Chemistry is the study of the composition, synthesis, physical properties, and transformations of materials, including biological substances, technological materials, and natural products. All courses are designed to contribute in various ways to the College’s Learning Goals and the Chemistry Department's Learning Goals.

Through hands-on experience with modern instrumentation throughout the curriculum, a broad array of advanced coursework, and engagement in active discussion and collaboration with the chemistry faculty, the goals of chemistry are: 1) to give students a firm foundation in the fundamental principles of chemistry, its sub-disciplines, and their interrelationships; 2) to develop a proficiency in experimental technique, design, and interpretation; 3) to expose students to contemporary research questions and applications.

To get an alternative course counted towards the major or minor, please use the Permission Form. If you are not sure which course to begin with we offer advice for choosing your first chemistry courses and for more detailed information please see the course catalog and bulletin for the Chemistry Department.

Chemistry Major

Because the physical sciences in general, and chemistry in particular, are the starting point for a broad variety of careers, the department offers two tracks to the chemistry major, sharing a common disciplinary core.

  • The Specialist track is designed as preparation for doctoral study and comparable to a traditional bachelor of science.
  • The Generalist track encourages students to locate their subject-matter expertise in multiple contexts: within the sciences, within the current social matrix, and within the historical scope of human knowledge. 

The two tracks are not mutually exclusive. Students following either are encouraged to consider incorporating some of the spirit the other track into their educational program.

Normally, majors participate in two semesters of the department comprehensive seminar 
program, and seniors give an oral presentation at the annual Senior Symposium, but these two requirements may be waived for a student enrolled in Education 331, Student Teaching, during the second semester of her senior year.

The Specialist Track (pre-doctoral)


  • A minimum of 36 credits in chemistry including six core courses
  • A year of calculus (Mathematics 101 and 202)
  • A year of calculus-based physics (Physics 110 and 201)


  • Core courses in chemistry:
    • 101/160 and 201, General Chemistry I and II;
    • 202 and 302, Organic Chemistry I and II
    • 308, Chemical Thermodynamics 
    • 325, Atomic and Molecular Structure
    • 399, Comprehensive Seminar (one semester)
    • 8 or 12 credits in elective courses, at least four of which must be at the 300 level. Physics 205 and Introduction to Mathematical Methods for Scientists, can be counted as a chemistry elective.


The Generalist/State of Massachusetts Secondary Teaching Licensure Track


  • A minimum of 36 credits in chemistry, including five core courses 
  • A year of calculus (Mathematics 101 and 202)
  • A semester of calculus-based physics (Physics 110)


  • Core courses in chemistry: 
    • 101/160 and 201, General Chemistry I and II 
    • 202 and 302, Organic Chemistry I and II 
    • 308, Chemical Thermodynamics 
    • 399, Comprehensive Seminar (one semester) 
  • Elective courses must include at least one from each of the following categories. Permission to use a course other than those listed here must be obtained from the department chair. 
    • Biochemistry: Chemistry 212, Chemistry of Biomolecules; Chemistry 311, Protein Biochemistry and Cellular Metabolism or Chemistry 314, Nucleic Acids Biochemistry and Molecular Biology; 
    • History and Philosophy of Science: Critical Social Thought 248, Science, Revolution, and Modernity.
    • Earth and Environment: Environmental Studies 100, 
    • Biology: 145, Introductory Biology I; or 200, Introductory Biology II: How Organisms Develop 


  • An individual oral presentation at the annual Senior Symposium for those submitting an honors thesis 
    • This requirement may be waived for a student enrolled in Education 331, Student Teaching during the second semester of her senior year.

The chemistry major can be pursued at several levels of intensity. To get to the junior and senior years and enjoy the greatest opportunity for advanced courses and independent work, the department recommends the following schedule for students entering the major at 101.

Chemistry Minor

To declare a chemistry minor please use the Declaration or Change of Minor, Certificate and/or Nexus form.

Students must take at least four courses (16 credits), including at least one course at the 300 level.

Nexus in Chemical and Materials Engineering

A student planning an Engineering Nexus should first outline her plan of study and the completed form can be approved by any member of the Engineering Committee.

For example, a chemistry major interested in chemical engineering may select the following nexus courses for her concentration:

  • Materials electives in chemistry
  • Physics 205 (Introduction to Mathematical Methods for Scientists)
  • chemical engineering courses at UMASS (e.g. ChE 330 Fluid Mechanics)
  • ChE 320 (Kinetics and Reactor Design)
  • ChE 333 (Heat and Mass Transfer)
  • ChE 338 (Separations)
  • ChE 361 (Math Modeling)
  • ChE 401 (Chemical Engineering Lab I)
  • ChE 444 (Chemical Process Design)>
  • ChE 446 (Chemical Process Control)
  • ChE 402 (Chemical Engineering Lab II)
  • chemically related engineering courses at Smith (e.g. Eng 260 Probability and Statistics in Chemical Engineering)
  • Eng 363 (Mass and Heat Transfer)
  • Eng 374 (Fluid Mechanics)
  • Eng 375 (Strength of Materials)>
  • Eng 325 (Electric Power Systems)

Engineering Dual-Degree Program

Mount Holyoke students can earn a degree in engineering in different ways, either by earning a master's or PhD degree in engineering after graduation from Mount Holyoke or by earning a second bachelor's degree, through what is called a Dual-Degree Engineering program.

Teacher Licensure in Chemistry

Students interested in pursuing Teacher Licensure in the field of chemistry can combine their coursework in chemistry with a minor in education. In some instances course work in the major coincides with course work required for licensure; in other cases, it does not.

Licensure also requires a formal application as well as passing scores on the Massachusetts Test of Educator Licensure (MTEL) in both the literacy component and the subject matter component.

Copies of the test objectives for the MTEL are available in the Chemistry Department and in the Department of Psychology and Education. Licensure application information and materials are available in the Department of Psychology and Education.