The curriculum in chemistry prepares students for graduate study in chemistry and related fields and for admission to schools of medicine, dentistry, pharmacy and veterinary medicine. It prepares students to teach in secondary schools or to work in chemical and industrial laboratories and in related fields of business and industry. The department also offers required and elective courses in chemistry to students in other programs of study.

The Department of Chemistry offers five areas of concentration for completing the Bachelor of Science in Chemistry: chemical science, professional chemist, professional chemist with honors, biochemistry and chemical modeling. With proper selection of electives, the degree satisfies admission requirements to most schools of medicine, dentistry, pharmacy and veterinary medicine.

The biochemistry concentration focuses on the biological aspects of chemistry, including molecular genetics and molecular biotechnology. This degree is another option for students planning to study medicine or dentistry.

Learning outcomes

  • Structure: Students will demonstrate understanding of the relationship between molecular structure and function.
  • Descriptive chemistry: Students will be conversant with common chemical phenomena both symbolically and sensorially.
  • Measurement and numeracy: Students will perform calculations needed to describe and model common chemical phenomena.
  • Communication: Students will develop written and oral communication skills needed to explain chemical phenomena to novices and experts.
  • Literacy: Students will search, read and assess scientific literature.
  • Laboratory skills: Students will develop and practice laboratory bench and instrumentation skills.
  • Information processing: Students will interpret tables, graphs, drawings and models.
  • Critical thinking: Students will practice critical thinking and problem solving.
 

Special requirements

Students must complete 43 credits in chemistry and related courses and 27 to 29 credits of collateral requirements.

A minimum grade of C is required in each prerequisite course:

CHEM 100Introductory Chemistry (if required through placement qualifiers)3
CHEM 101General Chemistry3
CHEM 102General Chemistry3
CHEM 301Organic Chemistry3
CHEM 302Organic Chemistry3

Degree requirements for Chemistry, Bachelor of Science (B.S.) with a concentration in biochemistry

General education requirements

University Core Education Curriculum (minimum 21 credits)
UNIV 111 Play VideoPlay course video for Focused Inquiry IFocused Inquiry I3
UNIV 112 Play VideoPlay course video for Focused Inquiry IIFocused Inquiry II3
UNIV 200Inquiry and the Craft of Argument3
Approved humanities/fine arts3
Approved natural/physical sciences3-4
Approved quantitative literacy3-4
Approved social/behavioral sciences3-4
Total Hours21-24
Additional College of Humanities and Sciences requirements (11-23 credits)
HUMS 202Choices in a Consumer Society1
Approved H&S diverse and global communities3
Approved H&S human, social and political behavior (fulfills University Core social/behavioral sciences)
Approved H&S literature and civilization (fulfills University Core humanities/fine arts)
Approved H&S science and technology (fulfills University Core natural/physical sciences)
Approved H&S general education electives6-8
Experiential fine arts 11-3
Foreign language through the 102 level (by course or placement)0-8
Total Hours11-23
1

Course offered by the School of the Arts

Collateral requirements

BIOL 151
BIOZ 151
Introduction to Biological Sciences I
and Introduction to Biological Science Laboratory I
4
BIOL 152
BIOZ 152
Introduction to Biological Sciences II
and Introduction to Biological Science Laboratory II
4
BIOL 300Cellular and Molecular Biology3
MATH 200
MATH 201
Calculus with Analytic Geometry
and Calculus with Analytic Geometry
8
Select one of the following:8-10
General Physics
and General Physics
University Physics I
and University Physics II
STAT 210Basic Practice of Statistics (fulfills quantitative literacy)3
or STAT 212 Concepts of Statistics
Total Hours27-29

Major requirements

Chemistry core
CHEM 101
CHEZ 101
General Chemistry
and General Chemistry Laboratory I
4
CHEM 102
CHEZ 102
General Chemistry
and General Chemistry Laboratory II
4
CHEM 301
CHEZ 301
Organic Chemistry
and Organic Chemistry Laboratory I
5
CHEM 302
CHEZ 302
Organic Chemistry
and Organic Chemistry Laboratory II
5
CHEM 303
CHEZ 303
Physical Chemistry
and Physical Chemistry Laboratory I
5
CHEM 304Physical Chemistry3
CHEM 309
CHEZ 309
Quantitative Analysis
and Quantitative Analysis Laboratory
5
CHEM 320Inorganic Chemistry I3
CHEM 398Professional Practices and Perspectives Seminar1
CHEM 403Biochemistry I3
CHEM 404Biochemistry II3
Chemistry electives
Select at least one of the approved electives below (three credits minimum) or any 500-level CHEM class for which prerequisites have been met.3
Total Hours44

Open electives

Select one to 17 open elective credits1-17

Total minimum requirement 120 credits

Chemistry electives

BIOL 310Genetics3
CHEM/MEDC 310Medicinal Chemistry and Drug Design3
CHEM 406Inorganic Chemistry II3
CHEM 409
CHEZ 409
Instrumental Analysis
and Instrumental Analysis Laboratory
5
CHEM 492Independent Study1-4

What follows is a sample plan that meets the prescribed requirements within a four-year course of study at VCU. Please contact your adviser before beginning course work toward a degree.

Freshman year
Fall semesterHours
CHEM 101
CHEZ 101
General Chemistry
and General Chemistry Laboratory I
4
MATH 200 Calculus with Analytic Geometry 4
UNIV 111 Play VideoPlay course video for Focused Inquiry I Focused Inquiry I 3
Approved H&S diverse and global communities 3
 Term Hours: 14
Spring semester
CHEM 102
CHEZ 102
General Chemistry
and General Chemistry Laboratory II
4
HUMS 202 Choices in a Consumer Society 1
MATH 201 Calculus with Analytic Geometry 4
UNIV 112 Play VideoPlay course video for Focused Inquiry II Focused Inquiry II 3
Approved H&S human, social and political behavior 3
 Term Hours: 15
Sophomore year
Fall semester
BIOL 151
BIOZ 151
Introduction to Biological Sciences I
and Introduction to Biological Science Laboratory I
4
CHEM 301
CHEZ 301
Organic Chemistry
and Organic Chemistry Laboratory I
5
UNIV 200 Inquiry and the Craft of Argument 3
Approved H&S literature and civilization 3
 Term Hours: 15
Spring semester
BIOL 152
BIOZ 152
Introduction to Biological Sciences II
and Introduction to Biological Science Laboratory II
4
CHEM 302
CHEZ 302
Organic Chemistry
and Organic Chemistry Laboratory II
5
CHEM 309
CHEZ 309
Quantitative Analysis
and Quantitative Analysis Laboratory
5
Approved H&S science and technology 3
 Term Hours: 17
Junior year
Fall semester
BIOL 300 Cellular and Molecular Biology 3
CHEM 320 Inorganic Chemistry I 3
CHEM 403 Biochemistry I 3
PHYS 201
General Physics
or University Physics I
4-5
Foreign language (101 level) 4
 Term Hours: 17-18
Spring semester
CHEM 398 Professional Practices and Perspectives Seminar 1
CHEM 404 Biochemistry II 3
PHYS 202
General Physics
or University Physics II
4-5
STAT 210 Basic Practice of Statistics 3
Foreign language (102 level) 4
 Term Hours: 15-16
Senior year
Fall semester
CHEM 303
CHEZ 303
Physical Chemistry
and Physical Chemistry Laboratory I
5
Approved H&S general education electives 6
Chemistry elective 3-5
Experiential fine arts 1-3
 Term Hours: 15-19
Spring semester
CHEM 304 Physical Chemistry 3
Open electives (upper-level if needed) 9-12
 Term Hours: 12-15
 Total Hours: 120-129
 
 

A minimum grade of C is required in each prerequisite course:

CHEM 100Introductory Chemistry (if required through placement qualifiers)3
CHEM 101General Chemistry3
CHEM 102General Chemistry3
CHEM 301Organic Chemistry3
CHEM 302Organic Chemistry3
CHEM 309Quantitative Analysis3

In chemistry laboratories each student is charged for breakage incurred. Approved safety glasses are required. Failure to check out of laboratory, upon withdrawal or for other reasons, will incur a charge, billed from the Student Accounting Department.

Chemistry

CHEM 100. Introductory Chemistry. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture and 1 problem session hour. 3 credits. Prerequisite: students must be eligible to take MATH 131 or higher. A course in the elementary principles of chemistry for individuals who do not meet the criteria for enrollment in CHEM 101; required for all students without a high school chemistry background who need to take CHEM 101-102. These credits may not be used to satisfy any chemistry course requirements in the College of Humanities and Sciences.

CHEM 101. General Chemistry. 3 Hours.

Continuous courses; 3 lecture and 1 recitation hour. 3-3 credits. Prerequisite: CHEM 100 with a grade of C or higher, or high school chemistry and a satisfactory combination of Math SAT score and high school GPA. Pre- or corequisite: MATH 151. Prerequisite for CHEM 102: CHEM 101 with a grade of C or higher. Fundamental principles and theories of chemistry, including qualitative analysis.

CHEM 102. General Chemistry. 3 Hours.

Continuous courses; 3 lecture and 1 recitation hour. 3-3 credits. Prerequisite: CHEM 100 with a grade of C or higher, or high school chemistry and a satisfactory combination of Math SAT score and high school GPA. Pre- or corequisite: MATH 151. Prerequisite for CHEM 102: CHEM 101 with a grade of C or higher. Fundamental principles and theories of chemistry, including qualitative analysis.

CHEM 110. Chemistry and Society. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. The basic principles of chemistry are presented through the use of decision-making activities related to real-world societal issues. Not applicable for credit toward the B.S. in Chemistry.

CHEM 112. Chemistry in the News. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. The basic principles of chemistry are used to interpret newspaper and magazine articles of current interest relating to chemistry in manufacturing, the global environment and medicine. Not applicable for credit toward the B.S. in Chemistry.

CHEM 301. Organic Chemistry. 3 Hours.

Continuous courses; 3 lecture hours. 3-3 credits. Prerequisite: CHEM 102 with a minimum grade of C. Prerequisite for CHEM 302: CHEM 301 with a minimum grade of C. A comprehensive survey of aliphatic and aromatic compounds with emphasis on their structure, properties, reactions, reaction mechanisms and stereochemistry.

CHEM 302. Organic Chemistry. 3 Hours.

Continuous courses; 3 lecture hours. 3-3 credits. Prerequisite: CHEM 102 with a minimum grade of C. Prerequisite for CHEM 302: CHEM 301 with a minimum grade of C. A comprehensive survey of aliphatic and aromatic compounds with emphasis on their structure, properties, reactions, reaction mechanisms and stereochemistry.

CHEM 303. Physical Chemistry. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: CHEM 309 or CLSE 201 with minimum grades of C, and PHYS 202 or PHYS 208, and MATH 201 or MATH 301 or MATH 307. Ideal and nonideal gases, thermodynamics, free energy and chemical equilibrium.

CHEM 304. Physical Chemistry. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: CHEM 303 with a minimum grade of C. Kinetics, solution thermodynamics, heterogeneous equilibria, electrochemistry and introductory biophysical chemistry.

CHEM 305. Physical Chemistry for the Life Sciences. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: CHEM 301-302 and CHEM 309 with minimum grades of C; and MATH 200. Concepts and principles of physical chemistry as related to the life sciences, forensic science and the B.S in science programs. Major topics include thermodynamics of proteins and nucleic acids, enzyme kinetics and spectroscopic techniques useful in biophysical research such as circular dichroism, nuclear magnetic resonance and magnetic resonance imaging.

CHEM 306. Industrial Applications of Inorganic Chemistry. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: CHEM 302 and CHEZ 302. Chemical engineering students: EGRC 201 and EGRC 205. A study and analysis of the most important industrial applications of inorganic chemistry, with emphasis on structure/properties correlation, materials and energy balance, availability and logistics of starting materials, economic impact and environmental effects. Crosslisted as: CLSE 306.

CHEM 309. Quantitative Analysis. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: CHEM 102 with a minimum grade of C, and MATH 151. Theory and practice of gravimetric, volumetric and instrumental analysis techniques and treatment of multiple equilibria in aqueous solutions.

CHEM 310. Medicinal Chemistry and Drug Design. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: CHEM 302. This course is designed to expose undergraduate chemistry, biology and pre-medicine majors to the history, theory and practice of medicinal chemistry. The course will emphasize a combination of fundamentals and applications of drug design. In particular, the molecular aspects of drug action will be discussed. Special emphasis will also be placed on the methods used by medicinal chemists to design new drugs. Crosslisted as: MEDC 310.

CHEM 320. Inorganic Chemistry I. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: CHEM 101-102 with minimum grades of C. A systematic, unified study of the structures, properties, reactions and practical applications of inorganic compounds.

CHEM 350. Guided Inquiry in Chemistry. 1.5 Hour.

Semester course; 1.5 lecture hours. 1.5 credits. Prerequisites: CHEM 101-102 with minimum grades of B. Student facilitators lead recitation sections using guided inquiry, group-based activities. Introduces students to the principles of guided inquiry, active learning and collaborative learning in chemistry through practical, hands-on class work, discussions, readings and a final project.

CHEM 351. Chemistry Preceptorship. 1.5 Hour.

Semester course; 1.5 lecture hours. 1.5 credits. Course may be repeated once for a total of 3 credits. Prerequisites: completion of relevant course with minimum grade of C, completion of CHEM 350 with a grade of B and permission of course instructor and departmental chair. Student facilitators lead recitation sections or laboratories in chemistry courses. Responsibilities vary and may include, but are not limited to, attending all classes, holding weekly review sessions or office hours and/or routine grading. A weekly reflection journal and final project are required.

CHEM 391. Topics in Chemistry. 1-4 Hours.

Semester course; variable hours. Variable credit. Maximum of 4 credits per semester; maximum total of 6 credits for all chemistry topics courses may be applied to the major. Prerequisites: CHEM 101-102 and CHEZ 101, 102. A study of a selected topic in chemistry. See the Schedule of Classes for specific topics to be offered each semester.

CHEM 392. Directed Study. 1-4 Hours.

Semester course; variable hours. 1-4 credits. May be repeated for a maximum total of 8 credits; only 3 credits are applicable to the chemistry major. Prerequisites: CHEM 102 and CHEZ 101 and 102. The independent investigation of chemical problems through readings and experimentation under the supervision of a research adviser. Written interim and final reports are required.

CHEM 398. Professional Practices and Perspectives Seminar. 1 Hour.

Seminar course; 1 lecture hour. 1 credit. Prerequisites: completion of 18 credits in chemistry. Seminar course for students considering careers in chemistry-related fields covering topics such as scientific professionalism and ethics, and using chemical literature.

CHEM 401. Applications of Instrumental Techniques in Organic and Forensic Chemistry. 4 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture and 3 laboratory hours. 4 credits. Prerequisites: CHEM 302 and CHEZ 302. Theory and laboratory practice of instrumental and chemical methods applied to the analysis of organic compounds with emphasis on applications in forensic chemistry.

CHEM 403. Biochemistry I. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: CHEM 302 with a minimum grade of C. A presentation of structural biochemistry, enzymology, biophysical techniques, bioenergetics and an introduction to intermediary metabolism.

CHEM 404. Biochemistry II. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: CHEM 403 with a minimum grade of C. A presentation of metabolism and its regulation as integrated catoblism and anoblism of molecules that are essential to life.

CHEM 406. Inorganic Chemistry II. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: CHEM 304 and 320. An advanced study of inorganic chemistry, including inorganic spectroscopy, organometallic compounds and catalysis, and bioinorganic systems.

CHEM 409. Instrumental Analysis. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: CHEM 303 and 309, and CHEZ 309. Theory and practice of modern spectrophotometric, electroanalytical and chromatographic and nuclear magnetic resonance methods.

CHEM 491. Topics in Chemistry. 1-4 Hours.

Semester course; variable hours. Variable credit. Maximum of 4 credits per semester; maximum total of 6 credits for all chemistry topics courses may be applied to the major. Prerequisites: CHEM 102 and CHEZ 101 and 102. A study of a selected topic in chemistry. See the Schedule of Classes for specific topics to be offered each semester and prerequisites.

CHEM 492. Independent Study. 1-4 Hours.

Semester course; variable hours. 1-4 credits. May be repeated for a maximum total of 8 credits; only 3 credits are applicable to the chemistry major. Prerequisites: CHEM 102 and CHEZ 101 and 102. The independent investigation of chemical problems through readings and experimentation under the supervision of a research adviser. Written interim and final reports required.

CHEM 493. Chemistry Internship. 1-3 Hours.

Semester course; variable hours. Variable credit. Maximum of 3 credits; 1 credit will be given for each 150 hours (approximately one month) of part-time or full-time chemical work experience. Prerequisites: CHEM 102 and CHEZ 101 and 102. Acquisition of chemistry laboratory experience through involvement in a professional chemistry setting. Written progress and final reports will be required.

CHEM 498. Honors Thesis. 1 Hour.

Semester course; 1 credit. Prerequisites: completion of 29 credits in chemistry, including CHEM 398 and at least six credits of CHEM 492. Students submit to the Department of Chemistry a thesis based on their independent study research. Students also present their results to the department as a research seminar.

Chemistry labs

CHEZ 101. General Chemistry Laboratory I. 1 Hour.

Semester course; 1 lecture and 2 laboratory hours. 1 credit. Pre- or corequisite: CHEM 101. Experimental work correlated with CHEM 101 with selected forensic science applications. Each student is charged for breakage incurred. Approved safety glasses are required. Failure to check out of laboratory upon withdrawal or for other reasons will incur a charge billed from the Student Accounting Department.

CHEZ 102. General Chemistry Laboratory II. 1 Hour.

Semester course; 1 lecture and 2 laboratory hours. 1 credit. Prerequisites: CHEM 101 and CHEZ 101 with minimum grades of C. Pre- or corequisite: CHEM 102. Experimental work includes qualitative analysis with selected forensic science applications. Each student is charged for breakage incurred. Approved safety glasses are required. Failure to check out of laboratory upon withdrawal or for other reasons will incur a charge billed from the Student Accounting Department.

CHEZ 110. Chemistry and Society Laboratory. 1 Hour.

Semester course; 2 laboratory hours. 1 credit. Pre- or corequisite: CHEM 110. Experimental work correlated with CHEM 110. Not applicable for credit toward the B.S. in Chemistry. Each student is charged for breakage incurred. Approved safety glasses are required. Failure to check out of laboratory upon withdrawal or for other reasons will incur a charge billed from the Student Accounting Department.

CHEZ 301. Organic Chemistry Laboratory I. 2 Hours.

Semester course; 4 laboratory hours. 2 credits. Prerequisites: CHEM 102 and CHEZ 102 with minimum grades of C. Pre- or corequisite: CHEM 301. Experimental work correlated with CHEM 301. Each student is charged for breakage incurred. Approved safety glasses are required. Failure to check out of laboratory upon withdrawal or for other reasons will incur a charge billed from the Student Accounting Department.

CHEZ 302. Organic Chemistry Laboratory II. 2 Hours.

Semester course; 4 laboratory hours. 2 credits. Prerequisites: CHEM 301 and CHEZ 301 with minimum grades of C. Pre- or corequisite: CHEM 302. Experimental work correlated with CHEM 302. Each student is charged for breakage incurred. Approved safety glasses are required. Failure to check out of laboratory upon withdrawal or for other reasons will incur a charge billed from the Student Accounting Department.

CHEZ 303. Physical Chemistry Laboratory I. 2 Hours.

Semester course; 4 laboratory hours. 2 credits. Prerequisites: CHEM 102 and CHEZ 102. Pre- or corequisites: CHEM 303, 309 and CHEZ 309. This course covers experiments in calorimetry, molecular and thermodynamic properties of gases and liquids, surfaces, electrochemistry, equilibria, polymers, phase diagrams, and biophysical chemistry. Extensive report writing, laboratory notebook writing and statistical analysis of data are emphasized. A final project may be required.

CHEZ 304. Physical Chemistry Laboratory II. 2 Hours.

Semester course; 4 laboratory hours. 2 credits. Prerequisites: CHEM 303, 309 and CHEZ 303, 309. Pre- or corequisite: CHEM 304. This course covers experiments in absorption and emission spectroscopy, infrared and Raman spectroscopy, NMR spectroscopy, kinetics, photochemistry, biophysical chemistry and modeling. Report writing, laboratory notebook writing and statistical analysis of data are emphasized. A final project may be required.

CHEZ 309. Quantitative Analysis Laboratory. 2 Hours.

Semester course; 1 lecture and 3 laboratory hours. 2 credits. Prerequisites: CHEM 102 and CHEZ 102 with minimum grades of C. Pre- or corequisite: CHEM 309. Laboratory associated with quantitative analysis. Includes practice in volumetric and instrumental laboratory techniques as applied to measurement sciences.

CHEZ 406. Inorganic Chemistry Laboratory. 2 Hours.

Semester course; 1 lecture and 3 laboratory hours. 2 credits. Prerequisites: CHEM 320 and CHEZ 102. Pre- or corequisite: CHEM 406. Examination of inorganic nonmetal, transition metal and organometallic compounds using modern inorganic methods of synthesis and characterization. Each student is charged for breakage incurred. Approved safety glasses are required. Failure to check out of laboratory upon withdrawal or for other reasons will incur a charge billed from the Student Accounting Department.

CHEZ 409. Instrumental Analysis Laboratory. 2 Hours.

Semester course; 4 laboratory hours. 2 credits. Prerequisites: CHEM 302, 304 and 309 with minimum grades of C; CHEZ 303 and 309 with minimum grades of C. Pre- or corequisite: CHEM 409. Practice of electrochemical, spectroscopic and chromatographic methods of analysis.