BA in Chemistry & Physics

The joint Chemistry & Physics major at Boston University incorporates the core elements of chemistry and physics to enable an interdisciplinary study of the structure and properties of atoms, molecules, and materials. The degree provides a more extensive foundation in physics and theoretical methods than a traditional chemistry major, as well as a robust background in organic, inorganic, physical chemistry, and experimental chemistry techniques. This curriculum, which carefully combines courses in the two disciplines, positions students well for graduate work at the interface of chemistry and physics in fields such as chemical physics, biophysics, molecular engineering, material science, and others. These fields at the interface are central to emerging research directions in quantum computing, quantum materials, molecular electronics, nanomedicine, environmental engineering, among others. The major may also be suitable for students whose career goals lie in medicine. Chemistry & Physics majors will be advised by a faculty member with a strong affiliation to both departments.

Learning Outcomes

Students completing the BA in Chemistry & Physics will have:

  • Knowledge of fundamental concepts in physics and chemistry.
  • Laboratory skills, including in physical chemistry and foundational physics experiments.
  • Foundations in mathematical and modeling methods.
  • Combined theoretical, experimental, and computational skills to apply to real-world problems in molecular science.


All BU undergraduate students, including both entering first-year and transfer students, will pursue coursework in the BU Hub, the University’s general education program that is integrated into the entire undergraduate experience. BU Hub requirements can be satisfied in a number of ways, including coursework in and beyond the major as well as through cocurricular activities. Students majoring in Chemistry & Physics will ordinarily, through coursework in the major, fulfill 16 or 17 units of the Hub requirements, including Quantitative Reasoning 1 and 2, Scientific Inquiry 1 and 2, 2 units of Critical Thinking, 2 units of Research and Information Literacy, 2 units of Teamwork and Collaboration, 1 unit of Creativity/Innovation, 1 unit of Digital/Multimedia Expression, 1 unit of Oral and/or Signed Communication, 2 units of Writing-Intensive Course, 1 possible unit of Writing, Research and Inquiry, and 1 unit of Historical Consciousness. The remaining 9 or 10 BU Hub requirements will be satisfied by selecting from a wide range of available courses outside the major or, in some cases, cocurricular experiences.

Unless otherwise noted, all required courses are four credit hours.

Prerequisite Courses (4 physics classes + 4 chemistry classes + 2 or 3 math classes):

  • CAS CH 111 Intensive General Chemistry with Quantitative Analytical Lab I* (4 cr) & CAS CH 112 Intensive General Chemistry with Quantitative Analytical Lab II* (4 cr) or
    • CAS CH 109 Advanced General Chemistry with Quantitative Analysis Lab I* (4 cr)
      & CH 110 Advanced General Chemistry with Quantitative Analysis Lab II* or
    • CAS CH 101 General Chemistry I (4 cr) & CAS CH 102 General Chemistry II* (4 cr)
      & CAS CH 201 Quantitative Analytical Chemistry Laboratory* (2 cr)
  • CAS CH 211 Organic Chemistry I* (4 cr) or CAS CH 203 Organic Chemistry I* (4 cr)
  • CAS CH 232 Inorganic Chemistry* (4 cr)
  • CAS MA 123 Calculus* (4 cr) & CAS MA 124 Calculus II* (4 cr) or one (1) of the following:
    • CAS MA 127 Enriched Calculus, CAS MA 129 Honors Calculus, or equivalent
  • CAS MA 225 Multivariate Calculus* (4 cr)
  • CAS PY 251 Principles of Physics I* (4 cr) & CAS PY 252 Principles of Physics II* (4 cr) or
    • CAS PY 211 General Physics* (4 cr) & CAS PY 212 General Physics* (4 cr)
  • CAS PY 351 Modern Physics* (4 cr) or
    • CAS PY 313 Elementary Modern Physics* (4 cr)
  • CAS PY 355 Methods of Theoretical Physics* (4 cr)

Principal Required Courses (4 chemistry and 2 physics or 2 chemistry and 4 physics or 3 physics and 3 chemistry classes):

  • CAS CH 354 Advanced Physical Chemistry Lab* (4 cr)
  • CAS PY 405 Electromagnetic Fields and Waves I (4 cr)
  • CAS PY 410 Statistical Thermodynamics (4 cr) or CAS CH 352 Physical Chemistry II: Statistical Thermodynamics (4 cr)
  • CAS PY 451 Quantum Mechanics I (4 cr) or CAS CH 351 Physical Chemistry I: Quantum Mechanics* (4 cr)
  • Physics elective: CAS PY 406 Electromagnetic Fields and Waves II or CAS PY 408 Intermediate Mechanics or CAS PY 452 Quantum Mechanics II or CAS PY 421 Computational Physics or CAS PY 581 Advanced Physics Lab
  • Chemistry elective: CAS CH 212 Organic Chemistry II* or CAS CH 204 Organic Chemistry II or CAS CH 303 Instrumental Analysis Lab or CAS CH 455 Advanced Computational Chemistry or CAS CH 550 Materials Chemistry

Honors Thesis Option

  • CAS CH 401 & CAS CH 402 Honors Research in Chemistry* (8 cr) or CAS PY 401 and CAS PY 402 Honors Research in Physics