In the fall, juniors are required to attend a nightly colloquium once a week. Professors in the chemistry department present their research to the class and answer any questions students might have. Students are also assigned to a reading group of 8 students. An Instructor leads each reading group and the groups focus on critical analysis of a recent scientific article. The final paper is a 7-8 page critical analysis of an article of the student's choice.
At the end of the fall semester, students submit their selections for their spring JP advisers after meeting with professors earlier to discuss possible projects. They complete research in the lab and submit a a research proposal for continuing the work as a Senior Thesis project.
Most students choose to stay at Princeton during the summer between junior and senior year to complete preliminary research for the senior thesis. Most, if not all, students stay with their spring JP adviser for their thesis since it is convenient to continue the JP research for a thesis. Senior theses are generally 100 pages long and are submitted in the spring.
The department overall has some really great professors who are very well-known in their field of research. However, the department is overall very friendly, and the department representative and Kirsten, the undergraduate administrator, know every student by name.
A lot of students end up trying to decide between molecular biology and chemistry. In comparison to the molecular biology department, the number of chemistry majors is much smaller and the chemistry department has fewer faculty. Chemistry is flexible with department requirements, which makes it easy to have upper-level classes in other science departments count toward the departmental requirements.
A chemistry student will be exposed to varied material for the fall JP and will write an experimental junior paper in the spring. Come graduation-time, however, one disadvantage is that, the chemistry department requires students to pass two comprehensive exams issued by the American Chemical Society.
As mentioned above, one terrific advantage of the chemistry department is its sheer flexibility. For example, the core lab requirement can be fulfilled in chemistry with pretty much any of the science core labs offered in Princeton, like CHM, MOL, MSE, PHY, QCB, etc. This also makes it tremendously easy to pursue certificates like materials science and engineering, engineering biology, quantitative and computational biology, etc, etc. What's more, chemistry majors can and do pursue their JP/senior thesis research across a diverse span of departments. The flexibility of the department lends its students the opportunity to work under professors in not only the CHM department, but also CBE, MAE, ELE, MOL, PHY, GEO, and the list goes on. Chemistry is perhaps one of the most interdisciplinary majors at Princeton, but that depends on the student. Each student has incredible control over the focus and breadth of his/her studies.