Chemistry Major

Department of Chemistry

Department Faculty

The Chemistry Program

Chemistry, the study of the structure, properties, and reactivity of matter, has been called the “central science” because it is central to a fundamental understanding of biology, pharmacy, medicine, agriculture, geology, engineering, and physics. The Chemistry program offers a modern curriculum for the study of chemistry within the general framework of a liberal arts and sciences education. It prepares a student for graduate, medical, or dental school; for employment in the chemical industry; or for secondary school teaching. In addition, several courses provide an important foundation in chemical theory and practice for the study of biology, geology, environmental science, and the health sciences. The program has been approved by the American Chemical Society (ACS) to offer certified degrees in Chemistry. In general, chemistry is a solid major program around which one can build a career-focused set of courses from other disciplines, e.g., with mathematics and computer science for chemical engineering or industrial chemistry; with economics and business administration for industrial chemistry; with biology for the health sciences; and with geology for energy or environmental research.

The department has well-equipped laboratories to support and reinforce classroom instruction and to provide opportunities for research. Instrumentation for spectroscopy includes ultraviolet-visible and infrared spectrophotometers; two nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometers; and atomic absorption and emission spectrometers with both flame and inductively coupled plasma sources. Other major equipment items include a scanning probe microscope, a gas chromatograph/mass spectrometer system; several other gas and liquid chromatographs; electrochemical analyzers; and a differential scanning calorimeter.

Majors are encouraged to fulfill the general education experiential learning requirement by completing URES 197, CHEM 491, CHEM 493, or CHEM 499. Alternatively, majors may meet this requirement by participating in an approved summer research program, either the UMW Summer Research Program (or a similar program at another college or university) or a program in an industrial laboratory.  To complete the experiential learning requirement through a summer research experience, contact the department chair for more details.

During the senior year qualified students may pursue Honors in Chemistry by completing an independent research project and writing and defending a thesis. Students interested in post-graduate study or industrial careers in chemistry should pursue an ACS-certified degree.

Requirements for the Chemistry Major

Forty (40) credits including CHEM 111, 112, 211, 212, 253, 254, 383, 384, 387, 388, 423, 453.

Note: MATH 122 and PHYS 105 and 106 or 101 and 102 are prerequisites to CHEM 383 and should be completed before the junior year.

Requirements for the ACS-certified Chemistry Degree

CHEM 111, 112, 211, 212, 253, 254, 317, 319, 343, 345, 383, 384, 387, 388, 423, 453 and sufficient additional laboratory hours to total 500 contact hours.

Chemistry Course Offerings

Chemistry course offerings will be found under the 4 letter code of CHEM in the course listings.

101 – Foundations of Chemistry (3) 

Foundations of Chemistry is designed to develop fundamental mathematical skills and introduce foundational chemistry concepts underlying this central science. The use of mathematics is stressed in the context of chemical problems involving measurement, atoms, molecules, reactions and solutions.  This course prepares students interested in pursuing a science major for the General Chemistry course curriculum.  This course does not count toward the chemistry major, minor nor fulfillment of the General Education requirement in the Natural Science. 

105, 106 – Chemistry and Society with Laboratory I, II (4, 4)

A study of societal problems and issues involving an understanding of important chemical principles with emphasis on relevant applications and the enhancement of chemical literacy for the non-scientist. Laboratory. Does not satisfy any major program requirements or serve as a prerequisite to any other chemistry courses. Credit for only one sequence (Chemistry 105–106 or 111–112) can count toward degree requirements. Only in sequence.

107 – Societal Chemistry (3)

A study of societal problems and issues involving an understanding of important chemical principles with emphasis on relevant applications and the enhancement of chemical literacy for the non-scientist. CHEM 105,106 include a laboratory component. Does not satisfy any major program requirements or serve as a prerequisite to any other chemistry courses. Credit for only one sequence (Chemistry 105–106, 105-107, or 111–112) can count toward degree requirements. Only in sequence (105-106 or 105-107).

111, 112 – General Chemistry I, II (4, 4)

Introduction to the fundamental principles of chemistry and the more important elements and their compounds. Laboratory. The entry-level course for additional work in chemistry, biology, and environmental science. Credit for only one sequence (Chemistry 105–106, 105–107, or 111–112) can count toward degree requirements. Only in sequence.

211, 212 – Organic Chemistry I, II (4, 4)

Prerequisite: CHEM 112. The comprehensive study of the structure and reactivity of carbon compounds. Laboratory. Only in sequence.

253 – Chemical Analysis I (4)

Prerequisite: CHEM 112. Introduction to principles of chemical analysis, statistical treatment of measurements, volumetric and gravimetric analyses, and electrochemical analysis. Laboratory.

254 – Chemical Analysis II (4)

Prerequisite: CHEM 112. Introduction to sampling in chemical analysis as well as instrumental methods. Laboratory.

317, 318 – Biochemistry I, II (3, 3)

Prerequisite: CHEM 212. The application of chemical principles to the study and understanding of the living state. Only in sequence.

319, 320 – Biochemistry Laboratory I, II (1, 1)

Corequisites: CHEM 317 and 318. CHEM 253 and 254 are highly recommended. Selected research techniques involving the chemical composition and properties of cells, tissues, and organisms.

331 – Environmental Chemistry (3)

Prerequisite: CHEM 112 or permission of the instructor. An introduction to chemical processes that regulate the composition of air, water, and soil. Attention will be paid to understanding chemical equilibrium and kinetics of natural systems and how they are influenced by human actions.

332 – Environmental Chemistry Laboratory (1)

Corequisite: CHEM 331. Laboratory experiments and field sampling methods that determine the chemical composition of environmental samples. Offered in alternate years.

343 – Inorganic Chemistry (3)

Prerequisite: CHEM 112. Modern theories of atomic structure and chemical bonding and their applications to molecular and metallic structures and coordination chemistry.

345 – Inorganic Chemistry Laboratory (1)

Corequisite: CHEM 343. Prerequisite: CHEM 253, 254. Selected experiments in the principles of inorganic chemistry, including preparation and characterization of selected inorganic compounds.

383, 384 – Physical Chemistry I, II (3, 3)

Prerequisites: CHEM 112, MATH 122, and PHYS 105 and 106 or 101 and 102. Thermodynamic, kinetic, quantum mechanical and spectroscopic properties of chemical systems. Only in sequence.

387, 388 – Physical Chemistry Laboratory I,II (2, 2)

Prerequisites: CHEM 253, 254; corequisite: CHEM 383, 384 sequence. Selected experiments involving the investigation of the thermodynamic, electrochemical, kinetic and spectroscopic properties of chemical systems. Only in sequence.

411 – Advanced Organic Chemistry (3)

Prerequisite: CHEM 212. Organic reaction mechanisms and the relation of molecular structure to physical and chemical properties.

423 – Experimental Methods in Chemistry (4)

Prerequisites: CHEM 212 and 253, 254. Spectroscopic, chromatographic, and chemical functional group techniques used in synthesizing and characterizing chemical systems. Laboratory.

453 – Seminar (2)

Open to graduating majors only, except by permission of the department. Introduction to the chemical literature and information retrieval; oral reports and discussion of selected topics in chemistry.

471 – Advanced Topics in Chemistry (2–3)

Prerequisite: permission of the instructor. Advanced treatment of selected topics in chemistry.

491 – Individual Study (1–4)

Open to qualified students by permission of the department. Individual investigation of a chemical topic or system under the direction of a member of the department. Students pursuing Honors in Chemistry register for 4 credits of Chemistry 491 each semester of the senior year.

493 – Chemical Outreach (1-2)

Open to qualified students by permission of the department. Supervised activities that share chemical knowledge and activities with members of the local community (such as K-12 students or teachers) or other UMW groups (such as James Farmer Scholars).

499 – Internship (Credits variable)

Prerequisites: permission of the department. Supervised off-campus experience developed in consultation with the department.