Prospective Students

Why Chemistry?

Chemistry involves understanding and manipulating matter at the molecular and atomic level. It is an experimental science, guided and inspired by theory. Chemists use careful reasoning and trial-and-error experimentation to create new molecules to explore new materials, study biological processes, and develop therapeutics, with the common goal of ultimately improving everyday life. 

Program Overview

The undergraduate chemistry degree at Cornell is designed to teach students the art of chemical experimentation and the conceptual frameworks required to understand and manipulate matter at the molecular and atomic level. The major’s core courses are organized around the subdisciplines of chemistry (analytical chemistry, biochemistry, inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, and physical chemistry) and are supported by required mathematics and physics prerequisites. As chemistry is a central science, the major supports a variety of upper-level electives with strong connections to biology, geology, engineering, and physics.

Students applying to Cornell with an interest in Chemistry should indicate their desire to major in Chemistry & Chemical Biology on the general application. More information can be found on the College of Arts & Sciences site.

Chemistry After Graduation

Roughly equal portions of each Cornell chemistry undergraduate class goes on to pursue graduate work in science and engineering, matriculate into medical school, or pursue their own path. The program's training is an outstanding launching point for a wide range of careers, including teaching, business, economics, law, and government service. Click here to access data on recent CHEM graduates' paths after graduation.

Applying to CHEM

To apply for admission to the C&CB major, complete the Chemistry Major Application. Applications are reviewed approximately once a month during the academic year, and as needed during the summer. Students are notified of their status as quickly as possible.

Admission to the Chemistry major requires the satisfactory completion of a number of introductory courses. Students who complete the following courses with grades of "C" or better are generally admitted to the major:

  • Introductory Chemistry: CHEM 2070 + CHEM 2080 or CHEM 2150.
  • Organic Chemistry: CHEM 3570 or CHEM 3590 or CHEM 3530 
  • Mathematics: MATH 1110
  • Physics: PHYS 2207 or PHYS 1112

Second-term sophomores or juniors with no more than one outstanding requirement may request to join the major early. Students lacking all of the necessary requirements should email to review their academic plan before submitting an application. Students with a grade of "C" or lower in one of the required courses may be considered for admission, but only after satisfactorily completing additional coursework. The department does not advise students who have received a grade of "C" or lower in more than one required courses to apply to the major.

Students should contact the CHEM Undergraduate Office via email at to explore joining Chemistry at Cornell!

Visiting the Department

The department does its best to meet with prospective students and their families who are touring Cornell. While summer is generally a good time to visit the department, peak busy times  (September - November and February - May) can be difficult to accommodate. We encourage those interested in visiting C&CB to email at their earliest convenience.

See additional information about exploring campus and help with planning your visit.