Student learning progresses from beginner to expert knowledge and includes experiences in introductory, foundation, and in-depth courses. The curriculum must also include experiences that provide students with professional skills that are essential for their effective performance as scientific professionals.

I. Introductory Courses

  • Prepares students for foundation coursework, providing basic chemical concepts such as stoichiometry, states of matter, atomic structure, molecular structure and bonding, thermodynamics, equilibria, and kinetics.

II. Laboratories

  • Laboratories in introductory or general chemistry must be primarily hands-on, supervised laboratory experiences.
  • High school/secondary programs differ, so intro/general chemistry may cover foundation coursework, or may not be part of the curriculum.

III. Foundation Courses

  • Programs must offer instruction equivalent to approximately 42-45 hours in each of the following five subdisciplines of chemistry: analytical, biochemistry, inorganic, organic, and physical (ABIOP).

Frequency of Course Offerings

  • Programs must teach at least 4 foundation courses each academic year.
  • Each foundation course must be taught at least once in any 2-year period.
  • If foundation courses are not taught per academic year, then programs must make arrangements to ensure that students can complete the requirements for the degree in 4 years.
  • If one of the foundation courses is taught by a faculty member outside of the chemistry program/department, then the chemistry faculty members must teach all of the remaining foundation courses during that academic year.

IV. In-Depth Courses

  • The goals of in-depth courses are both to integrate topics introduced in foundation courses and to investigate these topics more thoroughly.

Frequency of Course Offerings

  • Chemistry faculty must teach at least four semester-long or six quarter-long in-depth courses per academic year, exclusive of research.
  • The in-depth courses must correspond to 12 semester or 18 quarter hours per academic year.
  • Frequency of in-depth courses must allow students to graduate in four years.

V. Practical Laboratory Experiences

Laboratory experiences should be designed to teach students to understand the operation and theory of modern instruments and use them to solve chemical problems. Students are expected to use the same principles of experiment design, execution, and data analysis.

  • The program must offer 400 hours of laboratory experience beyond the introductory chemistry laboratory.
  • Laboratory course work* must cover at least four of the five traditional chemistry sub-disciplines: ABIOP.
  • The laboratory experience must include:
    • Synthesis of molecules
    • Measurement of chemical properties
    • Determination of structures
    • Hands on experience with modern instrumentation
    • Data analysis
    • Computational modeling

*May be distributed between the foundation and in-depth levels

VI. Macromolecular, Supramolecular & Nano/Mesoscale Systems (MSN) Content

The principles that govern macromolecular, supramolecular, mesoscale, and nanoscale systems (MSN) must be part of the curriculum.

MSN instruction must cover the preparation, characterization, and physical properties of at least two of the following categories of substances*:

  • Synthetic Polymers
  • Biological Micromolecules
  • Supramolecular Aggregates
  • Meso- or Nanoscale Materials

*Coverage of these topics may be distributed across multiple courses, in which case it should constitute the equivalent of approximately one-fourth of a standard semester course (10-12 hours).

VII. Cognate Courses

The institution must offer the equivalent of two semesters of calculus and two semesters of physics with laboratory.

*Content of cognate courses may be covered in high school or in chemistry courses.


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Contact the ACS Approval Program
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Mail: Office of Professional Training
American Chemical Society, 1155 16th St., NW, Washington, D.C. 20036