Courses & Requirements

IMPORTANT NOTE

The requirements below apply to those students with a 2022-2023 catalog year. Students are required by college policy to follow the major (and minor) requirements found in the catalog in effect at the time they declared their first major. To find your catalog year, please visit your Grades and Academic Records found in myOxy and access the catalog that matches your catalog year.

Chemistry

Overview

The curriculum of the Chemistry Department is designed to provide the student with a deep and comprehensive understanding of the principles of chemistry, including the laboratory experience necessary for basic research, teaching, and industrial research and development. Each student is expected to carry out laboratory research, working side-by-side with a faculty member on a novel problem at the vanguard of the chemical sciences. Research facilities and instrumentation are excellent and qualified students may begin research as early as their first year. Faculty research grants augmented with support from major corporations and foundations have enabled the department to offer research stipends to qualified students each summer.

To the student preparing for medicine or related professions, training is offered in the fundamental and applied branches of chemistry. In addition, chemistry offers to the liberal arts student an appreciation and understanding of the discoveries, methods, and place of this subject in our society.

The program for majors also prepares students for entrance into the School of Engineering at Columbia University and the Applied Chemistry Program of the California Institute of Technology under the Combined Plan Program. Students interested in engineering should consult the Combined Plan Program for details.

American Chemical Society Membership

The Department of Chemistry is approved by the American Chemical Society for the professional education of chemists. Completion of the suggested graduate school option admits students to full membership in the American Chemical Society upon graduation. Outlines of suggested four-year programs with emphasis in environmental chemistry, biochemistry, chemical physics, engineering, pre-medicine, and teaching may be obtained from the department chair.

Requirements

Major

Chemistry Foundation

CHEM 120Foundations of General Chemistry

4 units

And

CHEM 150Molecular Symmetry and Structure

1 unit

 

Or

CHEM 130Advanced Placement General Chemistry

4 units

 

CHEM 201Biochemical and Environmental Analysis

4 units

CHEM 220Organic Chemistry I

4 units

CHEM 221Organic Chemistry II

4 units

CHEM 240Integrated Concepts in General Chemistry

4 units

CHEM 300Physical Chemistry I

4 units

CHEM 305Physical Chemistry II

4 units

CHEM 340Inorganic Chemistry

4 units

Directed Research

Students pursuing the Chemistry major must complete a minimum of four units of directed research.

CHEM 295Directed Research

2 units

CHEM 395Directed Research

4 units

Additional Elective

Students must complete one additional elective selected from:

CHEM 315Physical Chemistry III

4 units

CHEM 330Biocatalysis and Biotechnology

2 units

CHEM 332Instrumental Chemistry

4 units

CHEM 350Biochemistry

4 units

CHEM 355Bioinformatics

2 units

CHEM 360Physical Organic Chemistry

2 units

CHEM 370Organometallic Chemistry

2 units

CHEM 380Organic Synthesis

2 units

PHYS 368Nanoscience and Nanotechnology

4 units

Mathematics Component

Calculus 2

4 units

Physics Component

Students must select:

One course from:

PHYS 110Introductory Mechanics

4 units

PHYS 115General Physics I

4 units

 

And one course from:

PHYS 125General Physics II

4 units

PHYS 230Introductory Electricity and Magnetism

4 units

Honors in the Major

Senior chemistry students with an overall grade point average of 3.25 are permitted to present a written thesis on their research for Honors consideration at graduation. Consult the department chair for additional information.

Minor

Introduction to Chemistry

CHEM 130Advanced Placement General Chemistry

4 units

Or

 

CHEM 120Foundations of General Chemistry

4 units

And

CHEM 150Molecular Symmetry and Structure

1 unit

Organic Chemistry:

CHEM 240Integrated Concepts in General Chemistry

4 units

CHEM 220Organic Chemistry I

4 units

CHEM 221Organic Chemistry II

4 units

Electives:

Students must enroll in a minimum of eight units of Chemistry electives in order to complete the minor. Four of these units must be at the 300-level or above. No more than four units can be directed research (CHEM 195, CHEM 295, CHEM 395).

CHEM 100 and CHEM 104 may not be included as electives.

Second-Stage Writing Proficiency

Students majoring in Chemistry will satisfy the second-stage writing requirement either by submitting a portfolio of four special reports, drawn from CHEM 240, CHEM 300L, CHEM 305L, CHEM 340 (or appropriate course work) in the fall semester of their senior year, or successfully completing CHEM 204 with a grade of C or better. Students should familiarize themselves with the departmental requirement at the time of declaring the major. See the Writing Program and consult the department chair for additional information.

Comprehensive Requirement

The student will satisfactorily present a seminar during the senior year on an area of current research in the field of chemistry to an audience of Occidental students, faculty, and guests. The student will also take a comprehensive examination in Chemistry. A student with an overall grade point average of 3.25 can earn distinction with a 75th percentile rank on the examination.

Advising Information

First-year students interested in chemistry are encouraged to enroll in one chemistry course (see Placement Information below) and one additional lab-based science or math course during their first semester. Students are encouraged to complete their calculus requirements as early as possible. Chemistry faculty are eager to discuss class schedules and other opportunities with students at any time.

Placement Information

Most students who are interested in majoring in Chemistry should take the Chemistry Placement Exam during the summer prior to their first year. Students scoring a 4 or 5 on the Chemistry AP exam have the option of enrolling in CHEM 130 without taking the placement test, but are encouraged to contact the department chair if they have questions about this placement.

Most students who are interested in majoring in Chemistry should also take the Calculus Placement Assessment (ALEKS) during the summer prior to their first year. You do not need to take the Calculus Placement Assessment if any of the following are true:

  • You received a score of 4 or 5 on either the AP Calculus AB or BC exam; 
  • You received an IB Calculus HL score of 5 or above;
  • You have already taken a Calculus 1 course at another accredited college or university. 

An AP Calculus AB score of 4 or 5, or an IB Calculus HL score of 5 or above, fulfills the major’s Calculus 1 requirement. An AP Calculus BC score of 4 or 5 fulfills the Calculus 2 requirement. Students should make sure that their official score reports are sent to the Registrar’s Office for processing.

Sample 4-Year Plans

Students who Place into CHEM 100

 

Fall

Spring

Year 1

Year 2

Year 3

Year 4

  • CHEM 490 (Senior Seminar; 2 units)

  • CHEM 295 (2 units)

  • General Elective (4 units)

  • General Elective (4 units)

  • General Elective (4 units)

  • CHEM 490 (Senior Seminar; 2 units)

  • CHEM 295 (2 units)

  • Additional CHEM Elective (2-5 units)

  • General Elective (4 units)

  • General Elective (4 units)

Students who Place into CHEM 120 or CHEM 130


Fall

Spring

Year 1

  • Fall FYS course

  • CHEM 120 or 130 (CPLS)

  • Calculus 1 (CPMS)

  • Core Requirement (4 units)

  • Spring FYS course

  • CHEM 220

  • CHEM 150* (1 unit)

  • Calculus 2 (CPMS)

  • Core Requirement (4 units)

Year 2

Year 3

Year 4

  • CHEM 490 (Senior Seminar; 2 units)

  • CHEM 295 (2 units)

  • General Elective (4 units)

  • General Elective (4 units)

  • General Elective (4 units)

  • CHEM 490 (Senior Seminar; 2 units)

  • CHEM 295 (2 units)

  • Additional CHEM Elective (2-5 units)

  • General Elective (4 units)

  • General Elective (4 units)

Curricular Notes

  • CHEM 150 is not required for students who take CHEM 130.

  • An AP Calculus AB score of 4 or 5 fulfills the Calculus 1 requirement. 

  • An AP Calculus BC score of 4 or 5 fulfills the Calculus 2 requirement.

  • CHEM 240 at anytime after CHEM 120/130 have been completed

  • While not required for the major, MATH 212 and MATH 214 are strongly recommended prior to taking CHEM 305.

Transfer Credit Policies

The Chemistry Department policy on transfer credit conforms to College policy. AP, IB or A-level examinations in chemistry will not substitute for an Occidental course, place students into advanced courses, or allow a wider opportunity for choice of electives in the department. Students with a score of 4 or 5 on the AP Chemistry examination, or with a score of 6 or 7 on the IB Chemistry examination should enroll in CHEM 130. Students should reference the Transfer Credit section for more details.

Information that can be included in this section include:
  • specific policies for majors/minors
  • AP/IB Exam credit - course equivalencies?
  • Online courses
  • Policies specifically for matriculating frosh, transfer students, returning students after a leave of absence
Information that can be included in this section include:
  • specific policies for majors/minors
  • AP/IB Exam credit - course equivalencies?
  • Online courses
  • Policies specifically for matriculating frosh, transfer students, returning students after a leave of absence

Courses

Chemistry Courses