General FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions about the Undergraduate Chemistry Curriculum

What is the difference between the B.S. and the A.B. degrees?
The difference is largely in the number of required units in science courses. The B.S. program is more rigorous of the two and provides a strong foundation in math and physics on top of chemistry. The B.S. program has serveral options (see below) and is recommended for students planning a professional career in chemistry or related science field. The A.B. program has fewer major course requirements, thus allowing students to take more courses in other disciplines. It is recommended for students having strong interests in other areas or cross-disciplinary goals that are not met by one of the emphases within the B.S. program.
Are there any options within the B.S. or A.B. programs?
Yes, there are several options within the B.S. program. The general B.S. program, which is accredited by the American Chemical Society, is geared for students interested in chemistry as a profession. The other B.S. programs focus on their particular area of chemistry: chemical physics, pharmaceutical chemistry, environmental chemistry and forensic chemistry. These majors are slightly less intense in chemistry and draw on significant course materials from areas relevant to their particular area but fall outside of a classical chemistry degree.
How does an undergraduate become involved in research?
Undergraduate research is an independent study option that offers students the opportunity to conduct state-of-the-art scientific investigations under the supervision of a faculty member. The Department encourages all of its majors to participate in undergraduate research by enrolling in the appropriate course (CHE 99, 199 or 194H). You should first assess the areas of chemistry that most interest you from your coursework. You can then compare your interests with the research being carried out by individual faculty, which is described on their web pages. After you have chosen one or more faculty whose research interests you, set up appointments with them to discuss doing undergraduate research in their group. Faculty sometimes prefer undergraduates to have completed relevant courses in the area of research, but this is not always required. Also, it is generally recommended that students commit to several quarters of research with the same faculty member, since there is often a significant learning curve before productive research results can be obtained. Your instructors in chemistry courses and the chemistry faculty, major advisor and peer advisors are also good sources of information about undergraduate research opportunities.
I am struggling with a chemistry course. Are tutors available?

Yes.

Your first resource should be your TA and/or instructor. If you are in need of additional support, many Chemistry Graduate students are eager to assist. Check out our Tutors in Chemistry page for the current quarter listing of available Chemistry graduate student tutors and their rates. The Student Academic Success Center also offers free academic assistance in addition to generaladvising and a variety of workshops.

Are there employment opportunities for students in the Department?

Yes.

The Department hires undergraduates to assist the staff in the dispensaries, stockrooms, administrative offices and computer, electronics and machine shops. Some faculty hire undergraduates to assist in laboratory work. All available positions are advertised on the student employment web site. Also, depending on the Department's needs, advanced undergraduates may have the opporunity to serve as teaching assistants in General Chemistry courses.

Are there any summer opportunities connected with the major?

Yes.

Undergraduates may do research in the Department with a faculty mentor for course credit or monetary stipend. Also, in some cases advanced undergraduates may be hired as teaching assistants. See the campus Internship & Career Center for other opporunities.

Are there opportunities for outreach and tutoring or teaching?

Yes.

Our Chemistry Club, which is a student chapter of the American Chemical Society, hosts several events throughout the year, including the Chemistry Magic show on Picnic Day and the Chemistry Knowledge Bowl, a Q & A competition between undergraduates and faculty. The Chemistry Club also presents chemistry demonstrations at local K-12 schools and members often tutor other undergraduates in chemistry courses. Contact one of your Peer Advisers if you are interested in tutoring other students. The Student Academic Success Center also presents opportunities to tutor in chemistry, particularly in CHE 2ABC, 8AB and 118ABC. Their positions are listed on the student employment website. Contact the Mathematics and Science Teaching Programs if you are interested in exploring K-12 teaching and related internship.

Are financial aid and scholarship available?
The Department offers several awards in the form of monetary stipends to continuing students based on academic performance. The University has extensive financial aid and scholarship programs.
How many students are in the major?
We have approximately 700 Chemistry majors at any given time, spanning Freshman to Senior status.
How long will it take an incoming freshman to graduate?
Both the A.B. and B.S. degrees offered by the Department can be completed in four years with a normal course load. Example four-year schedules are available for the A.B. program, the general B.S. program, B.S. Chemical Physics, B.S. in Pharmaceutical Chemistry, the emphasis in Environmental Chemistry, and the emphasis in Forensic Chemistry.
Can a transfer student from a community college graduate in two years?

Yes.

However, problems may arise when the preparatory courses in chemistry, physics and mathematics have not been completed prior to transferring to UCD. It is strongly recommeneded that all preparatory courses be completed before transferring insofar as possible. When preparatory work has been completed, transfer students can readily graduate in two years. If the preparatory work has not been completed, then it may not be possible to take the upper division courses required for the degree in a timely manner to graduate in two years.

How do I determine if a course from another school is equivalent to a course at UC Davis?
The articulation of courses between California Community College and UC Davis can be determined through the  ASSIST web site. For other course equivalency issues please see your Staff Undergraduate Adviser.
What careers can my degree in chemistry lead to?
Chemistry graduates with bachelor's degrees are employed extensively throughout various industries in quality controlm research and development, production supervision, technical marketing, and other areas. The types of industries employing these graduates include chemical, energy, pharmaceutical, genetic engineering, biotechnology, food and beverage, petroleum and petrochemical, paper and textile, electronics and computer, and environmental and regulatory agencies. The bachelor's programs also provide chemistry graduates with the rigorous preparation needed for an advanced degree in chemistry and various professional schools in the health sciences. The general B.S. degree provides the best preparation for graduate work in chemistry, which is required for a career in research or higher education.
How many UC Davis Chemistry majors go on to graduate and professional schools?

Roughly 25% of our graduates go on to graduate or professional school. In fact, faculty members at many other academic institutions got their start in Chemistry at UC Davis. These institutions include California Community Colleges, California State Universities, other University of California Campuses, and many other top academic institutions like Iowa State University, University of Illinois and Harvard.

What is the role of graduate students in the Chemistry Department?
Graduate students serve two primary roles from the perspective of an undergraduate student. They both teach and mentor. Undergraduates are first exposed to graduate students as teaching assistants, particularly in courses with a laboratory and/or discussion component. Those undergraduates undertaking undergraduate research will be mentored by graduate students, as well as by postdoctoral researchers and faculty. Many graduate students will also tutor undergraduates in chemistry courses they may be struggling with. Check out our Tutors in Chemistry page for a listing of available tutors and their rates.