Apr 17, 2024  
Rensselaer Catalog 2023-2024 
Rensselaer Catalog 2023-2024

Chemistry B.S.

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The B.S. in Chemistry curriculum is designed to meet the recommendations of the American Chemical Society Committee on Professional Training. At the same time, it provides ample opportunity for students to select electives that permit them to specialize in particular fields, to explore areas of potential interest, or to take unusual combinations of courses that will suit nontypical career goals. The program emphasizes hands-on laboratory experience and provides extensive opportunities to participate in research. Besides allowing students to prepare for careers that demand a good background in science and mathematics, the curriculum also offers a sound basis for careers in fields such as law, the health professions, management, and technical communication.

For students transferring from other universities, two-year colleges, or from other curricula at Rensselaer, previous chemistry courses will be evaluated on an individual basis. Normally, these courses will count toward the Rensselaer program. The content of laboratory courses can be adjusted to allow for prior experience. The department makes every attempt to accommodate transfer students whose backgrounds do not permit them to follow the normal course sequence.

Three tracks to the B.S. in Chemistry are available. The “Chemistry” track shown here provides training in a broad range of Chemistry to provide maximum flexibility for research or industrial careers. The “Chemical Biology” track is for students interested in the application of Chemistry to Biological problems or to careers in the medical field. The “Industrial Chemistry” track is for students who plan to enter industry directly and who want a basic knowledge of Chemical Engineering, or who would like to combine a B.S. in Chemistry with a graduate degree in Chemical Engineering.

A total of 128 credit hours are required for graduation. 24 of these are completely free electives. Students should select these in consultation with the advisor to give a balanced program totaling 128 credit hours. Undergraduate research is an integral part of the program. A minimum of 3 credits combined of undergraduate research (CHEM 2930 CHEM 2940 CHEM 2950 , and/or CHEM 4970 ) or a SURP/URP or internship position are required as prerequisites for CHEM 4950 

First Year



Second Year

Third Year

The Arch Summer Semester*

For students who have applied for and been granted an exception, The Arch Summer Semester courses would be taken during the spring semester. For listing of the exception process go to: https://the-arch.rpi.edu/arch-planning-and-registration/arch-exception-process.

Fall* OR Spring

*If following the B.S. in Chemistry curriculum, students must select the Fall term as their “on-campus” semester.

Fourth Year


Additional Information

All named courses are required. Students may elect when MATH 2400  and the Biology course are taken. Other courses can be taken out of sequence if prerequisites and scheduling permit.

Some HASS courses can be deferred until the senior year to allow for earlier electives.

Students planning to pursue graduate studies in Chemistry are recommended to take at least 12 credits in Chemistry courses beyond those required.

Students considering medical school should include one semester of General Psychology and one semester of Sociology among their HASS or elective courses.


Combinations of electives that can provide appropriate depth in specific areas such as environmental chemistry, medicinal chemistry, polymer chemistry, chemical engineering, management, pre-law, and others can be provided by the adviser. Students interested in medicine as a career should register with the pre-health committee and take the recommended courses before the senior year as preparation for the qualifying exams required for admission to medical school. In addition, two English courses and at least one semester of General Psychology and one semester of Sociology should be included among their HASS or elective courses.


  1. CHEM 1100  or CHEM 1110  may be substituted for CHEM 1120  by students transferring into Chemistry.
  2. ENGR 1600  may be substituted for CHEM 1220  by students transferring into Chemistry.
  3. A minimum of 3 elective credits combined should be used for undergraduate research (CHEM 2930 , CHEM 2940 , CHEM 2950 , and/or CHEM 4970 ) as prerequisites for CHEM 4950 .
  4. Either BIOL 1010  and BIOL 1015  or BIOL 1016 , or BIOL 2120  (recommended) are required courses in the Chemistry program. 

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