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Department of Chemistry

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Why study chemistry?

Because understanding the atomic and molecular nature of matter informs us about ourselves and our universe, and creating and finding applications for new and modified forms of matter helps to conserve and enhance our world.

Undergraduate Programs

Chemistry course work educates undergraduates to become professional chemists or to do graduate work in chemistry. It also provides the basic chemistry background for students entering such fields as biochemistry, biological sciences, dentistry, engineering, environmental science, geology, medicine, pharmacy, physics, and secondary-level science education. Courses in chemistry provide general knowledge and appreciation of chemistry and its impact on society.

Advanced Placement

Students who have taken the Advanced Placement Examination in chemistry should have the results forwarded to the Office of Admissions. Students who score 5 need not take CHEM 184 and CHEM 188 and receive 10 hours of credit. With departmental permission, those who score 3 or 4 receive credit for CHEM 184. Credit for CHEM 188 also may be given to those who pass a special examination. Students who score at least 50 on the College Level Examination Program general chemistry examination receive 5 hours of credit in CHEM 125.

Courses for Nonmajors

Undergraduates taking chemistry as preparatory study for another field should consult the courses listed for that field in this catalog. CHEM 124 and CHEM 125 are introductory courses for the nonscience major who wants to study the general principles, methods, role, and significance of chemistry in the modern world, for prenursing students, and for students who plan to take no additional courses in chemistry. Premedical students and chemistry or other science majors should not take CHEM 124 or CHEM 125. CHEM 124 is lecture only. CHEM 125 includes a laboratory. Engineering students who need only one semester of chemistry should take CHEM 150. CHEM 184 is an introductory course for students who plan to take more than one year of college chemistry, including chemical engineering, premedical, prepharmacy, and predental students and students in biological sciences who must take organic chemistry. Students should continue with CHEM 188 in the same academic year that they take CHEM 184.

Why study chemistry?

Because understanding the atomic and molecular nature of matter informs us about ourselves and our universe, and creating and finding applications for new and modified forms of matter helps to conserve and enhance our world.

Graduate Programs

The department’s graduate program, its Ph.D. program in particular, produces graduates with the basic knowledge, skills, and experimental training necessary to enter productive careers in academic, industrial, and government positions. Faculty and graduate students work collegially, not only in the search for new knowledge at the frontiers of chemistry, but also toward the solution of problems of fundamental societal concern.

Although the department believes it is essential to provide graduate students with a knowledge base spanning the traditional areas of analytical, inorganic, organic, and physical chemistry, it nurtures its particular strengths in several important research areas at the interface of chemistry and the biological/medical sciences. The Department of Chemistry at KU is a worldwide leader in graduate training and research in bioanalytical chemistry, and its additional interactions with the pharmaceutical and biological sciences have led to strong graduate research programs in diverse areas such as bio-inorganic, bio-organic, and biophysical chemistry.

The department also recognizes its central science role by maintaining strong research and Ph.D. programs in areas that interface closely with molecular biosciences, physics, chemical engineering, mathematics, and computer science, for example, in drug discovery, theoretical chemistry, materials, molecular modeling, and laser spectroscopy. The entering Ph.D. student can be assured of finding vigorous programs spanning a full range of chemical studies, and the graduating Ph.D. student can be equally confident that his or her training and skills are marketable commodities.

The department’s M.S. program is a traditional companion to the Ph.D. program and shares the same goals. It is encouraged for students who prefer a program with less depth and a research (thesis) project that is manageable in 2 to 4 semesters. Although most entering graduate students choose the Ph.D.—the most desirable degree for those who wish to work as independent scientists in academic, industrial, or institutional settings—the M.S. serves a useful and essential role for students with other ambitions.

Research support facilities include the Biochemical Research Service Laboratory, Instrumentation Design Laboratory, Mass Spectrometry Laboratory, Molecular Graphics and Modeling Laboratory, Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Laboratory, X-ray Crystallography Laboratory, and Glassblowing Shop. Anschutz Library contains more than 300,000 books and periodicals spanning the fields of chemistry, biochemistry, physics, geology, and pharmacy.

The University of Kansas prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, religion, sex, national origin, age, ancestry, disability, status as a veteran, sexual orientation, marital status, parental status, gender identity, gender expression and genetic information in the University’s programs and activities. The following person has been designated to handle inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies: Director of the Office of Institutional Opportunity and Access,, 1246 W. Campus Road, Room 153A, Lawrence, KS, 66045, (785)864-6414, 711 TTY.