General Information About the Chemistry Major: 

Students enter Amherst College with a wide variety of prior experience with and preparation in chemistry. One common factor we have found is that college chemistry in general, and chemistry at Amherst College in particular, takes a broader view of the subject and makes greater use of concepts from mathematics and physics than the vast majority of pre-college approaches to the material. This includes AP, IB, and A-level programs. Consequently, our 100 level courses are the best starting points for study in our department.

Information for Advisors and Advisees:

This information, regarding Chemistry Placement, will aid in advising, both during first-year orientation or for pre-registration during the semester. If you have any questions regarding Chemistry Placement after reading this information, please contact Professor Stephen Cartier (x5480 or

Please read the following information carefully:

For the vast majority of Amherst College students, Chemistry 151 or Chemistry 155 followed by Chemistry 161 are the appropriate first courses in the department: Since some calculus is used in Chemistry 155 while Chemistry 151 is calculus-free, chemistry placement is based upon prior preparation in both math and the physical sciences. And please note that while some high school background in chemistry is useful for students who have been placed in Chemistry 155, having taken AP or IB Chemistry is certainly not a requirement. Finally, students who have been placed into Math 105 may not begin chemistry in the fall semester but may then enroll in Chemistry 151 in the spring (the "off-semester" of Chemistry 151).

Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate: In accordance with Amherst College policy, neither AP nor IB credit is granted. Chemistry 155 is a completely appropriate starting course for students who have taken AP or IB Chemistry in high school (but again, having taken AP or IB Chemistry is not a requirement for placement in Chemistry 155). 

Students with college credit: Occasionally, entering students have credit from previous college chemistry courses. These students should speak with the Chemistry Department Chair (Professor Anthony Bishop, x8316 or regarding appropriate placement into courses and requirements for the major.