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Selecting the Right Course

Students enter Cornell with a wide range of interests and high school background in chemistry.  The list below describes recommendations and requirements for your initial chemistry course.

Important Enrollment Note: Each introductory course includes a laboratory component. Enrollment in our laboratory sections is limited, so you may wish to build your schedule around your chemistry laboratory section. You may place your name on our wait list for a closed laboratory section.

One-Semester Courses

Students who require only a single semester of introductory chemistry should enroll in one of the following options. Credit for two semesters of Introductory Chemistry is required for a premedical or preveterinary course of study.

Engineers: ALL engineers must take CHEM 2090, Engineering General Chemistry. Students majoring in C&BE, however, are required to take two semesters of Introductory Chemistry (see below).

Other students: Students needing only one semester of Chemistry (except engineers) should take CHEM 1560, Introduction to General Chemistry, which includes a broader range of topics than CHEM 2070.

Two-Semester Courses (including premedical and preveterinary)

There are three primary tracks for students requiring two semesters of Introductory Chemistry, CHEM 2150 (Fall) + AP credit, CHEM 2070 + CHEM 2080 (Fall + Spring) and CHEM 2090 + CHEM 2080 (Fall + Spring). The best option for you is determined by your preparation in Chemistry and your college.

CEEB AP Credit: Students with a 5 on the CEEB AP exam will receive four credits for CHEM 2070.  This credit is retained if a student enrolls in CHEM 2150 but is forfeited if a student completes CHEM1560, CHEM 2070 or CHEM 2090.  A student who has earned the AP score of 5 typically chooses among three options: (1) If only one semester of General Chemistry is required, that requirement has been met.  (2) The student accepts credit for CHEM 2070, and takes CHEM 2080 in the Spring.  (3) The student accepts credit for CHEM 2070 and takes CHEM 2150 in the Fall.  Cornell University advises medical schools that AP credit, together with completion of CHEM 2150, is the equivalent of eight credits of Introductory Chemistry.

Strong preparation: Students with an AP Chemistry score of 5 or comparable preparation may enroll in CHEM 2150, an honors General Chemistry course that requires calculus or concurrent enrollment in calculus.  This course is designed for students with a particular interest in Chemistry, Biochemistry or Chemical Engineering.  Students completing CHEM 2150 in the Fall may then proceed in the Spring to CHEM 3590, the first semester of the honors Organic Chemistry sequence.  The sequence CHEM 2150-CHEM3590-CHEM 3600 permits well-prepared students to complete General and Organic Chemistry sequences in three semesters.

Solid preparation: Students with a single year of high school chemistry or those with AP score below 5 should take CHEM 2070 + CHEM 2080 (Fall + Spring), General Chemistry. These courses satisfy the Introductory Chemistry requirement for most medical and veterinary programs. Students intending to major in Chemistry may take either the CHEM 2070-2080 sequence or CHEM 2150. Engineers needing a two semester sequence should enroll in CHEM 2090 + CHEM 2080.

None or very weak preparation: Students who have never taken a Chemistry course or who have very weak preparation sometimes decide to take CHEM 1560 + CHEM 2080 (Fall + Spring), although CHEM 2070 is still appropriate and recommended for those continuing on to CHEM 2080. CHEM 1560 is not recommended for premedical or preveterinary students. Students who have had an AP chemistry course should not enroll in CHEM 1560. Students planning to take CHEM 2070/2080 should also consider taking CHEM 1070/1080 concurrently. These two-credit S/U courses provide basic training in quantitative thinking and problem solving and are meant to complement CHEM 2070/2080. CHEM1070/1080 are especially recommended for students with less than 630 on the SAT 1 Math exam.

Wait List

CCB has created an electronic wait list for lab courses that have reached their enrollment limits. The electronic wait list system is accessible here.  The electronic wait list system will become available on Monday, October 30, 2017 and will remain open until Noon on Thursday, January 25, 2018.  At that time, we will take the existing waiting lists and fill in lab spaces as available. Click here for answers to the frequently asked questions.

Transfer Credit/Advanced Standing

  • CHEM 2070/2090 & CHEM 2080 exam is administered on Monday, January 22, 2018, at 2 p.m. in 135 Baker Lab
  • No registration is required.
  • Depending on the grade received on either examination, a student may be eligible for four credits of Introductory Chemistry.



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Other Resources

  • If you find an error in our prelim grade(s): please bring the original exam paper to 131 Baker Lab.
  • Office Hours: Monday - Friday, 8:00a.m. - 4:30p.m.
  • If you find an error in your lab or homework grade(s) (if applicable): please contact your TA.

Additional Resources can be found here.