Jun 18, 2024  
2017-2018 Catalog 
2017-2018 Catalog [ARCHIVED PUBLICATION] Use the dropdown above to select the current catalog.

Department of Chemistry

(See also Joint Major in Chemistry and Biology )

Professors Karukstis (Chair), Cave, Daub, Haushalter, Hawkins, Johnson, Van Hecke, Van Heuvelen, Van Ryswyk, Van Vleet, and Vosburg.

The Department of Chemistry at Harvey Mudd College is consistently ranked as one of the top undergraduate chemistry programs in the nation. The chemistry curriculum is recognized for its unique program of study that builds on the broad, technical foundation that is acquired through the three-semester College-wide Core Curriculum. With coursework in all major areas of chemistry coupled with courses in mathematics, physics, biology, engineering, and computer science, this unique program of study prepares students for professions in both traditional chemistry areas as well as cutting-edge interdisciplinary fields. Our laboratory curriculum gives students extensive hands-on experience with modern, sophisticated instrumentation and computation and features inquiry-driven, open-ended experiments that emphasize the process of discovery.

The flexibility of the major enables students to tailor their coursework to best match their career interests. An extensive range of advanced elective courses is available within the department and across The Claremont Colleges. The program of study is designed to give students the opportunity to conduct study abroad or pursue other academic or extracurricular interests. Courses in all major branches of chemistry can be completed by the end of the junior year giving students a broad spectrum of specialty areas in which to pursue the senior capstone requirement. Students may elect to fulfill the capstone experience through a wide variety of options including a research investigation, a team-based clinic project, a national laboratory collaboration, or an industrial internship.

Students have abundant opportunities to engage in collaborative research with faculty beginning in the first year. Sustained involvement in multi-year projects is common. Students experience all facets of research, including the opportunity to present their work at national disciplinary conferences.

As a consequence of the depth of the chemistry major and the breadth of the College’s technical core, our graduates pursue a myriad of careers and routinely achieve positions of leadership in their chosen fields. Students completing the chemistry major have a particularly strong and broad background for immediate employment, professional school (business, law, or medicine), or graduate work in chemistry or a wide range of allied fields. Our alumni work not only in chemistry but also in materials science, chemical engineering, biochemistry, pharmacology, molecular biology, genetics, oceanography, teaching, publishing, and viticulture. All chemistry graduates are certified by the American Chemical Society (ACS). The National Science Foundation recognizes the Harvey Mudd chemistry department as the top department in the nation whose undergraduates, per capita, ultimately earn a PhD in chemistry (www.thecollegesolution.com/the-colleges-where-phds-get-their-start/).

A second program, administered jointly by the departments of chemistry and biology, is the Joint Major in Chemistry and Biology. This joint major provides an opportunity for students interested in study at the interface between chemistry and biology. Students wishing to study such interdisciplinary areas as biochemistry, molecular biology, biological chemistry, and chemical biology will find this program well-tailored to their career plans. Details on this program are linked below.

Students completing the Joint Major in Chemistry and Biology graduate with a clear view of the science in both disciplines. Such a degree will prepare the graduate for immediate work or advanced study in molecular biology, biological chemistry, biochemistry or chemical biology. This major is not an ACS-certified chemistry major; students wishing to obtain ACS certification can do so by taking CHEM103 HM , CHEM104 HM , CHEM109 HM , and either CHEM114 HM , CHEM168B HM , CHEM187 HM , CHEM174 PO, CHEM175 PO, CHEM180 PO, or CHEM181 PO.

Chemistry Major

The curriculum of our chemistry program approved by the American Chemical Society (ACS) provides both a broad background in the five traditional subdisciplines of chemistry (analytical, biochemistry, inorganic, organic, and physical) and an in-depth study of chemistry that builds upon these foundational areas. Because chemistry is an experimental science, substantial laboratory work and research experiences are part of the curriculum. The standard chemistry program defined below is a comprehensive, rigorous curriculum to prepare students for professions in both traditional chemistry areas as well as cutting-edge interdisciplinary fields.

Harvey Mudd students also have the opportunity to pursue a specialized program of study within the chemistry major, known as a chemistry “emphasis,” that tailors the required coursework to satisfy particular career objectives. Current emphases include Applied Chemistry (for those interested in careers in Chemical Engineering), Computational Chemistry, Environmental Chemistry, Materials Chemistry, and Geochemistry. Courses for these options are indicated below.

Students may alternatively choose to design their own major emphasis (e.g., Physical Chemistry, Synthetic Chemistry, etc.). Coursework must satisfy the requirements of an ACS approved and HMC-certified degree as outlined below. A curriculum committee composed of Chemistry faculty members will work individually with majors to assist them in designing an appropriate set of courses for their chosen interest. Students should first consult with their advisor or the department chair to discuss their options.

Standard Program

Chemistry 51, 52, 53, 56, 58, 103, 104, 105, 109, 110, 111, 112, 114, four to six credits of Chemistry 151–152, Chemistry 182, and four semesters of Chemistry 199. The requirement for one semester of Chemistry 199 can be waived for students studying abroad in their junior or senior years.

Chemistry Emphases

Like the standard program outlined above, specialized Chemistry emphases must satisfy the requirements of an ACS-approved and HMC-certified degree. Those requirements are:

  • Five required foundation courses (51, 56, 103, 104, 182) and three required foundation laboratories (53, 58, 109) [19 credits]
  • One additional elective foundation laboratory – either 110 or 184 [1 credit]
  • Eight credits of elective, in-depth, non-laboratory courses (any non-laboratory chemistry course with a prerequisite of 51, 56, 103, 104, or 182 or non-laboratory courses in other departments with significant chemistry content beyond the level of the foundation courses listed above) [8 credits]
  • One elective advanced laboratory –111, 112, or 122 [1 credit]
  • Four to six credits of senior research (151–152) [4–6 credits]
  • Four semesters of 199 [2 credits]
  • Additional technical electives to reach a minimum of 37 credits

Premedical Studies

An excellent premedical preparation can be obtained for both MD and PhD/MD programs. In fact, the College’s technical Core and emphasis on the humanities, social sciences, and the arts are assets for admission to medical studies. Harvey Mudd students completing either the Chemistry major or the Joint Major in Chemistry and Biology have successfully been admitted to both MD and PhD/MD programs. As early curriculum planning is recommended, students should inform their advisor as soon as possible if they wish to pursue medical school.

Course Descriptions



Joint Major