Chemistry (2020 - 2022)
Chemistry, known as the central natural science, bridges physics and biology. 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. 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 (B.S. 1997), a professor at the Scripps Research Institute, was named a MacArthur Fellow for 2013.
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 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 or business studies: for example, patent law, technology investment, or management in the chemical industry.
The department offers advanced versions of the general and organic chemistry courses that are required for several science majors and for the pre-health curriculum (leading to professional and graduate study in medicine, dentistry, and basic medical sciences). Students need permission from the department to register for these advanced courses.
Majors in Chemistry and Biochemistry: General Information
Students considering a major 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 required 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 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, only by 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, 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 pre-health 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. 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 strong 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, but should be balanced against the desire or need to take biology with chemistry in the freshman year and to defer physics (e.g., for students who are undecided, are considering a major in biology or neural science, and/or are on the pre-health track).
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.
Students interested in careers in medicine, dentistry, or basic medical sciences may wish to consider the major in biochemistry. Coursework in biology is required for such students for admission to schools of the health professions. The appropriate preprofessional adviser should be consulted for details.
Major in Chemistry, B.A.
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. 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.
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. 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. 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 those students wishing to enter graduate programs in biochemistry.
Major in Chemistry, B.S.
Students who complete the required core courses as outlined above, plus the 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) will graduate with the degree of Bachelor of Science (B.S.) instead of the Bachelor of Arts (B.A.). 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.
The major in GPH/science with a concentration in chemistry requires twenty-one courses (90 points) with a grade of C or better, as follows. Students must plan and schedule carefully for their College Core Curriculum requirements (foreign language, expository writing, and Foundations of Contemporary Culture), and if they are prehealth, they must also take Principles of Biology I, II (BIOL-UA 11, 12) in addition to their Core requirements and the 90 points for the major outlined below.
Global public health requirements (six courses/24 points):
- Health and Society in a Global Context (UGPH-GU 10)
- Biostatistics (UGPH-GU 20)
- Epidemiology (UGPH-GU 30)
- Health Policy in a Global World (UGPH-GU 40)
- Environmental Health in a Global World (UGPH-GU 50)
- GPH Internship (UGPH-GU 60)
- One foreign language course past the intermediate two level (4 points). This requirement is set by CAS, not by the College of Public Health (GPH). Students who present AP or other advanced standing credit that is equivalent to completion of at least one course above intermediate two have satisfied the requirement. Students who take an NYU language placement or exemption exam and demonstrate proficiency equivalent to completion of at least one course above the intermediate two level (i.e., they at least place into the second course above intermediate two) have also met this major requirement. (Note that placement exam results are not sufficient to satisfy the core graduation requirement in foreign language; students who earn a qualifying score on a placement exam are eligible to take the exemption exam in that language.). Note that students who satisfy this major requirement with the results of an NYU language placement or exemption exam must take an additional four-point course for the major.
- One semester of study away
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 math (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 pre-health track cannot use AP Physics C credit to place out of either or both semesters of General Physics.)
Major electives (two courses/8 points):
- Two additional electives must be completed in GPH and/or in chemistry.
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 NYU School of Engineering. Further information is available from the College Advising Center, Silver Center, 100 Washington Square East, Room 905; 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. 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 is arguably not enough time to execute a successful research 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 Jerschow, 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 strongly urge students who are interested in research to begin as early as freshman year. Depending on the number of credits a student is registered for, the initial exposure to research may or may not be for credit. 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 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.