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How much math exactly is in Chemistry?

  1. Feb 8, 2009 #1
    Hello(first post!) guys, I was just wondering how much math is used in chemistry exactly. I have college coming up soon (just a few months) and I am vacillating between a chemistry or physics major. Both sciences interest me, but the main thing that keeps me away from chemistry is the amount of math they use. From what I see, it's mainly algebra dealing with conversions. I know in Physical Chemistry they move up to calculus, but what about the other branches? Does it get as in-depth as Physics does math wise?

    Also, I was wondering about the job out looks for either of these majors. I read of something haunting choices picking a physics major over a chemistry major, so I was just wondering how true this is.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 8, 2009 #2


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    The main choice is whether you want to understand quantum chemistry and statistical mechanics. If you want to achieve something in those areas, then you want a course in Linear Algebra, Differential Equations, and Probability & Statistics. Otherwise, you will only officially need and concern yourself with three semesters of Calculus (Calc 1, 2, 3), and an Introductory combined course of Differential Equations & Linear Algebra.

    No matter what your choice is, Chemistry or Physics, or various interests in either of them, the guideline of, "The more Mathematics, the better", is still good.
  4. Feb 8, 2009 #3
    I know 2 Chemists, one has a B.S., the other a B.A. They both worked at the same company and exact same job. The B.S. had to go all the way through Diffy Q's. The B.A. only did to Calc 2.
  5. Feb 9, 2009 #4
    So pretty much I will be pretty satiated with the amount of math I will be doing in Chemistry right?
  6. Feb 9, 2009 #5
    calculus is all you'll really see in conventional chemistry, and lots of algebra.

    physical chemistry gets into deeper calculus, and quantum chemistry into linear algebra and DEs. but again, this is only if you specialize in those areas. if you want to do non-theoretical chemistry, you'll still need calculus.
  7. Feb 9, 2009 #6
    There isn't very much, most chemistry departments only require calculus up until sequences, series, and basic differential equations. Though my advisor who also teaches the quantum mechanics course said that those students that took a first course in differential equations and linear algebra tended to do better. Strictly speaking they teach you the mathematical methods required to succeed, or should.
  8. Feb 20, 2009 #7
    How much math exactly is in chemistry?

    The exact answer is pi/sqrt(2).
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