Dr. Gregg Tucci, Director of Undergraduate Studies

Chemistry is the science of the structure, properties, and reactions of matter. It is both a basic science, fundamental to an understanding of the world we live in, and a practical science with an enormous number and variety of important applications. Knowledge of chemistry is fundamental to an understanding of biology and biochemistry and of certain aspects of geology, astronomy, physics, and engineering.

The most important motivation for a concentration in Chemistry is an intrinsic interest in the subject. Career opportunities in chemistry include the areas of basic research, applied research and development, biotechnology, chemical analysis, manufacturing, and marketing. In addition, a degree in chemistry can be an excellent background for careers in many related fields, including law, medicine, business, environmental science, and other areas of science. Because of the diversity of interests of prospective Chemistry concentrators, the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology has designed a very flexible program of requirements which allows each student to select an area of emphasis. Courses in organic, physical, and inorganic chemistry as well as courses in chemical biology and biochemistry are offered. A few of these courses include required laboratory work, and special laboratory courses are available to advanced students in each area. In addition, concentrators may elect to pursue an individual research project with one of the research groups of the department. Each research group consists of advanced undergraduates, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and a faculty member. In order to introduce students to chemical research and current topics of faculty interest, the department offers a non-credit sophomore tutorial in the spring term, a series of lectures by faculty members on their current research. Concentrators can enroll in the junior tutorial, Chemistry 98r, in which the student joins a research group under the supervision of a faculty member. Often this work is continued throughout the senior year as Chemistry 99. Here the student becomes associated with current research in a particular area either by reading and studying recommended advanced material in that area or by undertaking an individual research project. Such projects often result in publications.

All of the courses in the department are open to properly prepared undergraduates and most upper-level courses do have some undergraduates. The more advanced courses are designed to be related closely to active areas of research in chemistry. Current research activity is further stressed in the numerous seminars and colloquia in organic, physical, biophysical, and inorganic chemistry as well as in chemical biology, materials, energy and climate. Some seminars are held jointly with other departments at Harvard as well as at MIT. Most research groups have meetings and informal seminars at which topics of interest are discussed.

In addition to a balanced program of at least eight courses (32 credits) in chemistry, concentrators are able to take courses in physics, biology, biochemistry, engineering, computer science, and mathematics as part of their concentration requirements. Because of the sequence of prerequisites for chemistry courses, the department strongly recommends some work in mathematics as well as chemistry in the first year. Freshmen contemplating this program are urged to consult the Director of Undergraduate Studies of the Chemistry concentration in planning their work for the first year.

Students graduating with a degree in chemistry will gain skills in a range of areas from reading scientific papers to conducting experiments safety and ethically to learning how to identify and propose solutions to problems that are novel and important. Because research is a foundation for the study of chemistry we believe that all students in the concentration should participate in an authentic research experience by the end of their senior year.

Basic Requirements: 12-14 courses (48-56 credits)

  1. Required courses: Twelve to fourteen courses required, including at least eight courses in chemistry (see item 5a):
    1. General chemistry (two courses): Chosen from Life and Physical Sciences A, Life Sciences 1a, Physical Sciences 1, Physical Sciences 10, and Physical Sciences 11 or satisfactory placement out of the requirement.
    2. Inorganic chemistry (one course): Chemistry 40, or equivalent.
    3. Organic chemistry (two courses): Chemistry 20 and 30, or Chemistry 17 and 27, or equivalent.
    4. Physical chemistry (two courses): Chosen from Chemistry 160 or equivalent; and Chemistry 60, 161, 163, or equivalent.
    5. Advanced laboratory (one course): Chemistry 100r, 135, 145 or 165. Laboratory work performed in Chemistry 91r, 98r, or 99r may not be counted in fulfillment of the advanced laboratory requirement.
    6. Chemistry with a strong biological orientation (one course): Life Sciences 1a, Life and Physical Sciences A or Chemistry 27 or 170, or Molecular and Cellular 60, 63, 64, 65 or equivalent. (Life Sciences 1a and Life and Physical Sciences A may count for both this requirement and 1a above; Chemistry 27 may count for this requirement and 1c above.)
    7. Mathematics (at least one course): Mathematics 21a or equivalent. (e.g., Mathematics 19a, Applied Mathematics 21a, Mathematics 22a, Mathematics 23a, etc.). Mathematics 21b is strongly recommended.
    8. Physics (at least two courses): Physical Sciences 2, 3 or 12a, 12b; Applied Physics 50a, 50b; or the 15a (16), 15b, 15c sequence. Physics 15a and 15b alone do not constitute a complete overview of general physics.
    9. Additional courses as needed to meet the total of twelve in chemistry or in related fields (13 if the student places into Mathematics 1b; 14 if the student must take Mathematics 1a.)
  2. Tutorial:
    1. Sophomore year: Chemistry 91r, optional, for approved students only. A few very well prepared sophomores or first year students who are accepted for laboratory research work may register for Chemistry 91r, graded SAT/UNS only.
    2. Junior year: Chemistry 98r, optional, for approved students only. Graded SAT/UNS only. Each term of Chemistry 98r involves individual reading and research projects under the direction of a member of the staff. Junior concentrators are advised to consult with their advisers and to inquire at the office of the Director of Undergraduate Studies concerning the tutorial program. Students enrolling in Chemistry 98r must register the name of their research mentor at the office of the Director of Undergraduate Studies before registering for Chemistry 98r.
  3. General Examination: None.
  4. Thesis: Not required.
  5. Other information:
    1. Related fields, in the present context, include departmental courses in physics and mathematics, applied physics and applied mathematics, and upper-level departmental courses in biology, biochemistry, and earth and planetary sciences that carry a chemistry prerequisite. Chemistry courses include many biochemistry courses.
    2. Pass/Fail: Two courses counted for concentration credit may be taken Pass/Fail. This does not include SAT/UNS grades given in Chemistry 91r, 98r, or 99r.

Requirements for Honors Eligibility: 14-16 courses (56-64 credits)

  1. Required courses: 14 courses required, including at least eight courses in chemistry (see item 5a).
    1. Same as Basic Requirements.
    2. Same as Basic Requirements.
    3. Same as Basic Requirements.
    4. Same as Basic Requirements.
    5. Same as Basic Requirements.
    6. Same as Basic Requirements.
    7. Same as Basic Requirements.
    8. Same as Basic Requirements.
    9. Same as Basic Requirements.
    10. Two additional courses in chemistry or biochemistry, or at a suitable advanced level in a related field. Courses that meet this requirement include:
      1. MCB 60, 63. 64, 65.
      2. Other courses significantly related to chemistry may also be accepted on petition to the department.
      3. Physics 15c, 143a, 143b, 151, 153, 181.
      4. Applied Mathematics 104
      5. Mathematics 19b, Mathematics 21b
      6. Life Sciences 1b, Life Sciences 50a, Life Sciences 50b
    11. Total program must include at least four courses in chemistry numbered 100 or higher. Please consult with office of the Director of Undergraduate Studies for a complete list of courses offered by other departments (e.g., MCB 176, MCB 178, EPS 133, ES 135, ES 164) that can be used to satisfy this requirement.
  2. Tutorials:
    1. Sophomore year: Same as Basic Requirements.
    2. Junior year: Same as Basic Requirements.
    3. Senior year: Chemistry 99r, optional, for honors candidates only. Graded SAT/UNS only. Chemistry 99r involves individual reading and research projects under the direction of a faculty member. Students enrolling in Chemistry 99r must register the name of their research mentor at the office of the Director of Undergraduate Studies by the course enrollment deadline.
  3. General Examination: None.
  4. Thesis: Optional. Students enrolled in Chemistry 99r have the option of writing a thesis.
  5. Other information: Same as Basic Requirements.
The Director of Undergraduate Studies serves as faculty adviser for all concentrators until they join research groups, usually through the Chemistry 98r tutorial, or otherwise establish a working relationship with another faculty member who agrees to serve as co-faculty adviser. Either the Director of Undergraduate Studies or another faculty adviser may release the advising hold or advise on concentration matters. Students interested in concentrating in chemistry should discuss their plans of study with the Director of Undergraduate Studies.
For up-to-date information on advising in Chemistry, please see the Advising Programs Office website.
Further information is available at the office of the Director of Undergraduate Studies in Chemistry, Dr. Gregg Tucci, Science Center 114 (617-496-4668),
Number of Concentrators as of December
Concentrators 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Chemistry 90 84 84 78 92 91 91 95 80 65 57 67
Chemistry + another field 3 1 0 1 2 2 4 4 5 8 8 15
Another field + Chemistry 1 0 0 1 0 2 1 1 1 1 0 0