Department of Chemistry
- Tom Muir
Director of Undergraduate Studies
- Robert P. L'Esperance
Director of Graduate Studies
- Abigail G. Doyle (fall 2019)
- Rob Knowles (spring 2020)
- 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. MacMillan
- Tom Muir
- Joshua D. Rabinowitz
- Herschel A. Rabitz
- Gregory D. Scholes
- Jeffrey Schwartz
- Annabella Selloni
- Martin F. Semmelhack
- Erik J. Sorensen
- Salvatore Torquato
- Haw Yang
- Jannette L. Carey
- Mohammad R. Seyedsayamdost
- Bradley P. Carrow
- Todd K. Hyster
- William M. Jacobs
- Ralph E. Kleiner
- Leslie M. Schoop
Lecturer with Rank of Professor
- Paul J. Reider
- Sonja A. Francis
- Michael T. Kelly
- Chia-Ying Wang
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.
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. 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 201/207 and 202, or one unit of advanced placement in chemistry and CHM 202 or CHM 215, or two units of advanced placement credit.
2. Differential and integral calculus: MAT 103 and 104, or the equivalent advanced placement credit.
3. One year of general physics: PHY 101 and 102, or 103 and 104, or 105 and 106, or the equivalent advanced placement 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 302/304). Note: Chemistry concentrators must take the CHM 301 and 302/304 sequence at Princeton.
A student who has been granted advanced placement credit in chemistry and has taken advanced courses in the subject during both terms of their first year may be eligible for independent work in the sophomore year. First-year students interested in this option should contact the departmental representative in the spring term.
Program of Study
University regulations require that, before graduation, students take eight courses designated as departmental courses in their field of concentration. These eight courses are divided into four Core Courses and four Cognate Courses as defined below. Chemistry concentrators typically take more than eight courses that qualify as departmental.
Core Courses: Students must take three 300-, 400-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 (CHM 301, 302, or 304), physical (CHM 305, 306,405, or 406), and inorganic chemistry (CHM 407 or 408). The experimental requirement may be fulfilled by taking either CHM 371, or MOL 350, or MSE 302, or PHY 311 or 312, or CBE 346. 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, geoscience, materials science, computer science, mathematics, neuroscience, 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.
The program described above deliberately allows substantial flexibility and encourages a broad view of chemistry.
Junior Independent Work
The First-term program consists of two components: The Junior Colloquium and Reading Groups.
1. The Junior Colloquium: One evening each week throughout the fall term, junior chemistry majors and early concentrators are required to attend research seminars and departmental trainings. The research seminars, given by the departmental faculty, will introduce students to areas of current research not typically addressed during the coursework. The departmental training sessions include laboratory safety and responsible conduct of research, which prepare the student for independent research in the spring.
2. Reading Groups: 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. Reading group instructors will utilize current chemical literature to introduce novel research, and the mechanics of scientific writing and presentation. At the end of each reading period, students will submit a critical analysis of a research article.
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.
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 professors, two each from the following areas of study, as appropriate: inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, physical chemistry, materials science, 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 biological, 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 301/304. (4) The physical chemistry exam includes material from both quantum chemistry (CHM 305 or 405) and thermodynamics and kinetics (CHM 306 or 406). Seniors preselect and complete two of the four examinations for this requirement.
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:
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 (CHM 301 and either 302 or 304), two semesters of physical chemistry ( CHM 305 or 405, and 306 or 406), one semester of inorganic chemistry (CHM 407 or 408), one semester of experimental chemistry (CHM 371), and biochemistry (either CHM 403 or MOL 345). Junior and Senior Independent Work (CHM 981 and 984) must be completed. Two additional courses in the chemistry department, or cross-listed with the chemistry department, must also be taken for subject depth. Courses in multi-variable calculus, linear algebra, and differential equations are strongly recommended.
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 practices, the 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.