Advising Guide

Premedical Students

The chemistry major is excellent preparation for medical school. Medical schools generally require two semesters (eight credits) of introductory chemistry with laboratory to demonstrate proficiency in general and inorganic chemistry. There are three routes to demonstrating proficiency in general and inorganic chemistry as required for admission to medical school:

  • Complete CHEM 2070 + CHEM 2080.
  • Earn a 5 on the Advanced Placement Chemistry or a 6 or 7 on the International Baccalaureate Chemistry. With these exam scores you will be granted 4 Cornell credits of general and inorganic chemistry. Complete the remaining 4 credits of general and inorganic chemistry by taking either CHEM 2150 or CHEM 2080.*
  • Be granted admission to CHEM 2150 by the instructor based on your interest in the chemistry major. After completing CHEM 2150 you will only have four credits of general chemistry showing on your transcript. However, when you apply to medical school, the DUS will provide you a letter certifying that you have demonstrated proficiency in general chemistry as required for admission to graduate school or medical school.*

*Not all medical or graduate health programs accept AP credit to fulfill prerequisite requirements. Students with AP credit may need to complete additional coursework in Chemistry to satisfy requirements for a specific school.

Selecting the Right Courses

Students enter Cornell with a wide range of interests and backgrounds 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.

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 CHEM 1560, 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; however,  students are urged to confirm in advance if their schools of choice accept AP Chemistry credit.

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 weak preparation: Students who have never taken a Chemistry course or who have weak preparation in the subject 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 pre-veterinary students. Students who have had an AP chemistry course should not enroll in CHEM 1560.