Chemistry (2022 - 2024)
Chemistry is an incredibly broad field. It is known as the central natural science because it intersects with physics, biology, engineering, materials science, and environmental science. The atomic and molecular structure and properties of matter are fundamental to the investigation of the physical world and to the understanding of living systems. Our chemistry program has an interdisciplinary approach that creates context for studying real-world problems and their solutions.
The department offers majors in chemistry, biochemistry, and global public health/science with a concentration in chemistry. Students have the opportunity to earn either a B.A. or B.S. in the chemistry major. A selection of elective advanced courses, undergraduate and graduate, can be combined (in consultation with the director of undergraduate studies) to provide a broad, varied program of study in chemistry or an undergraduate specialization in organic, biochemical, physical, or theoretical chemistry. The opportunity to participate in scientific research as an undergraduate is one of the most exciting features of a chemistry major. Research allows you to work alongside graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and faculty to develop new ideas to solve real-world problems and make new discoveries. Many of our students produce results that lead to publications and research is also a great preparation for graduate school and a wide range of chemistry careers.
The programs of study in chemistry and biochemistry prepare students for graduate study leading to 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, the chemistry and biochemistry majors both prepare students for alternative careers, especially when paired with a minor in economics, data science, or business studies: for example, patent law, technology investment, or management in the chemical industry.
Majors in Chemistry and Biochemistry: General Information
Students considering a major in chemistry or biochemistry are strongly urged to seek course advisement from the undergraduate academic team 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.
Students must earn a grade of C or better in all courses required for the chemistry or biochemistry major, even if they are in other departments (such as mathematics or physics). Students who do not have an average of 2.0 or better in courses required by the department by the time they have completed 64 points in all courses will be asked to change their major.
The Department of Chemistry strictly enforces all prerequisites and de-enrolls students from courses for which they do meet the prerequisites. Prerequisite courses must be completed with a grade of C (not C minus) or better.
AP, IB, and A Level credit by examination in chemistry is not accepted toward any departmental majors or minors.
Core Courses for the Majors in Chemistry and Biochemistry
The majors in chemistry and biochemistry build on a core of required courses in chemistry, physics, and mathematics. (Note that biology is not required for any major or minor offered by the Department of Chemistry, but only for the prehealth program.)
The six required core courses (28 points) in this department 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 majors version of the organic chemistry sequences—CHEM-UA 227 and CHEM-UA 228 (see course descriptions)—substitute for CHEM-UA 225 and CHEM-UA 226, respectively. In addition, when offered, the one-semester Accelerated General Chemistry and Laboratory (CHEM-UA 129; 6 points) may substitute for the CHEM-UA 125, 126 sequence.
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), or Advanced Placement (or equivalent international exam) credit.
- Calculus II (MATH-UA 122). Advanced Placement credit for MATH-UA 122 (a score of 5 on BC Calculus) is not accepted for this major requirement. Students with this AP credit must either (1) take Calculus II at NYU and forfeit 4 of the 8 AP credits, or (2) register for one of the following: Mathematics of Chemistry (CHEM-UA 140), Calculus III (MATH-UA 123), or Linear Algebra (MATH-UA 140), using the BC credits as a prerequisite.
- General Physics I (PHYS-UA 11). Credit for AP Physics C: Mechanics with a score of 4 or 5 is accepted, but only for students who are not prehealth. No other AP or equivalent international credit is accepted.**
- General Physics II (PHYS-UA 12). Credit for AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism with a score of 4 or 5 is accepted, but only for students who are not prehealth. No other AP or equivalent international credit is accepted.**
**Because of medical, dental, etc. school admissions requirements, students on the prehealth track cannot use AP Physics C credit to place out of either or both semesters of General Physics.
Note that Mathematics for Chemistry (CHEM-UA 140) is strongly recommended as preparation for both Physical Chemistry: Quantum Mechanics and Spectroscopy (CHEM-UA 651) and Physical Chemistry: Thermodynamics and 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 or physical chemistry. Students may choose instead to take Calculus III (MATH-UA 123) and/or Linear Algebra (MATH-UA 140).
Freshmen who intend to pursue a major in chemistry or biochemistry and are well prepared in mathematics and the physical sciences are strongly encouraged to take General Physics I and II as their second science sequence (concurrently with general chemistry) in the first year. This allows the physical chemistry courses to be taken as early as sophomore year if the mathematics prerequisites are completed. However, if students choose to take biology with chemistry in the freshman year they may wish to defer taking physics (e.g., for students who are undecided, are considering a major in biology or neural science, and/or are on the prehealth track).
The core courses listed above provide a basic background in chemistry. Students are required to complete the courses in general chemistry, physics, and calculus prior to entry into CHEM-UA 651, 652 (the physical chemistry sequence), which is usually in the third year. It is strongly advised that advanced-level chemistry course enrollment begin no later than the fifth semester of study. This allows at least three more semesters to complete all major requirements.
Students interested in careers in medicine, dentistry, or basic medical sciences may wish to consider the major in biochemistry, which recommends additional courses in biology. Together these courses satisfy admission requirements for schools of the health professions. The appropriate preprofessional adviser should be consulted for details.
Major in Chemistry, B.A.
In addition to the core courses cited above, the minimum major requirements are Physical Chemistry Laboratory (CHEM-UA 661), Inorganic Chemistry (CHEM-UA 711), and two advanced chemistry elective courses for the B.A. degree. Please note that Advanced Independent Study and Research (CHEM-UA 997, 998), Senior Honors in Chemistry (CHEM-UA 995, 996), and Mathematics of Chemistry (CHEM-UA 140) do not count as advanced electives for the major.
Major in Biochemistry, B.A.
In addition to the core courses cited above, the minimum requirements 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. The following courses do not count as advanced electives for the major: Advanced Independent Study and Research (CHEM-UA 997, 998), Senior Honors in Chemistry (CHEM-UA 995, 996), and Mathematics of Chemistry (CHEM-UA 140). 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.
Biochemistry majors are strongly encouraged to take Cellular and Molecular Biology I and II (BIOL-UA 21, 22). This is especially important for students planning to do graduate level study in biochemistry.
Major in Chemistry, B.S.
In addition to the core courses cited above, the minimum requirements are Physical Chemistry Laboratory course (CHEM-UA 661), Inorganic Chemistry (CHEM-UA 711), three advanced electives in chemistry, one course in computer science at or above the level of CSCI-UA 2 (CSCI-UA 101 preferred), and at least two semesters of Advanced Independent Study and Research (CHEM-UA 997, 998) or Senior Honors in Chemistry (CHEM-UA 995, 996). Please note that CHEM-UA 997, 998 and CHEM-UA 995, 996 do not count as advanced electives for the major. Students should also note that the B.S. program is more challenging to complete within a normal four-year academic program and that it confers no particular advantage to students in premedical or predental programs.
Major in Global Public Health/Science with a Concentration in Chemistry, B.S.
Students pursuing this combined program concentrate in chemistry—the central natural science that interfaces physics and mathematics with the life sciences.
Departmental advising is absolutely crucial for students pursuing this demanding major. As with all majors and minors offered by the Department of Chemistry, Principles of Biology I and II (BIOL-UA 11, 12) are not required for this major; however, prehealth students must take this sequence in addition to the major requirements outlined below. In addition, students must satisfy all requirements of the College Core Curriculum (the First-Year Seminar, foreign language, Expository Writing, and Foundations of Contemporary Culture). Careful planning is necessary to ensure that all major, prehealth, and College Core Curriculum requirements can be completed in four years.
Students in this combined major must consult with the DUS or other departmental adviser to work out a course plan, especially as this major requires students to study away for one semester. The following are the twenty-one courses (90 points) that must be completed with a grade of C or higher [please note that the post-intermediate language requirement for the major applies only to students who matriculated before fall 2021; if they are granted a waiver or exemption from the requirement, they must take an additional (third) 4-point elective in the major. Students who matriculate in and after fall 2021 have no post-intermediate language requirement for this major, and are all required to take three major electives]:
Global public health requirements (six courses/24 points):
- Health and Society in a Global Context (UGPH-GU 10; no prerequisites)
- Biostatistics for Public Health (UGPH-GU 20)
- Epidemiology for Global Health (UGPH-GU 30)
- Health Policy in a Global World (UGPH-GU 40)
- Environmental Health in a Global World (UGPH-GU 50)
- Undergraduate Experiential Learning in Global Public Health (UGPH-GU 60)
Note well: UGPH-GU 10 is the prerequisite or corequisite for UGPH-GU 20, 30, 40, and 50. UGPH-GU 30 is an additional (recommended) prerequisite or corequisite for UGPH-GU 40. In addition, UGPH-GU 10, 20, and 30 are firm prerequisites for UGPH-GU 60.
One foreign language course above the intermediate two level (one course/4 points):
- This requirement applies only to students who matriculated before fall 2021; students who matriculate in and after fall 2021 do not take this additional course.
- Students in the former category may petition for a waiver from the requirement, or may use an NYU language placement or language exemption exam to meet this requirement. If they successfully waive or exempt out of the requirement, they must take an additional (third) 4-point major elective (see below) to satisfy the total number of credits required for the major. For more details, consult the archived PDF of the 2020-2022 CAS Bulletin at bulletin.cas.nyu.edu, or discuss with a major adviser.
- Students in the latter category are all required to take a third elective in the major (see below) to replace the discontinued (for them) 4-point post-intermediate language requirement and satisfy the total number of credits required for the major.
Chemistry core courses (eight courses/36 points):
- General Chemistry and Laboratory I and II (CHEM-UA 125, 126). The one-semester Accelerated General Chemistry and Laboratory (CHEM-UA 129; 6 points) may be taken by qualified students and substitutes for this sequence.
- Organic Chemistry and Laboratory I and II (CHEM-UA 225, 226) or Majors Organic Chemistry and Laboratory I and II (CHEM-UA 227, 228)
- Physical Chemistry: Quantum Mechanics and Spectroscopy and Physical Chemistry: Thermodynamics and Kinetics (CHEM-UA 651, 652)
- Biochemistry I and II (CHEM-UA 881, 882)
Additional required courses in science and mathematics (four courses/18 points):
- Mathematics (two courses/8 points):
- Calculus I and II (MATH-UA 121,122). Advanced Placement credit for Calculus II (a score of 5 on BC Calculus) is not accepted for this major requirement. Students with this AP credit must either (1) take Calculus II at NYU and forfeit 4 of the 8 AP credits, or (2) register for one of the following: Mathematics of Chemistry (CHEM-UA 140), Calculus III (MATH-UA 123) or Linear Algebra (MATH-UA 140), using the BC credits as a prerequisite.
- Physics (two courses/10 points):
- General Physics I and II (PHYS-UA 11, 12). Credit for AP Physics C: Mechanics is accepted for PHYS-UA 11 and credit for AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism is accepted for PHYS-UA 12, but only for students who are not prehealth. No other AP or equivalent international credit is accepted. (Because of medical, dental, etc., school admissions requirements, students on the prehealth track cannot use AP Physics C credit to place out of either or both semesters of General Physics.)
Major electives (three courses/12 points):
- Three additional electives must be completed in the GPH program or chemistry, by advisement. For students who matriculate in and after fall 2021, the third elective replaces the discontinued (for them) post-intermediate language requirement in this major.
- Students who matriculated before fall 2021 technically have a major elective requirement of only two courses/8 points; however, if they waive or exempt out of the major's post-intermediate language requirement, they must take a third major elective for 4 points.
All majors must also study away for one semester.
For descriptions of GPH (UGPH-GU) courses and for all policies applying to the major (including those for transfer students), please see the global public health section of this Bulletin.
Joint B.S./B.S. Program in Chemistry and Engineering
The College of Arts and Science offers a joint B.S/B.S. program with the NYU Tandon School of Engineering. For students interested in chemistry, the program leads to the B.S. degree from CAS and the B.S. degree in chemical and biomolecular engineering from the Tandon School of Engineering. Further information is available from the College Advising Center, 726 Broadway, 7th floor; 212-998-8130.
Policy on School of Engineering courses: No CAS student (whether majoring or minoring in this department or not) is allowed to take Tandon substitute courses for CHEM-UA 125, 126, 127, 128, 129 (General Chemistry); 225, 226, 227, 228 (Organic Chemistry); 651, 652, 661 (Physical Chemistry); 711 (Inorganic Chemistry); or 881, 882, 885, 890 (Biochemistry). However, students pursuing a major in the Department of Chemistry may seek prior permission of the director of undergraduate studies to take advanced electives in the School of Engineering and apply them to the major. This is reviewed on a case-by-case basis. These courses count against each student's 16-point allowance in the other divisions of NYU and cannot be applied to the 64- point UA residency requirement.
Minor in Chemistry
Completion of the following four 5-point courses (20 points) constitutes a minor in chemistry: CHEM-UA 125, 126, 225 or 227, and 226 or 228. Biology majors are required to take an additional upper-level chemistry course after Organic Chemistry II. Only two of the four courses may also be used to satisfy the requirements of 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.
While the Department of Chemistry has several accelerated courses—for example, Accelerated General Chemistry and Laboratory (CHEM-UA 129) and 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 and 996). Students must first become involved in research, CHEM-UA 997 or 998, for at least one semester or one summer prior to the senior year, as two semesters of research are generally not enough time to execute a successful project. Students seeking 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 all required courses for the chemistry or biochemistry major. 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 Walters, director of undergraduate studies, for more detailed information.
The department endeavors to make research opportunities available during the summer and the academic year to well-qualified students at all levels. We encourage interested students to begin research as early as freshman or sophomore 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 meet any 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 for these courses.
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 (but cannot be worn outside the laboratory). Laboratory equipment loaned to students must be replaced if 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.