(this information was last updated in Fall 2019 – please consult the current instructors of organic chemistry for the current policies)
It is possible to take courses comparable to Chem 201 and 202 at other institutions. Here are some things to consider:
- Level. Chem 201/202 satisfy the organic chemistry requirements of Reed’s chemistry (and BMB, biology, etc.) majors. Look for courses that are taught at a comparable level. A suitable transfer course lasts for two semesters or three quarters, and meets the needs of science (and preferably chemistry) majors at the institution.
- Lab. Chem 201/202 include a weekly four-hour lab. That adds up to roughly 52 hours of lab work per semester, or 104 hours for the academic year.
- Mix-and-match. Although it can be difficult, some students have successfully mixed Chem 201 or Chem 202 with portions of an organic chemistry course taken elsewhere. Two things to consider:
- 1 Reed semester = 2 “foreign” quarters. If the “foreign” course is taught on the quarter system, you will need to take at least two quarters to match one semester of Reed’s organic chemistry.
- Sequences vary. Virtually all year-long organic chemistry courses cover the same material, but they rarely cover it in the same sequence. When you mix-and-match courses from different institutions, you will usually discover some “new” material that your classmates have already seen in the previous semester/quarter. It is your responsibility to learn the unfamiliar material on your own.
- Lecture before lab? In principle, it is possible to split the lecture and lab as long as you complete the lecture portion of the course first. For example, you could complete the entire year-long lecture sequence at another institution and then return to Reed to take the lab. Students rarely split the lecture and lab in this way, partly because it makes better sense to experience organic chemistry in the lab simultaneously with your study of it in lecture. It is never possible to take the lab before the lecture.
- Summer courses. Many institutions, including Portland State University, offer an entire year-long organic chemistry course, lecture + lab, during their summer session. The relevant sequence at PSU is Chem 334-335-336 lecture + 337-338 lab (note: this sequence is a little light on lab work so while it will meet Reed’s organic chemistry requirement for biology majors, it does not suffice for chemistry majors). Summer courses try to cram 26 weeks of work into about 10 weeks. That’s almost 3x the normal pace. What does that mean for you?
- Reed’s organic class has 9 hours/week of class time so a summer course might have 25 hours/week of class time.
- We encourage Reed students to set aside 6-9 hours/week outside of class for study and preparation. Summer students should expect to set aside 16-25 hours/week of outside time.
- If you add the summer class time (25 hours) to the outside study and preparation time (16-25 hours), you need to commit 40-50 hours/week to organic chemistry for 10 weeks. It’s a full time job. It can be done, but there’s no room for visits from friends, summer jobs, additional courses, or training for that Iron Man competition at the end of summer. Keep in mind that you’ll probably have a “midterm” exam every week for the full 10 weeks, and a final exam every few weeks on top of that. Getting sick is not really an option.
Additional information about transferring “foreign” chemistry credit to Reed can be found here.