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Chemists study atoms and molecules with the goal of understanding the composition, properties and changes that substances undergo. They identify individual components of materials found in nature, and measure how much of them are present. They also recombine atoms and molecules to deduce the rules of combination and to make new substances. Chemistry is central to understanding other branches of science—the biological, earth, medical, and materials sciences, along with aspects of physics and astronomy. Knowledge of chemistry is crucial to understanding the manufacture and uses of many common materials such as metals, plastics, fibers, paper, glasses and ceramics; food products and food supplements, flavors and cosmetics; detergents and household chemicals; and pharmaceuticals, pesticides, paints, dyes and inks. Chemistry is used in medical and criminal investigations, and in studying causes, effects, and cures for pollution. Finally, chemistry is central to authenticating, conserving, restoring, and preserving cultural treasures including rare books and documents, fine art, architectural works, and artifacts of the recent and distant past.

Students who major in chemistry and who choose appropriate electives are well prepared for advanced study in chemistry or related sciences such as biochemistry and molecular biology, computer sciences (with appropriate undergraduate work in computer science), engineering (especially chemical or environmental), environmental studies, forensic science, information science, materials science, neuroscience, pathology, pharmacology, physiology, or technical writing, and for advanced study in the health care professions: medicine, dentistry, and veterinary medicine. Students who major in chemistry are also well prepared to enter careers in commerce, education, government as well as private and foundation-supported organizations.

Students who wish to receive preparation more in-depth than the chemistry major presented here are advised to pursue the ACS-Certified Chemistry major instead.

Admission to the Program

Any undergraduate student can declare a major in chemistry.

Program Requirements

Students in the chemistry major pursue either a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree, and must complete the corresponding degree's requirements.

Minimum grades of "C" in CHM 205 and CHM 206 are required before students are allowed to take further chemistry courses in the major.

Chemistry Requirements (35 credits):

  • CHM205 College Chemistry I
  • CHM206 College Chemistry II
  • CHM301 Chemical Safety
  • CHM302 Inorganic Chemistry I
  • CHM303 Quantitative Chemical Analysis
  • CHM305 Organic Chemistry I
  • CHM306 Organic Chemistry II
  • CHM400 Seminar I
  • CHM401 Seminar II
  • CHM405 Physical Chemistry I
  • CHM406 Physical Chemistry II
  • CHM408 Physical Chemistry Laboratory I
  • CHM409 Physical Chemistry Laboratory II

Math and Physics Requirements (20 credits):

  • MTH201 Calculus I
  • MTH202 Calculus II
  • MTH203 Calculus III
  • PHS235 Physics I
  • PHS240 Physics II

To make normal progress in the major, a student should complete CHM 205, 206 in the freshman year, and CHM 302, 303, 305, 306, PHS 235, 240, and MTH 201, 202, 203 before entering the junior year.

Student Learning Outcomes

Students will be able to demonstrate understanding and apply the principles of:
  1. chemical nomenclature.
  2. atomic structure and quantum theory.
  3. molecular structure and reactivity.
  4. stoichiometric calculations based upon chemical formulae and balanced chemical equations including oxidation-reduction reactions.
  5. chemical energetics and thermodynamics including chemical equilibrium.
  6. reaction dynamics (kinetics and mechanisms).
  7. descriptive chemistry of the elements, compounds, and trends in the periodic table.

Students will be able to

  1. critically assess primary literature.
  2. contribute positively and effectively as a member of a team while addressing a chemical issue.
  3. understand and apply the tenets and principles of safe laboratory practice and waste handling.
  4. demonstrate proficiency in carrying out basic and advanced laboratory manipulations and use of common laboratory equipment and instruments.
  5. demonstrate proficiency in managing experimental data including thoroughly recording procedure and observations, tabulating data, and analyzing results.
  6. effectively communicate chemistry content, both orally and in writing, to audiences with varying levels of scientific understanding.
  7. recognize and analyze ethical implications related to scientific issues in society and within their profession.

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