Purdue Science

Christine Schertz | Academic Advisor

Online Chemistry Major Handbook

This online handbook was compiled to be an easy way to find the information you will need to navigate your path towards graduation as a Chemistry major at Purdue. As always, your best source for information is your Academic Advisor. Be sure to visit the Student Resources page above for additional links.

Table of Contents

  1. Welcome to the Chemistry Department
  2. Degree Requirements and Plans of Study
  3. Course Descriptions and When Courses are Offered
  4. Academic Advising
  5. Freshman Seminar (CHM19400) and Research (CHM19700)
  6. Honors in Chemistry
  7. Independent Research (CHM 49900)
  8. The Chemistry Resource Room and General Chemistry Office
  9. Chemistry-Related Clubs, Associations, and Activities
  10. Departmental Seminars, Lectures, and Events
  11. Scholarships
  12. Summer Research and Industrial Internships
  13. What Can You Do with a Chemistry Degree?
  14. Changing Your Major to Chemistry (CODO)

1. Welcome to the Chemistry Department

Welcome to Chemistry at Purdue! Visit the Chemistry Department's Home Page as your primary resource for information on research, activities, and events. If you are a student or prospective student, visit the department's Undergraduate page for more information. Many the links below are from the Chemistry Department's web page, which has the most updated information.

The Chemistry Department is located in the Brown (BRWN) and Wetherill (WTHR) Buildings on the Purdue University Campus. The Chemistry Library is now part of the Library of Engineering and Science (LOES) in the Wilmeth Active Learning Center (WALC), located directly west of WTHR.

2. Degree Requirements and Plans of Study

The Chemistry Department offers three degrees:

  • B.S. in Chemistry (American Chemical Society Accredited), or Chemistry (ACS)
  • B. S. in Chemistry(Biochemistry) (ACS Accredited), or Biochemistry (ACS)
  • B.S. in Chemistry 

There is also a B. S. Science Education with a Chemistry Concentration (through the College of Science Administration), which is often taken with a double major in Chemistry.

For degree plans, see the College of Science Majors page and Purdue's Course Catalog. The department also offers a minor in Chemistry.

Students must complete the University Core and College of Science Core Curriculum requirements, as well as the required Chemistry Classes. Chemistry majors are required to have three semesters of calculus, two semesters of physics, one semester of Computer Science, and various other courses in and out of the Department of Science. The main difference among the majors is in the Chemistry core: compared to the traditional B.S. in Chemistry degree, the Chemistry (ACS) degree requires four additional Chemistry courses and one additional math course; the Biochemistry(ACS) degree requires four additional courses in biology, two courses in chemistry, and 6 research credits.

Which major to choose? This depends on your long-term goals, as well as what type of chemistry interests you. The Chemistry(ACS) degree is excellent preparation for students pursuing graduate studies in Chemistry.  Many pre-med majors choose the Biochemistry(ACS) degree, since it covers many of the courses required to apply to medical school. The B.S. in Chemistry degree is flexible in that it allows students to choose classes to specialize their study of chemistry and add minors in and out of the College of Science. Popular minors for Chemistry majors include Foreign Languages, Forensics, Biology, Math, classical studies, and psychology. Chemistry students have also chosen minors in economics, dance, film and video studies, and earth, atmospheric and planetary sciences.

Please see the Purdue Course Catalog for more information about Chemistry courses and official plans of study.

3. Course Descriptions and When Courses are Offered

Chemistry course descriptions can be found on the Course Listing by Semesters page or in the Purdue catalog. Additional information including syllabi for select courses can be found on Purdue's Course Insights page.  

Note that not every chemistry course is offered each semester: go to the Course Listing by Semesters page to see when certain chemistry courses are offered.The best way to find a department's course offerings in a certain semester is to login to myPurdue and go to the "Look Up Classes" or "Schedule of Classes" page. There you can search by semester and department to find out which courses are offered when.

4. Academic Advising

The College of Science Academic Advising page is the first place to do to learn about the partnership between you and your academic advisor. It has information on how to meet with your advisor, walk-in schedules, the Undergraduate Advising Handbook, resources for registration and plans of study, and many links on personal and professional development.  It is your advisor's job to work with you to help you reach your goals at Purdue and explore all that Purdue has to offer, as much as it is your job to take advantage of these opportunities and strive towards academic excellence. Each semester, you are required to meet with your academic advisor to discuss how you are progressing in your plan of study and to discuss class choices for the following semester.

In Chemistry, you are assigned to the lower division advisor; upon completion of your first semester of Organic Chemistry and your decision to continue as a chemistry major you are then promoted to the upper division advisor, who will advise you and help with academic planning through your junior and senior year.

5. Freshman Orientation Seminar (CHM19400) and Freshman Research (CHM19700)

Chemistry majors in their first semester take CHM19400, a Freshman Orientation Seminar which provide students with skills to help them make a successful transition from high school to college. Students are introduced to opportunities within the chemistry department and Purdue as a whole, as well as student support services, teambuilding skills, and possible careers in Chemistry. This class is offered in the fall and spring. Select students are also given the opportunity to participate in research for credit through CHM19700.

6. Honors in Chemistry

The Department of Chemistry has an honors program for superior students (note that this program is separate from the University's Honors College). Participation can begin during the sophomore year, and a student has the opportunity to register for advanced sections in chemistry courses. During the junior and senior years, a student engages in undergraduate research, participates in research seminars and can take chemistry honors courses. Honors students must take at least 6 credits of undergraduate research (CHM 49900), write an honor’s thesis, and give a presentation of the research.).  Admission to the chemistry honors program must be made by the end of the junior year. The honors student is expected to achieve and maintain a scholastic graduation index of at least 3.40. Students fulfilling requirements of the chemistry honors program will be graduated “with honors in chemistry”. The honors program has been approved by the Royal Society of Chemistry. For more information, contact your academic advisor.

7. Independent Research (CHM 49900)

Purdue's Chemistry Department offers cutting-edge research opportunities to students during all four years students are attending Purdue. Approximately 70% of the chemistry majors at Purdue University are involved in undergraduate research. CHM49900 is a variable credit course where students join a research group and work with professors and their graduate students on research projects. First and second year students often take the course for one credit (3 hours/week) as an introduction to undergraduate research. For more information, see the department's CHM 49900 Research page. To find out how to join a research group, see our Guide to Undergraduate Research in Chemistry.

8. The Chemistry Resource Room and General Chemistry Office

The Chemistry Resource Room is located in WTHR 117b; more details are avaliable at the Resource Room Website. The Resource Room is a department-sponsored organization that provides individual assistance to students taking General, Organic, Inorganic, Analytical, and Physical Chemistry. In addition to a staff of tutors (graduate and undergraduate students who have taken the courses), the Resource Room can provide reference textbooks, lecture notes taken by TA's that attend the class, homework and exam keys for the current semester, past exams, reference books, and a place for group study. The Resource Room provides an excellent environment for peer-learning and enforcing study skills in an informal environment.

For additional information on tutoring for other College of Science courses, see the College of Science's Tutoring Services page.

The General Chemistry Office is located in BRWN1144. Taking General Chemistry? Have a question or issue? This is the place to go.

9.Chemistry-and Science-Related Clubs and Associations

  • For additional information on general Purdue Science Student Organizations, see this link.

10. Departmental Seminars, Lectures, and Events

A list of the departmental seminars for the current week can be found on the Chemistry Department's homepage. You can access the departmental calendar through this link.

11. Scholarships

  • The College of Science has several scholarships: see their Scholarship Page for more information. Check this page often!
  • The American Chemical Society has a dedicated Undergraduate page with information on degree planning, internships, and scholarships.
  • Keep in mind that some Purdue scholarships have accompanying requirements (GPA, credit hours accumulated, etc.). be sure to check your scholarship letter for the exact details about your scholarship, and if in doubt, contact Financial Aid.

12. Summer Research and Industrial Internships 

The Chemistry Department has departmental scholarships for summer research that are professor-initiated (that is, you need to be already working in a research lab); your professor will nominate you for the scholarship, and you will fill out an application to be considered.

If you are already taking classes at Purdue over the summer, you can choose to add on research credit; we suggest adding on credits only if you are already paying the flat fee for classes for the summer, and that your research will not interfere with successfully completing your summer classes.

For summer internship opportunities, first check Purdue CCO (Center for Career Opportunities).

13. What can you do with a Chemistry degree?

That is a very good question! See the resources below for more information.

14. Changing your Major to Chemistry (CODO)

Interested in changing your major to Chemistry? Visit the College of Science CODO Requirements page for more information. To talk to a Chemistry advisor, see the Non-Major Walk-In Schedule