Research and Opportunities

Are there any summer opportunities connected with the major?

Yes. Undergraduates can do research in the Department with a faculty mentor for course credit. See the Research & Internships section of this website and/or the campus Career Services center for other opportunities.

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 meeting the course requirements to participate in undergraduate research. Assess the areas of chemistry that most interest you from your course work. 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 the 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 and academic advisers are also good sources of information about undergraduate research opportunities. You can also find more information in the undergraduate research section of this website.
Three popular ways of joinning a research group: 
  • Talk to the faculty member directly about joining their group
  • Talk to your TA, who is a grad student and can be a great advocate. 
  • Check out for research opportunities on FRAP

Are there opportunities for outreach and tutoring or teaching?

Yes. For information about Outreach Opportunities, please visit the outreach section of this website.

Can you receive academic credit for research?

Yes! Students can apply for academic credit through completing the Chem 99/199 petition. Please click here to learn more. 

Career Opportunities

What careers can my degree in chemistry or biochemistry lead to?

Chemistry and Biochemistry graduates with bachelor’s degrees are employed extensively throughout various industries in quality control, 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 and biochemistry graduates with the rigorous preparation needed for an advanced degree in chemistry and various professional schools in the health sciences. A B.S. degree provides required exposure for a career in research or higher education.

Academic Experience

What is the role of graduate students in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry?

Graduate students serve two roles from the perspective of an undergraduate student.  They both teach and mentor.  Undergraduates are first exposed to graduate students as teaching assistants in courses, particularly courses with a laboratory and/or discussion component. Those undergraduates pursuing academic research will be mentored by graduate students, as well as by postgraduate researchers and faculty.

Why should I consider UCSB Chemistry over other top universities?

Please click here to learn more about why you should choose UCSB Chemistry!

How many students are in the major?

There are roughly 600 Chemistry and Biochemistry majors at any given time, spanning Freshman to Senior status.

Are there any tutoring services available? 

Yes! Our department provides an annual tutor list that includes graduate students who can tutor you for a set price. Please email us to receive a copy of the list. We also recommend you check out the CLAS page, for free tutoring services offered.  

What is Chem 2A? 

Chem 2A is an honors general chemistry course, available by invitation only. Invitations are typically sent in mid-August to students hand-selected by our department. In terms of the differences, Chem 2A is significantly smaller than a Chem 1A lecture. The average enrollment is 60 students or less, in contrast to 330+ students in Chem 1A. The smaller enrollment provides a more intimate learning environment which some students prefer. The majority of Chem 2A students have taken AP Chemistry, though this is not a prerequisite.
The Chem 2 series follows the same curriculum as the Chem 1 series and uses the same textbook. However, Chem 2 students can expect a greater analysis of content, and the course is intended for those interested in exploring chemistry concepts at a deeper level. The Chem 2 series also has a higher grade prerequisite than the 1 series, and lastly, the Chem 2 series provides honor lab courses for the Winter and Spring quarters (Chem 2BC and Chem 2CC). 

What is Chem 25? 

Chem 25 serves as an introductory course to Chem 1A and is intended to provide scaffolding for students who have limited or no high school chemistry coursework or received an SAT Math Score of 550 or below.

I’ve heard that there are multiple chemistry and/or biochemistry degrees at UCSB. Which one should I go for?

Yes, our department, the MCBD department, and the College of Creative Studies (CCS) all offer degrees that fall in the chemistry and biochemistry disciplines. We each offer unique features that serve different interests well. Please click here to learn more about our department, here to learn more about the Biochemistry degree in the MCDB department, and here to learn more about the CCS Chemistry and Biochemistry program. 

Transfer Students

Can a transfer student from a community college graduate in two years?

Yes. However, prospective transfer students are strongly encouraged to complete all of the “Preparation for the Major” coursework prior to transfer in order to ensure timely progress to degree. Failure to complete all requirements prior to transfer is likely to delay graduation by a full year; students missing preparatory coursework are barred from enrolling in required upper-division course sequences and will have to wait a full year until these sequences are offered again.

How do I determine if a course from another school is equivalent to a course at UC Santa Barbara?

Please visit the Articulations page to learn more about this process. Incoming transfer students, please communicate with your major advisors regarding your articulation process for your transfer coursework. 

As a transfer student, can I enter as a full major? 

No, all students enter our department as a Pre-Chemistry major. You will be able to declare a full major after completing all the pre-major requirements AND you have attended UCSB for at least one quarter, with a minimum GPA of 2.0. 

Academic Programs

What is the difference between the Chemistry B.S. and the Chemistry B.A. degrees?

The major difference is the required units in science courses. The B.S. program is the more rigorous program and provides a strong foundation in math and physics as well as more upper-division chemistry units. The B.S. program is recommended for students planning a professional career in chemistry or related science. The B.A. 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 within the B.S. program.

Can anyone complete the BS-MS program?  

Please direct your inquiry to Materials advisors (academic@engineering.ucsb.edu) but as a note, at this time, the program is closed to CCS (College of Creative Studies) students. 

How long will it take an incoming freshman to graduate?

Both the B.A. and B.S. degrees offered by the Department can be completed in four years with the normal course load.  Sample four-year schedules are available for each major. For the Chemistry and Biochemistry majors, it is crucial to pay attention to pre-requisites, and when courses are offered. It is common for a required Chemistry course to only be offered once a year so failing to take a course could potentially push your degree back an entire year. It is recommended to make a yearly “Major Progress Check” via GOLD and speak with the undergraduate advisors if you have any questions about your status. 

What is the 'pre-major' for chemistry?

Students are not admitted directly to the following majors: Biochemistry, B.S., Chemistry, B.S., Chemistry, B.A. Instead, they are first admitted to the Pre-Chemistry major, and they may advance to full major standing in one of these majors only after fulfilling the pre-major courses and grade requirements listed below.

What does the GPA requirement mean?

There are several categories of GPA requirements needed to complete your degree. As a pre-major, you must receive a 2.0 cumulative GPA per sequence (6 total). As a full-major, you must receive a 2.0 cumulative GPA in all major coursework. 

What is the difference between math 2A and 3A?

Both calculus courses, Math 2A is a combination of pre-calculus and calculus, designed for students who wish to receive an additional background in calculus. Math 3A does not include the pre-calculus coursework. Please refer to the chart found here to check which math course you should enroll in. 

What is the difference between Physics 1-4 and Physics 6A-6C, and which one should I take?

Physics 1 is a calculus-based physics series. Phys 6A is an algebra-based physics series. If you are pursuing the Chemistry B.S., you must complete the Physics 1-4 series. We advise students to take the Physics 1 series as it is applicable to all three full majors and allows you to keep your options open. 

How do I declare a pre-chemistry major as a non-chemistry major?

A student may declare a pre-chemistry major once they complete 2 quarters of math, 2 quarters of physics, and 2 quarters of chemistry at UCSB.

General FAQs

How do I determine if a course from another school is equivalent to a course at UC Santa Barbara?

Please visit the Articulations page to learn more about this process. 

My change of major petition asks for the "catalog year". What does this mean?

The catalog year for major requirements is determined by the quarter the major or pre-major is declared, provided there is no significant break in enrollment. For example, if you declared a major in Fall 2020, please write 2020-2021. 

Enrollment and Waitlist Policies

For questions regarding the department’s enrollment and waitlist policies, please click here. This includes information on how to crash a course.
Earth Science and Physical Geography Majors, click the link above to get Pass 1 priority for general chemistry lectures. 

Useful Links

UCSB General Catalog - View every course offered by our department, pre-requisites, and a basic overview of topics covered.
Course waitlist instructions - Information on how to waitlist a course, linking courses, etc.
Undergraduate Student Manual - Please note that this is a proposed schedule. 
Annual Course Schedule - Please note that this is a proposed schedule. 
UCSB Campus Resources - View many resources offered by our campus such as DSP, CAPS, EOP, etc.