Information for Majors

Graduating with Latin Honors

The department awards Latin Honors to students who have distinguished themselves in research, coursework, or a combination of the two. There are three levels of Latin honors: cum laude, magna cum laude, and summa cum laude.  

A Chemistry major will be granted cum laude honors for coursework alone if they complete the Honors Curriculum while maintaining a GPA of at least 3.3.

Students who have completed a rigorous complement of courses, maintained a GPA of at least 3.1, and completed four or more credits of research in a chemistry-related area (or the equivalent, if doing research for pay instead of credit) may be nominated by their research advisor or the Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS) to join the Honors Seminar in the Spring of their senior year. Students admitted to the Honors Seminar write up their research findings in a senior thesis for evaluation by the faculty. The C&CB faculty assign Latin honors of cum laude, magna cum laude, or summa cum laude to research-active Chemistry majors based on coursework, leadership, and service and the level of persistence, creativity, and independent research scholarship evident in their Honors Seminar participation and written thesis.

Double Majors

Approximately one-third of our chemistry majors are double majors. Recent examples of the second major include Astrophysics, Biology, Economics, Government, Neurobiology and Behavior, Philosophy, Physics, Psychology, and Sociology. Completing a major in Chemistry and a minor in an unrelated field is relatively straightforward. Chemistry requirements, including Math and Physics, add up to 60 credits. A student must complete 120 credits to graduate. There are College of Arts & Sciences distribution requirements and language requirements to fit in the remaining 60 credits; nevertheless, we observe that there is enough leeway in the non-chemistry coursework for students to complete a minor, or even a second major.

Education Minor

Approved Chemistry major electives include courses required by the Education minor. C&CB may be able to help facilitate significant scholarship support for high-performing students interested in teaching high school. The department can nominate up to two chemistry major students each year to receive the American Chemical Society’s ACS-Hach Land Grant Scholarship. Interested students should contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies.

Undergraduate Research

Approximately 40 Chemistry majors graduate each year. More than half these majors engage in research; almost half of each graduating class will submit a written senior thesis. Chemistry majors do research all across campus — in Chemistry, Engineering, Physics, Biology, and at the Veterinary School.

The Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS) will usually co-host, along with the chemistry fraternity Alpha Chi Sigma, a seminar each year on how to go about locating and landing a research position. In brief, research positions must be arranged individually, since not all faculty members have openings at any given time. To begin arranging a research position, browse C&CB faculty research interests and contact potential advisors directly to inquire about openings (preferably by email, with your resume and unofficial Cornell transcript attached).

Starting research in the junior year is most common; a few students start as sophomores; we know a couple of students who started research the summer after their freshman year. 

The limiting factor is usually not the number of open positions. You should expect that carrying out advanced research under the mentorship of a faculty member and graduate student requires a time commitment of 8 to 12 hours per week. To have time for research, you need to complete your weekly coursework and laboratory work efficiently, with time to spare. Most of our undergraduate student researchers will do at least one summer research either here or elsewhere.

Undergraduate research can be carried out either for credit or for pay. Students may carry out research for chemistry-course credit through one of the following supervised-research courses offered by our department:

  • CHEM 4210 - Introduction to Inorganic Chemistry Research
  • CHEM 4330 - Introduction to Analytical Chemistry Research
  • CHEM 4610 - Introduction to Organic Chemistry Research
  • CHEM 4770 - Introduction to Physical Chemistry Research

To enroll in one of these courses, please complete the College of Arts & Science’s Independent Research Form.

Documents for CHEM Majors

CLICK HERE for access to Chemistry Major forms and documents, including:

  • CHEM Major Tracking Sheet
  • CHEM Majors After Graduation: 2016 - 2020
  • CHEM Transfer Credit Application
  • CHEM Latin Honors Flowchart