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How To Choose Your First Class

Undergraduate Options in Chemistry

For additional specifics, options, course sequences and example schedules, see the Stanford Bulletin: Bachelor of Science in Chemistry. Under School of Humanities and Sciences, see Chemistry for:

  • Entrance Preparation
  • Chemistry or Chemical Biology
  • Degree Requirements
  • Typical Course Schedule
  • Honors Program
  • Minor in Chemistry

See also the Department of Chemistry Frequently Asked Questions.

General Chemistry

Two different general chemistry sequences are offered: the two-quarter set of courses, Chem 31A/B, and the single-quarter course, Chem 31M. Both sequences fulfill the general chemistry requirement at Stanford and arrive at the same endpoint, preparing students to enroll in Chem 33, an introduction to organic chemistry. All students who are interested in taking Chem 31M and who do not have a score of 4 or 5 on the AP chemistry exam must take the Chemistry placement test, offered online starting August 1. Students with a score of 3 on the AP chemistry exam are encouraged to take the placement test. Students can enroll for the placement test on Canvas, under the Quizzes tab on this page: Self Enrollment on Canvas.

The placement test remains available from August 1st to August 31st. Students who receive a passing score will be notified with a permission code to enroll for 31M. Placement decisions will be announced during the first week of September. Students who do not pass, and who do not have a score of 4 or 5 on the AP chemistry exam, cannot enroll in 31M.

Chemistry 31A and 31B

For students with moderate or limited prior chemistry experience, the Chemistry Department offers a two-quarter general chemistry sequence, Chem 31A and 31B. This sequence covers all essential topics in general chemistry, with an emphasis on problem solving. Additionally, students with a less rigorous preparation in chemistry and math may be eligible to enroll concurrently in Chem 31AC and BC, which provide additional practice and support with critical problem solving skills necessary for success in the sciences. Eligible students will be invited to apply at the beginning of the quarter. Chem 31A/B is offered only in the Autumn-Winter sequence, and 31A is a prerequisite for 31B. Students who successfully complete the sequence can then proceed to Chem 33 (Organic Chemistry) in the Spring. Please consult the syllabus website for the syllabus and course calendar.

Chemistry 31M

Those with a strong high school chemistry background may be eligible to take Chem 31M, which is offered Autumn quarter only. A score of 5 on the Chemistry AP Exam or a passing score on the Chemistry Placement Test is required to enroll in this course in Axess. Chem 31X covers the more advanced portions of the same topics covered in Chem 31A/B and moves at a faster pace. View the Chem 31M tentative course calendar here.

Chemistry 33

Students with exceptional chemistry backgrounds and who earned a 5 on the AP Chemistry Exam have the option to begin with Chem 33 in the Winter quarter if desired.

Chemistry 121

In rare instances, students with an exceptionally strong background in chemistry, e.g., IB, A-levels, French Baccalaureate, German Arbitur, or transfer credits, may begin with Chem 121. However, it is mandatory to take Chem 100 in the Autumn Quarter. Chem 100 is a one-unit short course during the second week of Autumn Quarter. It covers laboratory safety practices.

AP Credit in Chemistry

Premedical students should be forewarned that not all medical schools accept AP credit; students may need to take either a general chemistry course, 31A/B or 31M, or a more advanced chemistry course in order to qualify for some medical schools. It is therefore recommended that pre-med students with a 5 on the AP Chemistry Exam and who do not anticipate taking more advanced chemistry courses enroll in Chem 31M rather than enrolling directly in Chem 33. Students under other circumstances should consult with the Undergraduate Affairs advisor, Professor Chris Chidsey.


Placement Chart

Chemistry Advanced Placement Scores Chem 31A Chem 31M Chem 33 Chem 121 with Chem 100
Chem AP 5 by waitlist and permission of instructor only YES YES NO
Chem AP 4 permission of instructor only YES After passing grade in 31M or 31A/B NO
Chem AP 3 or lower take placement exam to determine appropriate placement take placement exam to determine appropriate placement After passing grade in 31M or 31A/B NO
No AP or IB background YES Okay with passing placement exam  score After passing grade in 31M or 31A/B NO
IB, A-level, French Baccalaureate, German Arbitur by waitlist and permission of instructor only YES YES YES