Q: Is there a preferred sequence of courses students should follow?
The most common program is:
First Year: Introductory Chemistry (CHEM 101 and 102) or Accelerated Introductory Chemistry (CHEM 103), Calculus (MATH 120 and 121).
Second Year: Organic Chemistry (CHEM 131 and 132) or Biological Organic Chemistry (CHEM 134), Analytical Chemistry (CHEM 140), Introductory Physics (PHYS 110 or 120 and 111 or 121). Students interested in the major are strongly encouraged to take the PHYS 120 and PHYS 121 sequence.
Third Year: Physical Chemistry (CHEM 260 and 262), Biochemistry (BCMB 271)
Fourth Year: Inorganic Chemistry (CHEM 250), Directed Study (CHEM 299), Advanced Chemistry Courses
Nevertheless, many students fall behind this schedule without detriment. For example, some students take Physical Chemistry in their senior year. The main disadvantage is that it is then impossible to take advanced courses that have this course as a prerequisite.
Q: If I do not take CHEM 101 and CHEM 102 or CHEM 103 in my first year, can I still consider a major in chemistry?
If you do not take CHEM 101 and CHEM 102 or CHEM 103 in your first year, you can certainly still major in chemistry. A typical program would be:
Second Year: Introductory Chemistry (CHEM 101 and 102) or Accelerated Introductory Chemistry (CHEM 103), Introductory Physics (PHYS 110 or 120 and 111 or 121), Calculus (MATH 120 and 121)
Third Year: Organic Chemistry (CHEM 131 and 132), Analytical Chemistry (CHEM 140), Physical Chemistry (CHEM 260 and 262)
Fourth Year: Inorganic Chemistry (CHEM 250), Biochemistry (BCMB 271), Directed Study (CHEM 299), Advanced Electives
However, you must be careful to plan your course of action because many courses are taught only in either the fall or spring semester. You will also find that your junior and senior years are fairly chemistry-oriented. One problem is that most chemistry courses have labs and more than two labs a week can prove to be an extreme burden, both for your peace of mind and your social life. Although it is not essential to follow the suggested order, each student should follow a general plan. Organic Chemistry is almost always taken as the first advanced course. It is largely non-mathematical, so taking it early leaves time to accumulate additional math and physics background. Analytical Chemistry follows after CHEM 102 and does not require calculus. Since the laboratory component of the course concentrates on basic technique, it is a good idea to take this course as soon as possible. It is recommended that Chemistry majors take this in their sophomore year.
The order of the remaining courses is not so critical. Physical Chemistry is highly mathematical and requires calculus. Its concepts are used in many other courses, so it is advantageous to take CHEM 260 and 262 in your junior rather than your senior year. CHEM 250 can be taken at any time after CHEM 140 and after or concurrently with CHEM 260. More specialized courses are generally left until the senior year, or used to fill out a schedule. A possible exception is Directed Study, which can often be started in the second semester of the junior year.
The general principle, then, is to take your basic courses early (but not so early that you lack background for them). This has the advantage that you can use the material in later courses. It also gives you more flexibility in your senior year to choose courses that interest you, because you can be sure that you have completed the prerequisites.
Q: What is the difference between the ACS-Certified track and the Standard track?
The Carlson School of Chemistry and Biochemistry offers two tracks leading to a B.A. in Chemistry. The requirements for the two tracks are designed to allow students to choose their course work depending upon their ultimate career goals. The ACS-Certified track is recommended for those students with a strong interest in chemistry and a desire to continue onto a profession in the chemical sciences. It meets the entrance requirements for graduate study in chemistry. The Standard track offers more latitude in course selection and is appropriate for those students with an interest in chemistry, but who plan to continue in one of the health professions (medical, dental, veterinary school), public school teaching, technical sales, and other chemistry-related fields. The recommended courses for the two tracks are the same for the first two semesters, so students do not need to decide until the spring of their sophomore year. See the required course list for more information.
Q: What should I consider when I plan my course of study?
Individual courses of study will obviously vary a great deal, but it is important to plan ahead as far as possible. The following points need to be considered:
  1. Many advanced courses have other courses as prerequisites, so it is advisable to take the basic courses early.
  2. It is important to take calculus early, and certainly before CHEM 260.
  3. Students contemplating Research or Honors should complete Organic, Analytical and Physical Chemistry courses early, because most research projects involve application of the material learned in these courses.
  4. Students intending to take MCAT or GRE exams should try to complete all basic courses before sitting for the exam.
Q: What should I take besides the required courses?
It is often advantageous to take additional courses, particularly in biochemistry, chemistry, mathematics or physics, depending on the area of your interest. Some computer experience is also recommended. In special cases, one of the additional courses may be replaced by advanced biology, physics, and mathematics or computer science courses. However, such a replacement course must be at an advanced level and must be approved by the Chair of the Chemistry Department, in advance.
Q: Where should students or faculty go for more information?
Professor Sharon Huo, Department Chair, can be reached for more information.

Revised: 3/2017