The Chemistry Curriculum


The Carleton Chemistry Major

The American Chemical Society Certified Chemistry Major

Advice For Students Considering a Chemistry Major

The Chemistry "Comps" Program

Selecting Your First Chemistry Course

Catalog Copy Describing the Chemistry Major (Registrar's Office)


The Carleton Chemistry Major

A major in Chemistry consists of the following courses:

Chemistry 123 or 128 Principles of Chemistry or Environmental Chemistry
Chemistry 230 Equilibrium and Analysis
Chemistry 233 Organic Chemistry I
Chemistry 234 Organic Chemistry II
Chemistry 343 Chemical Thermodynamics
Chemistry 344 Quantum Chemistry
Chemistry 301 Chemical Kinetics Laboratory
Chemistry 302 Spectroscopy Laboratory
Chemistry 400 Integrative Exercise

One 300-level elective course in Chemistry
One 300-level elective laboratory in Chemistry

Mathematics: Calculus through Calculus III (Mathematics 211)

Physics: One introductory Newtonian mechanics course (PHYS 131, 132, 141, or 142), and a second 100-level physics course (PHYS 151, 152, 153, or 165). One additional 200-level physics course is strongly recommended (PHYS 228, 235, 260, or 261).


The American Chemical Society Certified Chemistry Major

The American Chemical Society (ACS) is a professional society for chemists that has provided guidelines to baccalaureate institutions on best practices for teaching chemistry to undergraduate students. An ACS certified chemistry major requires more breadth and advanced study than the regular Carleton chemistry major. Students interested in continuing in chemistry after graduation in either graduate school or industry should consider the guidelines of the ACS certified chemistry major when planning their studies.

Requirements for an ACS-certified Major

Core Courses and Labs:
CHEM 123 or 128 Principles of Chemistry or Principles of Environmental Chemistry
CHEM 230 Equilibrium and Analysis
CHEM 233 Organic Chemistry I
CHEM 234 Organic Chemistry II
CHEM 343 Chemical Thermodynamics
CHEM 344 Quantum Chemistry
CHEM 301 Chemical Kinetics Laboratory
CHEM 302 Spectroscopy Laboratory
CHEM 320 Biological Chemistry
CHEM 351 Inorganic Chemistry
CHEM 352 Inorganic Chemistry Laboratory
CHEM 400 Integrative Exercise

Elective Upper-level Courses and Labs:
Two additional 300-level 6-credit courses in Chemistry
One additional 300-level 2-credit lab course in Chemistry (CHEM 306, 321, 338, 339, 329, or 355)

Research Experience:
Research experience is required for an ACS certified major.  This requirement can be fulfilled through academic year independent research with a faculty member, or through summer research at Carleton or elsewhere.  To satisfy the requirement, your research experience must culminate in a final written report on your work.

Further Laboratory Requirement:
In addition to the laboratory courses listed in the Core and Elective categories above, an ACS certified major requires an additional 5 credits worth of laboratory work.  These credits can be satisfied through a combination of additional 300-level lab courses, or research experience.

Mathematics: Calculus through Calculus III (MATH 211)

Physics: One introductory Newtonian mechanics course (PHYS 131, 132, 141, or 142), a second 100-level physics course (PHYS 151, 152, 153, or 165), and one of a selection of 200-level physics courses (PHYS 228, 235, or 260).


Advice For Students Considering a Chemistry Major

The Chemistry Department has the following suggestions. In addition, any chemistry faculty member would be happy to provide ad hoc advice to any student interested in chemistry. The Chemistry Student Departmental Advisors (SDA's) are also a good source of insider advice and guidance.

  • Chemistry is a highly structured major. While there is some flexibility, prerequisites matter.
  • By the end of your sophomore year it is best if you have completed the following courses:
    • Chemistry 123 or 128 Principles of Chemistry or Environmental Chemistry
    • Chemistry 230 Equilibrium and Analysis
    • Chemistry 233 Organic Chemistry I
    • Chemistry 234 Organic Chemistry II
    • Calculus through Calculus III (Mathematics 211)
    • Physics: One Newtonian mechanics course, Physics 131, 132, 141, or 142, and one of the following physics courses: 151, 152, 153, or 165
  • If you are not on schedule to complete all of the above courses by the end of your sophomore year, it is highly advised that you discuss your course schedule with a member of the Chemistry Department. If you are off phase there are many ways that you can arrange your courses to complete the major on time (often with great ease!), but careful planning is necessary. The earlier you start making a plan, the better!
  • Nearly half of all chemistry majors participate in an off-campus studies program at some point in their Carleton career. However, because of the structured nature of the chemistry major, some planning is necessary. One common pattern for chemistry majors is to go off campus during the Fall Term of their junior year or the Fall Term of their senior year. The optimal choice for you will depend on the details of your schedule.
  • Many Chemistry majors do research during the summer. Most summers there are about 15 students from all class years on-campus working in the research groups of various chemistry faculty members. These students are mostly rising junior and seniors, but also include other underclassmen. Many others go to work at a variety of universities, national labs, and industrial locations. We think this is the best way to learn chemistry! In addition, this sort of experience is a must for students considering graduate school or a chemistry related profession.