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2 Semesters of Physical Chemistry or 1?


raj513

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Hi everyone,

First time posting. I'm currently a sophomore in college majoring in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (BMB). I want to go to grad school for a Ph.D. in pharmacology or chemical biology. At my university, there are two versions of physical chemistry: a two-semester sequence of difficult, legitimate physical chemistry offered by the chemistry department and a one-semester, watered down version offered by the BMB department. Either version would suffice for my major. Which version should I take? Scheduling-wise it's seeming a lot easier for me to take the watered down course, but I'm worried that taking this version will hurt my chances of getting into competitive graduate programs focused in chemistry or pharmacology (either for me taking the easy way out or for not fulfilling admissions requirements). Also, what are the requirements regarding p-chem for graduate programs in pharmacology or chemical biology?

Thanks everyone!

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I can't speak to the specifics of chemistry, but I will mention what a department advisor once told me: Always remember that departmental requirements are not designed to precisely match the entrance requirements of your dream school.

I had been considering applying to medical school, and had to deal with the English and math requirements. I had taken one of my semesters of college English as an AP course, and has taken both my semesters of calculus as a community college sequence while still in high school. Despite that, I could have still applied and potentially gotten in, particularly at a less than ideal choice, since I did technically meet the requirements. But it just wouldn't have looked as good.

I'm imagining your situation may be quite similar in that regard.

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Personally, and of course I'm biased, but I think that you should take both semesters. The first semester is the typical plug and chug pchem. Finding gibbs energies, enthalpies, entropies...etc etc. The second semester is an entirely different beast. It really explains the underlying principals of chemistry and where they came from. But of course, I think that everyone in the general population should take pchem II ;-)

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Personally, and of course I'm biased, but I think that you should take both semesters. The first semester is the typical plug and chug pchem. Finding gibbs energies, enthalpies, entropies...etc etc. The second semester is an entirely different beast. It really explains the underlying principals of chemistry and where they came from. But of course, I think that everyone in the general population should take pchem II ;-)

But do you think that taking only one semester will harm my chances of getting into a program? I'm not sure how many semesters PhD programs in pharm and chem bio require. I had read somewhere that if you do not meet all of the entrance requirements for a program, you can take the difference once you begin the program, but I'm not sure if that's true for all schools.

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I don't think that it would hurt your chances at all. I know a few people who have applied and been accepted to professional schools without meeting one or two of the required courses. They then had to take the class in the summer prior to matriculation or during their first semester.

What I would do is start to compile a list of schools that you are interested in and do a little research on them. Find out the exact requirements for the schools that you are interested in and go from there.

With that said I (and maybe my judgement is a little clouded) like to think that adcoms see upper level, notoriously difficult, classes such as pchem 2 as a good assessment of your academic standing. To be honest pchem 2 was one of my favorite classes during undergrad. Withhh that said... I think that it was one of my top classes because I have really enjoyed it. If you're looking to go into pharma or chem bio then maybe picking up an elective in a more relevant field would be more of an asset.

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