CPT Response to COVID-19

Update: The COVID-19 Guidlines have been extended to June 30, 2022. 

COVID-19 is bringing change and disruption to education practices worldwide, including ACS-approved programs offering bachelor’s degrees in chemistry. Social distancing, new safety measures, flexibility for those that have fallen ill, and economic hardship will affect how we train our students to become successful in the COVID 19 era. As a result, the ACS Committee on Professional Training (CPT) is considering a proposal to temporarily adjust the Guidelines so that:

  1. Chemistry majors can flexibly receive training that prepares them for a successful career,
  2. Chemistry majors do not extend their graduation time,  and
  3. Programs offering bachelor degrees in chemistry have the flexibility to continue their pursuit for sustained academic excellence.

Read the full Proposal to Adjust ACS Guidelines for Approved Programs: A response to COVID-19 (PDF).

Lab Skills

CPT members have compiled a list of the laboratory skills typically covered in the undergraduate curriculum that require physical presence in a laboratory. If these skills are addressed in your in person class, students should develop these skills through hands-on experiences. In addition to complying with OSHA and CDC requirements, best practices for laboratory safety, as described in the Guidelines for Chemical Laboratory Safety in Academic Institutions, should be employed.

Virtual Labs

Safety is a core value of the American Chemical Society and as such the health and well-being of students and faculty members in our community is paramount. Many of you have reached out to the ACS Committee on Professional Training to inquire about virtual labs, lab hours, and concerns about your status as an approved institution. The use of virtual labs will be allowed for institutions that have chosen to move all instruction online as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and will not affect the approval status of a program. Once institutions revert back to face-to-face instructions, all laboratory experiences must be performed face-to-face as well.

"Kitchen" Laboratory Experiences

In general, institutional decisions surrounding the best way to offer laboratory experiences when face-to-face instruction is not possible should comply with all safety regulations and be focused on safe and effective student learning. These types of activities would not affect your approval status unless they were used after face-to-face instruction resumed.


Department chairs can still certify students who were on the path to completing the approved curriculum even if those students were not able to complete the coursework due to the move to virtual instruction.

Pass/Fail Grading

Because there isn’t a stipulation in the ACS guidelines about systems used for grading, we encourage institutions to make the best decision for their students. Students currently on that path to completing the approved curriculum who graduate with pass/fail grades can still be certified by the department chairperson. The department’s ACS approval will not be affected.

Our concern is for the health and safety of students, staff, and faculty at approved institutions. We understand that this is a stressful time for faculty and students and want to do what we can to assist during this time of uncertainty. Please feel free to reach out to us at cpt@acs.org.