Chemistry Department: Goals and Objectives
Liberals arts colleges offer high quality instruction in chemistry at the undergraduate level through small student/faculty ratios, fostering interactive learning in the classroom, and individualized engagement of students at all levels in collaborative research.
Vassar offers students a creative, supportive, and challenging environment for an intellectual pursuit of study in chemistry. Students interact closely with faculty at all levels of the curriculum, from coursework and hands-on experience in the laboratory to faculty mentorship and interaction on guided senior thesis and summer research projects. The chemistry department offers students a wide choice in experimental independent projects and interdisciplinary collaborations, from probing fundamental questions in chemistry to applying chemistry in the study of materials, the environment and in biological systems. The department is fully equipped with modern instrumentation to support rigorous and vibrant research. Students have the unique opportunity at Vassar to work closely with faculty on research throughout their undergraduate career and to become proficient in the use of modern instrumentation and methodology.
Non-majors may pursue several options, ranging from one semester of introductory chemistry to the 6 ½ units required for the correlate. In the first year, students may either take a year of general chemistry (Chemistry 108, 109) or, if they have AP credit or two years of high school chemistry, they may opt for a condensed one-semester accelerated course (Chemistry 125). In the second year, students may pursue organic chemistry (Chemistry 244,245), which is often a prerequisite for a variety of disciplines and professions, including biology, the health sciences, the pharmaceutical industry, and elementary and secondary education.
Students interested in the correlate must fulfill an additional 2 ½ units of advanced courses in their area of interest that includes an independent project or an advanced laboratory course.
Chemistry majors pursue a structured course of study that moves from the basic theoretical foundation at the introductory and intermediate levels to an in-depth, nuanced understanding of the structure, properties, and reactivity of compounds at the advanced level, where they study in-depth at least one core area in chemistry. Chemistry majors also complete a senior thesis research project based on hands-on collaborative research with a faculty member. Students with four years of chemistry acquire a rigorous preparation that provides them with the intellectual breadth and critical scientific skills to pursue graduate studies or work in chemistry-related disciplines.