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Undergraduate Studies in Chemistry

Welcome to the undergraduate chemistry program at UCI! We are proud to be one of the largest chemistry programs in the country, with more than 100 chemistry majors graduating every year. Our graduates are in great demand by the employers because they value the rigor and quality of our program. There is a broad spectrum of exciting careers open to people with a UCI chemistry degree because chemistry directly affects all aspects of modern life. The clothing we wear, the food we eat, the cell phones we use to communicate with each other, the gasoline we put in our cars, and millions of other things we take for granted would not exist without chemists. To help our undergraduates get the most out of their educational experience at UCI and succeed in their future professional careers, our chemistry program features specialized tracks in several important areas of modern chemical sciences (described below) and offers an ACS certified degree. In addition to a large number of exciting courses ranging from general chemistry all the way to advanced graduate level, many of our undergraduate students get an opportunity to participate in world-class research led by our distinguished faculty. The academic environment in the Department of Chemistry provides excellent preparation for students interested in pursuing further education and training in graduate, medical, pharmacy, and other professional programs.

How to Apply to UCI:

Admissions information

Majoring in Chemistry

UCI General Catalog

Our program is proud to offer several newly-established concentrations and specializations in the following areas of chemistry:

  • Optional Concentration in Chemical Biology
  • Optional Concentration in Chemistry Education
  • Optional Specialization in Environmental Chemistry
  • Optional Specialization in Medicinal Chemistry
  • Optional Specialization in Nuclear and Radiochemistry
  • Optional Specialization in Synthetic Chemistry
  • Optional Concentration in Theoretical and Computational Chemistry

Optional Concentration in Chemical Biology (Advisor: Greg Weiss)

Chemical biology focuses on the fundamental understanding of complex chemical and physical processes occurring in biological systems, including viruses, single cells, and multicellular organisms. Chemical biologists rely on a remarkably broad spectrum of experimental and theoretical tools from chemistry to study the behavior of small molecules, macromolecules and supramolecular structures in vivo, in vitro, and in silico. Lectures courses on Genetics, Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Chemical Biology, a laboratory course in Chemical Biology, and undergraduate research in one of the many Chemical Biology research groups in the department will help students prepare for broad range of exciting careers in science, technology, biology, and medicine.

Optional Concentration in Chemistry Education (Advisor: Amanda Holton)

The concentration is designed for students who see education as their life calling. The classes focusing on, Research Methods, Knowing and Learning in Mathematics and Science, Introduction to Science and Mathematics Teaching, and Middle School Science and Mathematics Teaching will prepare the students to the honorable profession of a school teacher. Armed with this knowledge, the students will be ready to take their teaching credential at UCI or elsewhere.

Optional Specialization in Environmental Chemistry (Advisor: Sergey Nizkorodov)

The field of environmental chemistry deals with chemical processes occurring in the Earth environments, such as growth of biofilms on surfaces, formation of air pollutants in megacities, degradation of water pollutants, etc. The students will cover fundamentals of Environmental Chemistry occurring in water, air and soil, Marine Geochemistry, and Biogeochemistry. Because of the strong reliance of Environmental Chemistry on the state-of-the-art analytical and physical measurements, the students will take a hands-on Physical Chemistry Laboratory course. A large number of undergraduate research options are available, especially in atmospheric chemistry. The Environmental Chemistry students will be well prepared to work in companies relying on chemical analysis of environmental samples, regulatory agencies, or advance their knowledge in a graduate or professional school.

Optional Specialization in Medicinal Chemistry (Advisor: Jenn Prescher)

The field of Medicinal Chemistry focuses on synthesizing and studying properties of compounds with pharmaceutical properties, and uncovering the mechanisms by which drugs produce their desirable as well as undesirable effects. Students will have lectures in Medicinal Chemistry and Chemical Biology, and take laboratory courses in Chemical Biology, Medicinal Chemistry, and advanced Organic Synthesis. Unlike the closely related Pharm Sci major, this specialization places a much stronger emphasis on molecular mechanisms of drug action. A large number of groups in the Chemistry Department offer exciting research projects in medicinal chemistry to the students. This specialization is ideal for students interested in a career in medical or pharmaceutical fields.

Optional Specialization in Nuclear and Radiochemistry (Advisor: A.J. Shaka)

The truly unique chemistry of radioactive elements and materials requires dedicated training in Nuclear Chemistry and in Radiochemistry. Lectures associated with this specialization will cover the fundamentals of these fascinating subjects, as well as more applied aspects of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle. In addition, the students will take laboratory training in an actual nuclear reactor and laboratory training in physical chemistry methods. Research projects in the UCI Nuclear Reactor are available to interested students. UCI is unique in offering this specialization, and there is huge demand for qualified workers in in the nuclear energy and regulatory sectors.

Optional Specialization in Synthetic Chemistry (Advisor: Susan King)

This specialization is devoted to the fine art of chemical synthesis of complex organic and inorganic molecules, as well as various types of materials. The students will take advanced lecture courses in Organic Chemistry and Inorganic Chemistry, and advanced laboratory courses in Chemistry and Synthesis of Materials and in Organic Synthesis. The students will be able to make unique molecules as part of their research projects. This specialization will help students prepare for a career in chemical industry, for graduate school in sciences, or for medical school.

Optional Concentration in Theoretical and Computational Chemistry (Advisor: Filipp Furche)

The concentration in Theoretical and Computational Chemistry aims to provide a rigorous education for Chemistry majors with special interests in theory and computation. Compared to the regular Chemistry major, additional courses in mathematics, physics, and computer science are required, while upper-division laboratory courses are optional. Unlike the rest of the specializations and concentrations in Chemistry, enrolling in this concentration requires approval by a faculty advisor. The advisor will be a member of the Theoretical and Computational Chemistry faculty group, and will assist the students in choosing elective courses tailored to their interests.

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