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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.
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.
C&CB has created an electronic wait list for lab courses that have reached their enrollment limits. The electronic wait list system will become available on Wednesday, April 11, 2018 and will remain open until Noon on Thursday, August 23, 2018. At that time, we will take the existing waiting lists and fill in lab spaces as available. Read about the frequently asked questions.
Chemistry Advanced Standing Exam (CASE)
- CHEM 2070/2080/2090 exam is administered on Sunday, January 20, 2019 at 2:00pm 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.
Requirements for Receiving Advanced Standing (Advanced Placement) in Chemistry
CEEB AP Examination in Chemistry: Earning a 5 (4 does not qualify) on the CEEB AP Examination in Chemistry entitles a student to four credits of introductory chemistry. The credits are forfeited if the student takes Chem 1560, 2070 or 2090. A student with a strong interest in chemistry may take Chem 2150 and retain the four credits. Another option is to proceed directly to Chem 2080 (see below).
GCE “A”-level Examination: Earning an A on the GCE “A” Level Examination entitles a student to eight credits of introductory chemistry. Earning a B on that examination entitles a student to four credits of introductory chemistry.
International Baccalaureate (IB) Higher Level Examination: Earning a 6 or 7 on the International Baccalaureate (IB) Higher Level Examination entitles a student to four credits of advanced chemistry.
After Receiving Advanced Standing, Then What?
Four credits: In general, four credits of advanced standing in chemistry is equivalent to the successful completion of either Chem 2070 or Chem 2090. If you are required to take only one semester of chemistry, you are finished! If you need a full year of chemistry, you have two options:
- Skip Chem 2070/2090 (Fall) and enroll in Chem 2080 in the Spring. This option is usually chosen by students without a particular interest in chemistry. You will forfeit your credits if you enroll in Chem 1560, 2070 or 2090.
- Enroll in Chem 2150 (Fall) and retain four credits.
Eight credits: In general, eight credits of advanced standing in chemistry is equivalent to the successful completion of Chem 2070/2090 and 2080. You can skip introductory chemistry altogether and enroll in organic chemistry (Chem 3570 or 3590).
The Best Advice: Get Approval Before Taking the Course!
Please allow for up to 4 weeks of review time. Applications to pre-approve summer courses should be submitted before April 15th.
1. Before You Take the Course:
Please Check for Each of Following Items:
- The course is offered at a 4-year institution
- The institution resides within the United States
- The institution is on the list of ACS-Certified Programs
- The course can be used towards the ACS accredited degree at the other institution
- For CHEM 1560, 2070, 2080, 2090 or 2510 credit: the course has a lab component
- We do not grant transfer credit for Cornell honors courses: CHEM 2150, 3590, or 3600.
Pre-Apply for Credit Transfer
Submit the following items for transfer credit approval:
- Your college's Application for Credit from Other Institutions (Example: College of Arts and Sciences Application for Credit from Other Institutions)
- Download and complete Department of Chemistry Transfer Credit Application.
- Turn in all items to Baker Laboratory 131, or email your materials to Carl Cornell.
- You will receive an e-mail approval or denial for the transfer credit from the Director of undergraduate study within two weeks
2. After You Take the Course:
Submit the following items to your college’s registrar office:
- An official transcript from the institution where you completed the course to your college registrar’s office. A minimum grade of a “C” is required to receive credit.
- The pre-approval email from the Chemistry DUS confirming approval to take the class.
3. Special Circumstances:
- Chemistry majors seeking transfer credit for courses outside of chemistry for distribution or pre-requisite requirements should contact the specific department at Cornell for approval transfer credit.
- If you would like to take a course at a foreign institution, you must review the checklist in the Cornell Chemistry Department's Memorandum: Receiving Cornell chemistry course credit for a chemistry course taken elsewhere and submit an application BEFORE taking the course.
- Individualized Curriculum Checklist
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