Choosing a First Chemistry Course

Students studying chemistry outside

Chemistry at Wellesley College is an exciting and interesting discipline!  A typical student who takes chemistry at Wellesley College will start with CHEM 105 or CHEM 105P.  A chemistry placement survey will be distributed over the summer. Based on the results of this survey, a member of the chemistry department will contact you with information about placement into CHEM 105 versus CHEM 105P. This survey is not recommended for students who have earned a 4 or 5 on AP Chemistry, or a 5+ on IB Chemistry HL.


Below are descriptions of potential first chemistry courses along with faculty members who would be happy to answer questions about any of the courses. You may also direct any general questions you have about chemistry courses or the chemistry major to the department chair, Don Elmore (


CHEM 105: This is the most common first course students take in chemistry and is offered in both the Fall and Spring semesters. It serves as a prerequisite for any subsequent courses in chemistry and many other disciplines. Students must have passed the Quantitative Reasoning (QR) requirement to enroll in CHEM 105. If you have questions about CHEM 105 you may contact Prof. Carla Verschoor ( or Prof. Mike Mavros (


CHEM 105P: This Fall only course provides identical content to CHEM 105 with an emphasis on building study skills and developing strategies for quantitative problem solving. It has a dedicated lab section and a smaller class size. Students without a strong high school chemistry background or who have not passed the QR requirement should consider enrolling in this course. Admission to the course for all students is by permission of the instructor; to enroll you should add your name to the waitlist and contact Professor Julia Miwa (


BISC/CHEM 116: Incoming first-year students with a strong interest in Biological Sciences, Neuroscience, or Biochemistry should consider enrolling in our Integrated Introductory Biology and Chemistry 116 course offered in the Fall. This "double" course melds the two disciplines and is co-taught by faculty from both departments; it counts in lieu of CHEM 105 and BISC 110. To learn more about the summer application process for this course please contact Professor Mala Radhakrishnan (


CHEM 120: This course is an intensive, one-semester Fall-only course that serves as the equivalent of CHEM 105 and CHEM 205 and is designed for students who have more extensive high school chemistry coursework. Students must have a score of 4 or 5 on the AP Chemistry exam or an IB score of 5 or above on the Chemistry IB HL exam to enroll in CHEMISTRY 120. To learn more about CHEM 120 please contact Professor Chris Arumainayagam (


CHEM 103:  This course, Elements and the Environment is offered as an introductory course but does not count towards the Chemistry or Biochemistry major or minor or towards the premedical requirements in chemistry. This course is only offered during the Spring semester in the 22-23 academic year. To learn more about CHEM 103 please contact Professor Rachel Stanley (