Area of Focus
  • Science & Math
Degrees Offered
  • B.A.
  • B.S.
  • M.S.
  • Ph.D.
  • Undergraduate Minor
Academic Division
  • Physical and Biological Sciences
  • Chemistry and Biochemistry

Program overview

Chemistry is central to modern science and, ultimately, most phenomena in biology, medicine, geology, and the environmental sciences can be described in terms of the chemical and physical behavior of atoms and molecules. Because of the wide appeal and utility of chemistry, UCSC offers many lower-division courses, differing in emphasis and style, to meet diverse needs. Students should also note the numerous upper-division course offerings and select those most suitable to their academic interests.


Learning Experience

The curriculum in chemistry exposes the student to the principal areas of modern chemistry, including organic, inorganic, physical, analytical, materials, and biochemistry. The curriculum is designed to meet the needs of students who plan to end their formal education with a bachelor of arts (B.A.) or bachelor of science (B.S.) degree, as well as those who wish to continue on for an advanced degree. The UCSC Chemistry B.A. or B.S. graduate will be trained in modern chemical techniques and exposed to state-of-the-art chemical instrumentation. Such a student will be well-prepared to pursue a career in chemistry or an allied field.

Study and Research Opportunities

  • B.A.; B.S. and B.S. with concentration in biochemistry; undergraduate minor; M.S.; Ph.D.
  • Undergraduate research opportunities, both within traditional research lab courses and through independent study.
  • Chemistry students may be eligible for research scholarships and/or scholarly meeting and conference travel awards.
  • Completing a thesis is an opportunity, open to all undergraduate students, to do cutting edge research in collaboration with graduate students, postdocs, and faculty in a team setting, often leading to co-authorship in journal publications.

First-Year (Freshman) Requirements

Prospective chemistry majors are encouraged to get a solid foundation in high school mathematics; familiarity with algebra, logarithms, trigonometry, and analytic geometry is particularly recommended. Students with proposed Chemistry majors who take chemistry at UCSC begin with Chemistry 3A. Students with a strong background of high school chemistry can consider starting with Chemistry 4A (Advanced General Chemistry). Updated information will appear under the “Qualifying for the Advanced General Chemistry Series” on our Department Advising Page.

Lab students

Transfer Requirements

This is a screening major. The Chemistry and Biochemistry Department welcomes applications from community college students who are prepared to enter as junior-level chemistry majors. Students intending to transfer must complete one full year of general chemistry and calculus prior to transfer; and would be well served by also completing a year of calculus-based physics and organic chemistry. Students preparing to transfer from a California Community College should reference before enrolling in courses at a community college. Prospective transfer students should consult the Chemistry Advising webpage for more information on preparing to transfer into the chemistry major.


Internships and Career Opportunities

  • Chemistry
  • Environmental Science
  • Government Research
  • Medicine
  • Patent Law
  • Public Health
  • Teaching

These are only samples of the field’s many possibilities. For more information you can check the American Chemical Society college to career website.

Useful Links

UCSC Chemistry & Biochemistry Catalog
Chemistry Advising Webpage
Undergraduate Research Opportunities

  • See the Chemistry Advising webpage for more details about participating in Chemistry Undergraduate Research, specifically.

Program Contact

apartment Physical Sciences Bldg, Rm 230