The Curriculum

Elizabeth Stemmler, Department Chair
Emily Murphy, Department Coordinator

Professors: Richard D. Broene†, Jeffrey K. Nagle, Elizabeth A. Stemmler, Dharni Vasudevan† (Environmental Studies)
Associate Professors: Danielle H. Dube (Biochemistry), Benjamin C. Gorske (Biochemistry)
Assistant Professor: Kana Takematsu† (Biochemistry)
Senior Lecturer: Michael P. Danahy
Visiting Faculty: Ryan Nelson, Michael Sommer
Laboratory Instructors: Rene L. Bernier, Martha B. Black, Danielle Haas Freeman, Colleen T. McKenna, Paulette M. Messier, Daniel Tesfagaber

Requirements for the Major in Chemistry

The chemistry major consists of a core curriculum and additional electives within a single area of concentration.

Required courses:

  • Chemistry 1092 or 1102 or 1109
  • Chemistry 2100
  • Chemistry 2250
  • Chemistry 2400
  • Mathematics 1700 or 1750, or placement above Mathematics 1750
    • Students who place above Math 1700/1750 intending to pursue graduate studies are encouraged (not required) to take a math course.
  • Physics 1130 and 1140
    • For students who place into Physics 1140, only one physics course is required.

Students are advised to begin their core curriculum as soon as possible. Depending on preparation and placement results, some students may begin with advanced courses.

Area of Concentration Requirements

Chemical Concentration, five credits:

  • Chemistry 2260
  • Chemistry 2510
  • Chemistry 2520
  • two electives from the following:
    • Chemistry 2320
    • Chemistry 3000 or higher
    • Only one course numbered 4000 or higher can serve as one of the two electives.

Educational Concentration, seven credits:

  • Chemistry 2510 or 2520
  • Education 1101, 2203, 3301, and 3302
    • These four courses also count toward an education minor or education coordinate major. This is the only exception to chemistry’s double-counting rule that allows only two courses to count double between two majors or a major and a minor.
  • two additional chemistry electives selected in consultation with the advisor
  • Students interested in pursuing a minor or coordinate major in education, or the Bowdoin Teacher Scholars certification program, should consult with their major advisor as well as with a faculty member in the education department to discuss course selection and content area prerequisites.

Environmental Concentration, five credits:

  • Chemistry 2510
  • two molecular perspective courses from the following:
    • Chemistry 2050, 3050, 3060, or 3100
  • one environmental perspectives course from the following:
    • Chemistry 1105; Earth and Oceanographic Science 2005, 2525, 2585, 3020, 3525; Physics 2810, 3810; Biology 2232, 2319, 2327, 2581
  • one additional course from the molecular or environmental perspectives course lists
  • at least one course from the advanced level (3000–3999) of either molecular or environmental perspectives courses

Geochemical Concentration, five credits:

  • Chemistry 2050
  • Chemistry 2510
  • Chemistry 3100
  • two electives from the following:
    • Earth and Oceanographic Science 2005, 2165, 2535, 2585, 3020, or 3115
    • At least one elective must be at the advanced level (3000–3999).

Neurochemical Concentration, seven credits:

  • Biology 1102 or 1109
  • Chemistry 2260
  • Chemistry 2320
  • Chemistry 2510 or 2520
  • two electives from the following:
    • Biology 2135, 2553, 2566
  • one advanced neuroscience course (3000–3999)

Requirements for the Minor in Chemistry

The minor consists of four chemistry courses at or above the intermediate level (2000–2969). One intermediate or advanced independent study can count toward the minor.

Biochemistry majors may not declare a major or minor in chemistry.

Additional Information

Only one grade of D may be counted for the major or minor. This D must be offset by a grade of B or higher in another chemistry course also required for the major or minor. Generally, courses for the major or minor must be taken for regular letter grades (not Credit/D/Fail). Under special circumstances, however, a student may petition the department chair to allow one course required for the major or minor to be taken with the Credit/D/Fail grading option. With prior approval from the department chair, up to two transfer credits can count toward the major or minor.

Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate (AP/IB)

Students who received a minimum score of four on the Chemistry AP exam or a minimum score of five on the Chemistry IB exam are eligible to receive a credit and can count it toward the major or minor after completion of Chemistry 2050, 2100, 2250, 2400, 2510, or 2520 with a minimum grade of C-; however, credit is not given if the student places into or elects to take Chemistry 1091, 1101, or 1109. Regardless of AP/IB score, all students must take the placement exam. In order to receive credit for advanced placement work, students must have their scores officially reported to the Office of the Registrar by the end of their sophomore year at Bowdoin.

The chemistry major can serve as preparation for many career paths after college, including the profession of chemistry, graduate studies in the sciences, medicine, secondary school teaching, and many fields in the business world. The department offers programs based on the interests and goals of the student; therefore, a prospective major should discuss their plans with the department as soon as possible. Regardless of career goals, students are encouraged to develop their critical thinking and problem-solving skills by participating in a collaborative student- faculty research project (Chemistry 2970–2979, 4000–4051, or summer research).

The department also offers an American Chemical Society-certified major in chemistry. The requirements for certification are met by taking additional courses in chemistry and other disciplines. Students interested in this certification program should consult their advisor and refer to guidelines found at

Independent Study

Students may engage in independent study at the intermediate (2970–2979) or advanced (4000–4051) level. Majors pursuing honors in chemistry are required to register for advanced independent study during the fall and spring semesters of their senior year and attend weekly seminars/workshops on Fridays, 2:30–4:00 p.m., during both semesters.

Interdisciplinary Majors

The chemistry department participates in the biochemistry and environmental studies programs, as well as the interdisciplinary chemical physics major. See pages Interdisciplinary Majors.