Contacts | Program of Study | Summary of Requirements | Optional Chemistry Advanced Placement Exams | Advanced Placement Credit | Grading | Honors and Undergraduate Research | Joint Degree Program

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Program of Study

The Department of Chemistry, in conjunction with the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (BCMB) in the Division of the Biological Sciences, offers a BS degree in Biological Chemistry. The program is designed to prepare students to enter a variety of interdisciplinary fields in biochemical and biophysical sciences. Undergraduate research is strongly encouraged. By combining resources of both departments, students in this program are given the opportunity to study chemistry and physics of macromolecules, mechanisms of actions of enzymes and hormones, molecular and cellular biology, biotechnology, and other related fields.

Summary of Requirements

CHEM 11100-11200Comprehensive General Chemistry I-II †*‡200
One of the following sequences:200
Calculus I-II
Honors Calculus I-II
Elementary Functions and Calculus I-II (requires grade of A- or higher)
BIOS 20186Fundamentals of Cell and Molecular Biology **100
BIOS 20187Fundamentals of Genetics (or AP credit, if an AP 5 Fundamentals Sequence is completed) +**100
Total Units600
One of the following: †*100
Comprehensive General Chemistry III
Honors General Chemistry III
MATH 18300-18400-18500Mathematical Methods in the Physical Sciences I-II-III §300
CHEM 20100Inorganic Chemistry I100
PHYS 12100-12200-12300General Physics I-II-III (or higher)300
One of the following sequences:300
Organic Chemistry I-II-III
Honors Organic Chemistry I-II-III
CHEM 26100
  &  26200
Quantum Mechanics
   and Thermodynamics
CHEM 26700Experimental Physical Chemistry100
One of the following:100
Inorganic Chemistry II
Intermediate Organic Chemistry
Chemical Kinetics and Dynamics
BIOS 20200Introduction to Biochemistry100
BIOS 21317Topics in Biological Chemistry100
One of the following:100
Genome Informatics: How Cells Reorganize Genomes
Developmental Mechanisms
Cell Biology II
Organization, Expression, and Transmission of Genome Information
Human Genetics and Evolution
Biophysics of Biomolecules
Protein Structure and Functions in Medicine
Simulation, Modeling, and Computation in Biophysics
Advanced Molecular Biology
Chromatin & Epigenetics
One approved 30000-level Biochemistry or Chemistry course ±100
Total Units1900

Optional Chemistry Advanced Placement Exams

First-year and transfer students with a strong Chemistry background (i.e., those who score an AP 5 or equivalent) may, after consultation and approval from the Director of Undergraduate Studies, take an Advanced Placement exam to qualify to be directly placed into more advanced courses, such as CHEM 22000 Organic Chemistry ICHEM 20100 Inorganic Chemistry I, or CHEM 26100 Quantum Mechanics. If a student is approved to pursue this option, the student may substitute quality grades earned in any three of the following courses for the required General Chemistry course credit: CHEM 23300 Intermediate Organic ChemistryCHEM 26100-26200-26300 Quantum Mechanics; Thermodynamics; Chemical Kinetics and DynamicsCHEM 20100-20200 Inorganic Chemistry I-IICHEM 26700 Experimental Physical ChemistryCHEM 22700 Advanced Organic/Inorganic Laboratory, or CHEM 26800 Quantum Molecular and Materials Modeling. This Advanced Placement track may fast-track well-prepared students who wish to advance their studies into the various sub-fields of Chemistry, those who wish to double major or minor in Chemistry, or non-Chemistry majors who wish to enroll in advanced courses that require General Chemistry as a prerequisite.

Advanced Placement Credit

Students who earn a score of 5 on the AP exam in chemistry are given credit for CHEM 11100 Comprehensive General Chemistry I. Students with CHEM 11100 Comprehensive General Chemistry I credit may join CHEM 11200 Comprehensive General Chemistry II in the Winter Quarter. A score of 5 on the AP exam also permits students to take CHEM 12100-12200-12300 Honors General Chemistry I-II-III; students may opt to begin with CHEM 12100 Honors General Chemistry I in the Autumn Quarter or CHEM 12200 Honors General Chemistry II in the Winter Quarter. Students who complete the first quarter of Comprehensive General Chemistry or Honors General Chemistry forgo the AP credit. Note that no credit is given for IB chemistry.


Students majoring in Biological Chemistry must earn (1) a major GPA of 2.0 or higher and (2) a C- or higher in all courses required by the Biological Chemistry major, including those courses counting toward general education requirements in the mathematical, biological, and physical sciences. Nonmajors may take Chemistry courses on a P/F basis; only grades of C- or higher constitute passing work.

Honors and Undergraduate Research

By their third year, students majoring in Biological Chemistry are strongly encouraged to participate in research with a faculty member. For more information on research opportunities and honors in Biological Chemistry, visit

Excellent students who pursue a substantive research project with a faculty member in the Department of Chemistry or the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology should plan to submit an honors thesis based on their work. Students usually begin this research program during their third year, and they continue their research activities through the following summer and their fourth year. To be considered for honors, students are expected to complete their arrangements with the departmental counselor before the end of their third year and to register for one quarter of CHEM 29900 Advanced Research in Chemistry or one year of CHEM 29600 Research in Chemistry during their third or fourth years.

A BS with honors in Biological Chemistry requires students to write a creditable honors paper describing their research. The paper must be approved by the program advisers in the Department of Chemistry and the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and it must be submitted before the deadline established by the department. In addition, an oral presentation of the research is required.

To earn a BS degree with honors in Biological Chemistry, students must also have an overall GPA of 3.0 or higher.

Joint Degree Program

A four-year joint degree program leading to a concurrent award of the BS in Biological Chemistry and the MS in Chemistry is available for a select group of students who have achieved advanced standing through their performance on placement or on accreditation examinations. Special programs are developed for such students. For more information, consult John Anderson at and Vera Dragisich at in the Department of Chemistry.


Undergraduate Primary Contact

Adviser for BS Degree Program in Biological Chemistry
John Anderson

Secondary Contact

Adviser for the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Marvin Makinen