The undergraduate degree in chemistry and biochemistry emphasizes knowledge and awareness of:
In addition, students completing the degree in chemistry or biochemistry are expected to acquire the ability and skills to:
Course code for this program is CHEM.
A student can earn a bachelor’s degree in either chemistry or biochemistry. For either option, students must complete the general requirements of the College of Arts and Sciences and the required courses listed below.
Required Courses and Semester Credit Hours
Required Courses and Semester Credit Hours
Consult the Four-Year Guarantee Requirements for information on eligibility. The concept of “adequate progress” as it is used here only refers to maintaining eligibility for the four-year guarantee; it is not a requirement for the major. To maintain progress in chemistry and biochemistry, students should meet the following requirements:
Opportunity is provided for qualified chemistry and biochemistry majors to participate in the departmental honors program and graduate with honors (cum laude, magna cum laude, or summa cum laude) in chemistry or biochemistry. Students interested in the honors program should contact the departmental honors advisor during their junior year.
Transfer students who plan to take a chemistry or biochemistry major must complete at the Boulder campus a minimum of 12 credit hours of upper-division work covering at least two subdisciplines: organic, physical, analytical, and inorganic for chemistry majors; organic biochemistry and physical for biochemistry majors.
A more detailed listing of the bachelor’s degree program, together with advising information and alternate course options, is available at the undergraduate office in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.
Minors are offered in chemistry and in biochemistry. Declaration of a minor is open to any student enrolled at CU-Boulder, regardless of college or school. The College of Arts and Sciences will allow a maximum of 9 hours of transfer credit, including 6 upper-division credit hours to count toward a minor. Students may transfer in through organic chemistry only. All courses required for the minor must be completed with a grade of C- or better, and the overall GPA in all CHEM courses taken must be a 2.000. Students who have taken CHEN 1211 and CHEM 1221 may substitute them for General Chemistry 1. Engineering students who have taken CHEM 4521 may use this to satisfy the Physical Chemistry 1 requirement for both minors. Required courses are listed below.
Students wishing to pursue graduate work in chemistry or biochemistry leading to candidacy for an advanced degree should read carefully requirements for advanced degrees in the Graduate School section. For information on the doctoral program in chemical physics offered jointly with the Department of Physics, see below. Following are some of the special departmental requirements. Copies of more detailed rules are available on the department website.
Prerequisites. An undergraduate major in chemistry, biochemistry, or a related field is desirable since entering graduate students are required to take examinations and complete selected course work covering the major fields of chemistry and biochemistry. The GRE general test is required for admission and for fellowship consideration. Either the GRE subject test in chemistry or the test in biochemistry, cell, and molecular biology is highly recommended. Some or all of these tests may be waived under special circumstances.
Students are not admitted for the master's degree but may be transferred to the MS plan in chemistry if they are are unable to meet the demands of the PhD program.
Language. The department does not require foreign language proficiency for the master’s degree.
Examinations. Administration of preliminary examinations varies, depending on students’ entering field. Candidates opting for MS Plan I must pass a master’s thesis defense examination at the time they complete their work. MS Plan II does not require a final oral examination.
Course Requirements. There are two methods of obtaining a master’s degree from the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Plan I requires 30 credit hours, including 15 credit hours of formal course work, 15 credit hours in research/seminar courses, the completion of a research investigation, and the presentation of a thesis. Plan II requires 30 credit hours including 21 credit hours of formal course work plus 9 credit hours of research/seminar, and presentation of a research report, but no thesis; both plans are available only with departmental approval.
Language. The department does not require foreign language proficiency for the PhD degree.
Examinations. Administration of preliminary examinations varies, depending on students’ entering field. These examinations are used in an advisory capacity. The minimum course work is 30 credit hours at the 5000, 6000, or 7000 level, of which 15 credit hours must be in formal course work. In addition, a minimum of 30 credit hours of dissertation work (CHEM 8991) is required. PhD students must pass a comprehensive examination consisting of written exams and an oral examination. Students entering with a master’s degree may take the oral examinations in their second semester; others start them in their fourth semester. Candidates must write a research proposal during their studies, complete a research investigation and present a thesis, and pass a PhD final oral examination at the time they complete their work.
Chemical physics is a discipline at the interface between chemistry and physics. Chemical physics applies physical methods and theory to study molecular and collective properties of matter. The focus is on understanding complex phenomena from gas phase molecular dynamics, to nanoscale, mesoscale, and biological phenomena, through model systems and fundamental physical principles.
Students wishing to pursue the doctoral degree in chemical physics should apply for admission to either the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry or the Department of Physics.
The chemical physics program allows students to strike a balance between core courses and courses that are better suited to address the student's specific research goals and interests. Students must consult with the chemical physics graduate advisors in their parent departments, either chemistry and biochemistry or physics, to plan their formal course work.
After completing an approved curriculum of formal course work, the student advances to candidacy in chemical physics by passing an oral exam.
The program is administered by an interdepartmental committee. For further information, contact the graduate program assistant in either the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry or the Department of Physics.
The American Chemical Society maintains a certification program in which a student graduating with a specified minimum program is certified to the society upon graduation. To be certified, a graduate must satisfy requirements in addition to the minimum for graduation. The department offers this certificate for the chemistry major only. A list of these requirements may be obtained from the undergraduate Chemistry and Biochemistry office.