Chemistry and Biochemistry

Degrees BA, MS, PhD

The undergraduate degree in chemistry and biochemistry emphasizes knowledge and awareness of:

• the basic principles of chemistry—atomic and molecular theory, reactivities and properties of chemical substances, and the states of matter;
• the basic subfields of chemistry—organic, physical, analytical, and inorganic chemistry (and biochemistry for biochemistry majors);
• mathematics sufficient to facilitate the understanding and derivation of fundamental relationships and to analyze and manipulate experimental data;
• the basic principles of physics (and for biochemistry majors, knowledge of biology); and
• safe chemical practices, including waste handling and safety equipment.
In addition, students completing the degree in chemistry or biochemistry are expected to acquire the ability and skills to:

• read, evaluate, and interpret information on a numerical, chemical, and general scientific level;
• assemble experimental chemical apparatus, design experiments, and use appropriate apparatus to measure chemical composition and properties (for biochemistry students, this includes properties of proteins, nucleic acids, and other biochemical intermediates); and
• communicate results of scientific inquiries verbally and in writing.

Bachelor’s Degree Program +

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 Semester Hours

Chemistry Option

CHEM 1251 and 1271, General Chemistry 1 and 2 for Chemistry and Biochemistry Majors, or CHEM 1351 and 1371, Honors General Chemistry 1 and 2 (recommended for the student with advanced high school training in mathematics and physics). CHEM 1113/114 and 1133/1134 General Chemistry 1 and 2 lecture and lab, also accepted 10
CHEM 3351 and 3371 Organic Chemistry for Chemistry and Biochemistry Majors 1 and 2 or CHEM 3311 and 3331 Organic Chemistry 1 and 2 8
CHEM 3361 and 3381 Laboratory in Organic Chemistry 1 and 2 for chemistry majors 4
CHEM 4011 Inorganic Chemistry 3
CHEM 4171 Principles of Instrumental Analysis 3
CHEM 4181 Instrumental Analysis Lab with Environmental Emphasis 3
CHEM 4511 and 4531 Physical Chemistry 1 and 2 or CHEM 4411 and 4431 Physical Chemistry with Biochemistry Applications 1 and 2 6
CHEM 4581/4591 Physical Chemistry Labs 1 and 2 3
PHYS 1110 and 1120 General Physics 1 and 2 8
PHYS 1140 Experimental Physics 1 1
MATH 1300, 2300, and 2400, Analytical Geometry, and Calculus 1, 2, and 3 or APPM 1350, 1360, and 2350 12

All students, and especially those intending to go on to graduate school in chemistry, will benefit from additional advanced courses. Recommended electives include the following: CHEM 4021, 4191, 4611, 4711, 4731, 4901, graduate courses in various fields of chemistry, or advanced courses in mathematics or physics.

Biochemistry Option

CHEM 1251 and 1271, General Chemistry 1 and 2 for Chemistry and Biochemistry Majors, or CHEM 1351 and 1371, Honors General Chemistry 1 and 2 (recommended for the student with advanced high school training in mathematics and physics). CHEM 1113/114 and 1133/1134 General Chemistry 1 and 2 lecture and lab, also accepted 10
CHEM 3351 and 3371 Organic Chemistry for Chemistry and Biochemistry Majors 1 or 2
or CHEM 3311 and 3331 Organic Chemistry 1 and 2 8
CHEM 3321 and 3341 Laboratory in Organic Chemistry 1 and 2 or CHEM3361 and 3381 Laboratory in Organic Chemistry for Majors 1 and 2 4
CHEM 4411 and 4431 Physical Chemistry with Biochemistry Applications 1 and 2, or CHEM 4511 and 4531 Physical Chemistry 1 and 2 6
CHEM 4711 and 4731 General Biochemistry 1 and 2 6
CHEM 4761 Biochemistry Laboratory 4
PHYS 1110 and 1120 General Physics 1 and 2 8
PHYS 1140 Experimental Physics 1 1
MATH 1300, 2300, and 2400 Analytical Geometry and Calculus 1, 2, and 3 or APPM 1350, 1360, and 2350 12
MCDB 1150 Introduction to Molecular Biology, MCDB 1151 Intro to Molecular Biology Lab, MCDB 2150 Principles of Genetics, and MCDB 2151 Principles of Genetics Lab or EBIO 1210 and 1220 General Biology 1 and 2 and EBIO 1230 and 1240 General Biology Laboratory 1 and 2 (the latter is recommended for premed students) 8
One of the following: MCDB 2150/2151 (if not taken above), MCDB 3120,3500, EBIO 2070, 3400, 4530, or IPHY 3430 3-4

All students, and especially those intending to go on to graduate school in biochemistry, will benefit from additional advanced courses. Recommended electives include the following: CHEM 4011, 4171, 4181, 4191, 4751, 4791, 4901, graduate courses in various fields of chemistry, or advanced courses in biology or mathematics.

Graduating in Four Years +

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:

Declare chemistry or biochemistry as the major in the first semester.
Students must consult with a major advisor to determine adequate progress toward completion of the major.

Minor Program +

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. For more information see www.colorado.edu/artssciences/students/undergraduate/academics/minors.html.

American Chemical Society Certification +

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. A list of these requirements may be obtained from the undergraduate Chemistry and Biochemistry office.

Chemistry Honors Program +

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; 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.

Graduate Degree Programs +

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 chapter. For information on the doctoral program in chemical physics offered jointly with the Department of Physics, see Chemical Physics under Interdepartmental Programs in the Graduate School section. Following are some of the special departmental requirements. Copies of more detailed rules are distributed to graduate students.

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 and advanced subject test (in either chemistry or in biochemistry, cell, and molecular biology) is required for admission and for fellowship competition. Some or all of these tests may be waived under special circumstances.

Master’s Degree +

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 final oral 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; Plan II is available only with departmental approval.

Doctoral Degree +

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 a series of written cumulative exams and an oral examination. Students entering with a master’s degree start the comprehensive examinations in their second semester; others start them in their third 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.

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