Declaring Your Major/Minor | General Questions | Major I, II, III, & IV | Transfer Credits, Minors, & Double Majors
Undergraduate Research | Preparing for Post-Graduation

Declaring Your Major or Minor

Q: How do I declare my chemistry major?

A: In order to declare a major, you must turn in a completed “Declaration of Major” form to the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences.  The form is obtained from the College Office and is completed with your departmental advisor.  The signed form is then turned in to the CCAS office.  Only after the form has been recorded will the School and the Registrar consider you as having declared a major.  Any time you elect to add a minor or second major or drop a minor or second major, a new form must be completed, even though your original major remains the same.  Cross-school minors are handled by a different form called a “Secondary Field of Study.”

General Questions

Q: I am having some academic and personal problems. I am really confused and I don’t know how to handle it. Who do I talk to?

A: The most important thing to remember is that we are here to help you. Your academic advisor is a focal point for directing you to the correct people of offices to help you resolve your problems. Whether the issue is personal, academic, or related to career plans and opportunities, your academic advisor is the person to start with. Oftentimes, your advisor will be able to answer your procedural questions or direct you to the correct office. Additionally, your advisor is available to just talk things out. All of the department advisors are available by appointment or email, as well as during regular office hours.

Q: Who are the academic advisors?

For Chemistry MAJORS:
Prof. Wagner, Class of 2015
Prof. Zysmilich, Class of 2016

Prof. McClary, Class of 2017

Prof. King, Class of 2018

For Chemistry MINORS: Prof. King

For PREMED questions: Columbian College of Arts and Sciences-Premed Advisor

Q: What is the difference between a B.A. and a B.S. in Chemistry?

A: A B.S. student takes an additional year of approved science and math. BISC 1111 & 1112 or GEOL 1001 & 1005 are normally taken, but other courses may be taken to fulfill this requirement. Discuss the options with your advisor.

Q: How do I earn ‘Special Honors’ in Chemistry?

A: In order to receive special honors in chemistry, you need to do at least 3 hours of CHEM 4195, and make a presentation of your results, either as a poster or an oral presentation (in addition to the required written report.) Additionally, you need to have a 3.0 GPA in chemistry courses, with grades of A or B in at least 50% of your GWU courses. At least half of your courses have to be taken at GWU. You need to make your desire for special honors known to your advisor by the beginning of the senior year to ensure your candidacy for special honors.

Q: What grade is necessary in the courses required for my major?

A: Majors who receive a grade lower than C- in a required course for the major numbered “2100” or above must take an additional chemistry course or relevant course in another discipline with the same number of credit hours and earn a grade of C- or better to fulfill graduation requirements.

Major I, Major II, Major III, & Major IV

Q: What is the difference between Major I and Major II (ACS certified degree)?

A: Major II, which is certified by the American Chemical Society, is suggested for students wishing to pursue chemistry at the graduate level. The differences in curriculum between Major I and Major II are in the additional courses that Major II students take:
(1) Chem 4123 (2 hours), normally in the fall of the senior year
(2) Chem 4195 (3 hours), normally spread through the final 2 semesters
(3) Stat 2129 (3 hours), or another programming course is recommended.

Q: What biochemistry courses can I get credit for?

A: While you can get credit for any biochemistry course within the guidelines of the degree, only Chem 3165 will count as the chemistry elective in the Major II sequence.

Q: What is the difference between Major I and Major III (Forensics Chemistry)?

A: A student must take BISC 1111/1112 as the additional science course for the B.S. option. Additionally, you need to take:
FORS 6211-6221
And three courses chosen from FORS 6206,6234, 6235, 6238, 6239, or 6240

Q: The forensic science courses seem to have lots of prerequisites that I have not taken. What do I do?

A: There is no need to take FORS 2103/2104. The prerequisites for all of the forensic science courses except 6222 (Prerequisite 6221) are wavered for chemistry majors. If you declare Major III by the end of your sophomore year, you will be able to take all of the necessary courses.

Q: Can I switch between Major I, Major II, Major III and Major IV after I declare?

A: Yes. In order to do so, you should fill out a new declaration form to show the change of major track and the change in the curriculum. Changing to Major II or Major III may require additional chemistry or Forensic Sciences courses, so you should look carefully at your program to make sure all prerequisites can be met in a timely manner.

Q: Does the label ‘Major I’, ‘Major II’, ‘Major III’ or ‘Major IV’ appear on my transcript?

A: No.

Transfer Credits, Minors, and Double Majors

Q: I want to do a minor or additional major in another field. What do I need to know?

A: We recommend that you study the sequence of recommended courses in Chemistry and in the other major or minor very carefully. Lay out the full sequence of courses that you will need to take to get your major or minor, and arrange them by semester, paying close attention to prerequisites. Then look very carefully at the times those courses are normally offered. Identify any semester in which 2 mandatory courses are offered only in the same time slot then rearrange your schedule to avoid this problem. Talk to your advisor in the other department to determine if there are any planned changes in the timetable. Once the courses have fallen into place, pick up a “Declaration of Major” form from your advisor or from the CCAS office, Phillips107. Complete the section to add the new major or minor.

Q: I would like to add a minor in Business or Engineering. Since this field is not in the CCAS, what do I do?

A: You are allowed to enroll in a minor outside of the CCAS. This is called a “Secondary Field‟ since it is outside the CCAS. The same curriculum and scholarship rules apply to secondary fields as minors. You are allowed to apply up to 18 credit hours towards a CCAS Bachelors degree provided that they are toward the “Secondary Field‟. You are restricted to 9 hours outside of the CCAS if the courses are not for a Secondary Field. Secondary fields are available in the School of Engineering and Applied Science, School of Business, and the Elliot School of International Affairs.

Q: What is the protocol for getting transfer credit? Who has to sign off on it?

A: Follow the following steps:
1. You must have Petition to Transfer Credit. You can pick it up at Phillips Hall Room 107. Complete the entire form, making sure your telephone number and/or email address is on it so that you can be contacted when it is or isn't approved.
2. You must have the name of the text to be used in course and the approximate number of chapters to be covered in the course.
3. If you can get the syllabus, great.
4. Course descriptions get you nowhere without the 1st three pieces of information.
5. Bring your information to the Chemistry Department (or appropriate other department) where it will be directed through the appropriate channels.

Q: What about taking courses at consortium schools? How do I do that? What am I allowed to take at consortium schools?

A: You may take any course at a Consortium School, provided that it is not the same as an existing GW course. If it is an existing GW course, you must show that the GW course cannot be taken because of conflicts with your schedule, or in cases when it is not offered in the current year when you need it to meet requirements (e.g. graduation, prerequisites, etc.). Approval forms are obtained from the registrar and must be signed by your academic advisor.

Undergraduate Research

Q: What are my options for doing research in the chemistry department?

A: You can do research as a volunteer/intern, you can receive a scholarship to do research in the summer, and some faculty members may have funding to offer you a paid research position, either in the summer or part time in the semester. You can also do research for credit (Chem 4195). In fact, this is a requirement for students in Major II and IV.

Q: Tell me about how to find those paid positions.

A: You should contact individual faculty members directly for this information.

Q: What scholarship opportunities exist for summer research in the department.

A: Students entering their Junior or Senior year are eligible to apply for summer research programs offered by the department and the university. These programs have historically provided a stipend to allow students to do research for the chemistry faculty member of this choice. Some winners are offered additional funding by their research advisor to allow for a full summer of research. There is also a fellowship called the Vincent Prize, which is awarded to a pre-med student to do research during summer between their Junior and senior year. The competition is open to students majoring in Chemistry, Biology or Psychology. Furthermore, there are other annual University fellowships you can apply for (Undergrad Research Fellowship). To find out more information about these, contact your advisor or the Chemistry department.

Q: How do I select an advisor for CHEM 4195 - Research?

A: We recommend that you start looking early. Read departmental literature to learn what research projects each faculty member is engaged in. Talk with as many of the faculty as possible to discuss openings in their groups, new projects, requirements and so on. Talk to undergraduate and graduate students as well to get a feel for what your day-to-day experience will be like in a research lab. This information will help you ensure that there is a good fit between your goals and personality and those of your research advisor.

Q: Can I do research outside of the department and receive credit for CHEM 4195?

A: Not usually. You can get credit for Chem 4195 only when the project is co-supervised by one of the Department's faculty members.

Q: How many credit hours of CHEM 4195 can I get?

A: You can get 1 or 2 credit hours per semester, generally for a maximum of 5 hours.

Q: When can I start doing CHEM 4195 research for credit?

A: Normally, students do research in their senior year, although there are occasions in which juniors have taken CHEM 4195. Majors may also begin research earlier on a non-credit basis.

Preparing for Post-Graduation

Q: What are GRE exams?

A: The GRE (Graduate Record Exam) has to be taken before entering graduate school. Almost all graduate programs require the verbal, quantitative and analytical sections. Some graduate schools also require a subject exam. Information packets about the GRE exams are available that the Columbian College office. GRE exams are normally taken in the fall semester of the senior year. Students wishing to attend graduate school should obtain GRE information as soon as possible in the fall semester to ensure adequate preparation for them.

Q: What do I need to have credit for to take the MCAT exam?

A: You don't need any credits to take the MCAT exam, but what you will be expected to know includes material covered in CHEM 1111/1112, CHEM 2151/2152, and PHYS 1021/1022, and BISC 1111/1112. MATH 1231/1232 is a co requisite for PHYS 1021/1022. We recommend that you take these courses, which you need to graduate, before taking the MCAT exam.

Q: When should I take the MCAT?

A: It is best to take the MCAT exam in the spring of you junior year. See the pre-med advisor in Phillips 107 for details.