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 individual advice to any student interested in chemistry. The Chemistry Student Departmental Advisors (SDAs) 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 Principles of Chemistry or Chemistry 128 Environmental Chemistry
    • Chemistry 224 Principles of Chemistry II
    • Chemistry 233 Organic Chemistry I
    • Chemistry 234 Organic Chemistry II
    • Calculus: Multivariable Calculus (Mathematics 120 or211)
    • Physics: Two 3-credit courses or one 6-credit course from PHYS 131 to 165 (PHYS 131, 151, 152 or 143, 144, 145, or 165).
  • If you are not on schedule to complete all of the above courses by the end of your sophomore year, we strongly advise you to discuss your course schedule with a member of the Chemistry Department. 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 junior year or the Fall Term of senior year. The optimal choice for you will depend on the details of your schedule.
  • Many chemistry majors do research during the academic year and summer. Most summers there are about 15 students from all class years working on campus in the research groups of various chemistry faculty members. These students are mostly rising juniors and seniors, but also include rising sophomores. Many others go to work at 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.