Jul 23, 2024  
2017-2018 Catalog 
2017-2018 Catalog [ARCHIVED PUBLICATION] Use the dropdown above to select the current catalog.

Joint Major in Chemistry and Biology

Joint Major Requirements

The disciplines of biology and chemistry are undergoing remarkable and converging transformations. In response to these new developments, Harvey Mudd College has established a unique opportunity for undergraduate students at the interface of biology and chemistry.

The goal is to enable students to think at the interface, to effortlessly move back and forth between chemistry and biology. They will have the background to appreciate the biological context of their research questions and they will have mastered the chemistry fundamentals that underlie the properties and reactions of biomolecules. These successful students will be able to make connections and have insights that are difficult to obtain without a thorough training in both chemistry and biology. The program in chemistry and biology will capture the imaginations of talented Harvey Mudd students and reinforce their abilities to think across disciplines.

Many schools have used the terms “biochemistry” or “biological chemistry” and some of the newer programs call themselves “chemical biology.” But since the boundaries between chemistry and biology as separate disciplines are rapidly dissolving, and students can choose to steer their studies in many directions, we chose to call it simply the “Joint Major in Chemistry and Biology.”


Three elective credits of upper level Biology courses, to be selected by the student in consultation with her or his advisor.

Biology Colloquium and Chemistry Seminar

Two successive semesters of Biology 191–192 (Biology Colloquium) and Chemistry 199 (Chemistry Seminar), four semesters total. Joint chemistry and biology majors who study abroad may waive one semester of either Biology 191/192 or Chemistry 199. The student must request the waiver from the relevant department chair, and the waiver must be communicated by the department chair to the registrar.

Senior Thesis Research

Two semesters (at least 6 credits total) of Senior Thesis Research (Biology 193–194, or Biology 195-196, or Chemistry 151–152). The senior thesis will have two readers, a mentor from one department and a co-reader from the other department.


In order to optimize their opportunities and to enable individual flexibility, students may request to count other courses not currently listed as biology electives. These other courses might include new biology courses developed at Harvey Mudd, cross-listed Harvey Mudd courses (e.g., topics in biological engineering), and appropriate courses offered by other Claremont Colleges. Prior approval, granted by the chairs of biology and chemistry, will be required to substitute electives.