Who Can Major in Chemistry?

The major in Chemistry is available to students in SAS, the School of Engineering, and the School of Pharmacy. The Department makes an effort to give most chemistry courses normally taken during the first three years at both Douglass/Cook and Busch/Livingston campuses. All courses required for the major are offered both during the day and in the evening.

Entry Requirements

Students wishing to declare a major or minor in chemistry must have successfully completed one semester of a general chemistry course for science majors (01:160:159, 161, 163, or the equivalent) with a grade of “C” or better. A score of 4 or 5 on the Advanced Placement test or appropriate transfer credit from another institution is also acceptable. Petitions for exceptions may be addressed to the chemistry Undergraduate Executive Officer.

Declaring a Chemistry Major

A student who wants to declare a major in chemistry can do so by:

  1. filling out the major declaration form at the office of his/her college dean
  2. bringing a copy of that form and a current transcript to the Undergraduate secretary in Room 150 at Wright-Rieman Laboratories.

Degree Offered

The major in chemistry leads to a B.A. degree in all the undergraduate colleges in New Brunswick.

ACS Accreditation

The American Chemical Society, the major professional organization of chemists in the United States with more than 150,000 members, accredits certain degree programs that meet its requirements. Several of the options for the Rutgers chemistry major (options B, C and D; next section) are certified by the ACS. ACS certified degrees are regarded favorably by some employers.

Minimum Graduation Requirements

For all options, a minimum grade-point average of 2.0 in all chemistry courses is required for graduation.

Learning Goals

Students will demonstrate mastery of the body of knowledge specified by the core curriculum. Students at the upper level apply what they have learned to problems that require the evaluation of the scientific literature and the design of studies to test hypotheses. Students will use quantitative methods, both analytical and statistical, for modeling and interpreting the behavior of chemical systems. Students will be familiar with the basic experimental methods of organic, inorganic, analytical, and physical chemistry. Students will communicate clearly, both orally and in writing, the methods used in chemical scholarship and research and the results obtained with them.

Planning a Four-year Schedule

It’s a good idea and a useful exercise to map a multi-year course of study. When doing so,

  1. Check the pre-requisites for each course. In the class schedules recommended for the various options in Chemistry, the courses with pre-requisites that can be a problem are flagged with footnotes. For example, the first-semester General Chemistry classes 01:160:161 and 01:160:163 both have pre-calculus as a pre-requisite.
  2. Be aware of scheduling limitations. Some courses are offered in both the fall and the spring semesters. General Chemistry 161/162 and Introductory Chemistry Laboratory are examples. Other courses are not. For example, the organic chemistry laboratory required for all majors (01:160:309), is offered only in the spring. Students majoring (or minoring) in chemistry who start organic chemistry in the fall should make every effort to register for 01:160:309 in the following spring.

Options and Suggested Course Schedules for the Chemistry Major

Most students majoring in chemistry select one from among the several options listed below and described in the links to them. The links show the required courses and recommended schedules of classes for each option. These schedules are the most efficient, but not the only possible paths to a degree. The schedules assume that a first-year student will have completed pre-calculus, which is a requirement for all General Chemistry courses. As with all SAS majors, students also may design their own programs with the permission of the department.

  1. Core Option
  2. General American Chemical Society (ACS) Option (G)
  3. Chemical Biology Option (C)
  4. Environmental Option (D)
  5. Business/Law Option (E)
  6. Chemical Physics Option (F)
  7. Forensic Chemistry Option (M)

The Core Option provides a basic grounding in chemical principles and skills and requires the fewest courses of all options for the major in Chemistry. It is often selected by students who plan to attend medical school or professional school or to find employment in industry immediately after graduation. This option does not offer certification by the American Chemical Society.

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The General ACS Option is intended for students who have a strong interest in and may plan to use chemistry professionally, typically as academics, researchers, or research managers. It provides intensive training in the laboratory and the classroom.

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The Business/Law Option is intended for students who anticipate that a background in chemistry will be useful to them as they pursue non-laboratory employment in industry, government, business, or law. Students who select this option often plan on attending Business or Law school.

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The Chemical Biology Option is intended for students who have a strong interest in chemistry as it relates to the life sciences. Often the students who choose this option plan to use chemistry as academics, researchers, or research managers, or incidentally, as practicing physicians or other health professionals. It provides intensive training in the laboratory and the classroom.

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The Chemical Physics Option is a challenging program intended for students with a strong interest in physics and fundamental science and an aptitude for mathematics. Students who select this option often attend graduate school in mathematically oriented sciences.

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The Environmental Option is intended for students who have a strong interest in chemistry as it relates to environmental issues such as air and water quality, long-term global cycles, and resource management. Often the students who choose this option plan either to seek immediate employment as chemists in areas related to environmental chemistry or to attend graduate school.

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The Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology and the Program in Criminal Justice have created a new option for chemistry majors: Forensic Chemistry. It is intended for undergraduate students with a strong career interest in forensic science.

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