General Chemistry Advising

Welcome to the Boston University Chemistry Department’s advising page for General Chemistry!

We in the Chemistry Department truly love to teach chemistry, and we are very excited to have you take courses with us. The Chemistry Department offers many different options for general chemistry, each with a unique focus, level of preparation, and learning outcomes.

The goal of this page is to help you select the general chemistry course that is best for you.  The minimum General Chemistry requirements for majors that require chemistry can be found here.  

Choosing the right course for you

We currently offer three different year-long general chemistry course sequences: CH101/102, CH109/110, and CH111/112. Students will find that all three of the sequences will prepare them for their upper-level coursework. Also, all three sequences satisfy the pre-health requirements. The main differences between the courses are the level of assumed prior chemistry knowledge, the pace and intensity of the courses, and the student goals.

CH101 and CH102 (“General Chemistry”)

CH101/102 is the course sequence that most students who are not chemistry or biochemistry majors will take. These courses assume little prior knowledge of chemistry, making these courses the right choice for someone who has not taken chemistry in high school or someone who is not confident in their recall of the material. Students in CH101 are expected to have a firm grasp of algebra and general physical science concepts from high school. CH101 and CH102 are both offered every semester (including summers).

CH109 and CH110 (“Advanced General Chemistry” with Quantitative Analysis Lab)

CH109 and CH110 are designed specifically for BMB students, biochemistry majors, chemistry majors,  and students with a strong interest in chemistry. There are two main things that distinguish CH109 from CH101: the level of assumed preparation and the rigor of the laboratory experience.

  • Students registering for CH109 are expected to have taken at least one full year of high school chemistry, and they are expected to be able apply the skills that they learned in that course. CH109 starts where high school chemistry leaves off, so students will be expected to recall their high school chemistry material. Many students registering CH109 have taken more than one year of chemistry in high school.
  • Students in CH109 are expected to have strong math and algebra skills. The quantitative nature of chemistry is an important emphasis in CH109 and CH110.
  • The laboratory component of CH109 and CH110 is an introduction to Quantitative Analysis laboratory experience. The focus of these labs is on developing skills and approaches that are necessary for success in research labs and upper-level laboratory courses.
  • Required placement exam: students who would like to register for CH109 must first take the online placement exam posted here.
  • CH109 is offered only in the Fall semester and CH110 is offered only in the Spring semester.  Neither course is offered in the summer.

CH111 and CH112 (“Intensive General Chemistry” with Quantitative Analysis Lab)

CH11 and CH112 are designed for students intending to major in Chemistry, Chemistry:Biochemistry, or who are very passionate about chemistry. Students in CH111 are expected to have substantial prior experience in chemistry, and a strong interest in a rigorous course well-beyond regular General Chemistry.

  • Students registering for CH111 are expected to have a very strong background in chemistry. Students in CH111 typically have completed more than one year of high school chemistry and have scored well in Advanced Placement (AP score of 5, or IB Higher Level score of 6 or 7). At minimum, students must have taken one full year of high school chemistry and have excellent recall of the material.
  • Students in CH111 are expected to have high-level math skills. They will have an excellent command of algebra, and they typically will already have credit for Calculus 1 or will be registered for Calculus (MA123 or higher) at the same time.
  • The laboratory component of CH111 and CH112 is an introduction to Quantitative Analysis laboratory experience. The focus of these labs is on developing skills and approaches that are necessary for success in research labs and upper-level laboratory courses.
  • Focus on research-based writing and information literacy in the lab gives students that complete this sequence WR150 and RIL BU Hub units. While this added component is certainly beneficial, students should be prepared for the extra work that comes along with this benefit.
  • Required placement exam: Students who would like to register for CH111 must first take the online placement exam posted here.  Students who successfully complete the placement exam will receive guidance and the permission code for registering for the course.
  • CH111 is only offered in the Fall semester and CH112 is only offered in the Spring semester. Neither course is offered in the summer.

CH171 (Principles of General Chemistry)

CH171 is a one-semester survey course of the principles of General Chemistry, primarily for students in Sargent College (and select majors in CAS, see table below). There is no expectation of prior high school chemistry knowledge in CH171. Note: CH171 does not satisfy the requirements for students considering careers in medicine or dentistry (pre-med). CH171 is offered every Fall semester and Summer 1.

CH131 (General Chemistry for Engineering)

CH131 is a one-semester survey course of General Chemistry for students in the College of Engineering (except for Biomedical Engineering majors, see table below). Note: CH131 does not satisfy the requirements for students considering careers in medicine or dentistry (pre-med). CH131 is offered every Fall semester and Summer 1.

Switching between sequences

Department policy prohibits students from switching between courses in the full-year course sequences (CH101/102, CH109/110, and CH111/112). In other words, if a student completes CH101 (General Chemistry 1), then their only choice for General Chemistry 2 is CH102. Similarly, students who complete CH111 are only permitted to complete their General Chemistry requirements in CH112 — they may not switch to CH110 or CH102. As such, it is important to make sure that you’ve chosen the appropriate sequence for your needs and level of preparation.

Still need help picking your course?

If you’re still not sure about which course you want to take, try answering this questionnaire to help guide you.

If you have a question about the chemistry courses offered at Boston University, please see the frequently asked questions page.