Program of Study (CAS Bulletin)

Departmental Objectives
Chemistry, the so-called central natural science, bridges physics and biology. The atomistic and molecular structure and properties of matter are fundamental to the investigation of the physical world and to the understanding of living systems. Modern chemistry spans chemical physics, materials science, and molecular biology, merging the traditional divisions of analytical, organic, inorganic, and physical chemistry. Recently, the department has focused its growth on physical, biophysical, and bioorganic chemistry, exploiting interdisciplinary areas of theory, nanoscience and materials, and biological and biomedical chemistry. The department has a large and active theoretical group in the areas of chemical physics and biomolecular modeling.

Graduates of the department find rewarding careers and achieve distinction in all phases of scientific life, from basic research to commercial product development. The late Gertrude Elion, a 1941 M.S. in Chemistry from New York University, shared the 1988 Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology for her research in pharmaceutical chemistry. Phil Baran, a BS recipient recently earned a MacArthur Foundation "genius" grant in 2013.

The department offers majors in Chemistry and in Biochemistry. Students have the opportunity to earn either a B.A. or B.S. in chemistry. A selection of elective advanced courses, undergraduate and graduate, can be combined to provide a broad, varied program of study in chemistry. The department also offers a number of courses for non-science students and service courses for students in the other schools of NYU. The programs of study in chemistry prepare students for graduate work toward the master's degree or the doctorate for careers in research, development, and teaching and/or for further study in areas such as medicine, dentistry, basic medical sciences, and allied health fields (including forensic science). In addition, both majors prepare students for alternative careers, especially when paired with a minor in economics or business studies: for example, patent law, technology investment, or management in the chemical industry.

The department offers advanced courses in general and organic chemistry required for several science majors and for the pre-health curriculum in medicine, dentistry, and basic medical sciences. Students need permission from the department to register for these advanced courses. Permission for the first-year advanced general chemistry course is based on several factors, including performance in high school advanced placement chemistry, physics and calculus as well as SAT or IB test scores.


Students thinking of majoring in Chemistry or Biochemistry are strongly urged to seek course advisement from the Director of Undergraduate Studies as early in their academic careers as possible. Chemistry is a sequential subject with courses building on earlier courses. Delay in taking certain key prerequisite courses can make it impossible to complete a major in four years without summer attendance.

A grade of C or better in Chemistry and the other mandated courses is required for the fulfillment of the Chemistry or Biochemistry major in the department. Students who do not have an average of 2.0 in departmentally required courses by the time they have completed 64 points in all courses will be asked to change their major.

The major in Chemistry or Biochemistry builds on a core of required courses in chemistry, physics, and mathematics. The six required core courses (28 points) in chemistry are:

  • General Chemistry I and Laboratory (CHEM-UA 125)
  • General Chemistry II and Laboratory (CHEM-UA 126)
  • Organic Chemistry I and Laboratory (CHEM-UA 225)
  • Organic Chemistry II and Laboratory (CHEM-UA 226)
  • Physical Chemistry: Quantum Mechanics and Spectroscopy (CHEM-UA 651)
  • Physical Chemistry: Thermodynamics and Kinetics (CHEM-UA 652)

The advanced and/or majors versions of the general and organic sequences—CHEM-UA 127, CHEM-UA 128, CHEM-UA 227, and CHEM-UA 228 (see course descriptions)—substitute for CHEM-UA 125, CHEM-UA 126, CHEM-UA 225, and CHEM-UA 226, respectively.

In addition to these chemistry courses, the Chemistry and Biochemistry majors require four courses (18 points) in mathematics and physics:

  • Calculus I (MATH-UA 121)
  • Calculus II (MATH-UA 122)
  • General Physics I (PHYS-UA 11)
  • General Physics II (PHYS-UA 12)

Calculus III (MATH-UA 123) and Linear Algebra (MATH-UA 140) are strongly recommended as preparation for both Physical Chemistry: Quantum Mechanics & Spectroscopy (CHEM-UA 651) and Physical Chemistry: Thermodynamics & Kinetics (CHEM-UA 652), as well as for students interested in pursuing chemistry on the graduate level or who have an interest in theoretical chemistry.

The following sequence covers the content of Calculus II and III (MATH-UA 122, 123) as well as Linear Algebra (MATH-UA 140) in two semesters, and carries a pre-requisite of Calculus I or equivalent:

  • MATH-UA 221 Honors Calculus I: Accelerated Calculus with Linear Algebra I
  • MATH-UA 222 Honors Calculus II: Accelerated Calculus with Linear Algebra II

The core, described above, provides a basic background in chemistry. Students normally are required to complete the courses in general chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, and calculus prior to entry into CHEM UA-651, 652 (physical chemistry) in the third year. Alternative programs are also possible. It is strongly advised, however, that an advanced-level chemistry course be taken in the third year of study, allowing at least three more semesters to complete all major requirements.

Undergraduate specialization in organic, biochemical, physical, or theoretical chemistry may be accomplished through combinations of advanced elective undergraduate and graduate courses open to undergraduates. These courses should be chosen in consultation with the director of undergraduate studies.

For students interested in preparation for careers in the chemical industry, several alternatives are available—for example, pairing the major in Chemistry with a minor in Economics or Business Studies.

Students interested in careers in medicine, dentistry, or basic medical sciences may wish to consider the major in Biochemistry. Additional courses in biology may be desirable for such students. The appropriate preprofessional adviser should be consulted for details.

The Department of Chemistry offers the following majors:

Major in Chemistry, B.A.
For students entering NYU in and after fall 2013: The minimum major requirements, in addition to the core courses cited above, are completion of the Physical Chemistry Laboratory course (CHEM-UA 661), Inorganic Chemistry (CHEM-UA 711), and two advanced chemistry elective courses for the B.A. degree.

For students who entered NYU prior to fall 2013: The minimum major requirements, in addition to the core courses cited above, are completion of the Physical Chemistry Laboratory course (CHEM-UA 661), Inorganic Chemistry (CHEM-UA 711), and one advanced chemistry elective course for the B.A. degree.

Major in Biochemistry
For students entering NYU in and after fall 2013: The minimum requirements, in addition to the core courses cited above, are Biochemistry I and II (CHEM-UA 881, 882), Experimental Biochemistry and Laboratory (CHEM-UA 885), Advanced Biochemistry (CHEM-UA 890), and one advanced chemistry elective. Students in this major are reminded that these courses must be taken in the proper order. Careful course planning is required to ensure that this can be done within a normal four-year program.

For students who entered NYU prior to fall 2013: The minimum requirements, in addition to the core courses cited above, are Biochemistry I and II (CHEM-UA 881, 882), Experimental Biochemistry and Laboratory (CHEM-UA 885), and Advanced Biochemistry (CHEM-UA 890).

Biochemistry students are strongly encouraged to take Cellular and Molecular Biology I and II (BIOL-UA 21, 22) along with Biochemistry. This is especially important for those students wishing to enter graduate programs in biochemistry.

In addition to these majors, the department offers several programs and options that may be of interest to students:

Program in Chemistry and Engineering
The College of Arts and Science offers a joint B.S/B.S. program with the Polytechnic Institute of NYU. For students interested in chemistry, the program leads to the B.S. degree from New York University and the B.S. degree in chemical and biomolecular engineering from Polytechnic. Further information is available from Mr. Tyrell Davis in the College Advising Center, Silver Center, 100 Washington Square East, Room 905; 212-998-8130.

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) Degree
Students who complete the required core courses as outlined above, including the Physical Chemistry Laboratory course (CHEM-UA 661); Inorganic Chemistry (CHEM-UA 711); three advanced electives in chemistry; at least two semesters of Advanced Independent Study and Research (CHEM-UA 997, 998) or Senior Honors in Chemistry (CHEM-UA 995, 996); and one course in Computer Science (at or above the level of CSCI-UA 2; CSCI-UA 101 preferred) will graduate with the degree of Bachelor of Science (B.S.) instead of the Bachelor of Arts (B.A.). Students should note that the B.S. program is very difficult to complete within a normal four-year academic program and that it confers no particular advantage to students in premedical or predental programs.


Completion of the following four 5-point courses constitutes a minor in chemistry: CHEM-UA 125 or 127, 126 or 128, 225 or 227, and 226 or 228. Only three of the four courses may also be used to satisfy another department's major. No grade lower than C will count toward the minor, and an average of 2.0 or better in all chemistry courses is required.

General Information

Laboratory courses in chemistry: Due to the potential hazard of any chemical experimentation, safety goggles, laboratory coats, and other protective gear must be worn at all times in the laboratories. Laboratory equipment, which is lent to the student for the duration of the course, must be replaced by the student if it is damaged or broken.

Students who do not return borrowed laboratory equipment at the end of a course are charged an additional fee, and their grade may be recorded as incomplete and not released until "checkout" is completed.

Research: The department endeavors to make research opportunities available during the summer and the academic year to well-qualified students at all levels. We strongly urge students who are interested in research to begin as early as freshman year. Students are encouraged to apply for the FAST and DURF grants awarded by the College. To participate in research in the department, students must both meet the prerequisites and register for the research courses Advanced Independent Study and Research (CHEM-UA 997, 998) or, if eligible, Senior Honors in Chemistry (CHEM-UA 995, 996). In either case, permission of the director of undergraduate studies is required before registering in these courses.

Honors Program
While the department of chemistry has several accelerated courses, for example, Advanced General Chemistry  and Laboratory (CHEM-UA 127 and 128), or Majors Organic Chemistry and Laboratory (CHEM-UA 227 and 228) these offerings need not be taken to earn a chemistry or biochemistry degree with departmental honors. The main requirement for earning an honors degree is the completion of an honors thesis based upon independent experimental or theoretical research. Students interested in research and an honors degree must enroll in Senior Honors in Chemistry (CHEM-UA 995, 996). However, students must become involved in research for at least one semester or one summer prior to the senior year. Two semesters of research only, is arguably not enough time to execute a successful research project. Depending on the number of credits the student is registered for, the initial exposure to research may or may not be for credit. Students desiring entry into the honors program must obtain the approval of the Director of Undergraduate Studies prior to the end of their junior year. Candidates for a degree with honors in Chemistry must have an overall GPA of 3.65 and a GPA of 3.65 in required courses for the Chemistry or Biochemistry degree. A senior thesis based on this work must be prepared, approved by the adviser, and presented in a seminar format during the spring term of the senior year. Please contact Carol Hollingsworth, academic program administrator, or Professor Alexej Jerschow, Director of Undergraduate Studies, for more detailed information.
Updated on 06/02/2014