Advising and Registration

Advising for Majors

All chemistry and biochemistry majors are required to meet with their departmental advisor each semester prior to registration.

Once you know the date that your registration window opens, you should contact the advising office (phone: 301-405-1791, email: or stop by CHM 1206 to make an appointment to meet with your advisor. Your appointment should be a week prior to your registration date.

NOTE: Some advisors prefer to arrange their own advising appointments. In this situation, the advising office will supply your advisor’s contact information. It is then your responsibility to contact your advisor to make advising arrangements.

Registration Information

All chemistry and biochemistry majors are required to attend an advising meeting before they are cleared to register.

For information concerning using Testudo, the University’s registration program, please go to the Testudo website.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it possible to finish a chemistry or biochemistry degree in four years?

  • Absolutely – this is a four-year degree! Because the majority of chemistry/biochemistry courses must be taken in sequence, current and prospective majors must take the time to carefully plan out their path to completion. This is particularly true for students who wish to have a semester abroad. Academic advisors assist in this planning.

How come the chemistry department requires different physics and math courses than the other life science majors?

  • Chemistry and Biochemistry are quantitative sciences. The physics and math courses required best prepare students for these majors, and satisfy the standards of the American Chemical Society (ACS)-accredited degrees.

 How much math do I need?

  • A minimum of two semesters of calculus is required, reflecting the ACS curriculum standards. Two semesters of calculus are also required prior to beginning physical chemistry I(CHEM481). Chemistry and biochemistry majors are strongly advised to also take calculus III (multi-variable calculus, MATH 241) and/or differential equations (MATH 242) prior to taking the first semester of p-chem (CHEM 481).

Why the extra math?

  • Physical chemistry is a mathematically rigorous discipline that makes extensive use of multi-variable calculus and differential equations. Having completed either MATH241 or MATH242 beforehand gives students a stronger mathematical footing so the physical chemistry course content will be more familiar. It is especially important that students consider extra math courses if it has been several semesters since they last took a math course (particularly if your last math course was AP calculus in high school).

Is it possible to pass p-chem with only two terms of calculus?

  • Yes, a sizable number of students do just that every year. Should you elect this route, you will have to spend extra time getting up to speed in math. The physical chemistry text has a separate section on the math methods that will be used.

How does the physical chemistry coursework differ between the two majors?

  • Both majors require two terms of P-chem lecture; Chemistry majors must take CHEM 481 (Physical Chemistry I) and CHEM 482 (Physical Chemistry II). Biochemistry majors must also take CHEM 481, and are recommended to take BCHM485 (Biophysical Chemistry) for their second semester, but have the option to take CHEM 482 (Physical Chemistry II). BCHM 485 is offered only in the spring semester.
  • Chemistry majors are required to take two semesters of Physical Chemistry Laboratory (CHEM 483 and CHEM 484). Biochemistry majors are required to take only one term of P-chem lab (CHEM 483), in addition to the Biochemistry lab (BCHM464).

Should I take p-chem lab the same time I take p-chem lecture?

  • CHEM 481 and 483 are co-requisites, as are CHEM 482 and CHEM 484. Students may enroll in 483 when they take 481 (and 484 when they take 482), or they may defer the labs until they have completed the lecture courses. The choice for students is most often determined by scheduling considerations. Students perform equally well in the labs if taken concurrent or subsequent to the lecture course.

I noticed that there are special versions of the introductory courses for chemistry and biochemistry majors. Do I have to take them if I want to be a chemistry or biochemistry major?

  • All incoming first year CHEM and BCHM majors are required to take CHEM 177 their first term, and must take either CHEM146 or place out of CHEM146 via a Chemistry AP Exam score of 5.
  • Some students decide to become majors after taking the large unrestricted introductory courses. We also welcome these majors, and accept their intro lecture/lab courses to enable them to complete the chemistry or biochemistry in a timely manner.
  • All majors, including transfer students, are required to take CHEM277, which provides key laboratory skills needed for the chemistry or biochemistry major.
  • Otherwise, the Department strongly encourages its majors to take the “majors courses”, which are generally smaller classes with unique laboratory experiences and advanced equipment, provide better preparation for future upper level CHEM and BCHM courses, and taken by students who have similar interests. In addition, the majors courses

Is chemistry or biochemistry a good major for getting into medical school?

  • Yes and no. It’s certainly true that chemistry and biochemistry are challenging majors, and doing well as a chemistry or biochemistry major will reflect well upon you when you apply to medical or other professional school. It is also true, however, that significant numbers of students who are accepted into medical training programs every year have majored in non-science fields.
  • The most important characteristic of students who get into professional schools is that they have excelled in their studies. There is simply no short-cut or way around this. Since students are most likely to do well in subjects that interest them, the most important criteria for choosing a major should be that the subject interests you.

Can I double major in chemistry and biochemistry?

  • No. Getting two majors from one department is not allowed. You can, however, double major in chemistry or biochemistry and one of the other departments in the College of Computer, Mathematical and Natural Sciences.

Is double majoring a good idea?

  • That depends; if you think that double majoring will increase your chances of getting into medical or other professional school and that’s your motivation, then double majoring is a bad idea. If you want to major in two subjects because you are interested in both of them and feel that unless you major in both you will be missing out on something you have a passion for, then double majoring might be a good idea.


NOTE: This list of FAQs is a work in progress. If you have another question, please send an email with your question.