Chemistry Department

A classic definition of chemistry is "the branch of science concerned with the properties and transformations of matter." Chemistry is sometimes called the "central science" because of its importance in other fields such as biology, agriculture, medicine, geology, nutrition, law enforcement and engineering. Without knowledge of chemistry, humans could not grow enough food, combat disease, drink clean water, make clothing, create artwork, or clean up the environment. Understanding chemistry helps humans appreciate the beauty of the natural world.

Chair: Bret Johnson, Ph.D.

The Chemistry Department offers these programs:

Chemistry major B.S. or B.A.

The chemistry major provides a foundation in the sub-disciplines of organic, analytical, physical, and inorganic chemistry. Students may earn either a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) or Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree.

The B.S. chemistry major is designed for students seeking entry-level employment as a chemist or a graduate degree in chemistry or a related discipline. Advanced coursework and a research experience in addition to the foundational courses complete the degree work for the B.S.

Required courses for the B.S. degree: CHM 1110, 1120, 2200, 2210, 3000, 3220, 3240, 3460, 3470, 4020, 4060, 4120, and
4 credits of upper-division CHM electives; MTH 2221, 2222, 3322; PSC 2011, 2012.

The B.A. chemistry major is appropriate for students seeking to combine foundational study in chemistry with coursework in biology and social sciences as preparation for professional school in medicine, dentistry, optometry, pharmacy, and physician's assistant. Students also may combine the B.A. major with a concentration of courses outside the School of Science to pursue chemistry careers in non-traditional areas such as law, journalism, computers, management, etc. Finally, the B.A. chemistry major offers students time to study abroad or pursue a more liberal education while having preparation to obtain entry-level employment as a chemist in many industries.

Required courses for the B.A. degree: CHM 1110, 1120, 2200, 2210, 3000, 3460, 4020 and 4 credits of upper division CHM electives; MTH 2221, 2222; PSC 2001, 2002.

Additional courses recommended for pre-medical studies are BIO 1110, 1120, 2110, 2120, 2020, 2021, 3500; PSY 2208, 3423. Since each professional school may have additional, specific admission requirements, pre-professional students should consult with their advisor and professional school catalogs for further details.

Biochemistry major, B.S.

This degree program emphasizes the role of chemical processes in living systems through a combination of coursework in biology, chemistry and allied fields. It is appropriate for students interested in pursuing an advanced degree in biochemical sciences, forensic science, medicine (including pharmacy, dentistry, optometry, physician's assistant), or for those seeking entry-level employment in the biochemistry or biotechnology industry.

Required courses: CHM 1110, 1120, 2200, 2210, 3000, 3240, 3430, 3431, 3460; BIO 1110, 2020, 2021, 3500, 3600; PSC 2011, 2012; MTH 2221, 2222; and 8 additional credits in upper-division BIO or CHM courses. Each professional school may have additional, specific admission requirements. Pre-professional students should consult with their advisor and professional school catalogs for further details. A student majoring in chemistry may earn a second degree in biochemistry by completing the additional course requirements.

Middle/Secondary Chemistry Education major

This program is specifically designed for students seeking Minnesota licensure (grades 5-12 or 9-12). Note: more than four years are required to complete the licensure requirements unless students enter the college with advanced standing.

Required courses CHM 1110, 1120, 2200, 2210, 3000,3240,3460,4020,4060; BIO 1104; PSC 1202, 2001,2002,4150; MTH 2211; NSC 3333, 3335; EDU 1540, 1505, 2102, 2200, 2300, 2800, 2805, 3250, 3800, 4700, 4710. Registration in all EDU courses 2500 or higher requires acceptance into the EDU program. The student should have both a chemistry and education faculty advisor.

Chemistry minor

The minor is designed to provide basic competency in chemistry for students not majoring in chemistry or biochemistry.

Required courses: CHM 1110, 1120 (General Chemistry 1 and 2) + three courses from the following list:
CHM 2200 - Organic Chemistry 1
CHM 2210 - Organic Chemistry 2 (prerequisite CHM 2200)
CHM 3000 - Analytical Chemistry
CHM 3220 - Intermediate Organic Chemistry (prerequisite CHM 2210)
CHM 3460 - Physical Chemistry 1
CHM 3470 - Physical Chemistry 2
CHM 4020 - Inorganic Chemistry
CHM 4120 - Instrumental Chemistry (prerequisite CHM 3000)

Departmental policies


Students apply for admission to the chemistry or biochemistry major in the spring semester of their second year or after they have completed CHM 1110, 1120, 2200, 2210, and 3000. A completed application to major form is submitted to the department chair. Application to the minor may be made to the department chair after completing CHM 1110, 1120, and 2200.


Students admitted to the major must have an overall 2.0 grade point average and a minimum of grade of C- in all required courses. A minimum grade of C- is required in all courses in the minor.


Students must earn a minimum of C- in all courses required for the major and remain in good academic standing with the college to maintain status as a chemistry or biochemistry major. Beyond the minimum grade performance, students are expected to be involved in the community life of the department through attendance at its seminars, involvement in chemistry volunteer and outreach activities, participation in social functions, cooperation with program assessment activities, and if qualified, by serving as a teaching or research assistant.

Chemistry Department outcomes

Students graduating with a degree in chemistry or biochemistry will:

  1. Solve problems utilizing knowledge of the subdisciplines of chemistry.
  2. Communicate scientific concepts effectively in written and oral form.
  3. Work effectively as laboratory chemists independently as well as in teams.
  4. Act as ethical and professional members of the science community.