Undergraduate Studies in Chemistry

Program Goals

Upon graduation with a degree in chemistry, students will:

  • Be able to communicate scientific ideas effectively using scientifically relevant language.
  • Be resourceful and engage in critical and analytical thinking to solve problems.
  • Be facile with chemical computations.
  • Have an understanding of how atomic-and molecular-scale structure governs macroscopic properties and reactivity.
  • Have developed an appropriate set of laboratory skills.
  • Practice ethical and professional behavior as described in the American Chemical Society Guidelines.

Undergraduate Research

Students who show initiative and laboratory ability are encouraged to develop an individual research project in collaboration with one of the departmental faculty members who agrees to act as the student's research advisor. This research may be done for credit by signing up for the CHEM497 Undergraduate Research course. Generally it is recommended that the student become familiar with the research interests of the department faculty as early as possible. This may be done by reading papers written by the faculty (the faculty web pages are a good place to start), attending the departmental "faculty mini-symposia" held during the fall term of each year, or by simply talking with the individual faculty members. During senior year all students are required to select a research advisor and take three quarters of CHEM493 Senior Research Project. Students in the University Honors Program are required to write a Bachelor's thesis describing the work accomplished during this year; other students may choose to write either a Bachelor's thesis or a Research Report.

Graduate Courses

Most graduate courses in chemistry are also open to qualified juniors or seniors. Prerequisites and descriptions of available graduate courses may be found in the graduate program web pages.

Language requirement

Two terms (8 credits) of any foreign language should be taken to fulfill the chemistry language requirement.


In the BS program there are 30 credits of free electives allowed in the chemistry curriculum. In addition to the 30 free electives, there are 6 credits of "technical electives" and 6 credits of "liberal studies electives". Technical electives are defined as 200+ level courses from the Sciences, Mathematics and Computer Science, Business, Engineering, or Information Studies. Liberal studies electives include any level course from the Culture and Communication, English and Philosophy, History and Politics, International Studies and Modern Languages, Psychology or Media Arts and Design programs. In the past the department has required the HIST 167/168 (20th Century World I/II) and ECON 211/212 (Economics I/II) sequences as part of the liberal electives. Both of these sequences are recommended. Graduate level chemistry courses may be taken as technical electives.

In the BA program there are 42 credits of free electives allowed in the curriculum.  There are also 24 electives covering different areas of study under the general education requirements.


The Department Head may approve exceptions to specific departmental curriculum requirements. All requests for variations must be reviewed by your departmental academic advisor, who then makes a recommendation to the Department Head.

Teacher Certification

The major in chemistry is sufficiently flexible to allow students to prepare to teach at the secondary level. With proper selection of electives, students can meet Pennsylvania teacher certification requirements.