The specific courses chosen will depend in part on the intended area of specialization.

Each semester the Chemistry Department sponsors a program of Wednesday afternoon research talks by visiting chemists and biochemists. Majors are expected to attend.


Majors in other departments or programs (but not chemistry or biochemistry majors) may earn a minor in chemistry by completing general chemistry (101 and 102, or 103) and three courses from the following list: 205, 211, 213, 254 (or 325), 339, 349, 374. Students must earn at least a C– in each of these courses. Two of the elective courses must be taken at Oberlin. A formal chemistry minor may be helpful to non-chemistry majors seeking entry-level jobs in chemical industry, secondary-school teaching, or science journalism, as well as those students who plan further education in technological aspects of law, art, or other disciplines.


Students with outstanding records are invited to participate in the Honors Program. Seniors in the program elect a minimum of five hours of Chemistry 525, 526, or the equivalent (with at least two hours in the first semester) and work year-long (including Winter Term) on a research project. Honors students write a thesis based on their research and take an oral examination. Honors students are required to take Chemical Information, Chemistry 396, prior to enrolling in Chemistry 526.

Related Programs

Pre-Medical. Pre-medical students planning to major in chemistry or biochemistry should arrange a conference with a pre-medical advisor in chemistry (Mr. Fuchsman) no later than their fourth semester. See the pre-medical statement earlier in this catalog.

3-2 Engineering. Students who are interested in a career in chemical engineering should consider the Combined Liberal Arts and Engineering Program. This five-year program is described in this catalog under the heading Engineering. Mr. Ackermann can provide advice on courses that lead to both the Combined Program and a chemistry major.

Transfer of Credit

Prior approval is required for major course work taken away from Oberlin. Without explicit approval from the Chemistry Department, no major may earn more than half of the hours required for the major while away from Oberlin. Normally, transfer credit for chemistry courses numbered 300 and above will not count toward the requirements of chemistry or biochemistry majors.

Winter Term

Each chemistry faculty member is willing to sponsor Winter Term projects as indicated. Mr.Elrod: Laboratory projects in atmospheric chemistry. Mr. Fuchsman: Laboratory projects in biochemistry. Off-campus projects involving experience in health-health-care delivery, medical research or biochemical research. Intermediate/advanced weaving at the Loom Shed in Oberlin under the direction of Charles Lermond. Mr. Hill: Development of laboratory experiments; Off campus projects: social service agencies, work with physicians, fire ant research in Florida. Mr. Nee: Laboratory projects in introductory and organic chemistry. Consumer, food and polymer chemistry Mr. Thompson: Laboratory and reading projects dealing with chemical analysis and forensic science, beginning chess, and veterinary internships.

Breakage Charge

Students are held responsible for apparatus issued to them in laboratories. Each student has a breakage allowance that covers normal breakage of common glassware and the like. Breakage costs exceeding that allowance are charged at the end of the semester.

Courses of General Interest

Introductory Courses

Other Advanced Courses

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