Section 5.1

The curriculum of an approved program provides both a broad background in chemical principles and an in-depth study of chemistry or chemistry-related areas that build on this background. Student learning progresses from beginner to expert knowledge and comprises introductory, foundation, and in-depth experiences. Foundation experiences are designed to provide students with an intellectual framework that covers the breadth of modern chemistry. In-depth experiences are designed to provide students with deeper development of critical thinking and problem-solving.

Critical Requirements

Introductory Courses

  • Prior to beginning foundation-level coursework, students must have an introductory chemistry experience that addresses basic chemical concepts such as stoichiometry, states of matter, atomic structure, molecular structure and bonding, thermodynamics, equilibria, and kinetics.

Foundation Courses

  • Definition: Foundation courses require an introductory chemistry prerequisite and use textbooks or other specialized materials that are beyond the introductory chemistry experience. Course content and exams should reflect coverage at a higher level than general chemistry.
  • Number of courses required: Students must complete at least
    • (Semester) 5 one-semester courses of at least 3 credits each.
    • (Quarter) 8 one-quarter courses.
  • Coverage: The foundation courses must cover all areas of ABIOP,either as stand-alone courses or with content distributed across courses.

In-depth Courses

  • Definition: In-depth courses require a foundation or in-depth course prerequisite.
  • Course content and exams include coverage at a higher level than foundation courses, with a focus on critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
  • Number of courses required: Students who wish to have a certified degree must take a minimum of 
    • (Semester) 4 courses that add to at least 12 credits.
    • (Quarter) 6 courses that correspond to at least 18 credits. 
  • Undergraduate research (on or off campus) can satisfy one in-depth course for students who wish to have a certified degree.  (See Section 6 - Undergraduate Research for more details).
  • Courses in other disciplines with a chemical perspective (atomic/molecular-level perspective, rely on the tools of chemical measurement and analysis, and have a prerequisite of a full year of introductory chemistry) could be considered as an in-depth course.
  • Seminar classes cannot count towards foundation or in-depth coursework.
  •  Lab Courses as In-Depth Courses: For a laboratory course to be considered as one of the four in-depth courses, 
    • It must represent an advanced laboratory experience that includes the integration of student skills and builds on the foundation laboratory experiences. 
    • In these courses, students are typically in the laboratory for at least six hours a week. 
    • A lab associated with a lecture course, even if it has a separate course number, is not considered a separate in-depth course.

Course Frequency
Foundation Courses

  • Programs must teach at least 
    • (Semester) 4 foundation courses each academic year covering 4/5 ABIOP. 
    • (Quarters) 6 foundation courses each academic year covering 4/5 ABIOP.
  • Each foundation course must be taught at least once in any 2-year period.  If all foundation courses are not taught within this time frame, then programs must ensure that students can complete the degree in 4 years.
    • If one of the foundation courses is taught by faculty outside of chemistry, then the chemistry faculty must teach the other 4 courses.

In-Depth Courses

  • Programs must teach 
    • (Semester): Three, 3-credit, in-depth courses per academic year, exclusive of research. 
    • (Quarters) Five, 3-credit, in-depth courses, exclusive of research. 
  • Frequency of in-depth courses must allow students to graduate in 4 years.

MSN Requirement

  • Coverage of synthetic polymers, biological macromolecules, supramolecular aggregates, meso- or nanoscale materials (MSN) must be part of the curriculum, by using either a course dedicated to MSN content or within a distributed model across more than one course.  At least two of the four types of systems must be covered.
  • In the distributed model, coverage of MSN should constitute a minimum of 15 hours. Coverage of these systems be reasonably balanced. 
  • Instruction should encompass the preparation, characterization, and physical properties of the systems. 

Green Chemistry & Sustainability

  • The curriculum must provide students with a working knowledge of the Twelve Principles of Green Chemistry.


  • Must complete the equivalent of 2 semesters of math including calculus I and a second math course, such as calculus II, linear algebra, statistics, or data science. The second math course may not be a prerequisite for calculus I. 
  • Must complete the equivalent of 2 semesters of physics with labs.

Normal Expectations


  • The curriculum includes the operation and theory of modern instruments and their use to solve chemical problems.

Foundation Courses

  • Five foundation courses are taught each academic year.
Undergraduate Research
  • Undergraduate research opportunities are available within the curriculum.
  • The curriculum includes two semesters of calculus-based physics with lab.

Green Chemistry & Sustainability

  • Case studies are used to demonstrate to students the interplay of chemical, environmental health, regulatory, and business considerations that dictate chemical processes and product design.

Markers of Excellence


  • Curriculum includes integrative experiences that require students to synthesize the knowledge and skills introduced across the curriculum. These integrative experiences could be provided in an existing upper-level, designated capstone course (e.g., senior seminar) or distributed among several courses taught in the chemistry department.
  • Students have opportunities to develop expertise at the interface of chemistry to help them solve problems that span scientific disciplines.

In-Depth Courses

  • A variety of in-depth courses are offered. Some examples could include catalysis, environmental chemistry, green/sustainable chemistry, materials science, or toxicology.

Undergraduate Research

  • Mentored opportunities exist for undergraduate students to integrate their knowledge and skills through peer instruction.

Cognate Courses

  • The curriculum includes cognate courses beyond the critical requirement expectation.

Green Chemistry & Sustainability

  • Students are given the opportunity to assess chemical products and processes and design greener alternatives when appropriate.
  • Students understand and can evaluate the environmental, social, and health impacts of a chemical product over the life cycle of the product, from synthesis to disposal.