Why study chemistry?

At KU Chemistry, we have faculty dedicated to mentoring both undergraduate and graduate students and to helping each student achieve scientific maturity. In addition to required classroom and laboratory courses, options exist for doing research in exciting areas of mainstream chemistry, including emerging fields of microfluidics, precision medicine and sustainable catalysis.

Undergraduate Program

The undergraduate program in the Department of Chemistry has two primary missions. One of these is to help its majors attain a mastery of the discipline in preparation for further study in chemistry or a chemical science, or for immediate employment in chemistry. The other is to provide an opportunity for students majoring in other disciplines to acquire a basic knowledge of the fundamental areas of chemistry.

The curriculum leading to the Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree, a rigorous program certified by the American Chemical Society, consists of a full spectrum of chemistry courses as well as supporting courses in mathematics and physics, and is designed to prepare students for a professional career in chemistry. The Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree program, with fewer required courses, allows students to obtain a broader knowledge of areas outside of chemistry, or to tailor their chemistry program for specific or unique objectives. We also offer a Minor in chemistry for those seeking a secondary area of study.

Undergraduate Admission

Admission to KU

All students applying for admission must send high school and college transcripts to the Office of Admissions. Unless they are college transfer students with at least 24 hours of credit, prospective students must send ACT or SAT scores to the Office of Admissions. Prospective first-year students should be aware that KU has qualified admission requirements that all new first-year students must meet to be admitted. Consult the Office of Admissions for application deadlines and specific admission requirements.

Visit the International Support Services for information about international admissions.

Students considering transferring to KU may see how their college-level course work will transfer on the Office of Admissions website.

Admission to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Admission to the College is a different process from admission to a major field. Some CLAS departments have admission requirements. See individual department/program sections for departmental admission requirements.

Chemistry Programs

The B.A. degree is for the student who wants to understand the fundamental principles of chemistry and to study a number of other fields. The B.S. degree prepares students for graduate school and professional careers. Both are based on a high school background that includes at least 1½ years of algebra and 1 year of geometry. High school courses in chemistry and physics are desirable but are not required. Many chemistry majors are preparing for medical school or for graduate study in chemistry and related fields. For graduate school, the common body of knowledge in the B.A. program is the minimum prerequisite. For premedical students, much of the knowledge will be important in their careers. Even more important, however, is the training in logical thinking, drawing conclusions from experimental observations, and digesting and understanding scientific information.

First- and Second-Year Preparation

Because study in chemistry requires preparation in mathematics and physics as well as a structured series of courses in chemistry, students should begin meeting major requirements in the first year. Students planning to major in chemistry should consult a chemistry department major advisor during their first semester to develop a 4-year plan for degree completion. It is particularly important to take CHEM 170 (or CHEM 130 or CHEM 190 and CHEM 191) and CHEM 175 (or CHEM 135 or CHEM 195 and CHEM 196) in the first year and  CHEM 330 or( CHEM 380) and CHEM 331 in the second year. For those seeking a B.A. degree, it is also important to complete two semesters of calculus and two semesters of physics during the first two years. Minimum requirements in these subject areas for the B.A. degree are MATH 115, MATH 116, PHSX 114 and PHSX 115.

Requirements for the B.A. Major

In addition to the common College requirements for the B.A., a minimum of 29 hours in chemistry (including 5 hours each of analytical, organic, and physical chemistry lecture and laboratory) and one year each of calculus and physics (prerequisites for physical chemistry) are required. These courses fulfill the requirements:

Chemistry Courses
Select one of the following:5
Chemistry for the Chemical Sciences I
General Chemistry I
Foundations of Chemistry I, Honors
and Foundations of Chemistry I Laboratory, Honors
Select one of the following:5
Chemistry for the Chemical Sciences II
General Chemistry II
Foundations of Chemistry II, Honors
and Foundations of Chemistry II Laboratory, Honors
CHEM 180Seminar I0.5
CHEM 201Laboratory Safety in the Chemical Sciences1
Select one of the following:3
Organic Chemistry I
Organic Chemistry I, Honors
CHEM 331Organic Chemistry I Laboratory2
Select one of the following:5
Organic Chemistry II
Organic Chemistry II, Honors
CHEM 336Organic Chemistry II Laboratory2
Select one of the following: (CHEM 520 recommended)5
Biological Physical Chemistry with Laboratory
Physical Chemistry I
and Physical Chemistry II
and Physical Chemistry Laboratory
CHEM 400Analytical Chemistry3
CHEM 401Analytical Chemistry Laboratory2
CHEM 695Seminar II0.5
Select one of the following: (Fulfills KU Core Goal 6)3
CHEM 636Instrumental Methods of Analysis Laboratory3
or CHEM 698 Undergraduate Capstone Research
or CHEM 699 Undergraduate Honors Research
Mathematics and Physics14-20
Mathematics: (choose one of the following (MATH 115 & MATH 116 recommended))
Calculus I
and Calculus II
Calculus I
and Calculus II
and Calculus III
Physics: (Choose one of the following (PHSX 114 & PHSX 115 recommended))
College Physics I
and College Physics II
General Physics I
and General Physics I Laboratory
and General Physics II
and General Physics II Laboratory

Courses that fulfill KU Core Goal 6 are CHEM 636 Instrumental Methods of Analysis Laboratory or 3 credits of 
CHEM 698 or CHEM 699. Students choosing CHEM 636 will be required to take CHEM 635 as the pre or co-requisite.


Biological Chemistry Option

This option is available to students interested in the biological applications of chemistry. The curriculum is compatible with many pre-health-professions programs and prepares the student for graduate study or career opportunities.

In addition to all of the requirements for the regular B.A. major, the following courses are required:

BIOL 636Biochemistry I4
BIOL 638Biochemistry II3
Plus 1 elective (3) (In consultation with a faculty major advisor, choose 1 course from those listed in the Biology Option Group in requirements for the B.S. degree in Chemistry: Biological Chemistry option.)3
Biology Option Group
Principles of Genetics
Fundamentals of Microbiology
Cell Structure and Function

Major Hours & Major GPA

While completing all required courses, majors must also meet each of the following hour and grade-point average minimum standards:

Major Hours
Satisfied by 40 hours of major courses.

Major Hours in Residence
Satisfied by a minimum of 15 hours of KU resident credit in the major.

Major Junior/Senior Hours
Satisfied by a minimum of 23.5 hours from junior/senior courses (300+) in the major.

Major Junior/Senior Graduation GPA
Satisfied by a minimum of a 2.0 KU GPA in junior/senior courses (300+) in the major. GPA calculations include all junior/senior courses in the field of study including F’s and repeated courses. See the Semester/Cumulative GPA Calculator.

Sample 4-year plans for the BA degree with the following concentrations, can be found here: Chemistry, Biological Chemistry, or by using the left-side navigation.

Sample 4-year plans for the BS degree in Chemistry can by found by using the left-side navigation.

Departmental Honors

Undergraduates may apply for admission to the departmental honors program after completion of an analytical, organic, and physical chemistry course but no sooner than the beginning of the junior year. Highly motivated and superior B.A. and B.S. students are admitted to the honors program. Honors in chemistry are awarded to students who have been admitted to the program and who have completed the following requirements with superior performance, including an overall KU GPA 3.25 and a major GPA of 3.5.

  1. At least 2 semesters of CHEM 699 (4-8 hours total) resulting in a written thesis.
  2. Evaluation and approval of the thesis by a faculty advisory committee.
  3. Oral presentation of the thesis results at a special departmental seminar or other approved forum.

For an application form and further information, consult the department office.