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Chemistry Overview & Goals

The Chemistry program focuses on providing students with a theoretical and quantitative background in the major fields of chemistry, including analytical, biological, inorganic, organic, and physical chemistry. Students in the program engage in experimentation through foundational courses and independent research projects advised by faculty members. The availability and experience of the faculty, coupled with the facilities, instrumentation, and techniques for a capstone senior research project, prepare the department’s graduates for success in many different areas and fields.

Students are encouraged to apply for summer internships and/or field experience, and many chemistry majors take advantage of these opportunities. Graduates of the program acquire the flexible skills required to enter many different fields of research and service, including industrial chemistry, and state and federal agencies. Many graduates continue their education in medical, dental, veterinary, and pharmacy schools. Graduate school placement, often with full fellowships, is also typical for chemistry graduates.

students doing scientific experiments in test tubes

Area Of Study

Chemistry (Major, Minor)


Any Chemistry Discipline

  • Product Development
  • Process Development
  • Analysis
  • Testing
  • Biotechnology (using living organisms or cell processes to make useful products)
  • Consulting
  • Quality Assurance/Quality Control
  • Management
  • Environmental Analyses
  • Forensics

Agricultural Chemistry

  • Agricultural Production: crops and livestock
  • Agrichemicals Development: herbicides, pesticides, fungicides, fertilizers, etc.
  • Agrichemicals Testing
  • Environmental Testing
  • Regulation

Analytical Chemistry

  • Qualitative Analysis
  • Quantitative Analysis
  • Instrumentation Design
  • Experimental Design
  • Separations (mass spectrometry, chromatography)
  • Spectroscopy
  • Chemometrics/statistics


  • Healthcare
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Environment
  • Agriculture
  • Food Science
  • Cosmetics
  • Forensics
Chemical Engineering

  • Bulk Chemicals (mass-produced large quantities)
  • Fine Chemicals (custom-produced small quantities)
  • Consumer Products
  • Biotechnology
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Electronics
  • Environmental Safety and Health
  • Fuels and Energy Conversion
  • Materials


  • Analysis
  • Testing
  • Environmental Regulation
  • Environmental Remediation

Inorganic Chemistry

  • Analysis
  • Testing
  • Synthesis
  • Environmental Remediation
  • Energy
  • Information Technology
  • Consumer Products

Materials Science

  • Metallurgy
  • Ceramics
  • Plastics/Polymers
  • Composites
  • Semiconductors and Electronic Materials
  • Optical Materials
  • Biomaterials
  • Nanomaterials
  • Extraction/Synthesis
  • Processing
Organic Chemistry

  • Synthesis
  • Healthcare
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Materials Science
  • Consumer Products
  • Biotechnology
  • Agrichemicals
  • Food Science
  • Fuels

Physical Chemistry

  • Materials Science
  • Chemical Biology
  • Nanoscale Science
  • Molecular Modeling
  • Quantum Computing
  • Biosensors

Polymer Chemistry

  • Synthetic Macromolecules
  • Biological Macromolecules
  • Analysis
  • Testing
  • Synthesis
  • Blending
  • Compounding
  • Consumer Products


  • Medicine
  • Dentistry
  • Optometry
  • Podiatry
  • Pharmacy
  • Veterinary Medicine
  • Allied Health: Occupational Therapy / Physical Therapy
  • Medical Technology
  • Nuclear Medicine

Other Professional Opportunities

  • Sales
  • Marketing
  • Technical Writing
  • Scientific Journalism
  • Scientific Illustration
  • Intellectual Property/Patent Law
  • Informational Specialists
Meet The Faculty

Lisa Reilly

Associate Professor of Chemistry; The Goulding-Woolery Professorship in Chemistry; Chair; Associate Provost

Richardson Hall, 219
Peter Ehni

Visiting Associate Professor

Richardson Hall, 109
Scott M. Brothers

Associate Professor of Chemistry; Director of First-Year Experience

Richardson Hall, 221


All students majoring in Chemistry are required to complete the following core courses: CHEM 101, 102, 211, 212, 304, 320, 324, 330, 351, 385, 386, 477, 490, 495; PHYS 201, 202; MATH 201, 202. In addition, each student must complete one of the following tracks:

Biochemistry Track: CHEM 352; BIOL 290 and either BIOL 341 or 343. Two additional courses from the following are recommended: BIOL 100, 251, 308, 338, 440, 442, CHEM 255; MATH 281.

Professional Chemistry Track: Select two electives from each of the following two groups:
Group 1: CHEM 108, 255, 285, or any additional CHEM 300 level course or higher; Group 2: CPSC 151; MATH 203, 341, 354; PHYS 222, 241, 300. Students that are interested in entering a career in chemical engineering are recommended to take CPSC 151 and the three courses in mathematics. Students interested in pursuing a career in forensics are recommended to take CHEM 108 and 255 and complete the minor in criminal justice.

Entering freshmen interested in chemistry should enroll in CHEM 101 and a mathematics course at the appropriate level. Students with Level II placement must take a Level II course immediately to prepare themselves for the mathematics concepts in CHEM 102. Programs for subsequent semesters must be decided in consultation with the faculty advisors for Chemistry. Students with Advanced Placement (AP) in chemistry should consult immediately with a chemistry faculty member in the department for placement in a course at the appropriate level. Additional courses in mathematics are strongly encouraged.

All courses in chemistry and all required courses in mathematics, biology, psychology, and physics must be taken for a letter grade.


CHEM 101, 102, 211, 212; six credits from CHEM 304, 315, 320, 324, 326, 330, 351, 352, 370. (MATH 201 and 202 are prerequisites for CHEM 320.)


CHEM 100 Chemistry for Society 4 credits
This course emphasizes an understanding of chemical concepts relevant to our everyday lives. At the end of this course, a student should be able to analyze and discuss primary sources dealing with subjects related to chemistry. The course is designed for non-science students. (Course is not open to students who have credit for CHEM 101 or higher or equivalent.)

CHEM 101 General Chemistry I 4 credits
Theoretical chemistry and descriptive inorganic chemistry are studied in this course. The laboratories provide students with experience in basic laboratory manipulations, problem solving, and testing of hypotheses. Lectures and laboratories meet for 6 hours per week. Prerequisite: Mathematics requirement – Level III placement or higher, concurrent enrollment in a Level III mathematics course, or equivalent transfer credit.

CHEM 102 General Chemistry II 4 credits
This course is a continuation of the lecture portion of CHEM 101 and includes the study of solubility and acid-base phenomena in aqueous systems with appropriate lab work. Lectures and labs meet for 6 hours per week. Prerequisite: CHEM 101; Mathematics requirement – Level IV placement or completion of a Level III mathematics course with a grade of C- or higher, concurrent enrollment in a Level III mathematics course, or equivalent transfer credit.

CHEM 108 Introduction to Forensic Science 4 credits
The application of chemical and physical methods to the analysis of evidence is the focus of this course. Common methods of evidentiary examination are included as experiential components. Team work on case studies and on the investigation of crime scenes is emphasized. The course meets for 6 hours each week. Prerequisite: High School Chemistry or Physics, or permission of the instructor.

CHEM 211 Organic Chemistry I 4 credits
This course is a survey of organic functional groups and the the fundamentals of organic chemistry. The laboratory includes basic laboratory techniques for separation, purification, reaction, and analysis. Prerequisites: CHEM 101 and 102 or permission of the instructor.

CHEM 212 Organic Chemistry II 4 credits
This course is a continuation of CHEM 211 and includes more in-depth study of mechanisms, organic synthesis, and analysis. Laboratory work consists largely of organic preparations and identification of unknown compounds. Prerequisite: CHEM 211 or permission of the instructor.

CHEM 255 Introduction to Pharmacology 3 credits
Pharmacological properties of some common types of organic compounds are studied along with various issues in medical ethics. The course is taught predominantly in a discussion/seminar format with occasional introductory lectures. Prerequisite: CHEM 212 or concurrent enrollment in CHEM 212.

CHEM 285 Data Analysis for Physical Science 3 credits
Data Analysis for Physical Science covers hypothesis testing, principal component analysis, multivariate calibrations, experimental design, and introduction to data mining methods such as support vector machines and neural networks. The focus of the course is on the application of the above topics to practical uses in the fields of the physical sciences through the use of common software packages.

CHEM 304 Descriptive Inorganic Chemistry 4 credits
The important phenomena of modern inorganic chemistry are systematically discussed. These include quantum theory, structure and bonding theories including valence bond theory and molecular orbital theory, symmetry, reduction/oxidation chemistry, acid-base chemistry, solid state chemistry, bioinorganic chemistry, and transition metal chemistry including magnetism and electronic spectroscopy. (Three lectures and three hours of laboratory per week.) Prerequisites: CHEM 101 and 102.

CHEM 315 Advanced Methods of Analysis: Spectroscopy 2 credits
This course is a survey of spectroscopic theory and methods. Experiments employ UV-Vis, infra-red, nuclear magnetic, gas chromatography/mass spectrometry, and atomic absorption spectrophotometers. Forensic and environmental problems are emphasized. Students participate in one lecture and one laboratory session each week. Prerequisite: CHEM 211 or permission of the instructor.

CHEM 320 Physical Chemistry I with Biological Applications 4 credits
This course is an introduction to the nature of thermodynamics and kinetics including equilibrium and rate transport processes. The focus is on applications of physical concepts to systems, especially those of biochemical and biological interest. Studies of chemical and phase equilibria are investigated thoroughly, and kinetic processes including Michaelis-Menton kinetics as well as transition state theory complete the course. (This course may be taken for credit as BIOL 320.) Prerequisites: CHEM 212 and MATH 202 or permission of the instructor.

CHEM 324 Analytical Chemistry 4 credits
The study of the principles of acid-base, oxidation-reduction, and solubility phenomena associated with solutions is emphasized. Classical and modern applications of principles to the analysis of unknowns are performed in the laboratory. Prerequisite: CHEM 211.

CHEM 326 Physical Chemistry II 4 credits
This course considers the thermal and energetic behavior of gases, the statistical principles governing the distribution of particles, the differing energy states of atoms and molecules, and the transitions within these states. Introductory quantum mechanical principles, centered around the Schrodinger equation, will be discussed. The course will conclude with a discussion of an advanced topic to be selected from thermodynamics, kinetics, or quantum mechanics. Prerequisites: CHEM 212, MATH 202.

CHEM 330 Instrumental Analysis 4 credits
This course is a survey of the principles, applications, and performance characteristics of instrumental methods. The following topics will be covered in the course: data collection and interpretation, the physics of electromagnetic radiation, UV/Vis and NIR spectroscopy, molecular luminescence spectroscopy, atomic spectroscopy, IR and Raman spectroscopy, chromatographic separations, mass spectroscopy, and NMR spectroscopy. Forensic and environmental applications are emphasized. (Not open to students who have credit for or are currently enrolled in CHEM 315 or 335.) Prerequisite: CHEM 211

CHEM 335 Advanced Methods of Analysis: Chromatography 2 credits
This course is a survey of chromatographic theory and methods. Experiments employ thin layer chromatography (TLC), gas chromatography (GC), gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS), and high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) as examples of the method. Forensic and environmental problems are emphasized. Students participate in one lecture and one laboratory session each week. Prerequisite: CHEM 211 or permission of the instructor.

CHEM 351 Molecular Biology and Biochemistry I 4 credits
This course is an introduction to the structural organization and chemical compositions of cells and to fundamental chemical processes carried on inside organelles. Included are enzymatic action, transport across biological membranes, and basic metabolic pathways as they relate to cell structure. The laboratory focuses on current techniques for the isolation and analysis of basic biomolecules and on some practical applications of enzymology. (This course may be taken for credit as BIOL 351.) Prerequisites: CHEM 211, 212.

CHEM 352 Molecular Biology and Biochemistry II 4 credits
This course is an introduction to biosynthesis of biomolecules, gene expression and control, and recombinant DNA technology. The laboratory focuses on current techniques for probing biochemical reactions and for isolating and engineering DNA. (This course may be taken for credit as BIOL 352.) Prerequisite: BIOL 351 or CHEM 351.

CHEM 370 Green Chemistry 3 credits
This course is designed for a junior level student with interest in green and sustainable chemistry methods and techniques. Topics in this course will include the principles of green chemistry, problems with waste and waste disposal, environmental chemistry issues and regulations, the production of greener chemicals and solvents, and greener processes in both polymer chemistry and catalysis. Students will be expected to utilize the green chemical literature for case studies and for a final paper and presentation of current green chemical research. Prerequisite: CHEM 211 or permission of the instructor.

CHEM 385 Writing for Chemistry I 1 credit
This course is the first of two which focus on written and oral communication in the styles common to the chemistry and biochemistry fields. Students read and report on current literature of interest, including that presented by invited speakers. Prerequisite: CHEM 211 or permission of the instructor.

CHEM 386 Writing for Chemistry II 1 credit
This course provides further instruction for writing and presenting ideas and proposals in chemistry and biochemistry. Students prepare and present papers based on experimental data. A project proposal, including a budget, is prepared. Prerequisite: CHEM 385.

CHEM 420 Professional Internship 1-3 credits
This course is a professionally supervised experience with off-campus scientists using modern research and/or analytical techniques. Settings vary from purely academic summer programs to private or public scientific institutions. A minimum of 160 hours in the experience is expected.

CHEM 430-434 Special Topics 2 credits each
These are courses devoted to the consideration of advanced topics and areas of special interests.
CHEM 430 Analytical Chemistry
CHEM 431 Inorganic Chemistry
CHEM 432 Organic Chemistry
CHEM 433 Physical Chemistry
CHEM 434 Biochemistry

CHEM 477 Senior Seminar in Chemistry 1 credit
The Senior Seminar in Chemistry is a review of current topics. Students participate in reading the chemical literature and presentation of appropriate work in oral and written forms.

CHEM 480 Methods and Materials in Teaching Physical and Life Sciences 3 credits
The course is a study of the aims and methods of teaching the physical and life sciences in the secondary schools. Special attention is given to teaching general laboratory procedures and techniques of teaching. Each of the departments in the physical and life sciences participates in this program. (This course may be taken for credit as EDUC or GENS 480. A 30 hour field placement is required.) Prerequisites: 16 credits in one of the physical or life sciences or permission of the instructor; EDUC 242; a passing score on PRAXIS I Core Academic Skills for Educators; admission to the teacher education program.

CHEM 487-488 Independent Study 2-4 credits

CHEM 490 Senior Project 2-4 credits
During the junior year, the chemistry major is introduced to the methods of employing chemical literature, selects a topic for advanced investigation, and makes a literature search of background material as a basis for an in-depth study in this area. Following this preliminary work, an investigation of a significant topic in chemistry is made by each senior under the direction of a faculty member in the department. This work culminates in a written and oral report at the end of the senior year.

CHEM 495 Comprehensive Exams
This course is an administrative placeholder used to record a student’s score on Comprehensive Exams (CR/NCR).

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