The Department of Chemistry offers three undergraduate degrees. The three degree programs have courses in common at the freshman and sophomore levels, but differ in upper division curricula depending on career choices.
- The Bachelor of Science Degree in Chemistry: intended for students who are primarily interested in careers as professional chemists or seek a deeper knowledge of chemistry in preparation for graduate school in chemistry or professional schools in other disciplines such as medicine.
- The Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry: for students who are interested in careers in other fields and need a flexible curriculum to allow for courses meeting requirements outside the chemistry degree, for example, medical school or double majors, although many of these students do pursue graduate degrees in chemistry.
- The Bachelor of Science in Medicinal Chemistry: intended for students who are primarily interested in careers as professional medicinal chemists, such as in the pharmaceutical industry, or seek a broader knowledge of chemistry in combination with related technical courses in physiology, anatomy and other sciences in preparation for graduate school in chemistry or professional schools.
The Chemistry program features a wide variety of class sizes, types, and delivery methods. Most general chemistry courses consist of 3 hours of lecture per week (class sizes of ca. 360) presented by PhD level faculty, in addition to 1 hour of recitation and 3 hours of laboratory (class sizes of ca. 22 students) supervised by a graduate student teaching assistant. Organic chemistry courses in the second year consist of 3 hours of lecture per week (class sizes of ca. 275) presented by PhD level faculty, in addition to 1 hour of recitation and 3 hours of laboratory (class sizes of ca. 16 students) supervised by a graduate student teaching assistant. In the third and fourth year classes are generally restricted to chemistry majors. Lecture classes have enrollments of 100 to 16 and use a variety of delivery methods. Laboratory courses are low enrollment and are taught by Chemistry faculty with graduate student teaching assistants; these are heavily hands-on and with state-of-the-art instrumentation. The Department strongly encourages undergraduate research; this is conducted in the individual research groups of tenured or tenure-track faculty.
The Department of Chemistry is housed in the Natural Sciences Complex (NSC) on the North Campus. The Department occupies about 112,000 square feet of space, including 32,000 square feet for teaching laboratories and 54,000 square feet of research laboratory space. Also included are support services, such as instrumentation labs, electronic shop, stockrooms, and conference rooms.
The Chemistry Department Instrument Center maintains and operates a number of instruments that facilitate a variety of research. These include multiple mass spectrometers for analysis of ions in gas, solution and solid phases, including accurate mass confirmation. Liquid and gas chromatographs are coupled with mass spectrometry to enhance mixture analysis. Ionization techniques include electron impact, electrospray, chemical ionization and matrix assisted laser desorption ionization. Other techniques available include FTIR, thermogravimetric analysis, scanning spectrophotometry, and differential scanning calorimetry. Nuclear Magnetic Resonance spectrometers include a Varian Gemini 300, Varian 400, 500, 600 and 750MHZ NMR for structure studies.
The staff of the Department of Chemistry includes 30 tenured or tenure-track full-time faculty (all PhD), 2 full-time lecturers, 84 teaching assistants (all graduate students), and 18 support staff. Faculty members deliver lecture courses and supervise teaching assistants who are responsible for oversight of laboratory courses.
Please visit the Chemistry department website for additional information about our faculty.
Research chemists make new substances to order, predicting beforehand what characteristics can be expected. They prepare small amounts of the substances, while other scientists test samples. A new pharmaceutical, for example, must be widely tested for effectiveness and for possibly dangerous side effects. Chemical engineers design equipment and develop process details for large-scale economic production and packaging. Processes are tested on a small scale in a pilot plant before full-scale production begins.
Various specializations are possible in chemistry. Environmental chemists study the chemistry of air, soil, and water pollution. Organic chemists specialize in carbon compounds. Biochemists study the chemical reactions (involving acids, proteins, steroids, and enzymes) that make life possible. Clinical chemists specialize in diagnostic tests, pharmaceutical chemists in drugs, and metallurgists in metals and alloys. Forensic chemists work with law enforcement to solve crimes.
Students are advised to meet at least once every semester to discuss career goals and curriculum. Academic progress is evaluated at the end of each semester. Students should apply for admission to the department as early as possible in their academic career.
Dr. Jerome Keister
Director of Undergraduate Studies
Email Dr. Keister