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College of Letters & Science


Requirements for the Chemistry Major
Chemistry Course Degree
Honors in the Major
Introductory Chemistry Courses
Sequences in Which Courses Are Taken

1121 Chemistry Building, 1101 University Avenue, Madison, WI 53706; 608-262-1483; www.chem.wisc.edu

Professors Blackwell, Brunold, Burke, Burstyn, Cavagnero, Choi, Coon, Crim, Cui, Ediger, Gellman, Gilbert, Hamers, Hsung, Kiessling, Landis, Li, Lynn, McMahon, Moore, Nathanson, Pedersen, Raines, Record, Reich, Schwartz, Shakhashiri, Sibert, Skinner, Smith, Stahl, Weisshaar, Woods, Wright, Yethiraj, Yu, Zanni; Associate Professors Berry, Gopalan, Keutsch, Jin, Mahanthappa, Mecozzi, Middlecamp, Yoon; Assistant Professors Andrew, Fredrickson, Garand, Ge, Goldsmith, Schmidt, Schomaker, Strieter

Students seeking advising in chemistry should contact the chemistry major advisor in the Undergraduate Chemistry Office, room 1328 Chemistry Building, 608-263-2424. Pre-medical students should see Pre-Medicine in the L&S General Academic Information section in this catalog. 

There are two routes to the study of chemistry, the chemistry major and the chemistry course. The chemistry major leads to a bachelor of science or a bachelor of arts degree; the chemistry course leads to the special degree, Bachelor of Science–Chemistry. The chemistry major curriculum is a major within the College of Letters and Science. The student is required to meet all the breadth requirements of the college, along with the major requirements listed below. This curriculum provides good preparation in chemistry, along with breadth in the liberal arts.

The chemistry course curriculum, set entirely by the Department of Chemistry, lacks the breadth of the chemistry major, but the requirements are more comprehensive in chemistry. Currently, the chemistry course is undergoing review. Please consult the Department of Chemistry for current information.

Both curricula qualify the student for a wide variety of opportunities in the chemical industry and related industries, such as petroleum, metals, fibers, plastics, paper, pharmaceuticals, and food, as well as environmental and health-related sciences. Combined with the courses required for teacher certification, either route will qualify the student to teach chemistry in secondary schools. Please consult the School of Education section in this catalog for teacher certification requirements.

Both the chemistry major and the chemistry course give the basic preparation for graduate work in chemistry or in several related fields, such as chemical physics, biochemistry, and biophysics. Students who do well in their undergraduate work are encouraged to undertake graduate studies so that they may qualify for more responsible positions in research and teaching. Qualified students with good scholastic records can usually obtain financial support for graduate study through teaching or research assistantships and fellowships. The chemistry department's placement office (room 2108 Chemistry; 262-0363) may be consulted for specific career information.

Requirements for the Chemistry Major

Any student who is interested in majoring in chemistry should consult with the chemistry major advisor in the Undergraduate Chemistry Office, room 1328 Chemistry Building

Required Chemistry Courses for the Chemistry Major
A. General Chemistry

Chem 109 (5 cr), Chem 109H (5 cr), Chem 115 (5 cr), or Chem 104 (5 cr)

B. Analytical Chemistry

Chem 329 (4 cr) or 116 (5 cr)

C. Inorganic Chemistry

Chem 311 (4 cr)

D. Organic Chemistry

Chem 343 (3 cr)
Chem 344 (2 cr)
Chem 345 (3 cr)

E. Physical Chemistry

Chem 561 (3 cr) or 565 (4 cr)
Chem 562 (3 cr)
Chem 563 (1 cr)
Chem 564 (1 cr)


Students who declare the chemistry major after taking Chem 327 may count Chem 327 toward the major instead of Chem 329.

Chemical and Biological Engineering 310 may be taken in place of Chem 561.

F. Additional course work (5 cr)

Chosen from any 500–600 level course in chemistry, biochemistry, and/or environmental chemistry and technology. Some 500- to 600-level courses in chemical engineering count for this requirement. The extra credits associated with 116 and 565 count toward the 5 credits.

G. Additional laboratory work (3 cr)

Chosen from the following Chemistry labs:
346, any 500 level laboratory, 691–692, and/or 699.

Note: 2 cr of Chem 524 count for requirement F and 1 credit for requirement G. Physical Chemistry Laboratory 563 and 564 do not count for requirement G.

All students are required to fulfill the L&S requirement of at least 15 credits of upper-level work in the major completed in residence. Chem 346, all courses with numbers greater than 500 in chemistry, as well as Biochemistry 501, 507 and 508, count toward this requirement. Other advanced level courses in departments outside of chemistry may also count in this area.

Note: Completion of all courses in the major automatically satisfies the 15 credits of upper-level work in the major requirement.

Chemistry Major Requirements Outside the Chemistry Department

Math 222 is required; Math 234 and Math 320 are highly recommended.

A year of calculus-based physics is required. Physics 207-208 is recommended. Physics 201-202 also fulfills this requirement.

Chemistry Course Degree

Any student who is interested in majoring in the chemistry course should consult the chemistry major advisor in the Undergraduate Chemistry Office, room 1328 Chemistry Building.

Honors in the Major

To be admitted to the honors program in chemistry, students must have declared a major in chemistry; have a GPA of 3.3 or higher for all chemistry courses taken; and fill out an honors registration form (available in room 1328 Chemistry Building).

Once admitted, honors majors should select a faculty research mentor by the fall semester of their junior year. Mentors may come either from chemistry or from a related department such as chemical and biological engineering, pharmacology or biochemistry. Students who choose a mentor from outside the chemistry department are responsible for providing the mentor with the requirements for the honors major in chemistry.

Candidates for honors in the major are required to take at least 3 credits of advanced work beyond those required for the major; complete at least two consecutive semesters of research on a single topic; submit an honors thesis in their senior year; present their work to their peers in a symposium; maintain a 3.3 overall GPA in all their chemistry courses; and have an cumulative GPA of at least 3.3 in all courses taken at UW–Madison at the time of graduation. The requirement for advanced work may be met in one of three ways: (1) with additional 500-level or higher courses in chemistry or biochemistry, (2) with additional breadth courses in other related disciplines, or (3) with additional research credits beyond what is normally required for honors in the major. Examples of breadth courses include engineering, physics, molecular biology, computer science, water chemistry, and business. Advanced-level courses should be chosen in consultation with the student's research mentor. Courses counted for the basic major in chemistry cannot be used to simultaneously satisfy the advanced course requirement for honors in the major.

Chemistry 681–682 (Senior Honors Thesis, 6 credits total) guides honors candidates through the process of writing the required honors thesis. Chem 681 and Chem 682 are taken in consecutive semesters. Students must enroll for a total of exactly 6 credits between the two courses, taking either 3 credits each semester or 2 credits one semester and 4 credits the other.  Honors theses must conform to the guidelines published by the department, available either from the honors advisor or on the department website. At the end of their senior year, honors candidates have the opportunity to present their work at the Chemistry Undergraduate Poster Session.

Introductory Chemistry Courses

For most students needing two or more semesters of chemistry, Chem 103–104 is appropriate. Chemistry 109 is a one-semeseter course that is equivalent to Chem 103–104, but more challenging. Chemistry, chemical and biological engineering, biochemistry, and other science majors with one or more years of high school chemistry, honors program students, students whose math placement is Math 221 or beyond, and other well-prepared students may be good candidates for Chem 109. Staff in the Undergraduate Chemistry Office, room 1328 Chemistry, may be consulted regarding selection.

Students who need only a single semester of chemistry and others using chemistry as a science elective may choose to take Chem 108, which is a one-semester survey of general, organic, and biochemistry. Chem 108, however, does not meet the prerequisite for subsequent chemistry courses. Only 4–5 credits from among the courses Chem 103, 108 and 109 will be accepted for degree credit.

Enrollment in Chem 115 and 116 is by consent of instructor only. Entering freshmen are screened on the basis of high school record and placement scores, and additional information is sent to those who might be eligible.

Advanced Placement. A student may receive 3 credits for one semester of introductory chemistry (Chem 103) via the National Advanced Placement Chemistry Exam or a similar exam offered through the Undergraduate Chemistry Office, room 1328 Chemistry. Consult this office for details.

Sequences in Which Courses Are Taken

The organic, inorganic, and analytical chemistry course sequences are independent and the student may begin a second sequence before completing the first. Opportunities for taking advanced electives or for doing research in one area may be enhanced somewhat by an earlier start in that area. Students should consult their advisor prior to selecting an appropriate sequence of courses.

Note: Only 4–5 credits from among courses Chem 116, 327, and 329 will be accepted for degree credit.