Welcome to the St. Olaf College Chemistry Department! The Chemistry Department offers courses in the traditional major areas of chemistry, as well as in interdisciplinary areas, such as biochemistry, bioanalytical chemistry, biophysical chemistry, environmental chemistry and organometallic chemistry. Additionally, the department has an active summer research program, in which faculty and undergraduate researchers work together to investigate problems of current interest. St. Olaf College traditionally ranks in the top three four-year colleges in number of graduating seniors with a Chemistry major, and from 2010 to 2012, St. Olaf graduated an average of 64 chemistry majors each year. Between 1994-2003 St. Olaf College ranked 4th as the baccalaureate origin of Ph.D. Chemists and in the last 5 years has received grants exceeding $3,500,000 to support instrument acquisition, curriculum development and research initiatives. We are located in the brand new Regents Hall of Natural Science. The Chemistry program is approved by the American Chemical Society.
Incoming St. Olaf Students,
Thank you for expressing an interest in chemistry at St. Olaf College. As Chair of the Department of Chemistry, I want to extend an early warm welcome to St. Olaf College. I think you will find the Chemistry faculty and staff to be a friendly group of people who look forward to working with you and helping you successfully progress toward graduation.
Detailed information about registration, level-one chemistry classes level one courses, the chemistry major and the placement exam can be found on our web site. There are three level I chemistry options offered each fall: Chemistry 121, Chemistry 125 and in partnership with the Biology Department the integrated Chemistry-Biology 125 course (CH/BI 125). All of these courses are designed for students planning to take additional chemistry courses, but also satisfy the college’s Scientific Exploration and Discovery (SED) general education requirement. Students not interested in a science major can take Chemistry 121 or eventually choose another course designed exclusively for non-science majors.
If you plan on taking a chemistry course this fall AND being a science major, we urge you to complete the chemistry placement exam as soon as possible. The placement exam will provide recommendations for you regarding what first-year chemistry course you should take in the fall (Chem 121, 125, or CH/BI 125). The spring courses Chem 126 and CH/BI 227 both serve as prerequisites for all level II and III chemistry courses. Therefore, if you take Chem 121 or CH/BI 125 and anticipate taking level II or III chemistry courses for the major, medical school, etc., you will be expected to enroll in Chem 123 or CH/BI 126 during interim. This may conflict with programs such as the Great Conversation.
If you achieved a score of 5 on the AP chemistry exam, you will receive St. Olaf College credit for one course, the SED general education requirement, and can opt out of Chem 125 in the fall. However, some medical schools require Chem 125, so be sure to check their requirements before doing so. Also, we do recommend that you enroll in the Chem 125 lab even if you scored an AP 5 to learn or reinforce critical laboratory skills for Chem 126 and higher-level courses.
I hope this information serves you well. If you still have questions, the Chemistry Department will have several departmental information sessions during the first week prior to registration to help assist you in your choices.
Jeff Schwinefus, PhD
Chair, Chemistry Department
St. Olaf College