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Box 7120
Davidson, NC 28035

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Davidson, NC 28035


Chemistry Major

Chemistry majors consistently perform well on a comprehensive national assessment and regularly gain admission into top graduate and medical programs. The Chemistry department, however, is phasing in a more flexible revised curriculum motivated by several factors:

  • female student studying in the chemistry labStudent demand for a program in biological chemistry
  • Facilitation of study abroad
  • Changes in accreditation guidelines of the American Chemical Society (ACS)
  • Recommendations by an external review
  • 2015 MCAT changes that emphasize biological and de-emphasize organic chemistry

These curriculum revisions offer, as new ACS policies recommend, a set of five foundation courses (200-level courses with labs) that cover the five divisions of chemistry—analytical, biological, inorganic, organic, and physical—followed by a selection of five in-depth courses (300- and 400-level courses).

CHE 115 or its AP equivalent still is a pre-requisite for all foundation courses. In-depth courses can fall within a single division (e.g. organic) or span multiple divisions (e.g. environmental chemistry).

The chemistry courses that you took in high school will play a role in determining your schedule of chemistry courses. Additionally, physics and mathematics pre-requisites are preferably taken in the first and second years. As a prospective chemistry major, you should discuss your interest and course planning with a faculty member as soon as you begin considering the major.

Major Requirements

Chemistry Courses

  • All five foundation courses: 220, 230, 240, 250, and 260
  • Five in-depth courses at the 300-level or higher
    • Two must have a laboratory
    • One must be a 400-level seminar
    • One independent research course (Chemistry 396 or 496) may count as a non-laboratory in-depth course
    • One science course taken outside the chemistry department may count as a non-laboratory in-depth course with prior approval from the department chair
  • Supporting and prerequisite courses: Chemistry 115 or AP equivalent; Mathematics 113, 140, or AP equivalent; Physics 220 or 230
  • Attendance at 10 or more sessions of the chemistry colloquium series during junior and senior years

Supporting Factors and Pre-requisite Courses

  • CHE 115 or AP equivalent
  • MAT 113, 140, or AP equivalent
  • PHY 220 or 230
  • Attendance at 10 sessions of the Chemistry Colloquium Series during junior and senior years

Emphasis in Biological Chemistry

Students primarily interested in biological chemistry are advised to take the following courses, which fully satisfy the requirements for a chemistry major:

  • All five foundation courses (220, 230, 240, 250, 260)
  • Five in-depth courses at the 300-level or higher
    • CHE 330 and 430
    • BIO 201 or 208 (accepted in place of a non-lab, in-depth chemistry course with prior approval from department chair)
    • Two additional in-depth electives, one of which must have a lab

The requirements for supporting and prerequisite courses, as well as attendance at the Chemistry Colloquium Series, is the same as for the traditional chemistry major.

Initial Placement & Math Requirements

Initial Course Placement

Chemistry "magic" performed during Alumni weekendWhen planning your schedule and your first chemistry class as a first-year student at Davidson, consider the following:

  • If you have completed the AP test (with a 4 or 5) or IB test (with a 6 or 7), you can receive credit for CHE 115 and then enroll in any foundation (200-level) course (Note that CHE 260 has MAT prerequisite)
  • If you have completed a year of high school chemistry but have not earned AP/IB credit, enroll in CHE 115
  • If you have little background in chemistry, start in CHE 110
  • If you are considering a chemistry major, you should also enroll in a mathematics or physics course in your first semester

Math Requirement

You can fulfill the math requirement by receiving credit for either MAT 113 or MAT 140

  • Typical path to MAT 113: MAT 111/112 then MAT 113
  • Credit for some math courses may be earned through AP/IB testing
    • MAT 111: AP Calculus AB 3 or higher or AP Calculus BC 3
    • MAT 111 and 113: AP Calculus BC 4 or higher, IB Calculus 6 or higher
  • Typical path to MAT 140: MAT 112 then MAT 140 (calculus with modeling sequence)
  • Both mathematics courses must be taken at Davidson
  • MAT 112 has no AP/IB equivalent

Most incoming chemistry students have already taken calculus in high school. Starting with MAT 111 is only necessary if you do not have any calculus background. With AP/IB credit, you are eligible for MAT 113; without AP credit, you likely will take MAT 112 and 140. Keep in mind that while MAT 113 and 140 each fulfill the math requirement for chemistry, you are encouraged to take additional math courses if you intend to pursue graduate school in chemistry.

Please see Mathematics Course Placement for additional information.

Honors and ACS Certification

Student experimenting in the chemical lab.Some chemistry majors, especially those going on to graduate school in chemistry and seeking employment as professional chemists, pursue advanced programs of study.

Graduation with Honors may be awarded to a chemistry major who meets the general college criteria (3.2 overall average and at least a 3.5 average in chemistry courses), fulfills the requirements for a chemistry degree, and demonstrates outstanding mastery of CHE 498 Thesis Research. Honors candidates are supervised by a faculty adviser and evaluated by a faculty committee from the chemistry department. A colloquium presentation near the end of a senior's spring semester is the typical final product of this research experience.

We offer a chemistry degree that is approved by the American Chemical Society (ACS), the world's largest scientific society. Students who complete the basic major with five in-depth chemistry courses, including a research experience that covers at least one semester or summer, meet the requirements for an ACS-certified degree. Annual approval by the ACS ensures that the chemistry department is operating within the commonly accepted standards and best practices for degree-granting institutions of higher learning.