Requirements

Chemistry Major

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

Required Courses
Select one of the following: a1
CHEM 1092
Introductory Chemistry and Quantitative Reasoning II
CHEM 1102
Introductory Chemistry II
CHEM 1109
General Chemistry
CHEM 2100Chemical Analysis1
CHEM 2250Organic Chemistry I1
CHEM 2400Inorganic Chemistry1
Select one of the following: b1
MATH 1700
Integral Calculus
MATH 1750
Integral Calculus, Advanced Section
placement above MATH 1750
PHYS 1130
PHYS 1140
Introductory Physics I
and Introductory Physics II c
2
Select a concentration:
Chemical Concentration5
Educational Concentration7
Environmental Concentration5
Geochemical Concentration5
Neurochemical Concentration7

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.

Chemical Concentration

The Chemical Concentration consists of five credits.

CHEM 2260Organic Chemistry II1
or CHEM 2261 Organic Chemistry II with Research Laboratory
CHEM 2510Chemical Thermodynamics and Kinetics1
CHEM 2520Quantum Chemistry and Spectroscopy1
Select two electives from the following: d2
CHEM 2320
Biochemistry
or CHEM 2550
Introduction to Computational Chemistry
CHEM 3000 or higher

Educational Concentration

The Educational Concentration consists of seven credits.

CHEM 2510Chemical Thermodynamics and Kinetics1
or CHEM 2520 Quantum Chemistry and Spectroscopy
EDUC 1101Contemporary American Education e1
EDUC 2203Educating All Students e1
EDUC 3301Teaching and Learning e1
EDUC 3302Curriculum Development e1
Select two additional chemistry electives in consultation with the advisor.2

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

The Environmental Concentration consists of five credits.

CHEM 2510Chemical Thermodynamics and Kinetics1
Select two molecular perspective courses:2
CHEM 2050
Environmental Chemistry
CHEM 3050
Environmental Fate of Organic Chemicals
CHEM 3055
Catalysis in Sustainable Chemical Processes
CHEM 3060 Transformation of Organic Chemicals in the Environment
CHEM 3100
Instrumental Analysis
Select one environmental perspectives course:1
CHEM 1105
Perspectives in Environmental Science
EOS 2005
Biogeochemistry: An Analysis of Global Change
EOS 2525
Marine Biogeochemistry
EOS 2585
Ocean and Climate
EOS 3020
Earth Climate History
PHYS 2810
Atmospheric and Ocean Dynamics
PHYS 3810
The Physics of Climate
BIOL 2319
Biology of Marine Organisms
BIOL 2333
Benthic Ecology
BIOL 2327
Ecology
BIOL 2581
Forest Ecology and Conservation
One additional course from the molecular or environmental perspectives lists1
At least one course from the advanced level (3000–3999) of either molecular or environmental perspectives courses

Geochemical Concentration

CHEM 2050Environmental Chemistry1
CHEM 2510Chemical Thermodynamics and Kinetics1
CHEM 3100Instrumental Analysis1
Select two electives from the following: f2
EOS 2005
Biogeochemistry: An Analysis of Global Change
EOS 2165 Mountains to Trenches
EOS 2585
Ocean and Climate
EOS 3020
Earth Climate History
EOS 3115
Research in Mineral Science

Neurochemical Concentration

The Neurochemical Concentration consists of seven credits.

Chemistry majors completing the neurochemical concentration cannot also major in neuroscience.

BIOL 1102Biological Principles II1
or BIOL 1109 Scientific Reasoning in Biology
CHEM 2260Organic Chemistry II1
or CHEM 2261 Organic Chemistry II with Research Laboratory
CHEM 2320Biochemistry1
CHEM 2510Chemical Thermodynamics and Kinetics1
or CHEM 2520 Quantum Chemistry and Spectroscopy
Select two electives from the following:2
BIOL 2135
Neurobiology
BIOL 2510
Neuropharmacology
BIOL 2553
Neurophysiology
BIOL 2566
Molecular Neurobiology
One advanced neuroscience course (3000–3999)1

Chemistry Minor

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.

Interdisciplinary Majors

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

Additional Information and Department Policies

  • 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. 
  • Majors may double-count two courses with another department or program with one exception: majors pursuing the educational concentration may double-count the four required education courses. Minors may double-count an unlimited number of courses with another department or program. 
  • Biochemistry majors may not declare a major or minor in chemistry. Chemistry majors completing the neurochemical concentration may not also major in neuroscience.

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 CHEM 2050 Environmental Chemistry, CHEM 2100 Chemical Analysis, CHEM 2250 Organic Chemistry I, CHEM 2400 Inorganic Chemistry, CHEM 2510 Chemical Thermodynamics and Kinetics, or CHEM 2520 Quantum Chemistry and Spectroscopy with a minimum grade of C-; however, credit is not given if the student places into or elects to take CHEM 1091 Introductory Chemistry and Quantitative Reasoning I, CHEM 1092 Introductory Chemistry and Quantitative Reasoning IICHEM 1101 Introductory Chemistry I, CHEM 1102 Introductory Chemistry II or CHEM 1109 General Chemistry. 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.

Career Paths

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 2970–2999, 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 acs.org/cpt.

Independent Study/Honors Projects

Students may engage in independent study at the intermediate (2970–2999) or advanced (4000–4051) level. Only one advanced level independent study or honors project can count as an elective toward the major. Majors pursuing honors in chemistry are required to register for CHEM 4050 during the first semester and CHEM 4051 during the second semester of their senior year, and attend weekly seminars/workshops on Fridays, 2:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., during both semesters.

Information for Incoming Students

Students must take the chemistry placement exam to enroll in any chemistry course numbered 1091 and higher. If students do not complete the chemistry placement exam in the summer prior to matriculation, they need to take the chemistry placement exam immediately and notify the department when they have completed the exam so that an assessment can be made prior to course registration. Placements are determined based on the result of the chemistry placement exam and other information, which includes the Quantitative Reasoning (QR) placement exam, physics placement exam (also strongly recommended for students interested in chemistry courses), SAT or ACT scores, and AP or IB scores.

Chemistry courses numbered between 1000-1090 are meant to fulfill the INS (Inquiry in the Natural Sciences) distribution degree requirement and assume no previous science background. They are appropriate for students who do not intend to take further courses in chemistry at Bowdoin. They do not require a placement in chemistry.

CHEM 1091 Introductory Chemistry and Quantitative Reasoning I is offered as an invitation-only fall-semester course and is intended for students with limited background in chemistry who will benefit from additional time devoted to improving quantitative skills and meets for three one-hour lecture sections per week, one three-hour laboratory per week, and one hour and a half problem solving/quantitative skills building session per week. It leads to CHEM 1092 Introductory Chemistry and Quantitative Reasoning II in the spring.

CHEM 1101 Introductory Chemistry I is offered only as a fall-semester course and is intended for students with limited to adequate backgrounds in chemistry and meets for a total of three lecture-hours per week, and one three-hour laboratory per week. It leads to CHEM 1102 Introductory Chemistry II in the spring.

CHEM 1109 General Chemistry is a one-semester course, taught during both the fall and spring semesters, intended for students with solid high school chemistry preparation and meets for a total of three lecture-hours per week and one four-hour laboratory per week. 

Chemistry courses at the 2000-level, which are open to students with the "CHEM 2000-level/CHEM 1109" or "CHEM 2000-level" placement, are appropriate for students with outstanding high-school chemistry preparation. These course options are CHEM 2250 Organic Chemistry I and CHEM 2100 Chemical Analysis in the fall semester and CHEM 2400 Inorganic Chemistry and CHEM 2050 Environmental Chemistry in the spring semester. While CHEM 2510 Chemical Thermodynamics and Kinetics and CHEM 2520 Quantum Chemistry and Spectroscopy are also entry points, students must also meet prerequisites in mathematics and physics to enroll in these courses. Students who start and complete a 2000-level chemistry course are not permitted to register concurrently or in a future semester for CHEM 1101 Introductory Chemistry I or CHEM 1109 General Chemistry. Students interested in 2000-level courses should contact the instructors to learn more about the course.

Summary of Placements in Chemistry

  • CHEM 1091: permits registration in CHEM 1091 Introductory Chemistry and Quantitative Reasoning I only
  • CHEM 1101: permits registration in CHEM 1101 Introductory Chemistry I only
  • CHEM 1109/1101: permits registration in CHEM 1109 General Chemistry or CHEM 1101 Introductory Chemistry I (this placement indicates the student is on the border between these two entry points. Students are permitted to enroll in either course and should consult with the instructors to ensure proper entry to the curriculum)
  • CHEM 1109: permits registration in CHEM 1109 General Chemistry only
  • CHEM 2000-level/CHEM 1109: permits registration in Chemistry at the 2000-level or CHEM 1109 General Chemistry (this placement indicates the student is on the border between these two entry points. Students are permitted to enroll in either course and should consult with the instructors to ensure proper entry to the curriculum)
  • CHEM 2000-level: permits registration in Chemistry at the 2000-level or CHEM 1109 General Chemistry (this placement indicates that a student should enroll in a 2000-level chemistry course, CHEM 2250 Organic Chemistry I is the most common entry point)

Additional information: When deciding to begin with a 1000-level chemistry course or a 1000-level biology course during their first semester, many students find a grounding in chemistry helpful before beginning a course in biology. As a word of caution, some first-year students find it advantageous to wait until their sophomore year to start chemistry; however, this means they cannot take CHEM 2250 Organic Chemistry I until their junior year if they begin with introductory chemistry as a sophomore. Students who placed into MATH 1050 Quantitative Reasoning or PHYS 1093 Introduction to Quantitative Reasoning in the Physical Sciences need not take both and are strongly recommended to enroll in PHYS 1093 Introduction to Quantitative Reasoning in the Physical Sciences as this course provides the appropriate grounding for 1000-level science courses, as well as MATH 1600 Differential Calculus.


This is an excerpt from the official Bowdoin College Catalogue and Academic Handbook. View the Catalogue