Main content start

Academics Overview

Two students in a lab looking at a beaker

Chemistry is about the nature of matter, how to make it, how to measure it, how to model it. In that sense chemistry really matters; it is essential to explaining all the real world. It holds the key to making new drugs, creating new materials, and understanding and controlling material properties of all sorts. It is no wonder then that chemistry is called the "Central Science". Traditionally, it is divided into subdisciplines, such as organic, inorganic, physical, biological, theoretical, and analytical, but these distinctions blur as it is increasingly appreciated how all of science, let alone chemistry, is interconnected.

A deeper understanding of chemistry enables students to participate in research and studies involving biotechnology, nanotechnology, catalysis, human health, materials, earth and environmental sciences, and more. Together, faculty, graduate and undergraduate students actively work together within our department developing new probes of biological molecules, modeling protein folding and reactivity, manipulating carbon nanotubes, developing new oxidation and polymerization catalysts, and synthesizing organic molecules to probe ion-channels. The overarching theme of these pursuits is a focus at the atomic and molecular levels, whether this concerns probing the electronic structure and reactivity of molecules as small as dihydrogen or synthesizing large polymer assemblies. The ability to synthesize new molecules and materials and to modify existing biological structures allows the properties of complex systems to be analyzed and harnessed with huge benefit to both the scientific community and society at large.

Courses offered by the Department of Chemistry are listed under the subject code CHEM on the Stanford Bulletin's ExploreCourses website.


The Department of Chemistry offers the following programs of study:

Undergraduate Program

The mission of the undergraduate program in Chemistry is to provide students with foundational knowledge in the subdisciplines of chemistry as well as depth in one or more advanced areas, including cutting-edge research. Introductory course work allows students to gain hands-on experience with chemical phenomena, gather data, and propose models and explanations for their observations, thus participating in the scientific process from the start. In advanced labs and lectures, students build an in-depth knowledge of the molecular principles of chemistry empowering them to become molecular engineers comfortable with the methodologies necessary to solve complex problems and effectively articulate their ideas to the scientific community. Ultimately the analytical thinking and problem solving skills developed within the chemistry major make students successful candidates for a wide range of careers in chemistry and beyond, including engineering, teaching, consulting, medicine, law, science writing, and science policy.

The Chemistry Department is also on the cutting-edge of implementing  “active learning” pedagogy, employing in-class clickers, Group-Individual Group (GIG) learning methods, and flipped classrooms.

Learn more about the undergraduate program

Coterminal Master's Program

Currently enrolled Stanford University undergraduates may apply to participate in this research-oriented program of study leading to a master's degree in chemistry, completed concurrently with their undergraduate degree.

Learn more about the coterminal master's program

Ph.D. Program

The Ph.D. is conferred upon candidates who have demonstrated substantial scholarship and the ability to conduct independent research and analysis in the field of chemistry. Through completion of advanced course work and rigorous skills training, the doctoral program prepares students to make original contributions to the knowledge of chemistry and to interpret and present the results of such research.

The University's basic requirements for the graduate degrees are discussed in the "Graduate Degrees" section of the Stanford Bulletin.

Learn more about the Ph.D. program in chemistry


Chemistry Central Office, 337 Campus Drive
Mail Code: 5080
Phone: (650) 723-2501
Email: chemistry-studentservices [at] (subject: Stanford%20Chemistry%20Student%20Services%20General%20Question) (chemistry-studentservices[at]stanford[dot]edu)