U.S. National Chemistry Olympiad

Chemistry Olympiad

The U.S. National Chemistry Olympiad is a multi-tiered chemistry competition. The top four students of the national competition represent the United States in the annual International Chemistry Olympiad. Contact us: USNCO@acs.org


Congratulations to 2021 Team USA !

Team USA students with the mentors after the virtual USNCO study camp banquet. (L to R); Top row: A. Chemparaty and E. Jin, J. Houck, E. Hines. Middle row: Y. Zhu, K. Phuong. Bottom row: L. Serbulea, N. Sheshadri, Q. Zhou
Joe Houck

U.S. National Chemistry Olympiad is delighted to announce the members of the USNCO’s Team USA for 53rd International Chemistry Olympiad that will be hosted virtually by Japan July 24 - August 2, 2021:

  • Kien Phuong, Landon School, MD, Chemical Society of Washington
  • Nikhil Seshadri, University City High School, CA, San Diego Local Section
  • Qiyang Zhou*, Princeton International School of Mathematics and Science, NJ, Princeton Local Section
  • Yitian Zhu*, Seven Lakes High School, TX, Greater Houston Local Section


  • Nethaka Dassanayake, Ames High School, IA, Ames Local Section
  • Nathan Yihe Ouyang, University High School, CA, Orange County Local Section

* Students who participated in 2020 USNCO Study Camp

The students will be supported by the mentor team: Dr. Joseph Houck, Penn State University, PA, Head mentor,  Ms. Esther Hines, Billerica Memorial High School, MA, High School mentor and Dr. Laura Serbulea, University of Virginia, VA, College mentor


2021 U.S. National Chemistry Olympiad

In light of the continued uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the possibility that reopening may not be uniform across the Nation, both the Local Section and National Exams will be offered virtually in 2021. The laboratory portion of the National Exam will be omitted again this year.

Each Local Section will decide on the format of administration of the Local Section competitions. Coordinators will determine what format they want to use, depending on local circumstances. Coordinators will select students to sit for the national exam following the usual criteria described in the USNCO Rules. The 2021 USNCO National Exam Part I and Part II will be administered virtually by the USNCO office on two consecutive Saturdays. Teachers, parents, and students should contact their Local Sections coordinators for more details about the USNCO program in their Local Section.

2021 U.S. National Chemistry Olympiad Schedule (Subject to Change)

January 11, 2021: Registration due for participating Local Section coordinators

January 31, 2021: All participating students must be registered with their Local Section USNCO Coordinators.

March 1-31, 2021: Local Section Competitions (format depends on the local circumstances)

March 27, 2021: Digital Local Exam (only for Local Sections not able to administer in a different format)

April 17, 2021: Digital National Exam Part I

April 24, 2021: Digital National Exam Part II

May 30-June 11, 2021: Virtual Study Camp

July 24 - August 2, 2021: Virtual IChO, hosted by Japan

How to Participate in the USNCO

The U.S. National Chemistry Olympiad (USNCO) program is a chemistry competition for high school students. The purpose of the competition is to stimulate young people to achieve excellence in chemistry. The American Chemical Society has sponsored the program since 1984. 

In order to participate you must:


Participate in the Local Chemistry Olympiad Competition. The local competition is open to all high school students. ACS Local Sections choose nominees for the national exam. Students can review past Local Exams to study for their local competition.


If your Local Section nominates you after the Local Competition, you will have the opportunity to participate in the National Chemistry Olympiad Exam. The national exam involves three parts administered to more than 1,000 students. Students can use past National Exams to prepare. The 20 top-scoring students are chosen to attend a study camp where students are selected for the International competition.


The 20 top scoring students from the National Exam spend two weeks at a Study Camp to undergo rigorous training. Based on their performance, four students are chosen to represent the U.S. at the International Chemistry Olympiad.

Student Eligibility

  • Students must be U.S. citizens or legal, permanent residents of the United States (green card holders) to take the U.S. national examination.
  • High school students who will graduate no earlier than spring of the year that they participate in the competition are eligible.
  • Students must be under the 20 years of age on the first of July of the year of the competition.

    See Rules and Eligibility

2021 Top 20 Finalists 

Congratulations to students who participated in the 2021 USNCO Study Camp. 

Read the list of finalists.

2021 High Honors, Honors and Honorable Mentions 

Congratulations to all of the 2021 USNCO participants earning high honors, honors and honorable mentions. Read the full list

USNCO Webinars and Resources Are Available 

New for 2020/2021: Check out new webinars, coaching sessions and grants created to help coordinators, teachers, and students participate in the U.S. National Chemistry Olympiad.

USNCO In the News

Spread the word! Download posters, flyers, graphics, and sample social media posts to promote the USNCO.

Show your support for the U.S. National Chemistry Olympiad Program by purchasing the new USNCO merchandise in the ACS Store.

T-shirts, buttons and microfiber cleaning cloths are now available.

Contact icon

Contact the ACS Office of Science Outreach