Degrees and Programs

Chemistry Concentration

Feb. 1, 1993 — AOS Guidelines: Science, Mathematics and Technology

The science of chemistry is concerned in the broadest sense with the structure and "behavior" (properties and reactions) of the material world. On one end of the spectrum (atomic structure) it overlaps strongly with physics, while on the other end (biochemistry), it overlaps with biology. Traditional disciplinary majors in chemistry typically include 32-40 credits of study in chemistry, and 16-24 credits in mathematics, computers and cognate sciences.

Concentration studies in chemistry should provide an understanding of the primary principles, concepts, facts and theories across the discipline.

The concentration should include study in:

  • chemical structure
  • synthesis
  • dynamics
  • analysis.

In a traditional chemistry major this is accomplished by course work in general/inorganic, organic, analytical and physical chemistry.

Chemistry is an experimental science; therefore, whatever the focus, the concentration should provide:

  • a working knowledge of chemical laboratory methods, including basic techniques and skills of careful quantitative measurement
  • experience with application of the most commonly used instrumental methods and purification methods
  • ability to present and interpret laboratory results in a clear and well-organized fashion.

Additional expectations:

  • Some skill in mathematics and quantitative reasoning is important for understanding chemistry and working in the discipline. At the very least, a good working knowledge of algebra is needed, as well as an understanding of the application of statistics to scientific measurement and some basic understanding of the fundamental concepts and principles of calculus. The amount of mathematics needed beyond this will depend on the focus of the concentration.
  • Fundamental knowledge of the topics usually covered in general physics (including electricity and magnetism, electro-magnetic radiation, heat and energy and work) should be provided for in the degree program. Depending on the focus of the concentration, additional study or learning in physics, biology or other science areas may be important. History and philosophy of science can provide a useful broader perspective.
  • The computer has become an essential tool for work in almost all areas of chemistry. At least basic proficiency in the use of a computer, as well as some understanding of its range of applications in chemistry (data collection, analysis and presentation, modeling, simulation and problem solving, information storage and retrieval) is important.
  • Progression and depth in the discipline can be demonstrated by evidence of learning or additional studies across the discipline at the more advanced level, or by focused learning on selected areas or topics (e.g., physical organic chemistry, polymer chemistry, chemical thermodynamics, coordination chemistry, biochemistry, environmental chemistry, theoretical and quantum chemistry, etc.). Advanced laboratory experience should be included, and might be focused on one or more areas, such as physical chemistry measurement or synthetic methods including purification, separation and characterization methods, or analytical methods.
  • Familiarity with some of the major journals and primary literature of the discipline should be provided for in the concentration. A final integrative study or research project provides an excellent opportunity to develop or demonstrate skill in the use of this literature.