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UC Santa Barbara General CatalogUniversity of California, Santa Barbara

Chemistry and Biochemistry

Division of Mathematical, Life, and Physical Sciences
Building 232
Telephone (805) 893-5675
Undergraduate e-mail:
Graduate e-mail:

Department Chair: Mattanjah S. de Vries

Undergraduate Program

Chemistry is the study of molecules, their formation from atoms, and their transformation into new molecules.  Chemistry seeks to understand and control the reactions that cause these transformations.  Chemistry's breadth results from the diversity of molecules, which range from the simple two- to three-atom molecules of the earth's atmosphere to the incredibly complex molecules and molecular structures of living things.

Students who like to invent and enjoy thinking in quantitative and mathematical terms may be interested in chemistry.  Likewise, students who can break complex questions into a series of less complication questions that can be answered through experimentation should consider the chemical sciences.  The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry offers the Bachelor of Arts (BA) and the Bachelor of Science (BS) degrees in Chemistry and the Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in Biochemistry. 

The BA's requirements are somewhat less restrictive than those of the BS.  The B.A. in Chemistry offers flexibility and is intended for students interested in careers having a significant chemical component such as environmental science, law, technical management, K-12 education, and business. Graduates may enter the workforce directly or seek higher levels of career attainment by enrolling in an appropriate professional program.  The BA is also good choice for students interested in applying to programs in the medical field. 

The B.S. degrees are intended for students interested in careers strongly dependent on chemical knowledge. Such careers are found in chemical, biochemical, and materials science research, and quality control in medicine. Graduates may enter the workforce directly or seek the highest levels of career attainment by enrolling in an appropriate graduate or professional school. The requirements of the B.S. degree in chemistry meet American Chemical Society standards for certification with appropriate choices of upper-division electives.  Students interested in graduate work in chemistry or biochemistry may pursue any of the three degrees.

A two-year core curriculum in chemistry, mathematics, and physics lays a solid foundation for the required and elective coursework of the upper division majors.  These upper division courses, which add breadth and specialization to the program, have low enrollments that enable students to work closely with faculty members of their choice.  Undergraduate students are encouraged to undertake independent study and research projects as soon as they acquire the basic laboratory skills and background to benefit from such experiences.  Many join departmental research groups during their junior and senior years.  All Chemistry and Biochemistry majors are assigned an advisor with whom they consult regarding selection and substitution of coursework and other matters pertaining to their academic careers.

Students seeking a degree from the department and who also are interested in pursuing a California Teaching Credential should consult with the credential advisor in the Graduate School of Education soon after enrolling.

Departmental Honors Program

Students who have achieved a grade-point average of 3.5 or above in their chemistry courses and submit a written report of their original research carried out under the guidance of a faculty member (through completion of chemistry 192) and approved by one additional member of the faculty shall be designated as having achieved a Distinction in the Major. Students contemplating this option should advise the undergraduate staff advisor of their intention at the end of their junior year.

BS Chemistry / MS Materials Program

This program allows outstanding students to concurrently pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry, and a Master of Science degree in Materials, and to complete graduation requirements for both degrees within 5 years. The graduates of this program retain the breadth and flexibility inherent in chemistry, while their specialized knowledge of materials is expected to give them a competitive edge in the high technology industry. This program is designed for students who wish to enhance their undergraduate education in chemistry by adding a strong knowledge base in the understanding of materials behavior, of their synthesis and processing, and of their applications in modern technology.

Bachelor of Science—Biochemistry (Requirements - PDF)

Bachelor of Science—Chemistry (Requirements - PDF)

Bachelor of Arts—Chemistry (Requirements - PDF)

Pre-Chemistry (Requirements - PDF)

Minor—Chemistry (Requirements - PDF)