Chemistry at Amherst College

Chemistry Placement

Are you thinking of taking Chemistry at Amherst? If so, you're in the right place to learn about what course to take in your first semester.

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 for pre-registration. 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 or 165, are the appropriate first courses in the department: Chemistry placement in either CHEM 151 or CHEM 155 is based upon prior preparation in both math and the physical sciences. Please note that while some high school background in chemistry is useful for students who have been placed in CHEM 155, having taken AP or IB Chemistry is certainly not a requirement. It is strongly recommended that incoming students who place into MATH 105 should take MATH 105 before taking CHEM 151. First-year students who take MATH 105 in the fall often enroll in CHEM 151 the following spring. In addition, note that MATH 111 is a prerequisite for CHEM 161. (This prerequisite can also be fulfilled by completion of both MATH 105 and MATH 106 or placement by the mathematics department into MATH 121 or higher.).

Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate: In accordance with Amherst College policy, neither AP nor IB credit is granted. CHEM 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 CHEM 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.