Curriculum Overview 

Chemistry is the study of matter and the changes it undergoes and, as such, is essential to the study and understanding of physical, geological and biological phenomena. Because of its place among the sciences, chemistry is inherently interdisciplinary and attracts students to its study from a broad range of related interests.

The chemistry major at Franklin & Marshall College is led by faculty who are committed to helping the student “learn how to learn.” In addition to acquiring an understanding of the basic concepts of chemistry, majors hone the skills necessary for critical and analytical thinking and develop their ability to communicate observations and discoveries through the printed and spoken word.

Through coursework, chemistry majors gain an understanding of transformations and reactions at the atomic, molecular and macromolecular scales, the energetics associated with those changes and the analytical techniques used to study them. By involvement in the ongoing research of chemistry faculty members, students have extraordinary opportunities to study new reactions and properties of matter and to make original contributions to the literature. As a consequence, knowledge gained from coursework is deepened and enriched by the research experience, which immerses the student in the methodology of scientific discovery and the creative process. The confidence and independence engendered by the chemistry major allow students to pursue a wide variety of opportunities beyond graduation.

A major in Chemistry consists of a minimum of 15 credits, including at least 10 credits in chemistry. Required courses are:

  • CHM 111, 112, 211, 212, 221, 222, 321.
  • PHY 111, 112; MAT 109, 110.

The chemistry major may be completed with the required courses and the following additional courses:

  • At least one course selected from CHM 322 or CHM 351.
  • One credit in Chemistry numbered 410 – 479.
  • Two additional course credits in chemistry, or one additional credit in chemistry and one course credit outside chemistry approved by the department. Approved courses outside of chemistry include BIO 305; ENV 321; MAT 111; PHY 222, 223.

CHM 390 or 490 is encouraged but no more than one such credit may be applied toward the requirements for the major.

A student interested in an emphasis in biochemistry should complete the major by taking Introductory Biochemistry (CHM 351) and Advanced Biochemistry (CHM 451).

If a student is interested in completing an American Chemical Society certified major in Chemistry, the student must complete CHM 111, 112, 211, 212, 221, 222, 321, 351, plus three additional chemistry course credits (e.g., CHM 322, 411, 451 or one course credit of CHM 390 or 490) and the four cognate courses (MAT 109, 110 and PHY 111, 112). The required 400 hours of laboratory experience after CHM112 are achieved by successful completion of the Chemistry major including research (CHM 390, 490 or summer research).

A minor in Chemistry requires CHM 111 and 112 plus four additional chemistry credits (including no more than one credit of CHM 390 or 490).

To be considered for Honors in chemistry the student must be nominated by the research mentor on the basis of work done in the CHM 490 and may include research completed during the summer preceding the senior year. Criteria to be met include an unusual commitment of time and effort, results that are publishable and are likely to have been presented at a scientific meeting, independent contributions to the project from the student, a well-written thesis that conforms to departmental guidelines and a successful defense of the project before a faculty committee.

Majors in the Department of Chemistry regularly engage in study abroad as part of their college experience. Over the past decade, students have studied at the following institutions: University of Strathclyde, Scotland; Trinity College, Ireland; University of Sheffield, England; University of New South Wales, Australia; University of Grenoble, France; Lancaster University, England; Oxford University, England; University of Bristol, England. See the International Programs section of the Catalog for further information.

Courses Offered

A list of regularly offered courses follows. Please note the key for the following abbreviations: (A) Arts; (H) Humanities; (S) Social Sciences; (N) Natural Sciences with Laboratory; (LS) Language Studies requirement; (NSP) Natural Science in Perspective; (NW) Non-Western Cultures requirement.