Majoring in Chemistry

The chemistry major is available to students in the School of Arts and Sciences, the School of Engineering, and the School of Pharmacy. The department makes an effort to give most chemistry courses normally taken during the first three years at both Douglass/Cook and Busch/Livingston campuses. All courses required for the major are offered both during the day and in the evening. The major in chemistry leads to a B.A. degree.

Entry/Graduation Requirements

Students wishing to declare a major in chemistry must have successfully completed one semester of a general chemistry course for science majors (01:160:159, 161, 163, or the equivalent) with a grade of “C” or better. A score of 4 or 5 on the Advanced Placement test or appropriate transfer credit from another institution is also acceptable. Petitions for exceptions may be addressed to the Undergraduate Program Coordinator.

A minimum grade-point average of 2.0 in all chemistry courses is required for graduation.

Declaring a Chemistry Major

A student who wants to declare a major in chemistry can do so by:

  • Filling out the major declaration form at the office of his/her college dean
  • Bringing the major declaration form and a current transcript to the CCB administrative offices

ACS Accreditation

The American Chemical Society, the major professional organization of chemists in the United States with more than 150,000 members, accredits certain degree programs that meet its requirements. Several of the options for the Rutgers chemistry major are certified by the ACS. ACS certified degrees are regarded favorably by some employers. Please contact the department for more information.

Planning Your Schedule

It’s a good idea, and a useful exercise, to map a multi-year course of study. When doing so...

  1. Check the prerequisites for each course. In the class schedules recommended for the various options in chemistry, courses with prerequisites that can be a problem are flagged with footnotes. For example, the first-semester General Chemistry classes 161/163 both have pre-calculus as a prerequisite.
  2. Be aware of scheduling limitations. Some courses are offered in both the fall and spring semesters. General Chemistry 161/162, for example, are offered both semester. Other courses, like the organic chemistry laboratory required for all majors (309), is offered only in the spring. Students majoring (or minoring) in chemistry who start organic chemistry in the fall should make every effort to register for 309 in the following spring.

Chemistry Major Options

Most students majoring in chemistry select from the several options listed below. Read more to see the required courses and recommended schedules for that option. These schedules are the most efficient but not the only possible path. As with all SAS majors, students also may design their own programs with the permission from the department.

  • Core Option
  • General American Chemical Society (ACS) Option (G)
  • Chemical Biology Option (C)
  • Environmental Option (D)
  • Business/Law Option (E)
  • Chemical Physics Option (F)
  • Forensic Chemistry Option (M)

The Core Option provides a basic grounding in chemical principles and skills and requires the fewest courses of all options for a chemistry major. It is often selected by students who plan to attend medical/professional school or to find employment in industry immediately after graduation. This option does not offer certification by the American Chemical Society.

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The General ACS Option is intended for students who have a strong interest in, and plan to use, chemistry professionally - typically as academics, researchers, or research managers. It provides intensive training in the laboratory and the classroom.

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The Business/Law Option is intended for students who anticipate that a background in chemistry will be useful to them as they pursue non-laboratory employment in industry, government, business, or law. Students who select this option often plan on attending business or law school.

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The Chemical Biology Option is intended for students who have a strong interest in chemistry as it relates to the life sciences. Students who choose this option plan to use chemistry as academics, researchers, or research managers, or incidentally, as practicing physicians or other health professionals. It provides intensive training in the laboratory and the classroom.

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The Chemical Physics Option is a challenging program intended for students with a strong interest in physics and fundamental science and an aptitude for mathematics. Students who select this option often attend graduate school in mathematically oriented sciences.

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The Environmental Option is intended for students who have a strong interest in chemistry as it relates to environmental issues such as air and water quality, long-term global cycles, and resource management. Students who choose this option plan either to seek immediate employment as chemists in areas related to environmental chemistry or to attend graduate school.

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The Forensic Chemistry Option is a new program of study created by the Department of Chemistry & Chemical Biology in conjunction with the Department of Criminal Justice. This option is intended for undergraduate students with a strong career interest in forensic science.

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