Chemistry Major | Chemistry Minor

General Distribution Requirement

All courses in the chemistry department count toward the general distribution requirement in mathematics and natural science except courses numbered CHEM 194, CHEM 294, CHEM 394, and CHEM 494 (topics), CHEM 300, CHEM 614, CHEM 624CHEM 634, and CHEM 644.  

General Education Requirements

Courses that meet the general education requirements in writing, quantitative thinking, internationalism and U.S. identities and differences will be posted on the Registrar's web page in advance of registration for each semester.

Additional information regarding the general distribution requirement and the general education requirements can be found in the graduation requirements section of this catalog.

Honors Program

The chemistry department participates in the Honors Program. Eligibility requirements, application procedures and specific project expectations for the department are available from either the department office or the Academic Programs and Advising Office.

Topics Courses

CHEM 194, CHEM 294, CHEM 394, CHEM 494 

Examination of a topic of general interest in chemistry, the topic to be announced in advance of registration. Recent titles have been Medicinal Chemistry, Chemical Physics, and Organometallic Chemistry. Prerequisite: permission of the instructor. To be announced at registration. (4 credits)

Independent Study

The department offers independent study options in the form of independent projects, internships, preceptorships and Honors independent projects. For more information contact the department and review the Curriculum section of the catalog.

Chemistry Major

Major Requirements

The major in chemistry consists of CHEM 111 and CHEM 112 (or CHEM 112 alone or CHEM 115 alone), CHEM 222, CHEM 211 and CHEM 212, CHEM 311 and CHEM 312, CHEM 411 and CHEM 300 (4 semesters); PHYS 226 and PHYS 227; MATH 137 and MATH 237.

The capstone requirement for chemistry majors is satisfied by taking the weekly CHEM 300 seminar during both semesters of the junior and senior years. Each major must give a public seminar in CHEM 300 during the senior year. A chemistry major fulfills the capstone requirement with only three semesters of CHEM 300 if he or she either studies away for one semester or graduates one semester early.

The Chemistry Department offers a curriculum which is approved by the Committee on Professional Training of the American Chemical Society (ACS). A student earns an ACS-certified degree if he or she completes the chemistry major described above, takes CHEM 351, takes at least one additional advanced course in chemistry, and successfully completes the senior honors program in chemistry. In certain cases, an advanced course in mathematics or another science may be substituted for the advanced chemistry course. Students interested in the ACS-certified degree should talk with Professor Kuwata, the department chair.

The Chemistry Department values Macalester's emphasis on internationalism and encourages its majors to consider studying away for a semester. The chemistry faculty are happy to talk with you about various programs and options. You should begin planning well in advance, so that you can best integrate your academic experience away with your continuing development as a chemist back at Macalester. Here are some suggestions to help guide your thinking.

Advice for those planning to study away in the fall semester of their junior year: If you are not planning on completing the emphasis in biochemistry or taking CHEM 351 - Biochemistry I, then studying away during the fall is probably your best option. The only course required for the chemistry major that you will miss is CHEM 311 - Thermodynamics and Kinetics Note that CHEM 311 is not a prerequisite for any other courses at Macalester, such as CHEM 312 - Quantum Chemistry and Spectroscopy or CHEM 411 - Advanced Inorganic Chemistry. Two options are possible:

  • Option 1: Take a suitable chemistry course that covers thermodynamics (and kinetics if possible) at the university where you are studying away. If you would like to explore this option, talk with Professor Varberg during the time that you begin preparing your study away application to Macalester (or earlier). The Chemistry Depart­ment needs to certify in advance if you would like a course taken at another institution to meet the requirements for CHEM 311.
  • Option 2: Delay taking CHEM 311 until the fall of your senior year. Be sure to take CHEM 312 in the spring of your junior year, as this course is the prerequisite for CHEM 411.

If you are also completing the biochemistry emphasis, you will miss CHEM 351 - Biochemistry I. In this case, you should plan on taking a suitable course while away to replace either CHEM 311 or CHEM 351. The Department does not recommend taking CHEM 311, CHEM 351, and CHEM 411 all simultaneously in the fall of your senior year.

Advice for those planning to study away in the spring semester of their junior year: Studying away in the spring is a bit more challenging. Here you will miss CHEM 312 - Quantum Chemistry and Spectroscopy, which is required for the chemistry major. CHEM 312 is also a prerequisite for CHEM 411 - Advanced Inorganic Chemistry. Three options are possible:

  • Option 1: Take a suitable chemistry course that covers quantum chemistry at the university where you are studying away. If you would like to explore this option, you should talk with Professor Varberg during the time that you begin preparing your study away application to Macalester (or earlier). The Chemistry Depart­ment needs to certify in advance if you would like a course taken away to meet the requirements for CHEM 312.
  • Option 2: Take CHEM 411 in the fall of your senior year without having met the CHEM 312 prerequisite. While Professor Fischer has the discretion to authorize your enrollment in CHEM 411 without CHEM 312, you need to recognize that it puts you at a significant disadvantage when taking CHEM 411, because you will not have had prior exposure to quantum chemistry and group theory. These are both important topics in inorganic chemistry, and you will need to spend extra time and effort to learn this material in CHEM 411. As the last course in the chemistry major sequence, CHEM 411 builds on the foundation presented in CHEM 312. Students are best equipped to maximize their learning in CHEM 411 by engaging the course content with a strong background that comes from previous study of quantum chemistry.
  • Option 3: You could also explore the possibility of taking a course during the summer that meets either the CHEM 312 or CHEM 411 requirement.

As noted above, during their term studying away, chemistry majors are excused from the CHEM 300 - Chemistry Seminar requirement.

Students interested in secondary school teaching should consult with Professor Ronald Brisbois and the Educational Studies Department.

Suggested Course Sequence for a Chemistry Major

Fall Semester Spring Semester
First Year CHEM 111 or CHEM 115 CHEM 112 or CHEM 222
MATH 137 MATH 137* or MATH 237
Sophomore CHEM 211 CHEM 212
MATH 237* CHEM 222*
PHYS 226 PHYS 227
Junior CHEM 311 CHEM 312
(CHEM 351) CHEM 300
CHEM 300 (Advanced elective)
Senior CHEM 411 CHEM 300
(CHEM 351*) (Advanced elective)
CHEM 300

*if not taken earlier

Courses in parentheses are not required for a major, but a selection of one to three advanced courses is highly recommended, especially for graduate study in chemistry. Note that MATH 237 - Applied Multivariable Calculus III should be taken before enrolling in CHEM 312. Enrollment in CHEM 222 is strongly encouraged during the first or second year. Depending upon their interests and career goals, chemistry majors often elect to supplement their required courses with courses in mathematics, physics, biology, geology, and/or economics. However, chemistry majors have also taken second majors or minors in a wide variety of disciplines, such as classics, theater and dance, and music.

Requirements for a Major in Chemistry with added emphasis in biochemistry

Students interested in biochemistry should consider majoring in chemistry with an added emphasis in biochemistry. Students choosing this option will have this noted on their transcripts as Chemistry Major with Added Emphasis in Biochemistry. To earn an emphasis in biochemistry, students must complete all of the requirements of the Macalester chemistry major plus CHEM 351 - Biochemistry I. Students must also take CHEM 352 - Biochemistry II or CHEM 354 - Chemical Biology or another advanced course at the interface of chemistry and biology approved by the Chemistry Department chair. In addition, students must take BIOL 260 - Genetics and BIOL 265 - Cell Biology. The Chemistry Department encourages advanced electives in chemistry or biology.

Chemistry Minor

Minor Requirements

The minor in chemistry consists of CHEM 112 or CHEM 115, CHEM 211, CHEM 212 and three additional chemistry courses, one of which must be CHEM 222 or CHEM 311 or CHEM 312. CHEM 111 can serve as one of these three additional chemistry courses, but Independent Projects (CHEM 614) and Internships (CHEM 624) cannot. In addition, chemistry minors must enroll in CHEM 300 - Chemistry Seminar for two semesters during their junior and/or senior years. The Chemistry Department encourages minors to plan ahead to meet this requirement. Under exceptional circumstances, a minor may petition the Chemistry Department chair for an exception to the two-semester seminar requirement.