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Chemistry student.



Discover science that’s elemental.

With small classes, a hands-on approach to learning, and faculty who have a strong dedication to teaching and vibrant research agendas, Whitman College is one of the best colleges in the Northwest for Chemistry majors. At Whitman, you’ll learn from amazing professors who will help you develop the science skills to solve real-world problems. Starting with your very first Chemistry class, you’ll get practice with state-of-the-art scientific instruments and lab equipment. And you’ll put that learning into practice with independent research and plentiful out-of-class learning opportunities that will prepare you for graduate school or an exciting career in the sciences.

3 Reasons to Study Chemistry at Whitman

Work Closely With Faculty Researchers

Want to study potential cancer treatment? Or how enzymes can degrade pollutants? At Whitman, you can be part of a research team in a professor’s lab—or do your own research for credit. Whitman students even present at conferences and publish with their professors.

Get Hands-On Experience Outside the Classroom

Many Whitman Chemistry majors do summer internships in industry chemistry labs. On your way to a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry, you might also tutor fellow students or work as a laboratory teaching assistant. Or you could learn grant writing, research and writing skills as part of a research team.

Get Prepared for Life After Whitman

Whitman Chemistry faculty offer guidance and mentorship throughout your college career. With your faculty advisor, you’ll discuss both graduate school and direct-to-work possibilities after graduation. And through the senior Chemistry Seminar, you’ll network with Chemistry alumni to learn about exciting career paths you could pursue.

Interested in Chemistry?

We’d love to send you information, including more on academic majors and student life at our beautiful campus in Walla Walla, Washington.

Kathryn W., chemistry major

“I cannot overstate how instrumental the Chemistry professors have been in my undergraduate education. Without the high caliber of professors and research experience, I likely would not have chosen to major in Chemistry. They care about their students both as budding chemists and as people: athletes, musicians, actors and community members.”

Our Whitman Student Voices Blog

Courses in Chemistry

See just a few of the fascinating courses you might take.

CHEM 140

Advanced General Chemistry

Students with a strong high school background in chemistry are encouraged to enroll in this accelerated course, which packs a year’s worth of General Chemistry content into one fast-paced semester. Here and in the accompanying lab, you’ll build on the skills you learned in high school, reviewing the nature and composition of matter and the laws that govern chemical reactions.

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CHEM 245

Organic Chemistry I

In this class, you’ll begin your exciting study of the chemical reactions related to life. You’ll learn about stereochemistry, spectroscopy, and the synthesis and reactions of carbon-containing compounds like alkyl halides, alkenes, alcohols, ethers, and alkynes. And in the lab, you’ll learn hands-on skills in recrystallization, distillation, chromatography and extraction.

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Someone working with test tubes in front of a computer.
CHEM 275

Computational Chemistry: Structure and Reactivity of Organic Molecules

This course will introduce you to the application of quantum mechanics to organic moleculesand give you valuable experience with sophisticated quantum chemistry computer software. In a combination of lectures and hands-on tutorials, you’ll learn about topics like molecular orbital theory, conformational analysis, aromaticity and much more. 

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CHEM 320

Instrumental Methods of Analysis

In this course, you’ll learn how to prepare samples, analyze data, and develop methods for studying chemical reactions. You’ll learn hands-on applications of instrumental techniques like flame atomic absorption spectroscopy, capillary electrophoresis, scanning electron microscopy, gas chromatography, and more. The lab teaches you real-world applications of chemical analysis and may even include. a field trip to an industrial chemistry lab.

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CHEM 333

Drug Design

This course teaches you how pharmaceuticals work in the body. You’ll learn how drugs are designed based on their predicted interactions with biomolecules. By looking at case studies of how organic molecules bind, you’ll learn about the medicinal properties of drugs and current drug development strategies.

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CHEM 401/402

Chemistry Seminar

In this yearlong course, you’ll meet a variety of scientists from colleges, universities, government labs and industry. Presenters will span a range of areas of chemistry and related disciplines like structural biology and environmental science. You’ll learn to engage in the scientific conversation by reading scientific journal articles, writing responses and asking questions of visiting scientists.

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Combined Majors

Lake with large rocks.


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Chemistry-Environmental Studies

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Students in a lab.

Amazing Experiences You Can Pursue

Connect with fellow students. At Whitman, you can pursue your passions and connect with other science-minded students. Maybe you’ll work as a Chemistry writing fellow coaching other students. Or you could be a student liaison for the STEM Hub, Whitman’s gateway for STEM resources.

Get a head-start on an advanced degree. If you have a career in chemical engineering in your sights, check out Whitman’s 3/2 Chemistry/Pre-Engineering program. Spend your first three years at Whitman getting a comprehensive liberal arts education, followed by two years at one of our prestigious partner schools.

Gain a global perspective. When you study Chemistry abroad, you get valuable exposure to other educational systems and connections to scientists outside the U.S. Whether you enroll directly in another university or in a cultural immersion program doing research in the field, it can be life-changing.

Your Questions Answered

Chemistry is often called “the central science” because it connects with both the mathematical sciences (physics, math and astronomy) and the descriptive sciences (biology, medicine and geology). That means the Chemistry program is incredibly flexible. You can cross-specialize with a Chemistry-Geology, Chemistry-Environmental Studies, or BBMB (Biochemistry, Biophysics and Molecular Biology) major—or design your own double major that will take you exactly where you want to go.

Absolutely. As a Chemistry major, you’ll do rigorous coursework that will help you build a deep familiarity with chemistry concepts and skills. You’ll get hands-on lab experience both through your coursework and through exciting internship opportunities. And you’ll have the chance to do real research with professors—and even publish as an undergraduate. All of that means you’ll head to graduate school ready to succeed. Chemistry majors can go on to pursue postgraduate studies in fields like environmental biogeochemistry, environmental engineering and medicine.

It’s really up to you! A Chemistry degree can lead to careers in healthcare, pharmaceuticals, engineering and environmental science, for starters. And with your research skills and science background, you’ll be well-prepared for opportunities in government, industry and education.

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