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The Major

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
  • American Chemical Society Certification
  • 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 31X. Both sequences fulfill the general chemistry requirement at Stanford and arrive at the same endpoint, preparing students to enroll in Chem 33, the first quarter of organic chemistry. All students who are interested in taking Chem 31X and who do not have a score of 5 on the AP chemistry exam must take the Chemistry placement test, offered online starting August 1. Students with a score of 3 or 4 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 31X. Placement decisions will be announced during the first week of September. Students who do not pass, and who do not have a score of 5 on the AP chemistry exam, cannot enroll in 31X.

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 Chem 31A course website for the syllabus and course calendar.

Chemistry 31X

Those with a strong high school chemistry background may be eligible to take Chem 31X, 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 31X 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.

AP Credit in Chemistry

Students who choose to take Chem 31X or Chem 31A/B will forfeit their 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 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 31X rather than enrolling directly in Chem 33. Students under other circumstances should consult with the Undergraduate Affairs advisor, Professor Chris Chidsey.