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School of Science

Course V -- Chemistry

MIT’s Chemistry Department offers four areas of undergraduate study: Physical, Organic, Inorganic and Biological Chemistry.

Approximately 130 Undergraduates, and 160 graduate students are currently majoring in Course V.

A major in chemistry consists of 10 required subjects, including three lab courses, along with two restricted electives and five unrestricted electives.

The department offers in-house tutoring for the Fall session of Organic Chemistry I, (5.12.) For other courses, the Department collaborates with the OME/TSR in referring both students and tutors, as well as making resources available for the tutors.

“I enjoy the chemistry major for several reasons,” said Victoria A. Gomez ’00. “One of the best things about the chemistry major is that it’s small enough that you get to know a lot of other people in the major, especially since you get to spend so much time in lab with them. Also, the department has made a commitment to excellence in teaching, as evidenced by the many teaching awards chemistry faculty have won and programs such as 5.12 peer tutoring.”

The department has 34 full-time faculty members, four of which are women. Many students participate in UROPs within the department. The department currently sponsors 21 paid research projects, 16 projects for credit and 3 volunteer projects.

Approximately 60 percent of the funds for the paid projects have come from the UROP Office, with the remainder coming from a faculty member’s own funds.

“I think that to understand nature at the molecular level is fascinating,” said Songpon Deechongkit ’99. “Chemistry is the science that describes nature at the molecular level. The breadth and depth of this subject really interests me. In particular, I am interested in how molecules interact. Chemistry has application to our everyday life, for example medicines, polymers, household products, etc.”

The department offers several non-credit classes during IAP. It also offers Chemistry Laboratory Technique, 5.301 and Introduction to Experimental Chemistry, 5.302 which are lab classes for freshmen interested in getting lab experience and/or chemistry UROPs before their sophomore year.

About 80 percent of undergraduates go directly to graduate or professional study after graduation. The majority of these students either pursue a graduate degree in Chemistry or attend medical school.

Those who would like to pursue employment are able to find positions easily in pharmaceutical companies, computer corporations, and medical centers. Some also enter the financial consulting field.

ClubChem, the department’s undergraduate organization, sponsors dinners with professors, study breaks, and Magic Shows which bring chemistry demonstrations to elementary schools in the area. The department also has an honor society, Alpha Chi Sigma which sponsors a number of different activities throughout the year. -- Neena S. Kadaba