About the Guidelines

Chemistry is central to intellectual and technological advances in many areas of science. The traditional boundaries among chemistry subdisciplines are blurring, and chemistry is increasingly intersecting with other sciences. Unchanged, however, is the atomic and molecular perspective that lies at the heart of chemistry. Chemistry-based programs have the responsibility to communicate this outlook to their students and to teach the skills their students need to apply it.

Chemistry taught in two-year college programs can be divided into three categories:

  • Chemistry transfer programs: These are primarily intended to prepare students for baccalaureate chemistry programs and may or may not culminate in an associate of science (A.S.) or equivalent degree.
  • Chemistry-based technology programs: These are primarily intended to prepare students for the workforce and usually culminate in an associate of applied science (A.A.S.) or equivalent degree.
  • Chemistry-based courses that support programs in other disciplines: These are chemistry courses that may or may not be part of a dedicated chemistry program but are integral to the education of students in other programs.

ACS has developed this set of guidelines to promote high-quality chemistry education for students in all types of two-year college programs. The goal of these guidelines is to help faculty provide students with the best possible education in the fundamental areas of modern chemistry while relating it to other disciplines and to society.

ACS recognizes that the diversity of institutions and students is a strength in higher education. Thus, the ACS Guidelines for Chemistry in Two-Year College Programs were developed to provide a comprehensive model designed for a range of institutions that offer chemistry education in the categories described above. Regardless of individual program goals, all benefit from an energetic and accomplished faculty, a modern and well-maintained infrastructure, and a coherent chemistry-based curriculum that develops content knowledge and broader skills through the use of effective pedagogical approaches.

Although a program may not fulfill all of the guidelines, it will benefit from pursuing those appropriate for its mission, student body, and curriculum. Implementing the ACS guidelines can ensure that the chemistry course offerings and programs of an institution:

  • Are consistent with the mission of the institution
  • Meet the needs of the diverse backgrounds and abilities of entering students
  • Enhance the strengths of the institution and the community
  • Articulate with programs to which students transfer
  • Enable students to graduate with skills necessary to enter the workforce
  • Are comparable to programs of recognized quality
  • Augment continuing education and other local community chemistry education needs
  • Support a safe environment for teaching and learning

Educators must prepare students to make informed decisions about a wide variety of scientific issues. The ACS guidelines apply not only to students pursuing careers in scientific fields, but also to chemistry students pursuing other careers.

The ACS guidelines provide a framework for reviewing two-year college chemistry programs, identifying areas of strength and opportunities for change, and leveraging support from institutions, partners, and external agencies. In preparing and disseminating these guidelines, ACS seeks to enhance understanding of the many different two-year college environments and to engage chemistry faculty and programs across higher education in efforts to address needs, support resource development, and foster excellence.