Chemistry

Rhode Island College offers a comprehensive program in chemistry that builds a foundation in all areas of the discipline (analytical, biochemistry, inorganic, organic and physical). In your degree plan, you will choose between a B.A. in chemistry or a B.S. in chemistry. The B.S. has three American Chemical Society (ACS) certified concentrations. All B.S. concentrations require at least 3 credits of research with a faculty member in the department. See program details below.

Chemistry B.A.

The B.A. in chemistry is less specialized and more versatile than the B.S. program and includes more electives. You may consider courses in management, biology, physics and computer science. Many B.A. majors choose to minor in biology, math or physics in preparation for careers in chemistry and other technology and biotechnology industries. When combined with biology electives, this program is an ideal basic preparation for careers in medicine, dentistry or environmental science. Although it is not required, some independent study or other research participation is highly recommended, and many faculty research projects are open to student participation within the department.

Chemistry B.S., Biochemistry Concentration 

The ACS-certified B.S. in chemistry with a concentration in biochemistry provides a solid foundation in the five areas of chemistry (organic, inorganic, analytical, physical and biochemistry), while providing hands-on biochemistry laboratory experience. This concentration requires you to complete an intensive 3 credit hour laboratory course as well as 3 credit hours of independent study (research). Several faculty research projects are currently underway for you to choose from. You may also choose to complete an honors thesis. Electives in computer science, mathematics and physics are recommended.

Chemistry B.S., Environmental Chemistry Concentration 

The ACS-certified B.S. in chemistry with a concentration in environmental chemistry provides a solid foundation in the five areas of chemistry (organic, inorganic, analytical, physical and biochemistry), while giving you the interdisciplinary knowledge you’ll need to address global environmental challenges. This concentration requires you to complete 3 credit hours of independent study (research). Several faculty research projects are currently underway for you to choose from. You may also choose to complete an honors thesis. Electives in computer science, mathematics and physics are recommended.

Chemistry B.S., Professional Chemistry Concentration

The ACS-certified B.S. in professional chemistry will prepare you for careers in industry, government or academia. This degree is also excellent preparation for entrance into a Ph.D. program. At least 3 credit hours of independent study (research) is required. Several faculty research projects are currently underway for you to choose from. You may also choose to complete an honors thesis. Electives in biology, computer science and physics are highly recommended.

Program Details

Course Information

Program/Learning Goals

Upon completion of this program, students will be able to demonstrate:

  1. Field knowledge. A thorough knowledge, both descriptive and quantitative, of the principles and methods of the field, including an understanding of the questions addressed by the discipline, an appreciation for the historical development of the field and an understanding of the limitations inherent in its study.
  2. Problem-solving skills. The ability to interpret and solve theoretical and applied problems using established or new techniques.
  3. Lab skills. The acquisition of a complete set of laboratory skills, including the ability to collect and analyze data using a variety of instrumental and computational techniques, the ability to understand the applicability of each technique to a particular problem and the ability to work cooperatively with their peers.
  4. Research skills. The ability to plan and carry out research using proper methods, including the use of scientific literature to obtain information.
  5. Communication skills. The ability to clearly and correctly communicate scientific results and concepts in both spoken and written form.
  6. Safety skills. The ability to use proper safety measures, to recognize and avoid hazards and to recognize, handle and properly dispose of hazardous materials.
  7. Ethics. Understand the ethical responsibilities of a physicist/chemist, including the importance of honesty in all scientific endeavors and the consideration of the social and environmental ramifications of their field.​

Writing in the Discipline

1. In what ways is writing important to your profession?

Writing is critical in both chemistry and physics, both in the research process itself and to communicate scientific findings to a wider audience. Writing is important throughout the research process to keep an accurate record of the motivation, design, results and conclusions of an experiment. After the experiment is complete, it is critical that the findings be communicated to the wider community. This could mean communicating to other scientists who will build on these findings, to government or private employers who will use them to guide policy or to design technology or to the general public to help them make informed decisions on scientific issues.

2. Which courses are designated as satisfying the Writing in the Discipline (WID) requirement by your department? Why these courses?

CHEM 205/206: Organic Chemistry
CHEM 404: Analytical Chemistry or CHEM 416: Environmental Analytical Chemistry
CHEM 407: Physical Chemistry Lab

These courses progressively build the skills you will need to keep accurate lab notebooks and write formal lab reports.

3. What forms or genres of writing will you learn and practice in your WID courses? Why these genres?​

You will focus primarily on two genres of writing. These genres are related to the two purposes of writing in physics and chemistry: to record the research process and to communicate scientific findings to a wider audience.

For the first purpose, you will focus on keeping a lab notebook. A lab notebook is not just a compilation of data, but a narrative of the entirety of the experiment. It is not only a document kept for personal use but can also have legal, financial and ethical implications. The keeping of an accurate and properly formatted lab notebook is a critical skill for a scientist.

For the second purpose, you will focus on the formal lab report. This format is similar in many ways to that of professional journal articles in physics and chemistry. These types of articles are the main way scientists communicate their findings to the broader scientific community. 

4. What kinds of teaching practices will you encounter in your WID courses?

You will get explicit instruction and feedback on how to keep a lab notebook and write formal lab reports. This includes the correct format for these genres as well as how to use scientific literature as a resource, how to correctly present results and draw conclusions and how to correctly cite scientific literature. For the formal lab reports, you will produce multiple drafts of the reports and receive feedback both from your instructors and in peer review.

5. When you have satisfied your department’s WID requirement, you should be able to:

Keep an accurate and correctly formatted lab notebook and write a correctly formatted formal lab report. This includes knowing the purpose of each section of the report (abstract, introduction, experimental methods, etc.); using data to support scientific conclusions; and communicating to other scientists in the discipline as well as to a broader audience.

Minor in Chemistry

Declaring a minor allows you to explore other areas of interest and make interdisciplinary connections. Minor areas at RIC complement and reinforce all major areas of study. By declaring a minor, you can set yourself apart as a candidate for job, internship and volunteer opportunities. Click below for information on the minor in chemistry.

Minor in Chemistry