For information about Web accessibility, please contact the Webmaster at

Haverford College
Department of Chemistry

Curricular Overview

Our curriculum is designed to allow chemistry majors to learn fundamental chemical concepts and laboratory skills and to have ample opportunity to engage in original research with guidance from a faculty mentor. Our curriculum is flexible enough to allow chemistry majors to study abroad for one or two semesters during the junior year, and about one-third of our majors take advantage of this opportunity. At all levels advantage is taken of the wide range of modern instruments in the department.

First-year sequence and Sophomore year

Haverford has an innovative and unique curriculum that introduces students to the concepts found in traditional General Chemistry and Organic chemistry courses (found at most other colleges and universities in the US), but each course focusses on a particular chemical theme. Students interested in pursuing a chemistry major should take all four introductory courses, while students who are interested in health-related careers (medicine, etc.) may wish to stop after Chem 222.

  • Chem 111: Structure and Bonding (fall; includes lab; prerequisite: placement)
  • CHEM 112: Chemical Dynamics (spring; includes lab; prerequisite: placement)
  • Chem 222: Organic Biological Chemistry (fall; includes lab; prerequisites: Chem 111 (or 115) and 112).
  • Chem 225: Organic Reactions and Synthesis (spring; includes lab; prerequisite: Chem 222).

Before taking any of these courses, students must take the departmental placement examination. This examination, secondary school records, scores from standardized and advanced placement tests, and individual consultation, are all used as a basis for a recommended course of study. Students with average to good preparation in high school chemistry are placed into section 1 or 2 of Chem 111, which meet for three lecture hours per week (+ lab and recitation). Section 3 of Chem 111 targets students with limited background in high school chemistry as assessed by departmental placement. This course consists of five lecture hours per week (+ lab). There are also three-day and five-day sections for Chem 112; the five-day section is available by placement only, on the basis of the placement examination and performance in Chem 111.

As an alternative to Chem 111 we offer Chem 115: Chemical Structure and Bonding with Inquiry Lab. This is a course available by placement only to students with outstanding high school preparation (4 or 5 on the Chemistry AP exam, or equivalent). Students in this course will take the lecture portion of Chem 111, section 1 or 2. The lab portion includes one afternoon of lab and a 1 hr group meeting every week. Students will become acquainted with modern methods of chemical structure analysis as they discover the identity of unknown chemical compounds via self-proposed experiments.

Junior Year

The central offerings of the junior and senior years for chemistry majors are Physical Chemistry (304a, 305b; most chemistry majors elect to take both semesters, although only the first semester is required for the major) and the integrated laboratory courses (301a, 311g, 312h), in which laboratory work in chemistry and biochemistry provides an introduction to research. Modern methods of instrumental analytical chemistry are stressed throughout these courses. Either in the junior or senior year, students take Inorganic Chemistry (two half-semester courses), two additional advanced courses, and the departmental seminar. Students are urged to participate in research for advanced course credit.


Students may choose to concentrate in Biochemistry as chemistry majors. The Biochemistry and Biophysics Concentration is sponsored jointly by the departments of Biology, Chemistry, and Physics. Chemistry majors in the concentration substitute Biology 300b, the Biology Department's laboratory course devoted to proteins and nucleic acids, for Chemistry 311g/312h and take other appropriate Biology and Chemistry courses in the areas of molecular biology and biochemistry.

Major and minor requirements are presented in the Chemistry section of the Haverford College catalog.

More information may be found in the following pdf downloads: