currently most BS chemistry programs require the following classes:
Linear Algebra, Differential Equations
General Physics 1,2,3
General Chemistry 1,2 / Labs
Organic Chemistry 1,2 / Labs
Physical Chemistry 1,2 / Labs
Biochemistry / Lab
The problem with this schedule is that people are done with all required classes in year 3, even for the ACS certified degree. However, with just these classes, it is hard to be employed in industry and it is hard to be well prepared for grad school, so people have to go above and beyond. However, this reflects bad if someone doesn't go above and beyond, and is unprepared.
I believe that there should be some additional required classes that specifically prepare students for industry and grad school. They are not hard at all, and indeed, they are what chemistry students should already know!
Theory of Intermolecular Forces. Good prerequisites: 1 year of P-chem, calc 3.
Should use books such as "Surface and Colloid Chemistry", "Capillary Forces", "Intermolecular Forces", etc. Should cover review of thermodynamics, statistical mechanics and basic electrostatics, equilibrium states and van Der Waals equations of state, ionic bonding, dipole-dipole bonding, van Der Waals forces, hydrogen bonding, biopolymers and colloids, adhesion and wetting, friction, theory of atomic force microscopy.
11 topics for a semester class (15-16 weeks) is pretty good. First 5 weeks cover review, equilibrium states and van Der Waals equations of state, then take a test. 2nd 5 weeks cover ionic bonding, dipole-dipole forces, van Der Waals forces, hydrogen bonding, biopolymer and colloids, then take a test. Last 5 weeks cover adhesion and wetting, friction, theory of atomic force microscopy, take a comprehensive final.
I believe all chemists should know about the physical basis of intermolecular forces. P-chem stops short at quantum, then leaps straight to stat mech and thermo. It turns out that many people graduate from chemistry programs without knowing ANYTHING about the chemical forces that shape our world. I personally think that as chemists, we should DEFINITELY know about how molecules come together to make real materials at a deep level of understanding.
Even biochemists should know this, in my opinion. Biological structures have shape, and deform in response to mechanical and electromagnetic shear forces. We should know how they'll respond, at least qualitatively (you still have to do the math, but the math is to help you remember orders of magnitude). Also, basically all chemists at some point will use an AFM except maybe purely organic chemists. In practical terms, this is also a useful class to learn about product formulation, suspension stability, surface measurements, etc. Why is this class not even OFFERED at most universities, never mind required?
Another useful required class would be:
Supramolecular Structural Analysis. Prereqs: 1 year of p-chem + analytical chemistry + inorganic chemistry.
Topics: theory + lab
X-ray diffraction, dynamic light scattering, electron microscopy, AFM, CCD camera use. 15 week class, 5 topics. take a quiz every 3 weeks, then do the lab, then write a report. Repeat 5 times.
Again this is something I'm baffled as to why we don't offer classes like this. We get our dose of small molecule analysis in intro analytical chemistry with HPLCs, GCMS and the like. However, ALOT of the chemistry being done today is on things bigger than a single molecule. After all useful molecules do arrange themselves into solids or liquids and knowing their structure is essential. This is why holders of a BS in chemistry should be familiar with BOTH forms of analytical chemistry, not just small molecule analytical chemistry but also condensed phase analytical chemistry.
X-ray diffraction, electron microscopy and AFM are used all the time in inorganic chemistry, physical chemistry and hard materials science. People get hired just to use and interpret these machines. In grad school, knowing how to use these machines is essential, and it simply slows down research if people have never even seen one of these machines before.
Dynamic light scattering and CCD cameras are used all the time in biochemistry, polymer chemistry and soft materials science. How can we track nanoparticle size, or movements of cells, without being exposed to dynamic light scattering and CCD cameras? This improves employment and improves grad school preparation.
All in all, I'm very confused as to why, at least, these 2 classes are not required for chemistry students. You'd think that the core of chemistry was knowing how matter is put together and how it changes, and not knowing how one molecule sticks to another molecule is a pretty big loophole, and not knowing how to analyze and image how one molecule sticks to another molecule is yet another big loophole.
If these were abstract and purely academic topics, maybe there's an excuse not to teach them. But they're not; people get hired based on this knowledge alone and grad school research at many times REQUIRES this sort of knowledge, but students seemingly have to learn it themselves. Why do that when chemists can UNIFORMLY get better preparation for both work and grad school, if schools were simply to institute 2 required senior classes?