Chemistry (CHEM)

Department Chair: Professor Matt Whited

Can I major in it? Yes, a major is offered. Learn more about the Chemistry major. Carleton also offers a Biochemistry minor. Students interested in chemical engineering careers can also take advantage of Carleton’s Combined Plan in Engineering.

Topics explored. Chemistry provides the connection between molecular concepts and the complex systems found in nature. Chemistry courses stress the understanding of chemical principles, as well as the experimental basis of the science. See a complete list of Chemistry Courses offered.

How do I get started? When choosing your first chemistry course, you should first decide if you want to eventually study chemistry at a more advanced level. Chemistry 113 Concepts of Chemistry is available to students interested in completing their Carleton Lab Science graduation requirement, but aren’t interested in further study in chemistry.

The following flow chart illustrates the course entry points for students interested in studying chemistry at a higher level:

Students who want to become a science major or prepare for medical school should start at either Chemistry 122: An Introduction to Chemistry (for students with little or no high school background), or either 123: Principles of Chemistry I or 128: Principles of Environmental Chemistry (for students with strong high school background but no AP or IB credit).

If you took the AP or IB exam and have a CEEB AP Score of 3 or IB HL Score of 4 placement is awarded into Chemistry 123 Principles of Chemistry I or Chemistry 128: Principles of Environmental Chemistry. If you took the AP or IB exam and have a CEEB AP Score of 4 or 5 or IB HL Score of 5, 6, or 7 placement is awarded into Chemistry 224 Principles of Chemistry II (recommended) or Chemistry 233 Organic I (discouraged in first year).

If you had chemistry experience in high school but you did not take an AP or IB exam, you must take the required self-administered Chemistry Placement Evaluation. This will enable you to decide whether to start at Chemistry 122 or at Chemistry 123 or 128. 

Prospective chemistry majors should begin their study of mathematics, physics, and chemistry in the first year.

How do I get my questions answered? Check out the FAQ section below. If questions still remain contact the Chemistry Department Chair or the Chemistry Department Student Departmental Advisers (SDAs). SDAs are senior chemistry majors who are trained to answer student questions about the chemistry curriculum.