Frequently Asked Questions

Required courses for the chemistry or biochemistry major…

All chemistry and biochemistry majors begin by taking General Chemistry I and II and Calculus I and II. However, students who perform well on the AP Chemistry or Calculus exams may be able to opt out of these requirements.

Sophomores generally study organic chemistry (the chemistry of carbon molecules) and physics. In the junior and senior years, students take courses in analytical chemistry, physical chemistry, and biochemistry.

In addition, most chemistry and biochemistry majors do at least one semester of directed independent research in one of the biology or chemistry professors labs.

Required courses for the chemistry minor…

Achieving a Chemistry Minor is a great way to enhance the scientific rigor of a Biology, Environmental Science, Math or other major.

The Chemistry Minor consists of a total of six courses: General Chemistry I and II, Organic Chemistry I and II, and two other chemistry courses.

Declaring a major or minor in chemistry or biochemistry…

A chemistry or biochemistry major may be declared when you apply at EMU, or at any time by filling out a “Change of Major” form available at the Registrar’s Office.

Can I study chemistry and go to medical school (have a career in health sciences)?

Yes! Both chemistry and biochemistry majors have gone on to medical school as well as other careers in the health sciences. Students who have these interests, such as dentistry, medicine, and pharmacy, enroll in the pre-professional health sciences program and take some courses in addition to those in their major to prepare for their graduate studies.

Can I do research in a faculty laboratory?

Yes! Chemistry and biochemistry majors are encouraged to participate in a directed research project. EMU chemistry/biochemistry students have a long history of laboratory production.

Students interested in engaging in a research project are encouraged to talk to their academic advisers, or to any chemistry/biochemistry/biology faculty member to identify a project that interests them. Normally students choose a specific project that falls within a larger, ongoing, research project in the laboratory of a faculty member.

Students meet on a regular basis with faculty to design and perform experimentation, and to discuss progress. In some cases, research results lead to publications and/or presentations at regional or national scientific meetings.

What type of research do professors do?

You are always free to speak with faculty members about their research interests and ongoing projects—like most scientists they will be enthusiastic about explaining the significance of their results!

For brief descriptions of general interests, go to the research page of the department of chemistry and biochemistry.

What facilities are available for courses and research projects?

The departments of chemistry and biochemistry and biology at EMU are fortunate to possess a variety of equipment that increases the range of chemical/biological experiments that can be performed.

Here is a list of some of the facilities that are routinely utilized in the chemistry/biochemistry/biology classrooms and research laboratories:

Chemistry/Biochemistry Instrumentation:


  • Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (The Shenandoah Valley NMR Consortium is headquartered at James Madison University and linked to EMU via the Internet.)
  • Fourier-Transform Infrared
  • Luminescence/Fluorescence
  • Atomic Absorption
  • UV-Visible

Liquid and Gas Chromatographs:

  • High Performance Liquid Chromatographs
  • Gas Chromatographs
  • Capillary Gas Chromatograph/Mass Spectrometer

Other Chemistry/Biochemistry/Molecular Biology Equipment:

  • Differential Scanning Calorimeter
  • Thermal Cycler for PCR
  • Luminometer
  • Refrigerated Ultracentrifuge
  • Protein and DNA electrophoresis equipment
  • Bacterial and eukaryotic cell culture facilities
  • Milligram digital balances
  • pH meters
  • 2000†C Kiln
  • Transmission Electron Microscope
  • Fluorescence Microscope
  • Greenhouse
  • Environmental Growth Chambers

Can I “double major” in chem or biochem and something else?

Yes! We think that exploring and exercising the multitude of gifts that God has given you is the most fitting way to complete your college education. We also believe that a broad education is most desirable for science students entering today’s job market.

Therefore, we encourage our students to seek out ways of expanding their horizons and making their education stand out from the norm. In the past five years, we have had Chemistry or Biochemistry majors seek second majors or minors in one or more of the following fields:

  • Secondary Education Licensure
  • Biology
  • Environmental Science
  • Math
  • Computer Science
  • Business Administration
  • Art
  • French
  • Philosophy and Theology.