Planning a St. Olaf College Chemistry Major

There are two version of the St. Olaf chemistry major: the graduation major and the ACS major.

The first table, below, describes the graduation major.  This major is the minimum sequence of courses that can be used to earn a chemistry major as described by St. Olaf College.  Note that some requirements are from other departments (calculus and physics) and some requirements are not classroom/lab related (the seminar requirement).  As the word “requirements” implies, students may not earn a chemistry major unless all of these requirements are completed.  Many St. Olaf College chemistry majors complete an expanded version of this major, taking extra courses in the area(s) that most interest them.

The ACS major (in the second table, below) is a chemistry major that meets the requirements for certification by the Committee on Professional Training of the American Chemical Society (ACS).  The ACS major has requirements beyond the graduation major. Overall the ACS major requires four more chemistry courses (three that are specified and an additional “in-depth course” of the student’s choice), at least 1.25 additional laboratory credits (one lab experience must be either a biochemical or inorganic experience), and two math courses beyond calculus (chosen from Linear Algebra, Multivariable Calculus,  Introduction to Differential Equations and Statistics for Science).  The ACS major also requires two supporting courses in physics (usually Phys 124 and 125) and attendance at 12 departmental seminars after declaration of a chemistry major.  Note that some courses double or triple count toward various requirements; for instance, Chem 380 counts both as the additional in-depth course and as 1.0 credit toward the laboratory requirements.

Because of the diverse background provided by the ACS major, this major is strongly recommended for students planning to seek employment in the chemical industry directly after graduation from St. Olaf.  In many cases students planning on attending graduate school would benefit from the ACS major.  It is best for graduate school bound students to work with their advisor and other chemistry faculty to determine the best choices for their situation.

The chemistry faculty will be happy to discuss either of these major options with you.

The St. Olaf College Graduation Major:


a The Integrated Chemistry/Biology sequence (CH/BI 125, 126, and 227) can replace either Chem 121, 123, and 126 or Chem 125 and 126.

b Chem 252 (Organometallic Chemistry), Chem 280 (Organic Analysis and Theory), Chem 360 (Medicinal Chemistry), and Chem 384 (Bioanalytical Chemistry) are Interim courses. Chem 360 is planned for even numbered years (for example, January 2020). Chem 384 is planned for odd numbered years (for example, January 2019).

c A form for registration in Chem 298 or 398 is available from the Registrar. In order for Chem 398 to count toward the ACS major lab hours requirement (orange column), a comprehensive written report about the project must be submitted to the Assoc. Chair of Curriculum. Similarly, summer research may contribute toward lab hours for the ACS major (orange column) only when a comprehensive written report on the project is submitted to the Assoc. Chair of Curriculum.

d Advanced Inorganic Chemistry (which is offered only in the spring) should be taken no later than spring of the junior year by students planning to take the GRE chemistry exam for graduate school admittance.

e Chem 388 (Advanced Organic Chemistry) is offered in spring terms of odd numbered calendar years, such as Spring 2021.

f Chem 391 has recently been offered as Biosensors (Interim) and Environmental Chemistry (Semester II). See current class and lab schedule for the availability of these or other versions of Chemistry 391. Consult Chemistry faculty if you have questions.

g Chem 373 is required for the Biomolecular Science concentration; Chem 384, 385 and 391(depending on topic, check with Director of Biomolecular Science) may count as electives toward the Biomolecular Science concentration.

h Register for Chem 297 and 375 via a drop-add slip with the professor. These courses are P/N only. In order to use Chem 297 for lab hours toward the ACS-approved major, a comprehensive written report must be written and submitted to the Assoc. Chair of Curriculum.

The American Chemistry Society Certified Major: