Department of Chemistry

  • Chair

    Thomas W. Muir

  • Associate Chair

    Martin F. Semmelhack

  • Departmental Representative

    Robert P. L'Esperance

  • Director of Graduate Studies

    Abigail G. Doyle

  • Professor

    Andrew B. Bocarsly

    Roberto Car

    Robert J. Cava

    Paul J. Chirik

    Abigail G. Doyle

    John T. Groves

    Michael H. Hecht

    Robert R. Knowles

    David W. C. MacMillan

    Thomas W. Muir

    Joshua D. Rabinowitz, also Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics

    Herschel A. Rabitz

    Gregory D. Scholes

    Jeffrey Schwartz

    Annabella Selloni

    Martin F. Semmelhack

    Erik J. Sorensen

    Salvatore Torquato

    Haw Yang

  • Associate Professor

    Jannette L. Carey

  • Assistant Professor

    Nozomi Ando

    Brad P. Carrow

    Todd K. Hyster

    Ralph E. Kleiner

    Leslie M. Schoop

    Mohammed R. Seyedsayamdost

  • Lecturer with Rank of Professor

    Paul J. Reider

  • Lecturer

    Sonja A. Francis

    Henry L. Gingrich

    Michael T. Kelly

    Anne M. Morel-Kraepiel

    Robert P. L'Esperance

    István Pelczer

    Susan K. VanderKam

    Chia-Ying Wang

  • Associated Faculty

    Bonnie L. Bassler, Molecular Biology

    Emily A. Carter, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Applied and Computational Mathematics

    Frederick M. Hughson, Molecular Biology

    Bruce E. Koel, Chemical and Biological Engineering

    Alexei Korennykh, Molecular Biology

    Lynn Loo, Chemical and Biological Engineering

    François Morel, Geosciences

    Satish C. B. Myneni, Geosciences

    Sabine Petry, Molecular Biology

    Jeffry B. Stock, Molecular Biology

    Martin H. Wühr, Molecular Biology

Information and Departmental Plan of Study

The Department of Chemistry offers a flexible program suitable for those who plan to attend graduate school, as well as for premedical students or those intending to pursue a career in secondary school teaching. A chemistry concentration is appropriate for anyone who desires a broad background of undergraduate training in science.

Advanced Placement

A student who received an Advanced Placement Examination score of 4 qualifies for one unit of advanced placement and is eligible to take CHM 215 Advanced General Chemistry-Honors. A student who received an Advanced Placement Examination score of 5 qualifies for two units of advanced placement and is eligible to take CHM 301 or 303. One term of advanced placement satisfies the B.S.E. chemistry requirement.

A departmental placement examination is given during Freshman Orientation Week for students who did not have an opportunity to take the Chemistry Advanced Placement Exam.


Before entering the department, students are expected to complete:

1. one year of general chemistry: CHM 201/203/207 and 202/204, or one unit of advanced placement in chemistry and CHM 202 or CHM 215, or the equivalent (such as two units of advanced placement in chemistry)

2. differential and integral calculus: MAT 103 and 104, or the equivalent advanced placement

3. one year of general physics: PHY 101 and 102, or 103 and 104, or 105 and 106, or equivalent credit

Prerequisite courses may not be taken using the P/D/F grading option.

The sophomore program of prospective chemistry concentrators should include one year of organic chemistry (CHM 301 and 302 or 303 and 304/304B). Note: Also see Integrated Science sequence below.

Early Concentration

A student who has been granted advanced placement credit in chemistry and has taken advanced courses in the subject during both terms of freshman year may be eligible for independent work in the sophomore year. Students interested in this option should contact the departmental representative in the spring of their freshman year.

Program of Study

University regulations require that, before graduation, students take eight courses, designated as departmental courses in their field of concentration. A chemistry concentrator may, with the approval of the departmental representative, use one or more non-introductory courses from other science departments, mathematics, and engineering as departmental courses.

Chemistry concentrators typically take more than eight courses that qualify as departmental.

Core Courses. Students must take three 300-, 400-, or 500-numbered courses in chemistry and at least one term of experimental laboratory instruction at Princeton as departmental core courses. These courses must include at least one term each of organic, physical, and inorganic chemistry. The experimental requirement may be fulfilled by taking either CHM 371, or MOL 350, or MSE 302, or PHY 311 or 312, or CHE 346, or QCB 301. Note: The experimental course must be completed by the end of the junior year.

Cognates. The remaining four departmental courses of the eight required by the University degree regulations can be in either chemistry or a cognate scientific area (e.g., molecular biology, engineering, geology, materials science, computer science, mathematics, or physics). Many courses in the sciences at the 300, 400, and 500 levels are approved as departmental courses. Courses are evaluated on a case-by-case basis. To qualify as a departmental, the course must have one or more prerequisites (i.e., be non-introductory) and must have a strong chemistry component.

Physics/Mathematics. An understanding of chemistry requires a thorough background in physics and mathematics. Students majoring in chemistry should obtain a broad background in these subjects. In general, it is desirable to take courses in mathematics at least through multivariable calculus (MAT 201 or 203) and linear algebra (MAT 202 or 204). These courses may be counted as departmental courses. These mathematics courses are also required for professional certification. (See "Professional Certification in Chemistry," below.)

The program described above deliberately allows substantial flexibility and encourages a broad view of chemistry.

Independent Work

Junior Independent Work.

First-term program:

1. The Junior Colloquium: One evening each week throughout the fall term talks will be given by faculty members on topics not normally included in coursework. Junior chemistry concentrators and early concentrators are required to attend these sessions.

2. Juniors will be assigned to one of several reading groups. Over the course of the semester, every group will meet with three separate instructors, one for each of three four-week reading periods. Instructors will discuss current literature topics with the groups. At the end of each reading period, students will submit a critical analysis of a research article.

Reading group advisers are selected by the Junior Colloquia chairperson to give the student a broad sampling of faculty interests. The student's final term grade is calculated by the departmental representative using the grades on the three papers plus the individual's record of attendance at the evening colloquia.

Second-term program:

Each student will select a faculty adviser for spring independent work by the start of the spring semester. The student will meet regularly with the faculty adviser during the semester. At the end of the term, the student will submit a research proposal for the senior thesis. The student will summarize any preliminary experimental results. A student's final term grade is determined by the departmental representative in conjunction with the faculty adviser's evaluation.

Senior Independent Work. At the end of the junior year, each student selects a thesis adviser (who may or may not be the same as the adviser during the junior year). The adviser and the student will agree on a topic on which the student will undertake independent original research throughout both terms of the senior year. This project will consist largely of original research involving wet laboratory work and/or chemical theory. On or before the University deadline, a written thesis based on this research work must be submitted to the department. The thesis will be evaluated and ranked by a committee of eight professors, two each from the following four areas of study: inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, physical chemistry, and biochemistry.

Grading note: The grades for the junior and senior independent work will comply with the University's grading guidelines.

Senior Departmental Examination

In May of the senior year, the department administers examinations produced by the American Chemical Society in order to fulfill University degree requirements. These examinations cover the fields of biochemistry and inorganic, organic, and physical chemistry. Preparation for these exams involves the following: (1) The biochemistry exam covers material presented in MOL 345. (2) The inorganic chemistry exam encompasses material from both CHM 407 and 408. (3) The organic chemistry exam spans a full year of coursework from either CHM 301/302 or CHM 303/304. (4) The physical chemistry exam includes material from both quantum chemistry (CHM 305 or 405) and thermodynamics (CHM 306 or 406). Seniors preselect and complete two of the four examinations for this requirement.

Study Abroad

The department encourages students to consider opportunities for study abroad in the spring term of the junior year. Requirements for the junior independent work program are then met at the foreign host institution. In addition, the student may elect to have the number of required departmental courses reduced by one cognate per semester abroad, assuming advanced approval of a chemistry-related course of study at the foreign institution. (This course may not be counted as one of the four required core courses.) Students considering study abroad are urged to discuss their plans with the departmental representative early in the planning stages to lay out coursework, obtain approvals, and set up junior independent work assignments.

Integrated Science Sequence

Completion of the ISC/CHM/COS/MOL/PHY 231, 232, 233, 234 series fulfills the general chemistry and physics prerequisites. For full course descriptions and more information, see the Integrated Science website.

Professional Certification in Chemistry. As specified by the American Chemical Society. Students intending to pursue a career in chemistry, whether directly after graduation or following a graduate program, may wish to pursue a course of study leading to professional certification by the American Chemical Society. This certification requires two semesters of organic chemistry (one each of CHM 301 and 302, or 303 and 304, or equivalent), two semesters of physical chemistry (normally, CHM 305 or 405, and 306 or 406), one semester of inorganic chemistry (normally, CHM 407 or 408), one semester of experimental chemistry (CHM 371), multivariable calculus (MAT 201 or 203), linear algebra (MAT 202 or 204), and exposure to biochemistry (typically, MOL 345). MOL/EEB 214 or MOL/EEB/CBE 215 satisfies the biochemistry requirement, but is not counted as a departmental course; some upper-level courses in molecular biology or one of several different advanced chemistry courses also satisfy the requirement.

Chemistry Outreach Program. Nothing serves to foster excitement about science more than well-planned chemical demonstrations and activities. Many chemistry faculty, staff, and students participate in programs for local schools, museums, community groups, and youth organizations. The Chemistry Outreach Program gives chemistry concentrators hands-on experience with demonstrations and presentations and the opportunity to increase interest in science in the schools and the community. After a brief series of training sessions, chemistry outreach students, in concert with faculty and staff, present programs for visitors to Princeton and at local schools, museums, or libraries. The training sessions emphasize effective presentation, safe practice, choice of age-appropriate activities, and coordination with local educational requirements. They include laboratory sessions in which students master demonstrations and activities tested by the department or by the American Chemical Society. Students may also develop or help to develop new demonstrations or activities, and they may help with other science programs, such as the New Jersey State Science Olympiad. Interested students should contact Dr. Kathryn Wagner, director.