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Chemistry Department

The Chemistry Major

The USNA Chemistry Major program has been accredited by the American Chemical Society since 1975. A revised major’s curriculum, based on new guidelines from the ACS, was approved for the Class of 2004 and later. Highlights of the new chemistry curriculum include 1) introductory courses in all the traditional areas of chemistry (analytical, inorganic, organic and physical) as well as biochemistry, 2) four semesters of “integrated laboratory” designed to illustrate fundamental principles in a realistic and cross-disciplinary format, and 3) elective courses in the 2/C and 1/C year combined with a required capstone research project allow students to focus on an area of personal interest. 

See the Major Matrix

Learning Outcomes for Chemistry Major

  • Explain natural phenomena and solve problems involving chemical processes using the principles of atomic/molecular structure and reactivity, thermodynamics and kinetics.

  • Answer scientific questions by employing technical literature, conducting experiments, analyzing and critically interpreting the results obtained, and applying these techniques to the design of new experiments.

  • Communicate effectively using oral, graphical and written expression with a variety of audiences.

  • Practice and justify the professional and ethical standards of chemists.
  • Operate as independent learners capable of self-directed intellectual growth.
  • Describe the relevance of chemistry to the Navy and current/historical world events.

Student in lab practiuceMidshipman response to the new major’s curriculum has been outstanding. Chemistry majors indicate a high esprit de corps, challenging courses, helpful faculty and the elective and capstone research courses as their favorite parts of the program.

Student capstone research projects have included modeling the detonation of new explosives, the synthesis and testing of new drugs, the study of chemical reactions occurring in the outer planets and the detection of trace amounts of TNT in soil or peroxides in the atmosphere. One student even studied the use of elastomers to level and cushion the pavers in Radford Terrace! Many of these students have reported the results of their studies at regional and national scientific meetings. 

The atomic / molecular level understanding of matter, problem solving abilities and critical thinking skills developed by chemistry majors prepares them well for naval service and beyond. Approximately one third of the chemistry majors in any year group will go into a nuclear power program (surface or subs), one third into medical school and the remaining third into a variety of service assignments. Every chemistry major in the Classes of '04 and '05 received their first choice of service assignment.

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