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Chemistry Department changes major requirements, increasing flexibility

The Chemistry Department on May 19 announced curriculum changes to the upper-level class requirements for its majors. These changes will affect majors in the Class of 2023 and subsequent classes.

The change reduces the number of required classes for majors, giving students more freedom in their route to graduation. Whereas prior chemistry majors were required to take CHEM 344: Quantum Chemistry, current sophomores and subsequent classes can choose between CHEM 344 or CHEM 330: Instrumental Chemical Analysis. This choice ensures that all majors take an advanced class that is quantitative in nature, but gives them the option of doing so in either a more theoretical or a more applied context.

Additionally, CHEM 302: Quantum Spectroscopy Laboratory is no longer required for majors. Now, students can choose two elective labs instead of just one. This further allows students more flexibility in their course schedules.

Chemistry is categorized as a “highly-structured” major, with the Department recommending seven prerequisite courses completed by the end of a major’s sophomore year. Completion of the Chemistry major takes careful planning. 

According to the Chemistry Department’s websites, these changes reflect the Department’s “desire to offer our students more flexibility in pursuing the major.”

This year marks a potentially growing interest in the major, as Chemistry rose to become the third most popular major for the Class of 2023, with 34 sophomores declared—displacing majors such as Mathematics, Political Science and Economics that are typically somewhat more popular. 

The Class of 2022 currently has 33 majors, but that class year’s larger size means that Chemistry only ranks fifth in popularity for ’22 students. 

Meanwhile, the Class of 2021 is on the smaller side for Chemistry with only 22 majors, putting it in ninth place.

The changes to the major have been received well by many students. Newly-declared Chemistry major Ella Hein ’23 is happy to see the changes occur, as they provide her with more opportunities to cater her major to her specific interests. “It’s epic, very cool and a good move for the major,” she said.

 It seems that the new changes have been a positive shift for many, and the Department’s encouragement of interests and flexibility is better reflecting the college’s liberal arts approach. 

Update: May 23, 2021 — this article has been updated from the version that appeared in our print edition to include the date that the announcement was made.

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