Information for Majors

Undergraduate Research

The department encourages students to pursue research opportunities while attending Cornell University. More than half of all Chemistry majors engage in research at some point during their undergraduate career, with many beginning in their sophomore or junior year and continuing their research through summer fellowships and outside laboratory positions. Approximately half of every graduating class, or about twenty students, enroll in the CHEM 4980 Honors Seminar and submit a written thesis prior to graduation. Areas of focus outside of Chemistry may include Mechanical Engineering, Physics, Biology, Food Science, and at the Veterinary School. The department offers a variety of workshops and seminars each year that explore best practices for joining a research group, and co-sponsors the CHEM research symposium with Alpha Chi Sigma, the co-ed chemistry fraternity at Cornell.

The availability of research opportunities can change with each new semester. Students should carefully consider their availability before pursuing a research position in the department. Performing advanced research under the guidance of a faculty member and/or graduate student may require an average commitment of eight to twelve hours each week. Students interested in conducting research in C&CB should contact before seeking a research advisor in the department.

Undergraduate research can be conducted for academic credit or pay (as arranged by the research advisor and department). Credit can be earned through any of the following research listings:

  • CHEM 4210 - Introduction to Inorganic Chemistry Research
  • CHEM 4330 - Introduction to Analytical Chemistry Research
  • CHEM 4430 - Introduction to Chemical Biology Research
  • CHEM 4610 - Introduction to Organic Chemistry Research
  • CHEM 4770 - Introduction to Physical Chemistry Research

Once an arrangement has been made between a student and a research advisor, the student must complete the independent study form provided by their respective college. For Arts & Sciences students, please complete the College of Arts & Sciences Independent Study Form.

Graduating with Latin Honors

The department awards Latin honors* (cum laude, magna cum laude, and summa cum laude) to students who have distinguished themselves in research and/or coursework during their academic career at Cornell University.

The department assigns the cum laude designation to a student who completes the honors curriculum while maintaining a cumulative GPA of 3.3 or better. Students who earn a cumulative GPA of 3.1 or better, and complete four or more credits of chemistry-related research (or the equivalent in paid, non-credited research), can enroll in the CHEM 4980 Honors Seminar with a nomination from their research advisor or the Director of Undergraduate Studies. Students in the Honors Seminar produce a research thesis for evaluation by the course instructor. At the end of the seminar, the instructor evaluates a number of additional factors (e.g. overall coursework, department leadership and service, , and research scholarship evident in seminar participation and the written thesis) before assigning honors to each student. Only students who complete the Honors Seminar are eligible for magna cum laude or summa cum laude.

*A "Latin Honors Flowchart" can be found in the Box folder for Chemistry majors, or can be requested by email from

Education Minor

The department supports students who demonstrate an interest in teaching after graduation from Cornell. The Chemistry majors electives list includes all of the courses required to earn the Education minor at Cornell. In addition, C&CB participates in the ACS-Hach Land Grant Scholarship, which offers financial assistance for up to two students each year who demonstrate an interest in teaching high school after graduation. Contact for more information.

Documents for CHEM Majors

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

  • Major Tracking Sheet
  • CHEM Majors After Graduation: 2016 - 2020
  • Transfer Credit Application
  • Latin Honors Flowchart
  • CHEM Summer Fellowships Application and FAQ
  • Information on Joining a Research Group in CHEM
  • Professional Development Fund Application