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Undergraduate Chemistry

Chemistry Degree Requirements

Entrance to Major Requirements

In order to be eligible for entrance to the Chemistry major, a student must have:

  • Attained at least a 2.00 cumulative grade-point average
  • Completed and earned both a grade of C or better and a combined grade point average of at least 2.50 in each of the following courses: CHEM 110, CHEM 111, CHEM 112, CHEM 113, CHEM 210, MATH 140, and MATH 141. Note: If courses are repeated, only the higher grade will be used in this calculation.
  • Please visit the Penn State Undergraduate Bulletin for the latest up-to-date Chemistry degree requirements.


Grade-Related Graduation Requirements

  • A grade of C or better in all Chemistry courses, including 400-level electives
  • An overall GPA of 2.0 or higher


Degree Requirements

For the Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry, a minimum of 125 credits is required:

  • General Education:  45 credits
  • Requirements for the Major:  94 credits

15 of the 45 credits for General Education are included in the Requirements for the Major. This includes: 9 credits of GN courses; 6 credits of GQ courses.


Degree Checklist

Departmental Requirements

Course Credits
PSU 016:  First-Year Seminar 1 credit

All first-year students are required to take a first-year seminar sometime during their first year. Although this requirement is satisfied no matter what seminar you take, we strongly encourage students majoring in Chemistry to take the seminar offered by the chemistry department. This one-credit course is offered in two sections (Sections 200 and 201 of PSU016) and only in the fall. The first-year seminar course is the connecting point to your first-year experience in chemistry. The activities you will engage in as part of this class were created to launch your first-year experience in becoming a scientist and introduce you to the chemistry major. These targeted activities support your academic, personal and professional growth and they also help you to build network of support that includes faculty, staff, and peers. The first-year seminar is not required of transfer students, but the credit missing because of its absence must be made up by an additional general elective credit.


MATH 140(B):  Calculus 1 4 credits
MATH 141(B):  Calculus 2 4 credits
MATH 231:  Multivariable Calculus 2 credits
MATH 250: Ordinary Diff Equations
Or STAT 401: Experimental Methods

3 credits










Courses in this category (with the exception of MATH 231) require a grade of C or better.


Course Credits
PHYS 211:  Mechanics 4 credits
PHYS 212:  Electricity and Magnetism 4 credits
PHYS 213+214: Thermal and Quantum 2 credits + 2 credits
Course Credits
CHEM 110: Chemical Principles 1 3 credits
CHEM 111: Experimental Chemistry 1 1 credit
CHEM 112: Chemical Principles 2 3 credits
CHEM 113: Experimental Chemistry 2 1 credit
CHEM 210: Organic Chemistry 1 3 credits
CHEM 212: Organic Chemistry 2 3 credits
CHEM 213W: Organic Chemistry Lab 2 credits
CHEM 227: Analytical Chemistry1 4 credits
CHEM 310: Inorganic Chemistry 3 credits
CHEM 316: The Professional Chemist2 1 credit
CHEM 450: Thermodynamics 3 credits
CHEM 452: Quantum Chemistry 3 credits
CHEM 457: Experimental Physical Chemistry 2 credits
CHEM 423W or 425W or 431W or 459W3 4 credits

Courses in this category require a grade of C or better.

1.  CHEM 227 and CHEM 310 are sophomore- or junior-level courses offered in both the fall and spring semesters. University Park students should enroll in both CHEM 227 and CHEM 310 during their sophomore year. Students transferring to UP from other campuses where these courses are not offered should enroll as soon as possible after transferring.

2. CHEM 316 is offered only in the fall semester and should be scheduled at the beginning of the junior year. If your schedule is off-sequence, such that your junior year does not start in the fall, then you should schedule CHEM 316 at the end of your sophomore year. If you are transferring to UP from another campus, it is especially important that you take CHEM 316 immediately because it will help to orient you to the program and introduce you to your fellow Chemistry majors.

3. CHEM 423W, CHEM 425W, CHEM 431W, and CHEM 459W are writing-intensive, capstone laboratory courses in the areas of analytical (423W, 425W), synthetic (431W), and physical chemistry (459W). Only one of these courses is required, but students may take as many as desired and use the additional credits to satisfy the 400-level CHEM elective requirement. These courses are only offered once per year: 425W and 431W in the fall, and 423W and 459W in the spring. These labs are highly time-intensive and no more than one 400-level chemistry lab course should ever be scheduled in the same semester.

Courses in this category require a grade of C or better.

Of these credits, at least ten must come from regular 400- or 500-level course work in chemistry (i.e., not CHEM 494 or 495 or courses from other departments).  Up to eight credits of chemical research (CHEM 494) can be used in this category, up to 3 credits of CHEM 395, and up to six credits of co-op experience (two credits each of SC 295, 395, and 495) can be used, but the total number of CHEM 395, 494 and SC X95 credits cannot exceed eight.

Most 400-level advanced courses are offered in either the fall or spring semesters, and a few are only offered in alternating years. Please plan accordingly. 400-Level Chemistry Courses; all courses are three credits unless noted otherwise by [#].

  • CHEM 400 [1] Chemical Literature
  • CHEM 402 Chemistry in the Environment
  • CHEM 408 Computational Chemistry
  • CHEM 412 Transition Metal Chemistry
  • CHEM 423W [4] Chemical Spectroscopy
  • CHEM 425W [4] Chromatography and Electrochemistry
  • CHEM 430 Structural Analysis of Organic Compounds
  • CHEM 431W [4] Organic and Inorganic Preparations
  • CHEM 432 Organic Reaction Mechanisms
  • CHEM 433 Industrial Medicinal Chemistry Lab
  • CHEM 448 Surface Chemistry
  • CHEM 459W [4] Advanced Experimental Physical Chemistry
  • CHEM 464 Chemical Kinetics and Dynamics
  • CHEM 466 Molecular Thermodynamics
  • CHEM 468 Molecular Spectroscopy
  • CHEM 476 Biological Chemistry
  • CHEM 480 Chemistry and Properties of Polymers
  • CHEM 497 Special Topics

500-level chemistry courses may also be used in this category. Any 4th-year student with a 3.50 or higher cumulative grade point average may be admitted to 500-level courses with the consent of the instructor. Complete the form “Request for Undergraduate Student to take 500-Level Courses,” which is available in 219 Whitmore. Schreyer Scholars need not complete this form.

For 400-level chemistry elective credits, it is possible to substitute some 400-level courses in biochemistry, food science, geoscience, materials science, or other chemistry-related disciplines. The current list of approved non-chemistry courses that satisfy the 400-level chemistry elective requirement is below. Please note that some of these courses require non-chemistry prerequisite courses.

  • BMB 401, 402, 433, 474
  • FD SC 400
  • FSC 431
  • GEOSC 416, 419
  • MATSE 441

Research or Co-op Credit: CHEM 494, Chemical Research, is highly recommended for all Chemistry majors. It involves participation in a research project, usually under the supervision of a member of the chemistry faculty. Faculty members from other departments may also supervise CHEM 494 with the approval of the Associate Head for Undergraduate Education. Students interested in CHEM 494 should discuss this option with their advisor and begin interviewing faculty no later than their fifth semester in residence.

  • Up to 3 credits of CHEM 395, Chemistry Assistant Teacher Training, and up to 6 Co-op credits (SC 295, 395, and 495) may be applied to this category.
  • Up to eight credits of CHEM 494 can be used in the category of 400-level chemistry electives (fewer if CHEM 395 and co-op credits are being used). CHEM 294 is meant for research performed in a student’s first two years of study, during a time when he/she would not typically be enrolled in 400-level courses. For this reason, CHEM 294 cannot be used for 400-level chemistry elective credit, but it can be used for Supporting Course credit.

Some courses are considered inappropriate for Supporting Course credit and therefore cannot be counted toward the total number of credits required for the degree. These courses are:

  • CHEM 001, 003, 020, 101, 108, 130, 202, 203, and no more than 3 credits of CHEM 106 or 110
  • BISC 001, 002, 003, 004
  • BMB 001
  • CAS 126
  • CMPSC 001, 100
  • ENGL 004, 005
  • LLED 005,010
  • MATH 001, 002, 003, 004, 017, 018, 030, 034, 035, 036, 037, 040, 041, 081-083, 110, 111, 200, AND only 4 credits of MATH 140A
  • PHSC 007
  • PHYS 001, 150, 151, 250, 251
  • STAT 100

Up to 3 credits of CHEM 395, Chemistry Assistant Teacher Training, and up to 3 Co-op credits (SC 395 and 495) may be applied to this category.

CHEM 294, CHEM 494, and CHEM 496 can be used in the Supporting Course category.

Please note that any of MATH 021, 022, 026 may be used for Supporting Course credit if taken in sequence and taken prior to any enrollment in MATH 140 or 141.

University Requirements

Writing/Speakinga (GWS, 9 credits)

  • ENGL 015 or 30: Rhetoric and Composition, 3 credits
  • ENGL 202C: Technical Writing, 3 credits
  • CAS 100A: Effective Speech, 3 credits

Health and Wellnessb (GHW, 3 credits)

Artsb (GA, 6 credits)

Humanitiesb (GH, 6 credits)

Social and Behavioral Sciencesb (GS, 6 credits)

Integrative Studiesc (6 credits)

US and ILd (3 credits each)

Writing Across the Curriculume

  • CHEM 213W
  • CHEM 423W or 425W or 431W or 459W

The university’s baccalaureate degree General Education program consists of 45 credits that are distributed among five General Education components:

a) Foundations courses in writing, speaking (GWS designated courses) and quantification (GQ designated courses). A grade of C or better is required in each of the courses - 15 credits

  • The following GWS courses are required for chemistry majors: ENGL 015, ENGL 202C, and CAS 100A. Honors students take either ENGL 30 or 137H, ENGL 202C, and CAS 100A.
  • The GQ designated course requirement is satisfied by completing the required math courses for the chemistry major (MATH 140 and 141).

b) Knowledge Domains in Health and Wellness, Arts, Humanities, Natural Sciences, Social and Behavioral Sciences, and Health and Wellness (GHW, GA, GH, GN, and GS designated courses, respectively) - 30 credits

  • The GN designated course requirement is satisfied by completing the required physics courses for the chemistry major (PHYS 211, 212, and 213).
  • In general, 3 credits of GHW and 6 credits in each of GA, GH, and GS are required. The university offers students some flexibility when scheduling courses but please note that every student must have at least 3 credits of coursework in each single domain:
    • Students may substitute a 200-499 level general education course for a lower-level requirement. For example, BBH 324: “HealthWorks Peer Education Course” may substitute for a GHW course and fulfill the GHW requirement.
    • Students may substitute a World Language at the 12th credit-level for 3 credits of general education. 
    • Students may substitute a course in one of the Knowledge Domains areas of Arts, Humanities, Social and Behavioral Sciences, Natural Sciences, or Health and Wellness for a course in one of the other areas. For example, a student can take 3 credits of GA, 6 credits of GH, and 9 credits of GS instead of 6 credits in each of the three knowledge domains. This is often referred to as the “Move 3” or “3-6-9” option.
  • A substitution that eliminates any one or more of the above general education Knowledge Domains is not permitted.

c) Integrative Studies that bridge commonality and intersections between the Knowledge Domains:

  • Inter-Domain courses each demonstrate how two Knowledge Domains speak to one another and how knowledge in one Domain relates to knowledge in another. Inter-Domain courses are each approved for two Knowledge Domains and demonstrate consistently how knowledge is integrated across these two Domains. Each Inter-Domain course integrates and meets the criteria of two Knowledge Domains (GA, GH, GHW, GN, GS). Students must complete 6 credits (two 3-credit courses) of Inter-Domain coursework in order to fulfill the Integrative Studies requirement, if they select this pathway.  Please note that not all courses listed are offered every semester or at the UP campus.
  • Linked Courses, each approved for a single Knowledge Domain, demonstrate how the various disciplines within the General Education Knowledge Domains speak to one another and how knowledge in one Domain relates to knowledge in another. Courses are usually linked purposefully by subject matter, but they may be linked by some other common interest, such as an engaged scholarship project, shared assignments, shared readings, etc. Linkages must include courses from different General Education Knowledge Domains (GA, GH, GHW, GN, GS). Students need to take 6 credits from the same Linkage (which may include more than two courses), in different Knowledge Domains, to fulfill the requirement, if they select this pathway. Please note that not all courses listed are offered every semester or at the UP campus.
  • Inter-Domain and Integrative Studies courses count towards fulfilling one of the Knowledge Domains as well as the Integrative Studies requirement. For example, GEOG 30N: “Environmental Social Change and the World” satisfies the 3-credit US requirement, 3 credits of the Inter-Domain requirement, and 3 credits of the GS requirement.

d) US and IL

  • Students must complete 3 credits in United States Cultures (US) and 3 credits in International Cultures (IL). Courses with US and IL designation may also be used to satisfy other general education requirements if they carry the appropriate designation (e.g., IL and GA). For example, ARTH 100: “Introduction to Art” satisfies the 3-credit IL requirement and 3 credits of the GA requirement. Students may, with the permission of their adviser and dean's representative, meet the United States Cultures (US) and International Cultures (IL) requirement through completion of an experiential learning program or practicum (one-semester or year-long) approved by their College Dean's Office. Approved Penn State Education Abroad Programs may be used to satisfy the International Cultures (IL) requirement. Please note that not all courses listed are offered every semester or at the UP campus.

e) Writing Across the Curriculum

  • The requirement is satisfied by completing the following required chemistry courses: CHEM 213W or M, and 423W or 425W or 431W or 459W.