Chemistry Major Courses

What class can you expect to take as a chemistry major?

Expect to take many chemistry courses, as well as courses in other sciences and in math.
Chemistry majors spend a lot of time in the chemistry lab. Expect to take many chemistry courses, as well as courses in other sciences and in math. Nicholas Rigg, Getty Images

Are you interested in studying chemistry in college? Here is a look at the courses you can expect to take if you have a chemistry major. The specific courses you take will depend on which school you attend, but in general you can expect a heavy emphasis on chemistry and math. Almost all of the chemistry courses include a lab component, too.

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Sequence of Courses

Some of the required classes can be taken whenever you can fit them into your schedule, such as probability, statistics, and computer science. Others have prerequisites. What this means is that you have to take one or more other classes before you'll be allowed to enroll.

If possible, a chemistry major should try to take general chemistry as a freshman. The course is typically broken up into two parts and takes an entire academic year to complete. Taking it early helps a student determine whether chemistry is truly what they want to pursue and it opens the opportunity to take organic chemistry.

Organic chemistry also requires an entire academic year to complete at most institutions. It is a prerequisite for biochemistry and other interdisciplinary courses. In other words, a student usually needs three years to get through the general chemistry, organic chemistry, and biochemistry sequence. If you're a chemistry major and you wait until your junior (third) year to take general chemistry, you can't graduate in less than four and a half years!

In addition to organic chemistry, general biology is a prerequisite for biochemistry. General biology lasts an entire academic year. A student should be careful when registering for general biology to make certain it's the correct class. Many schools offer a watered down version of general biology for non-science majors that may count for college credit, but won't satisfy the requirements for a major or to take higher level biology or chemistry courses.

Physics and sometimes calculus are required to take physical chemistry. Because physics is often taken in the second or third year, it's normal for physical chemistry to be one of the last major courses a chemistry major takes.

Inorganic chemistry always requires general chemistry. Some schools tack on additional requirements. Like physical chemistry, it's typically taken later in a student's academic career.

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Your Citation
Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "Chemistry Major Courses." ThoughtCo, Aug. 25, 2020, Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. (2020, August 25). Chemistry Major Courses. Retrieved from Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "Chemistry Major Courses." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 9, 2023).