Chemistry (BA)

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Program Description

The Department of Chemistry has a long tradition in the College of Arts and Science, dating back well before the founding of the American Chemical Society at New York University in 1876. Professor John W. Draper, the first president of the society and chair of the department, was a remarkable polymath: chemist, physician, philosopher, historian, and pioneering photographer.

The department has undertaken a major development plan, strengthening its faculty, instructional laboratories, course offerings, and research facilities in the areas of physical, biophysical, bioorganic, and biomedical chemistry, as well as in chemical biology, nanoscience, and materials sciences. Qualified undergraduates are strongly encouraged to participate in research as early as their sophomore year of study. The department houses state-of-the-art laboratory facilities for its undergraduate chemistry courses.

Majoring in chemistry at NYU provides strong preparation for graduate study in chemistry and biochemistry; professional education in medicine, dentistry, or patent law; and careers in industrial or pharmaceutical chemistry and biotechnology.

Departmental Objectives

Chemistry is an incredibly broad field. It is known as the central natural science because it intersects with physics, biology, engineering, materials science, and environmental science. The atomic and molecular structure and properties of matter are fundamental to the investigation of the physical world and to the understanding of living systems. Our chemistry program has an interdisciplinary approach that creates context for studying real-world problems and their solutions.

The department offers majors in chemistry, biochemistry, and global public health/science with a concentration in chemistry. Students have the opportunity to earn either a B.A. or B.S. in the chemistry major. A selection of elective advanced courses, undergraduate and graduate, can be combined (in consultation with the director of undergraduate studies) to provide a broad, varied program of study in chemistry or an undergraduate specialization in organic, biochemical, physical, or theoretical chemistry. The opportunity to participate in scientific research as an undergraduate is one of the most exciting features of a chemistry major. Research allows you to work alongside graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and faculty to develop new ideas to solve real-world problems and make new discoveries. Many of our students produce results that lead to publications and research is also a great preparation for graduate school and a wide range of chemistry careers.

The programs of study in chemistry and biochemistry prepare students for graduate study leading to careers in research, development, and teaching and/or for further study in areas such as medicine, dentistry, basic medical sciences, and allied health fields (including forensic science). In addition, the chemistry and biochemistry majors both prepare students for alternative careers, especially when paired with a minor in economics, data science, or business studies: for example, patent law, technology investment, or management in the chemical industry.

General Information

For Majors in Chemistry and Biochemistry

Students considering a major in chemistry or biochemistry are strongly urged to seek course advisement from the undergraduate academic team as early in their academic careers as possible. Chemistry is a sequential subject with courses building on earlier courses. Delay in taking certain key prerequisite courses can make it impossible to complete a major in four years without summer attendance.

Students must earn a grade of C or better in all courses required for the chemistry or biochemistry major, even if they are in other departments (such as mathematics or physics). Students who do not have an average of 2.0 or better in courses required by the department by the time they have completed 64 credits in all courses will be asked to change their major.

The Department of Chemistry strictly enforces all prerequisites and de-enrolls students from courses for which they do meet the prerequisites. Prerequisite courses must be completed with a grade of C (not C minus) or better.

AP, IB, and A Level credit by examination in chemistry is not accepted toward any departmental majors or minors.

Research Opportunities

The department endeavors to make research opportunities available during the summer and the academic year to well-qualified students at all levels. We encourage interested students to begin research as early as freshman or sophomore year. Students are encouraged to apply for the FAST and DURF grants awarded by the College. To participate in research in the department, students must meet any prerequisites and register for the research courses Advanced Independent Study and Research (CHEM-UA 997, 998) or, if eligible, Senior Honors in Chemistry (CHEM-UA 995, 996). In either case, permission of the director of undergraduate studies is required before registering for these courses.

Honors Program

While the Department of Chemistry has several accelerated courses—for example, CHEM-UA 129 Accelerated General Chemistry and CHEM-UA 227 Majors Organic Chemistry I & Laboratory and CHEM-UA 228 Majors Organic Chemistry II & Laboratory—these offerings need not be taken to earn a chemistry or biochemistry degree with departmental honors. The main requirement for earning an honors degree is the completion of an honors thesis based upon independent experimental or theoretical research. Students interested in research and an honors degree must enroll in CHEM-UA 995 Senior Honors in Chem and CHEM-UA 996 Senior Honors Chemistry. Students must first become involved in research, CHEM-UA 997 Adv Independent Study & Research or CHEM-UA 998 Adv Independent Study & Research for at least one semester or one summer prior to the senior year, as two semesters of research are generally not enough time to execute a successful project. Students seeking entry into the honors program must obtain the approval of the director of undergraduate studies prior to the end of their junior year. Candidates for a degree with honors in chemistry must have an overall GPA of 3.65 and a GPA of 3.65 in all required courses for the chemistry or biochemistry major. A senior thesis based on this work must be prepared, approved by the adviser, and presented in a seminar format during the spring term of the senior year. Please contact Carol Hollingsworth, academic program administrator, or Professor Walters, director of undergraduate studies, for more detailed information.


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