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Chemistry and Biochemistry

Knowledge of the chemical world is important for any educated person because chemical concepts and issues affect so many aspects of our personal lives and society. Coursework in chemistry naturally prepares one to understand the physical and living worlds; it also prepares one to make scientifically-informed contributions to many other fields and to society. Areas such as molecular biology, environmental law and policy, bioethics, patent law, medicine and education are examples of fields where chemical knowledge is needed. Both biochemistry and chemistry majors pursue graduate studies in chemistry, biochemistry or medicine upon graduation. Other career paths available to these majors include employment in fields such as the pharmaceutical industry, law, environmental monitoring and technical sales/management. The chemistry faculty encourages students to participate in collaborative research during the school year, Winter Term and summers. Such research is an important facet of a student's education. Students may also choose to pursue an internship at a national laboratory or in an industrial or medical setting at some point in their training. All chemistry students may participate in the activities of the award-winning Chemistry Club. The Women in Science group also sponsors speakers and activities of interest to chemistry students. Majors and minors are offered in chemistry and biochemistry. No chemistry course may be taken pass/fail.

Course Catalog

Requirements for a major


Total courses required Nine and one-quarter
Core courses CHEM 120, CHEM 130, CHEM 170, CHEM 240, CHEM 260, CHEM 310, CHEM 343, CHEM 440
Other required courses Two courses selected from: CHEM 342, BIO 250, BIO 314, BIO 320, BIO 325, BIO 335, BIO 361, BIO 382, BIO 415
Number 300 and 400 level courses At least 3.0 courses
Senior requirement and capstone experience Satisfactory performance on the Biochemistry Comprehensive Examination and satisfactory attendance at departmental seminars during the junior and senior years are required.
Additional information With the approval of their advisor, students may apply CHEM 335, CHEM 354, CHEM 364, BIO 390 or BIO 490 toward the "other required courses" (such courses should have a biochemical emphasis). With the approval of their advisor, students may apply up to 0.5 course of research (CHEM 395, CHEM 405, and BIO 490).
Writing in the Major

Scientists write for a variety of purposes and audiences. Sometimes the writing is formal, such as an article or poster conveying the results of a research project to an audience of knowledgeable peers. Other times the writing is informal, used to facilitate the research process when the audience is limited to the author and his or her research partners. This could be in the form of brief research reports, or sharing laboratory notebooks. At other times, scientists write for a general audience of intellectually curious non-scientists. Just as the practice of science requires careful design of experiments, and precise and accurate measurements, a scientist must have command of the written word in a manner appropriate for diverse purposes and audiences.

Writing instruction in the department parallels the vertical nature of our curriculum, in which upper-level courses build on concepts learned in introductory courses, to build and reinforce skills in writing across a student¿s four years. Students in our introductory courses learn to maintain a laboratory notebook and to report the results of their laboratory work in a journal article format. Writing instruction at this level is carefully structured to give attention to different purposes and audiences. Particular attention is given to the design of tables, graphs, and figures that summarize results and illustrate ideas, and to the effective use of such devices in clearly communicating information and supporting the written narrative. As students progress through the curriculum, their laboratory work becomes more independent, open-ended, and complex, and their written reports become correspondingly more demanding and require greater sophistication. At all levels, the department¿s focus is on carefully organizing and presenting information, constructing meaning from complex data, and effectively communicating the results of scientific experiments.

The writing requirement for majors in chemistry and biochemistry consists of keeping a portfolio of writings from several key courses in the major and presenting them with a written reflection. The purpose of the written reflection is two-fold. First, it is intended to allow the student to critique the development of his or her own writing and analyze its evolution in relation to coursework at DePauw. Second, it is intended to provide the student with the opportunity to project how his or her writing needs to grow going forward.

Majors submit a portfolio in the fall semester of their senior year. The centerpiece of the portfolio is a written reflection focusing on the student¿s understanding of his or her development as a writer within the major and how the student used instructor and peer feedback to improve her or his writing. The student will support arguments about how her or his writing has improved by referring to writing samples and peer or instructor feedback from throughout the first three years at DePauw; these writing samples will include:

  • Two lab reports from CHEM 240 or 260. One of these should focus on a particular section of the lab report, for example the introduction or results section.
  • Material from an upper-level course, typically chosen from Chem 343, 440, 450, 460 and/or an analytical report from a research experience (Chem 395, 405 or summer research).
  • A single-author piece that demonstrates an ability to effectively communicate science to an educated but non-technical audience. This could be from a course or specifically written for the portfolio.

Portfolios are due on the second Friday of November of the senior year. Any student whose portfolio does not demonstrate competence will be notified by the first day of the second semester and will have to complete an additional writing component of the senior comprehensive exam to demonstrate writing competence in the major.


Total courses required Nine and one-quarter
Core courses CHEM 120, CHEM 130, CHEM 170, CHEM 240, CHEM 260
Other required courses Chemistry majors must also complete advanced courses in three categories as follows:
  • Chemical Reactivity (1.5 courses chosen from CHEM 320, CHEM 331, CHEM 332, CHEM 335; at least one class must include lab);
  • Chemical Analysis (CHEM 450 plus one course chosen from CHEM 351, CHEM 352, CHEM 353, CHEM 354);
  • Theoretical and Computational Chemistry (CHEM 460 plus one course chosen from CHEM 361, CHEM 362, CHEM 363, CHEM 364).
Number 300 and 400 level courses Four and one-half
Senior requirement and capstone experience The senior requirement consists of satisfactory performance on the Chemistry Comprehensive Examination and satisfactory attendance at departmental seminars during the junior and senior years.
Writing in the Major See Writing in the Major for Biochemistry.

Requirements for a minor


Total courses required Five and one-quarter

NOTE: Chemistry majors may not earn a minor in Biochemistry.

Core courses CHEM 120, CHEM 170, CHEM 240, and CHEM 260.
Other required courses One course chosen from: CHEM 310, CHEM 343 or CHEM 440 and one course from BIO 314, BIO 315, BIO 320, BIO 325, BIO 335, BIO 361 or BIO 415.

300 and 400 level courses: 2.

Number 300 and 400 level courses 2


Total courses required Five and one-quarter

Note: Biochemistry majors may not earn a minor in Chemistry.

Core courses CHEM 170
Other required courses
Number 300 and 400 level courses One