Willamette University is among the institutions approved by the American Chemical Society for undergraduate education in Chemistry. The primary goals of the Chemistry program are to help students understand the place of chemistry in human affairs and to have students become sufficiently knowledgeable about chemistry in order to be effective problem-solvers after graduation.
For both majors and non-majors, the study of chemistry provides practice in logical thinking; an awareness of the environmental impact of chemistry; preparation to enter and succeed in graduate and professional programs including medical, dental, veterinary, and nursing schools; the chemistry background needed for careers in secondary school teaching and other professions and for employment in business or industry; an awareness of how chemistry relates to other areas of knowledge; and practice in applying scientific methodology to the solution of practical problems.
Specific expectations for Chemistry majors include a competent level of understanding of the four principal areas of Analytical, Inorganic, Organic, and Physical Chemistry. All majors will acquire a background in mathematics and physics; biochemistry track students will have, in addition, experience in biology and Biochemistry. Students will also gain experience in conducting individual laboratory research projects and may study Quantum Chemistry or other advanced topics. The chemistry major provides a level of training in chemistry meeting recognized national standards.
Numerous post-graduate and professional opportunities exist for individuals who major in chemistry. Possibilities include research and development or management careers in industry, government or business; teaching at the secondary school, college, or university level; medically-oriented professions such as medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine, nursing, clinical chemistry, pharmacology, public health, and forensic chemistry. Even more applications of chemistry occur in such fields as oceanography, space exploration, environmental engineering, toxicology, business, policy, and law. In many such cases advanced study beyond the baccalaureate degree is advisable or required.
The Chemistry Department is housed in the Olin Science Center. Modern laboratories for courses and for individual research projects are provided with up-to-date instruments and equipment. Care has been given to laboratory safety, particularly in the organic chemistry laboratory, where fume hoods for each student have been installed. A wide selection of chemistry periodicals and monographs is available to students in the University Library. Students have access to SciFinder Scholar, a chemical literature research tool, through the University Library as well.