Chemistry Department

While studying chemistry at Luther, you’ll learn about:

  • Physical and theoretical principles responsible for the properties and reactions of materials
  • Nomenclature (naming chemical species)
  • Chemical bonding and structure
  • Chemical analysis and the sources of uncertainty inherent in any chemical measurement
  • Analyze and solve chemical problems
  • Reaction mechanisms and pathways
  • Synthesis of compounds
  • Separation and purification techniques
  • Energetics of reactions
  • Kinetics of chemical reactions
  • Quantum mechanical description of atoms and molecules
  • Basis of spectroscopic techniques
  • Equilibria
  • Dangers inherent in the practice of chemistry and how to work safely in the laboratory

You’ll also understand how to:

  • Retrieve specific information from the chemical literature
  • Communicate scientific information to an audience
  • Design experiments to provide answers to unanswered questions
  • Use appropriate software and modern instruments to collect and analyze data
  • Consider the ethics of science as you collect and interpret experimental data

Nationally Recognized Program

Luther’s chemistry department is recognized nationally by the American Chemical Society for the rigor and coherence of the chemistry curriculum, the breadth and accomplishments of the chemistry faculty, and the quality of the chemistry facilities.

Luther is one of only ten higher education institutions in the state of Iowa to have a chemistry program approved by the American Chemical Society. This means that Luther students have the opportunity to earn a degree that is certified by the American Chemical Society. It is a credential that distinguishes them to employers, as well as to graduate and professional schools.

Learn more about the Chemistry major/minor

Pre-Health Studies

Are you thinking about becoming a doctor, physician’s assistant, veterinarian, optometrist, dentist, physical therapist, occupational therapist, or pharmacist? A pre-health studies program would be a good fit for you.

Check out Luther’s Pre-Health Programs

William Benjamin '22

Learn how Luther’s ability to combine his love for music, interest in chemistry, and passion for perfumery, helped him find his home here.

man dressed in plaid shirt stands in a chemistry lab.

McKenna Campbell-Potter '16

Discover why she believes that Luther prepared her well for life as a medical student and future physician.

McKenna Campbell-Porter

Cecelia Douma '16

Meet Cecelia Douma ’16 and learn why it was important for her to play soccer while studying chemistry.

Cecelia Douma

More info about chemistry at Luther

Students majoring in chemistry and biology are required to take Chemical Principles (general chemistry).

When? Chemistry majors should take Chemical Principles beginning in the fall semester of their first year. Biology majors who intend a second major in chemistry are advised to take Chemical Principles in the fall semester of their first year in lieu of Biology 151. If you plan to major in biology with no second major in chemistry, the choice of either taking Chemical Principles or Biology 151 in the first year at Luther is not critical and depends on a number of factors that should be discussed with your academic advisor.

Which Chemical Principles course—151 or 201? Chemistry 151-152 is the most common sequence of Chemical Principles courses. Chemistry 201 is Luther’s Advanced Chemical Principles course. Chemistry 201 covers much of the same material as in Chemistry 151 and 152, only at a faster rate. This enables students who take 201 in the fall to take Analytical Chemistry (202) in the spring. The sequence 201/202 can be considered a year of advanced general chemistry. The advantages of 201 are that it permits additional flexibility in the next three years and it better matches the needs of higher ability students.

If you are very familiar with stoichiometry and comfortable with chemical calculations, Chemistry 201 is a good choice. Students with good ACT scores, a strong chemistry background, and good math skills (testing into Math 151 – Calculus I is suggested) are encouraged to register for 201.

Important note: Students may certainly switch from 201 to 151 (and vice versa) early in the semester. Strong students are advised to give 201 a try.

It is clear that the high demand for chemistry professionals will continue into the future. Courses offered by the Luther chemistry department provide a foundation in chemical principles and laboratory operations for students with any number of career interests.

Education positions are available in secondary schools and, after graduate study, in colleges and universities. Research opportunities can be found in both industrial and governmental laboratories. The chemistry major is recognized as sound preparation for students seeking careers in medicine, dentistry, or pharmacology. With supplemental coursework, the chemistry major will prepare a student for a career in fields such as environmental science, energy science, geology, and medicinal chemistry.

Luther chemistry majors are heavily recruited for positions in industry, post-secondary education, and public service. Additionally, many of our majors enter the health profession or pursue graduate level work in chemistry, biology, or environmental science.

Members of the ACS student chapter have access to the organization’s national employment service. In addition, Luther’s Career Center provides valuable assistance in finding the career that best suits each student.

The American Chemical Society has a wealth of information regarding career opportunities in chemistry. Additionally, the Luther Career Center is an excellent resource for students exploring career options. Below are several links to this type of information for those considering careers in chemistry.

The Chemistry Department is housed in Sampson Hoffland Laboratories. This building is a modern, well-equipped facility with ample laboratory space and an impressive array of instruments for instruction and research. Luther chemistry students learn to operate modern research-grade instruments such as the atomic absorption spectrometer, nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer, ultraviolet and visible spectrometers, gas chromatographs, high-performance liquid chromatograph, spectrofluorimeter, and lasers.

Beginning in general chemistry, students use computers equipped with special laboratory interfaces to program and collect data for subsequent spreadsheet and graphical analysis. Networked computer labs throughout campus provide facilities for further analysis and writing.

Sampson Hoffland Laboratories also houses the department of biology as well as generous amounts of student study space.


  • Aglent 1100 series HPLC with Size Exclusion Columns
  • Two HP 1090 HPLCs
  • Three Buck Scientific 310 GCs
  • HP 5890 GC with FID Detection
  • HP 5890 GC with ECD Detection
  • Agilent 6890N/5973N GC-MS


  • Bruker Fourier 300 NMR Spectrometer (300 MHz)
  • Mettler-Toledo ReactIR 4000
  • Two Jasco FT/IR 4100 Infrared Spectrometers
  • Buck Scientific 200A AA Spectrometer
  • Jasco J500 Spectropolarimeter
  • Spex Fluorolog Fluorometer
  • Cary-Varian 100 UV-Vis Spectrometer with Temperature Control
  • Jasco FP6300 Spectrofluorometer
  • HP 8452A UV-Vis Spectrometer
  • Jasco P2000 Digital Polarimeter
  • Edinburgh Instruments Mini-tau Lifetime Fluorescence Spectrometer
  • Jobin-Yvon Spex Spectrum ONE Raman instrument with CCD detector
  • Edinburgh Instruments CD900 spectrofluorometer
  • DeltaNu Advantage NIR Raman


  • MBraun Unilab Inert Atmosphere Glovebox
  • VAC Solvent Purifier
  • Fisher Scientific Muffle Furnace