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Chemistry and Biology FAQs

Have some questions already? We thought so. Here are some of the common ones. However, we’re very happy to answer any question about chemistry at SDSU! Just call or email James Rice.

  • Bachelor of Science in chemistry.
    • Certified as a professional chemistry degree by the American Chemical Society.
  • Bachelor of Science in biochemistry.

You should pursue an academic curriculum that includes as much science and mathematics as possible, including courses in algebra, geometry, trigonometry, biology, chemistry and physics. We work closely with new students to help them identify the courses they might need to take if they weren’t available at their high school. Good written and verbal communication skills are important.

All new students meet with a professor from the department during preregistration and orientation. When you begin your classes, a professor is identified who will serve as your adviser. They serve not only as your academic advisor but a possible research supervisor and will help you to explore the enrichment opportunities like undergraduate research, international study-abroad programs and internship opportunities and career paths that are available to you as a chemist or biochemist. This is an important relationship to your success as a chemistry or biochemistry major, to your career development and as a knowledgeable reference in the future.

We have a special, two-year lecture and laboratory sequence for our majors at the introductory freshman and sophomore levels. Not just separate sections of the large, general enrollment courses, they each actually have a different curriculum and different course numbers. The lectures are focused on the needs of our majors and the laboratories have a much more in-depth use of instrumentation, computational experimentation and modeling and advanced laboratory techniques. We are preparing you for the undergraduate research that you can take part in as early as the summer between your freshman and sophomore year. These sections also count as Honors College courses if you are a student in the Honors College.

The student-teacher ratio in these sections are capped at 48 students per faculty instructor (compare that to 400 students per section in the general enrollment course). By the time you reach the upper division chemistry and biochemistry courses, which are taken only by majors (for example, Chem 434), the ratio is typically 15 to 20 students per faculty instructor. Laboratories for our majors, even at the freshman level, never have more than 12 students per instructor. We think that you will find these student-teacher ratios comparable to any school, even the smallest four-year liberal arts institutions.

To be honest, there probably are majors that are easier. But the interaction that you’ll have with faculty, graduate teaching assistants and staff will provide the support and encouragement that everyone needs to get through the hurdles of studying chemistry or biochemistry.

We also provide you with a Resource Room that is staffed Monday to Thursday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Fridays where you can get help with lecture or laboratory coursework questions.

The individual opportunities for personal and professional development that our majors have through their research and internship experiences provides a practical dimension that brings classroom learning into a clear focus which, in turn, also makes it easier to understand the theory. Yes, you will be investing more of yourself in a chemistry or biochemistry major, but the return that you will receive from that investment is so much greater.

Undergraduate Research Opportunities

Yes! An undergrad degree in chemistry or biochemistry is the starting point for many careers, graduate school or even medical school. Our grads often receive multiple offers of admission into these programs and go on to solid careers.

If you are interested in the natural world and how it works, if you are interested in a solid liberal arts education that emphasizes the natural sciences, you should be a chemistry or biochemistry major.