A Major in Chemistry!

Chemistry has been called the "central science," because it connects to so many areas of scientific inquiry.  Even in a small department like ours at Amherst College, we have chemists working at the intersections of chemistry with biology, physics, and materials science and having connections to solar energy, catalysis, and fundamental investigations into molecular properties.  More broadly, chemistry plays important roles in medicine, engineering, environmental science, here on earth in geology and throughout the cosmos in the investigation of the interstellar medium.  In turn, chemistry builds its foundation upon mathematics and physics.  Whether you are taking one of our courses intended for non-majors, joining us for courses required for another major or in preparation for applications to health professions programs, or continuing all the way through a major in chemistry, we look forward to sharing our excitement about and passion for the central science.

Please explore the pages below to learn more about the major.  The page, "For Non-Majors and New Students" also contains very valuable information about starting off with your first chemistry course.

Because so many Amherst students take Chemistry (typically one-third of the entering class), there is a vibrant community of students and faculty studying chemistry that you can be a part of even without declaring a major.  In fact, the time we spend together with you in our classrooms and in our teaching laboratories is equally important for community building as it is for learning chemistry.  If you do decide to declare a Chemistry major:

  • You will be matched up with a departmental advisor who can help you navigate the Chemistry curriculum and the liberal arts curriculum in the best way possible for you.  This personal advising relationship is important!  Remember chemistry, like all sciences, is not about having "the right answer," but learning how to ask the best questions.  Your advisor will guide you through the major and help you plan ahead for the academic and professional goals you discover for yourself.
  • You will also be added to the mailing list announcing department events such as seminars, lunches, or guest speakers! 
  • To declare a Chemistry major please contact one of the department co-chairs, Professor Mark Marshall, mdmarshall@amherst.edu, or Professor Helen Leung, hleung@amherst.edu. You will need to provide them with an unofficial transcript and a declaration of major form. If you plan to major in Chemistry, you should declare the major as soon as you have made that decision, and certainly by the college requirement of the end of your sophomore year.