The programs for chemistry majors are designed to provide a solid foundation in the theoretical knowledge and practical laboratory skills necessary for a variety of professional careers. The programs prepare students for graduate study, medical or other professional school, science teaching, technical sales, technical writing and industrial or government employment.
In order to fit the needs of the individual student, the department offers various options within the major. The principal options are “Chemistry” or “Biochemistry,” either of which can be customized to meet medical school admissions requirements. The Chemistry option can be customized to suit the needs of students who wish to focus on environmental chemistry.
The following two options prepare students for professional or graduate schools or for employment in a variety of industry, educational or government settings. They can be supplemented with graduate work in education, law, library science or business administration to prepare for such careers as high school science teacher, patent attorney, science librarian, chemical or pharmaceutical industry executive or small business owner.
(Common to all options)
Additional Requirements, Chemistry Option
This option prepares students for employment in teaching or in the chemical industry and for graduate study in most pure and applied chemistry areas, such as organic, inorganic, physical, analytical, polymer or forensic chemistry. It satisfies the American Chemical Society requirements for professional certification. With permission, appropriate advanced courses in other departments can be substituted for the advanced chemistry electives.
- CHM 4xx Advanced Chemistry Electives - 6 credits (at least)
Additional Requirements, Biochemistry Option
This option prepares students for employment in the pharmaceutical industry and for graduate study in biochemistry, molecular biology, pharmacology, nutrition and other areas of life science. The advanced biology electives must be approved by the biochemistry advisor. Note that students with weak backgrounds in biology may need to take BIO 121, 122, 131 and 132 before attempting other biology courses.
- CHM 4xx Advanced Chemistry Electives - 3 credits at least
- BIO 3xx or 4xx Advanced Biology Electives - 6 credits at least
Departmental General Education Requirements
Students majoring in Chemistry will meet their departmentally-determined General Education requirements as follows:
Students should select a course from the published list of available courses that satisfy this requirement.
Area I, Tier 2
Area W, Tier 2
6 credits of courses from the published list of available courses that satisfy this requirement.
An additional 18 credits with at least 6 in social science and at least 6 in humanities (excluding logic, applied music or literature).
The objectives of the BS programs are the following:
- Provide a solid background in the fundamental concepts and methods of inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, analytical chemistry, physical chemistry, and biochemistry and an appreciation of issues in each of these fields that areas of current research.
- Provide a specialized knowledge of at least one of these areas, sufficient to qualify for entry-level employment in industry and admission to graduate school.
- Provided practical experience in laboratory technique, including competence to keep legible and complete experimental records, synthesize and characterize chemical compounds, design experiments, use and understand modern analytical instruments, perform accurate and precise qualitative measurements, analyze data statistically and draw reasonable conclusions from them, use computers to analyze chemical and biochemical questions, work effectively in small groups or teams, communicate effectively through oral and written reports, and anticipate, recognize, and respond properly to hazards of chemical manipulations.
- Provide competence in searching the scientific literature and in understanding scientific journal articles.
NOTE on minimum grades
For all majors in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, any course that is a prerequisite for another required course must be passed with a grade of at least C-.
Gen Ed note: Chemistry courses satisfy the Natural Science and Technology requirement. Those marked S are appropriate for non-science/engineering majors.
Note: Some graduate courses may be open to undergraduates. Please consult your department chairperson. See the Graduate Catalogue for graduate general and program requirements.
The BS/MS option permits the student to achieve both a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in five years, rather than the usual six years required. This option provides exposure to graduate courses and research, making easier the transition from BS-MS to PhD-level study. For those going directly into teaching or industry, the master’s degree typically yields a significant increase in starting salary.
By counting some beginning graduate courses also as senior chemistry courses, this combined program permits the student to achieve both degrees in 143 credits, fewer than the total if the two degree programs were taken separately. Two summers of research are necessary. Entrance into this program requires approval of the department.
Under this option the student works toward completion of the course curriculum for one of the BS options. The student may apply for acceptance to this program as early as the fourth semester. A research project is typically begun in the summer of the third year and continued through one or two summers, the fall of the fourth year (as CHM 491), the spring of the fourth year and in both semesters of the fifth year (as 9 credits of CHM 600). A total of 12 additional credits of advanced CHM electives beyond those required for the BS (or, with approval of the departmental advisor, advanced electives in another department) is required at the 500 level. The student is also required to enroll in Graduate seminar (CHM 650) in both semesters of the fifth year. Since this program has a relatively demanding course load, students without significant advanced placement credit are advised to take general education electives during the summer after the first or second year.
The student should request permission to pursue this degree option no later than the beginning of the fall semester of the fourth year. A requirement for admission into the program is an overall GPA of at least 2.75 and a GPA of at least 3.00 in all core and advanced elective chemistry courses. These minimum requirements must be maintained throughout the remainder of the program.
Students in this program are eligible for teaching assistantships after completing the BS requirements (typically by the spring of the fourth year) and may be eligible for summer research stipends. At this time, they will apply for formal entrance to the graduate level by submitting an application through the Office of Graduate Studies. Applicants Chemistry Major BS-MS Option will state their specific intention of applying for the BS/MS program and do not need to submit GRE scores or reference letters.
For students in marine chemistry, geochemistry, toxicology, environmental monitoring and analysis, environmental law or other areas of environmental science, the department allows for a more disciplinary course of study, with electives chosen from other departments, such as biology, physics, environmental engineering, economics or political science.
The Chemistry option is modified as follows: (CHM 552, Instrumental Methods of Analysis) is substituted for CHM 318 and CHM 319. CHM 431, CHM 433 and either CHM 416 or 424 can be waived. In place of the two advanced science electives, at least five courses chosen from an approved list of environmental electives are required. (One of these can count toward the university social science requirement.) Contact the department’s environmental chemistry advisor for full details.
Both options satisfy the mathematics, physics, and chemistry requirements for admission to medical, osteopathic, optometric, podiatric, dental or veterinary school. To satisfy biology requirements students will typically need 11 credits of biology courses including BIO 234 (Biology of Cells), Biology 244 (Biology of Cells Lab), Bio 333 (General genetics) and one appropriate advanced BIO elective, which should be chosen in consultation with the departmental faculty advisor. All premedical students need to have their degree programs approved by the Premedical Faculty Advisor to make sure that they will satisfy the prerequisites of the professional schools to which they plan to apply.
For students in the Chemistry degree option, these Biology courses can replace CHM 319, CHM 431/433, CHM 491 and one of the advanced science electives. Also, Bio 430 (Introduction to Biological Statistics) can be substituted for CHM 424. Although CM 319, CHM 431/433 and CHM 491 are not required, they can be taken as electives in order to qualify for American Chemical Society certification. In the Biochemistry option the premedical biology courses can be used to satisfy existing degree requirements.