Guide to Academic Planning 2017-2018

Chemical Physics

The Chemical Physics Major is designed to provide the students with a strong background in theoretical physical science and mathematics. It involves interpretation of spectra and provides an understanding of modern models of structure, both necessary for understanding matter at the atomic and molecular level. Majors also study a variety of experimental techniques and become proficient in the communication of scientific information.

The Chemical Physics major is particularly effective in preparing students for graduate study and careers in engineering, research, and teaching.

There is no Chemical Physics minor. Students receiving the Chemical Physics major cannot receive a minor or a second major in Physics or Chemistry.


Mathematics (3 courses)

  •  MATH 130 Calculus I
  •  MATH 140 Calculus II
  •  MATH 260 Differential Equations

Physics (4 courses)

  • PHYS 230 General Physics I (Calculus-based) or PHYS 235 General Physics I (Workshop)
  • PHYS 240 General Physics II (Calculus-based) or PHYS 245 General Physics II (Workshop)
  • PHYS 305 Vibrations and Waves
  • PHYS 330 Quantum Mechanics

Chemistry (3 or 4 courses)

  • CHEM 110 and 120 General Chemistry I and II or CHEM 150 Accelerated General Chemistry
  • CHEM 240 Organic Chemistry I
  • CHEM 310 Physical Chemistry: Quantum Mechanics and Spectroscopy

Electives (3 courses)

CHEM 320 Physical Chemistry: Thermodynamics and Chemical Kinetics or PHYS 370 Thermal Physics

Two courses from:

  • CHEM 340 Advanced Inorganic Chemistry
  • CHEM 350 Advanced Analytical Chemistry
  • PHYS 320 Electrodynamics
  • PHYS 340 Electronics

Course Planning

Successful completion of the requirements for the Chemical Physics Major will require careful planning and conscientious adherence to a rigorous schedule. Many courses are sequential and have prerequisites, sometimes from different departments, and must be scheduled accordingly. Postponing a course could preclude finishing the required curriculum in four years.

First- and second-year planning: CHEM 110 and 120 General Chemistry I and II OR CHEM 150 Accelerated General Chemistry should be taken the first year. These are prerequisites for CHEM 240 Organic Chemistry I which should be taken the second year. MATH 130 and 140 Calculus I and II should also be taken the first year in order to be prepared for PHYS 230/235 and 240/245 Physics I and II (calculus-based or Workshop) in year two. MATH 260 Differential Equations is also strongly recommended for the second year. In the third year, CHEM 310 Physical Chemistry: Quantum Mechanics and Spectroscopy, PHYS 305 Vibrations and Waves, as well as two of the elective courses should be taken.

This will leave PHYS 330 Quantum Mechanics and two more electives, as well as the Senior Capstone Experience for the fourth year. The Physics Senior Capstone consists of a comprehensive examination. The Chemistry Senior Capstone is a two-part requirement:  a comprehensive standardized chemistry exam, and an oral presentation of a literature-based research paper written under the direct supervision of a faculty member.


  • First Year (3 or 4 courses): CHEM 110 and CHEM 120 (OR CHEM 150), MATH 130, MATH 140
  • Second Year (4 courses): PHYS 230 or 235, PHYS 240 or 245, CHEM 240, MATH 260
  • Third Year (3 or 4 courses): CHEM 310, PHYS 305, one or two electives (CHEM 320 or PHYS 370 and possibly one other course), 
  • Fourth Year (2 or 3 courses): PHYS 330, one or two electives, Senior Capstone Experience

Senior Capstone Experience

The Senior Capstone Experience in either Chemistry or Physics is required.