The Department is excited that you find the intellectual challenges of chemistry rewarding and looks forward to helping you design a major plan that fits your academic circumstances. We offer five major options (as detailed below) and a great deal of flexibility in planning a major. Of the various tracks that you might take through the Chemistry major, several do not require taking two major courses in a term.
General Information for All Majors
Formal election of a major comes during the winter or spring term of the sophomore year. At that time, a detailed plan for the junior and senior years is devised in consultation with the student's faculty advisor.
All major programs require an average GPA of 2.0 in all courses counted toward the major, including prerequisites taken in Chemistry. Normally, all courses that would serve as prerequisites to, or count toward a major in Chemistry, and that are presented at the time the student submits a major card must individually have a GPA of 2.0 or higher.
Dartmouth College requires that all majors must complete a substantial, graded culminating or integrating activity in their major. Many chemistry majors will satisfy this requirement by participating in undergraduate research by registering for one or more terms of CHEM 87, Undergraduate Investigation in Chemistry. Often such students will be enrolled in the Chemistry Honors Program as well.A minimum of eight upper-level classes is required for all three majors. Upper level courses are chosen from a wide variety of disciplines to meet specific student interests and to prepare for careers in chemistry, biochemistry, environmental science, medicine, law, or business. All major courses have associated laboratory instruction which not only illustrates basic principles but also emphasizes modern techniques and student use of research-grade instruments.
In addition to the introductory or honors general chemistry, courses are offered in these areas of chemistry: basic and advanced organic, physical (kinetics and thermodynamics), basic and advanced inorganic, physical biochemistry, environmental, instrumental, and molecular spectroscopy and bonding (quantum chemistry). In addition, an array of graduate level courses are available to qualified majors.
The Five Major Options
The Chemistry Department offers five major programs. Three of the major programs are offered as majors in chemistry: Plan A, for those who wish a broad and thorough training in chemistry; Plan B, for those whose scientific interests are only partially based in chemistry; and a modified major, which is similar to Plan B, but also includes a second program involving another college department.
Plan A should be chosen by students who plan to do graduate work in chemistry or a closely allied science. Such students should normally add further courses in chemistry, physics, and mathematics to the plan’s minimum requirements. Plan A is also a suitable choice for premedical students.
Plan B is less structured and is suitable for students planning to engage in chemically-related careers, such as medicine, environmental science, life science, or industrial science, or professions for which the study of chemistry may prove desirable, such as teaching, law, or business.
The fourth program offered by the Chemistry Department is a major in biophysical chemistry. This is a relatively structured major designed for students interested in biophysical chemistry and associated methodologies for studying life processes. It provides a strong background for graduate work in biophysical chemistry, structural biology, biochemistry, and biomedical science, and is suitable for premedical students. Students are encouraged to add further courses in chemistry, biochemistry, biological sciences, mathematics, and physics to the plan’s minimum requirements.
The fifth program is a major in biological chemistry. This major is designed for students interested in applications of chemistry to fundamental biological processes, similar to the biophysical chemistry option, but without as much emphasis on the physical chemical underpinnings. In addition to being suitable for premedical students, it provides the framework for further graduate study in all areas of biological chemistry and biomedicine.