Prospective Majors

Students interested in the chemical sciences may choose one of two majors: Chemistry or Biochemistry. Both majors lead to the Bachelor of Science degree and have a common sequence of foundational coursework in chemistry during the first two years. Beginning in the third year, the biochemistry major curriculum shifts emphasis to biomolecules and the chemistry of living systems, while the chemistry major curriculum delves further into inorganic chemistry, and applications of chemistry in energy, environmental, and quantum science. 

Both majors are experiential by design. Students engage in scientific inquiry, within the laboratory courses and research laboratories. Students receive further professional development in their courses and through participation in the UMD student chapters of ACS, AXE, and ASBMB.

Students from other departments can pursue the biochemistry or chemistry major as an additional major.  Students with secondary majors in chemistry or biochemistry must satisfy the general education and breadth requirements of their primary major, along with the specific requirements for the chemistry and biochemistry major.

The B.S. in Chemistry or Biochemistry qualifies individuals for direct employment in industry, government laboratories, and other sectors.  These degrees also prepare students well for graduate school in chemistry, chemical physics, biochemistry, biophysics, materials chemistry, and other related fields.  Students are often able to obtain funding for their graduate studies through teaching or research assistantships and fellowships.

Chemistry and Biochemistry majors are highly valued by health professional schools, including medicine, pharmacy, dentistry and veterinary medicine, and by business and law schools. 


Navigating the Curriculum

Linked below are sample four-year plans for chemistry and biochemistry majos. These plans can be adapted to other situations, such as students who declare later than their first year or transfer from other institutions. All majors have an assigned academic advisor to assist them in choosing courses and other professional opportunities.

Sample plan leading to a degree in CHEM
Sample plan leading to a degree in BCHM


AP Chemistry & Transfer Credit

First year and transfer students with a strong chemistry background, demonstrated by a score of 5 on the Chemistry AP exam, may, after consultation with the Director of Undergraduate Studies, take Organic Chemistry I without completion of the CHEM146 prerequisite. All majors, regardless of Chemistry AP score, complete CHEM177 (Introduction to Laboratory Practices & Research).

Under some circumstances, students are able to obtain transfer credit for chemistry or biochemistry course work taken at other institutions. Current students who are considering taking courses at other institutions must obtain the course syllabus, and consult with the Director of Undergraduate Studies in advance to determine if the course is eligible for transfer credit. Transfer students should consult directly with the Director of Undergraduate Studies, who will evaluate the student transcripts and determine transfer credits.


American Chemical Society Certification

Chemistry and Biochemistry majors have the opportunity to complete degrees certified by the American Chemical Society (ACS), indicating the highest level of training in the discipline. Majors who complete the certification requirements will receive a certificate from the ACS indicating their degree is ACS certified. To be certified:

  • Chemistry majors, as part of their program, must complete BCHM 461 or BCHM 463 as one of their upper level elective classes.
  • Biochemistry majors must complete CHEM 401 (Inorganic Chemistry) in addition to the rest of the major requirements. CHEM 401 is offered only in the spring semester.