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


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

2020 USNCO Schedule

  • March 1-31, 2020 Local Competitions
  • April 18-26, 2020 National Exam
  • June 2020 Study Camp
  • July 6-15, 2020 52nd International Chemistry Olympiad Istanbul, Turkey

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.

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

USNCO In the News

USA Team wins three gold and one silver medals at the 51st International Chemistry Olympiad
Read the article in C&EN.

Final four Chemistry Olympiad travel team
L-R: Edward Jin, Anton Ni, Yajvan Ravan and Albert Liu at the 51st IChO in Paris, France.
Melissa Barranger-Mathys