Current Students

1.  What is the difference between the Chemistry B.S. and the Chemistry B.A. degrees?

The major difference is the required units in science courses. The B.S. program is the more rigorous program and provides a strong foundation in math and physics as well as more upper division chemistry units. The B.S. program is recommended for students planning a professional career in chemistry or related science. The B.A. program has fewer major course requirements, thus allowing students to take more courses in other disciplines. It is recommended for students having strong interests in other areas or cross-disciplinary goals that are not met within the B.S. program.

2.  How does an undergraduate become involved in research?

Undergraduate research is an independent study option that offers students the opportunity to conduct state-of-the-art scientific investigations under the supervision of a faculty member.

The Department encourages all of its majors meeting the course requirements to participate in undergraduate research. Assess the areas of chemistry that most interest you from your course work. You can then compare your interests with the research being carried out by individual faculty, which is described on their web pages. After you have chosen one or more faculty whose research interests you, set up appointments with them to discuss doing undergraduate research in their group. Faculty sometimes prefer undergraduates to have completed relevant courses in the area of the research, but this is not always required. Also, it is generally recommended that students commit to several quarters of research with the same faculty member, since there is often a significant learning curve before productive research results can be obtained. Your instructors in chemistry courses and the chemistry faculty and academic advisers are also good sources of information about undergraduate research opportunities. You can also find more information in the undergraduate research section of this website.

3.  Are there any summer opportunities connected with the major?

Yes.  Undergraduates can do research in the Department with a faculty mentor for course credit. See the scholarships & internships section of this website and/or the campus Career Center for other opportunities.

4.  Are there opportunities for outreach and tutoring or teaching?

Yes.  For information about Outreach Opportunities, please visit the outreach section of this website.

5.  How many students are in the major?

There are roughly 650 Chemistry and Biochemistry majors at any given time, spanning Freshman to Senior status.

6.  How long will it take an incoming freshman to graduate?

Both the B.A. and B.S. degrees offered by the Department can be completed in four years with the normal course load.  Sample four-year schedules are available for the Chemistry B.A. program, the Chemistry B.S. program, and the Biochemistry B.S. program. For the Chemistry and Biochemistry majors it is crucial to pay attention to pre-requisites and when courses are offered. It is common for a required Chemistry course to only be offered once a year so failing to take a course could potentially push your degree back an entire year. It is recommended to make yearly appointments to see the undergraduate academic advisor to check on your status. To make an appointment you can contact the Undergraduate Advising Office at or 805-893-5675.

7.  Can a transfer student from a community college graduate in two years?

Yes.  However, problems may arise when the preparatory courses in chemistry, physics and mathematics have not been completed before transfer to UCSB. It is strongly recommended that all preparatory courses be completed before transfer insofar as possible. If the preparatory work has been completed, then transfer students can readily graduate in two years. If the preparatory work has not been completed, then it may not be possible to take the upper division courses required for the degree in a timely manner to graduate in two years.

8.  How do I determine if a course from another school is equivalent to a course at UC Santa Barbara?

The articulation of courses between a California Community College and UC Santa Barbara can be determined through the website. Note that many course articulations on are sequence-to-sequence and not course-to-course. All partial sequence (single course) articulations must be approved by the Undergraduate Advisor if not specifically articulated on ASSIST. For other course equivalency issues, see an academic advisor.

9.  What careers can my degree in chemistry lead to?

Chemistry graduates with bachelor’s degrees are employed extensively throughout various industries in quality control, research and development, production supervision, technical marketing, and other areas. The types of industries employing these graduates include chemical, energy, pharmaceutical, genetic engineering, biotechnology, food and beverage, petroleum and petrochemical, paper and textile, electronics and computer, and environmental and regulatory agencies. The bachelor’s programs also provide chemistry graduates with the rigorous preparation needed for an advanced degree in chemistry and various professional schools in the health sciences. A B.S. degree provides required for a career in research or higher education.

10.  What is the role of graduate students in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry?

Graduate students serve two roles from the perspective of an undergraduate student.  They both teach and mentor.  Undergraduates are first exposed to graduate students as teaching assistants in courses, particularly courses with a laboratory and/or discussion component. Those undergraduates pursuing academic research will be mentored by graduate students, as well as by postgraduate researchers and faculty.

* Adapted from the UC Davis Department of Chemistry website.