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The general educational objective of the chemistry major is the development by the student of a fundamental understanding of basic principles, concepts, models, and practices employed by chemists in characterizing the structure and behavior of matter.

The chemistry major is structured to ensure that this fundamental knowledge is based on experiences that include the four major divisions of chemistry (analytical, inorganic, organic, and physical). The chemistry program is designed to foster development of an understanding of (1) the nature of the underlying scientific processes employed in the acquisition of chemical knowledge, (2) the application of current principles and modern practices used in solving chemical problems, (3) the current state of chemical knowledge, and (4) the applications of the concepts of chemistry in addressing societal needs. The program is particularly well-suited to prepare students for careers in chemistry or related areas and for admission to graduate, medical, or other professional schools.

Chemistry majors will be able to demonstrate the following upon completion of requirements for the major:


To earn a bachelor of arts degree with a major in chemistry, a student must satisfy the following minimum requirements:

  1. General College Requirements (see “Curriculum” section), including the following requirements to satisfy the major:
  2. Required Courses:
    1. Chemistry Core Courses:(28 credit hours)
      • CHEM 106: General Chemistry II
      • CHEM 305: Quantitative Analysis
      • CHEM 311: Organic Chemistry I
      • CHEM 312: Organic Chemistry II
      • CHEM 405: Inorganic Chemistry
      • CHEM 451: Physical Chemistry I
      • CHEM 452: Physical Chemistry II
    2. Cognate Courses: (16 credit hours)
      • MATH 151: Calculus I
      • MATH 152: Calculus II
      • PHYS 141: General Physics I (recommended) or PHYS151 Fundamentals of Physics
      • PHYS 142: General Physics II (recommended) or PHYS152 Fundamentals of Physics
    3. Elective Courses: four credit hours selected from the following list of options:
      • Option 1: ACS-Certified Major.
        • CHEM 325: Chem Literature
        • CHEM 420: Biochemistry I
      • Option 2: non-ACS-Certified Major.
        • CHEM 306: Instrumental Analysis
        • PHYS 462: Quantum Mechanics
        • CHEM 480: Topics in Chemistry
        • CHEM 397, CHEM 399, CHEM 497, CHEM 499: Directed research/Independent study (as approved by the chemistry faculty)
        • PHYS 462: Quantum Mechanics
  3. Every chemistry major must complete a St. Mary’s Project. This project may be in chemistry or in another major discipline or study area. The guidelines established in the selected area apply. The project must be proposed to a mentor and to the chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at least three weeks before the last day of classes of the second semester of the student’s junior year, and it must be approved by the mentor and the department chair.
  4. Students must earn a grade of C- or better in all courses listed in items 2-3 above, and maintain an overall GPA of 2.0 or better in these required courses.
  5. Students wishing to have their degrees certified by the American Chemical Society (ACS) must take Biochemistry I (CHEM 420), and Introduction to Chemical Literature (CHEM 325). If you elect to take the ACS certified track, you can also use CHEM 420 as your 4 credit hour elective course. The ACS certification is not a requirement for graduation.

The following model is suggested as a sequence of study that satisfies the above requirements:


Paul P. Blanchette, Leah R. Eller, Allan K. Hovland, Andrew S. Koch (department chair), Randolph K. Larsen, Pamela S. Mertz


CHEM 101. Contemporary Chemistry with Laboratory (4E)

Basic concepts of chemistry are introduced, followed by studies of their relationships to one or more selected topics (life processes, the environment, consumer products, etc.). This course is intended for students not anticipating further study in chemistry. Lecture and laboratory. Formerly CHEM 112. Not open to students who have received credit for CHEM 112. This course satisfies the Core Curriculum requirement in Natural Sciences with Laboratory. Prerequisite: Successful completion of the Core Curriculum requirement in Mathematics.

CHEM 103. General Chemistry I (4F)

The fundamental principles and concepts of chemistry, including atomic structure, chemical periodicity, ionic and covalent bonding, molecular structure, stoichiometry, inorganic nomenclature, gases, liquid and solids. Lecture only.

CHEM 106. General Chemistry II (4E)

The fundamental principles and concepts of chemistry, including molecular orbital theory, kinetic molecular theory of gasses, properties of solutions, chemical thermodynamics, chemical equilibrium, acid and base equilibrium, electrochemistry, chemical kinetics, and electrochemistry. Lecture and laboratory. This course satisfies the Core Curriculum requirement in Natural Sciences with Laboratory. Prerequisite: CHEM 103 with a grade of C or better or satisfactory completion of the Chemistry Placement Exam.

CHEM 305. Quantitative Analysis (4F)

An introduction to gravimetric, volumetric, electrochemical, spectroscopic, and related statistical methods of analysis. Lecture and laboratory. Prerequisite: CHEM 106 with a grade of C- or better.

CHEM 306. Instrumental Analysis (4S)

Theory and practice of a number of modern techniques of chemical analysis including chromatography, spectroscopy, electrochemistry, and computer interfacing. Laboratory work is designed to familiarize the student with the use of various instruments used in chemical analyses including infrared, ultraviolet-visible, atomic absorption, nuclear magnetic resonance and mass spectrometers, and gas-liquid and high pressure liquid chromatographs. Lecture and laboratory. Prerequisites: CHEM 305 and CHEM 312.

CHEM 311, 312. Organic Chemistry I, II (4F, 4S)

A systematic survey of the compounds of carbon. Nomenclature, basic reaction mechanisms, stereo-chemistry, structure elucidation, and other fundamentals of the field are pursued. Lecture and laboratory. Credit is allowed for CHEM 311 without registration for CHEM 312. Prerequisites: Completion of CHEM 106 with grades of C- or better. Completion of CHEM 311 with a grade of C- or better is required for CHEM 312.

CHEM 325. Introduction to Chemical Literature (1)

This course provides an introduction to the literature of chemistry. Students will learn methods of retrieving information from traditional primary, secondary, and tertiary sources, and they also learn to use computerized databases in retrieving information. Prerequisite: CHEM 312 or consent of the instructor.

CHEM 405. Inorganic Chemistry (4S)

A study of the principles of structure and bonding, chemical reactivity, and periodic relationships of inorganic, organometallic, and bioinorganic systems. Lecture and laboratory. Prerequisite: CHEM 312 with a grade of C- or better.

CHEM 420. Biochemistry I (4F)

The chemistry of biological systems with emphasis on the relationship of molecular structure to biological function. Lecture and laboratory. Prerequisite: CHEM 312 with a grade of C- or better.

CHEM 422. Biochemistry II (4S)

A continuation of the material covered in CHEM 420 with an emphasis on metabolic processes. Lecture and laboratory. This course is cross-listed as BIOL 424. Students may receive credit for either course but not both. Prerequisite: CHEM 420 with a grade of C- or better.

CHEM 451, 452. Physical Chemistry I, II (4F, 4S)

Chemical thermodynamics with applications to phase equilibria, solution equilibria and electrochemistry; kinetic theory, reaction rates and statistical thermodynamics; the gaseous, liquid, and solid states; quantum mechanics; atomic and molecular structure; chemical bonding. Lecture and laboratory. Credit is allowed for CHEM 451 without registration for CHEM 452. Prerequisites: CHEM 106, PHYS 141, and MATH 152, or consent of the instructor. CHEM 451 is a prerequisite for CHEM 452.

CHEM 480. Topics in Chemistry (2-4)

A thorough investigation of a specialized area of chemistry. Topics are selected by the faculty according to student interest. Course may be repeated for credit if the topic is not repetitive. Prerequisite: Consent of the instructor.

CHEM 493/494. St. Mary’s Project (1-8E)

The project, which may take many forms, draws on and extends knowledge, skills of analysis, and creative achievement developed through previous academic work in chemistry. The student initiates the project, identifies an area of chemistry to be explored, and proposes a method of inquiry appropriate to the topic. The project should include a reflection on the social context, the body of literature, or the conceptual framework to which it is a contribution. It must be shared with the College community through posters, presentations, or other means. The project may be within chemistry, across disciplines, or in a cross-disciplinary study area. The project is supervised by a chemistry faculty mentor. Prerequisite: Approval of faculty mentor and department chair of the student’s major(s). Consult faculty mentor for project guidelines. The course is repeatable for up to a total of eight credit-hours.

CHEM 398, 498. Off-campus Internship (4-6E)

A variety of off-campus learning opportunities can be arranged through the Career Development Center. The off-campus internship is an individually designed experience that allows the student to explore the relationship between learning in the classroom and the practical application of knowledge in everyday work situations. Prerequisites: Admission to the Internship Program and approval of the academic adviser and department chair. (See “Internships” under “Academic Policies” section.) Credit/no credit grading.

CHEM 199, 299, 399, 499. Independent Study (1-4E)

This course consists of an independent creative or research project designed by the student and supervised by a chemistry faculty member. The nature of the project, the schedule for accomplishment, and the means of evaluation must be formalized in a learning contract prior to registration. (See “Independent Study” under “Academic Policies” section.)