Department of Chemistry

The department’s undergraduate programs are designed to engage students with a range of interests in chemical sciences. Chemistry majors leave well prepared for graduate education; for careers in research, teaching, industry, or regulatory agencies; or, as a premedical track, for professional training in medicine or public health. Other graduates choose to apply their chemistry training to careers such as business, law, and art conservation.

The department offers three tracks: a major in chemistry, a major in chemistry with a concentration in biochemistry, and a major in chemistry with a concentration in secondary education. The majors are built upon a core of courses covering the principal areas of chemistry (chemical principles, analytical, organic, physical, inorganic, and biochemistry), as well as the supporting calculus and physics classes. Advanced undergraduate courses offer training in materials chemistry, natural products chemistry, chemical physics, and computational chemistry. Undergraduate chemistry junior and senior majors also frequently enroll in graduate-level courses. Research opportunities are abundant for undergraduates at all levels.

For the BA in Chemistry, two options are offered. Option A not only qualifies students for certification by the American Chemical Society but also permits diversification through coupling to minors in other fields of science, mathematics, or computer science, and to the Modular Medical/Dental Integrated Curriculum (MMEDIC) program. The Option B major, with its reduced set of course requirements and greater flexibility, may be attractive to students who wish to design programs with additional elective possibilities. The Chemistry: Biochemistry concentration is also an ACS-certified major.

The BA program in the teaching of chemistry coordinates with the Wheelock College of Education & Human Development, and qualifies graduates for certification as high school teachers. An advising system provides each undergraduate major with an advisor drawn from the faculty’s professorial ranks.

In coordination with the graduate program, chemistry faculty actively engage undergraduates in research in all areas of chemistry. Research at the frontier of the discipline is an essential component of the primary mission of the department: the education of its students both in the classroom and the laboratory. As such, the Chemistry Department places a strong emphasis on research in both the traditional areas of chemistry, as well as in interdisciplinary fields including biological and biophysical chemistry, medicinal chemistry, computational chemistry, and materials research. Most chemistry majors complete in at least one year of research and receive training on state-of-the-art research instrumentation, and many graduate with publications in peer-reviewed journals.

Through coursework taken in the Chemistry Department, all students completing a BA in Chemistry, Chemistry: Biochemistry, or Teaching of Chemistry will complete all of the BU Hub Intellectual Toolkit requirements, as well as all of the BU Hub Scientific Inquiry units, Quantitative Reasoning units, and Communications units (except CAS WR 120 and WR 150; students taking CAS CH 111/112 will also complete the CAS WR 150 unit).

Prospective chemistry majors are strongly encouraged to consult with the department’s Undergraduate Program Specialist early in their college careers.

Departmental Regulations

Approved safety glasses and lab coat must be worn in all laboratory courses. Students with prescription eyewear may wish to obtain prescription safety glasses.

For all sequenced courses in the Department of Chemistry, credit may be received for the first course in a sequence without taking the subsequent course. In all two-course sequences, the first course is prerequisite to the second unless otherwise indicated, and a failing grade in the first course precludes registration in the second. A grade of C or better, or permission of the instructor, in the first course of a sequence is required to continue the sequence. Students must receive a grade of at least C in all core, principal, and required related courses taken to satisfy major requirements.

Students may receive credit for only one sequence in general chemistry (CAS CH 101, 102, 201, or CH 109, 110, or CH 111, 112), as well as the organic chemistry sequence (CH 203, 204, 220, or CH 211, 212, or CH 203, 214). Chemistry majors who start in a particular track (e.g., CAS CH 111, 112) must complete that track; the same is true for CH 211, 212 and CH 203, 214. Crossing between tracks is not allowed. Students may not receive credit for both CAS CH 172 and CH 174.

Seniors and BA/MA students completing a two-semester sequence in undergraduate research or senior Honors in Chemistry research are required to present the results of their research at the Departmental Undergraduate Research Colloquium held at the end of the spring semester. All students engaged in undergraduate research are encouraged to participate in the departmental colloquium and specialized seminar series.

Honors in Chemistry

Honors in Chemistry is awarded to graduating seniors who have completed honors research (CAS CH 401 and 402) in their senior year and successfully defended their honors thesis before a committee of three faculty. To be eligible for Honors in Chemistry, a student must also graduate with a minimum 3.0 overall GPA and a 3.2 GPA in required chemistry major courses. Applications for Honors in Chemistry are due before the fall semester of the senior year.


Sigma Xi

See Honor Societies.


The student affiliate chapter of the American Chemical Society, Chemia is open to all students interested in chemistry. It sponsors free tutorial sessions for all freshman and sophomore chemistry classes, visiting lecturers, tours of scientific facilities, and social activities. Chemia also publishes a newsletter each semester.


Lambert Scholarship

The Department of Chemistry awards the Lambert Scholarship to undergraduate students majoring in chemistry or the natural sciences based on financial need. Preference is given to students who have overcome a personal challenge, come from an historically underrepresented student group, represent the first generation in their family to attend college, or experience socioeconomic disadvantage.

J. Philip Mason Memorial Award

This award is given each year to one or more upper-level students in one of our chemistry programs. It recognizes academic excellence, a strong interest in chemistry, and a demonstrated commitment to achieve a high level of performance under difficult conditions. J. Philip Mason Summer Awards for undergraduate research are also available.

Anne Gounaris Scholarship

This award is given to one or more deserving CAS students majoring in chemistry, with a preference for female students receiving financial aid. It recognizes excellence and high motivation in the field of chemistry.

Laursen Summer Research Scholarship

This award is given in alternate years as a summer stipend to enable a rising junior or, preferably, a rising senior to remain on campus in the summer to do research.