Students graduating from college with a chemistry major represent just over one percent of undergraduate degrees. In addition, less than one-quarter of students who intend to major in chemistry actually end up doing so.
But curricular revisions at Davidson are making classes more flexible and attracting more students, according to Professor of Chemistry Erland Stevens.
Until this year, all Davidson chemistry majors had to take 11 chemistry courses in a specific order. Chemistry majors now take five introductory courses in any order they choose before moving on to five in-depth courses. This new flexibility reflects a growing trend among chemistry departments across the country. Stevens explained that the old curriculum was restrictive to students and faculty alike. "Because we required all these different courses, every course had to be offered every year," he said.
Davidson is not alone in making curricular changes. Mary Kirchhoff of the American Chemical Society, which accredits college chemistry programs, says 85 percent of the 682 accredited programs have revamped their curriculum since 2008.