Chemistry

As a chemistry student at Earlham, you will engage in a core curriculum, approved and certified by the American Chemical Society, that offers you an understanding of matter and energy at the molecular and sub-atomic levels.

The chemistry major encourages undergraduate student research and faculty-student collaboration. It also offers the opportunity to take exciting new chemistry courses, such as forensics and biophysical chemistry.

Students take part in chemistry lab
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93%
of recent graduates from the chemistry program reported a positive career outcome, either working or continuing their education within six months of graduation.
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Careers
Recent graduates have gone on to careers in the medical device, scientific and technical consulting, and pharmaceutical industries.
Outcomes

The chemistry major at Earlham enhances the analytical, critical thinking and writing skills required to succeed in whatever career you choose.

State-of-the-art facilities and collaborative research

Work on laboratory projects alongside our faculty using state-of-the-art instrumentation in a LEED-certified building named after Earlham chemistry alum and Nobel Laureate Wendell Stanley.

Hands-on experiences

Recent majors have done internships at organizations such as Belden, the Richmond Sanitary District, the Environmental Protection Agency and Newfields (formerly known as the Indianapolis Museum of Art).

Student-faculty collaborative research

Our foundation in research has allowed recent graduates to go on to Ph.D. programs at universities such as Harvard, Duke, Purdue, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Tennessee and Utah. Several of them were awarded prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships.

Professor and student studying molecular models

Our faculty

Earlham’s chemistry professors are scholars who teach. All classes are taught by faculty, not teaching assistants.

Program details

Through the chemistry program, you will gain the analytical, critical thinking and writing skills to succeed in whatever career you choose.

As a liberal arts college, Earlham offers multiple disciplinary and interdisciplinary majors and minors in which students cultivate deep and specific knowledge and experience. Equally important, the College expects every student to develop broad, general skills and proficiencies across the curriculum.

As part of their general education, students complete six credits in each academic division of the College: humanities, natural sciences, social sciences, and visual and performing arts. In addition, students meet requirements for first-year courses, analytical reasoning, perspectives on diversity and wellness.

Learn more about general education at Earlham.

To earn a Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry, you must complete a total of 47-50 credits, made up of the following courses:

  • Core Courses:
    • CHEM 111 Principles of Chemistry
    • CHEM 221 Organic Chemistry I
    • CHEM 321 Organic Chemistry II
    • CHEM 331 Equilibrium and Analysis
    • CHEM 341 Thermodynamics and Kinetics
    • CHEM 361 Inorganic Chemistry
    • CHEM 480 Seminar
    • CHEM 484 Ford-Knight Research or CHEM 486 Student Research
    • CHEM 488 Senior Capstone Experience
  • Two of the following courses (totaling at least 7 credits):
    • CHEM 351 Biochemistry
    • CHEM 371 Environmental Chemistry and Toxicology
    • CHEM 421 Advanced Organic Chemistry
    • CHEM 431 Advanced Analytical Chemistry
    • CHEM 441 Quantum Chemistry
    • CHEM 453 Cell Membrane Biochemistry
    • CHEM 462 Organometallic Chemistry
    • CHEM 463 Materials Chemistry
    • CHEM 482 Special Topics
  • MATH 180 Calculus A
  • Either PHYS 125 and 235 Analytical Physics I and II (recommended); OR PHYS 120 and 230 General Physics I and II
  • Comprehensive Examinations
  • An independent research project is also required. This may be accomplished through an independent study in Chemistry, a summer research experience on or off campus, an approved Ford/Knight Research Project, or other research experiences as approved by the Chemistry Department. Careful early planning with your adviser should be done to determine the best option for the research experience.

View a full list of courses and their descriptions.

You can become certified by the ACS (American Chemical Society) if you have completed the curriculum approved by the ACS Committee on Professional Training (CPT).

Learn more about CPT →

Why should I get a certified degree?

  • A certified degree in chemistry is a valuable personal credential which serves as national-level recognition for successfully completing a rigorous academic chemistry curriculum in an ACS-approved department. The extra rigor and additional requirements of the certified degree are valued by potential employers and graduate schools alike.
  • Employers realize that graduates of approved programs have better preparation for technical employment.
  • Although graduate school admissions committees are unlikely to consider overtly whether or not a graduate holds a certified degree, admissions committees will be impressed by the stronger preparation required for a certified degree and by a student being a graduate of an approved department.

Required courses for the certified chemistry major

  • CHEM 111 Principles of Chemistry
  • CHEM 221 Organic Chemistry I
  • CHEM 321 Organic Chemistry II
  • CHEM 331 Equilibrium and Analysis
  • CHEM 341 Thermodynamics and Kinetics
  • CHEM 361 Inorganic Chemistry
  • CHEM 351 Biochemistry
  • CHEM 431 Advanced Analytical Chemistry
  • CHEM 441 Quantum Chemistry
  • CHEM 480 Senior Seminar
  • One course from the following electives:
    • CHEM 371 Environmental Chemistry and Toxicology
    • CHEM 421 Advanced Organic Chemistry
    • CHEM 453 Cell Membrane Biochemistry
    • CHEM 462 Organometallic Chemistry
    • CHEM 463 Materials Chemistry
    • CHEM 482 Special Topics
  • Two semesters of calculus (MATH 180 and MATH 280)
  • Two semesters of physics (either PHYS 125 and PHYS 235 – recommended; or PHYS 120 and PHYS 230)
  • Comprehensive Examination
  • A collaborative research project is also required. This may be accomplished through a summer (or May term) research experience on or off campus, an approved Ford/Knight or Student Research Project (CHEM 486, minimum of 3 credits) in Chemistry, or other research experiences as approved by the Chemistry Department. Careful early planning with your advisor should be done to determine the best option for the research experience.

View a full list of courses and their descriptions.

Yes! To earn a minor in Chemistry, you must complete:

  • Core courses
    • CHEM 111 Principles of Chemistry
    • CHEM 221 Organic Chemistry I
    • CHEM 321 Organic Chemistry II
    • CHEM 331 Equilibrium and Analysis
  • Two courses from the following electives for a total of 24 semester hours in Chemistry:
    • CHEM 341 Thermodynamics and Kinetics
    • CHEM 351 Biochemistry
    • CHEM 361 Inorganic Chemistry
    • CHEM 371 Environmental Chemistry and Toxicology
    • CHEM 421 Advanced Organic Chemistry
    • CHEM 431 Advanced Analytical Chemistry
    • CHEM 441 Quantum Chemistry
    • CHEM 453 Cell Membrane Biochemistry
    • CHEM 462 Organometallic Chemistry
    • CHEM 463 Materials Chemistry
    • CHEM 482 Special Topics

View a full list of courses and their descriptions.

A chemistry degree prepares you for a multitude of jobs, including:

  • research chemist
  • quality control associate
  • chemistry laboratory technician
  • chemical engineer
  • chemistry teacher
  • forensic scientist
  • geochemist
  • hazardous waste chemist
  • materials scientist
  • pharmacologist

Recent chemistry majors have interned at Loma Linda University Hospital, Stark Neuroscience Research Institute and the Earlham College Joseph Moore Museum, among other places.

Through our 3+1 Education Program, you can earn a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) and teaching license—all in just nine semesters.

You’ll leave Earlham with two degrees, licensed to teach grades 5-12 in Indiana. (And it’s easy to transfer your license to other states—many of our graduates do!)

Learn more about our 3+1 program.

If you are known for enjoying lab work, having strong math skills and being good at a variety of science subjects, this program would be a great fit for you. At Earlham, we will encourage you to do research as an undergrad and to collaborate with faculty when possible.

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