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Organic Chemistry Series FAQ

Beginning Fall 2022, the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry introduces its new three-quarter organic chemistry series, designed specifically for chemistry, biochemistry, and engineering students:

  • CHEM 41A: Organic Chemistry I: Structure and Reactivity
  • CHEM 41B: Organic Chemistry II: Reactivity and Synthesis
  • CHEM 41C: Organic Chemistry II: Synthesis, Reactivity, and Macromolecules

Please review the following details regarding the new CHEM 41 series and its implications for the CHEM 40 series. If you are a major in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, it's essential to thoroughly read the information provided in each section.

This page is regularly updated. Please check back frequently for additional information. Last updated on 10/30/23.

CHEM 40 vs 41 Series Differences

CHEM 41 Series: This 3-quarter series (CHEM 41A, 41B, 41C) provides a comprehensive exploration of fundamental organic chemistry principles, reactions, and synthesis techniques. Tailored for chemistry, biochemistry, and engineering majors, as well as interested students, the series delves into topics such as bonding theory, molecular structure, chemical reactivity, and synthesis fundamentals. Emphasis is placed on understanding the properties and reactions of major classes of organic compounds, including alcohols, ethers, aromatics, and organometallics. Throughout the series, students develop a mechanistic understanding of reactions and gain proficiency in multi-step synthesis, preparing them for advanced study and application in chemistry-related fields.

The New CHEM 40 Series: The Organic Chemistry for Life Sciences series, comprising CHEM 40A and 40B, offers a comprehensive exploration of organic chemistry principles tailored for biological sciences majors and interested students. In CHEM 40A, students delve into the molecular structure and reactivity of organic molecules, covering topics such as bonding theory, resonance, stereochemistry, and spectroscopy. Building upon this foundation, CHEM 40B focuses on advanced concepts including carbonyl reactivity, enzymatic catalysis, electrophilic substitutions, and the molecular basis of drug action. Throughout the series, emphasis is placed on understanding organic chemistry within the context of biological applications, equipping students with essential knowledge for careers in the life sciences field.

Should I take the CHEM 40 or 41 series?

Chemistry, Biochemistry, and Some Engineering Majors:

  • Enroll in CHEM 41 Series: Chemistry, Biochemistry, and Engineering majors are advised to enroll in the CHEM 41 series for their organic chemistry requirements. Engineering Majors- please check with your major advisor.

  • Prior Organic Chemistry Studies: If you completed Organic Chemistry before Fall 2022, please contact us via VAC for further enrollment guidance. Note that if you completed CHEM 40A before Fall 2022 and need to enroll in CHEM 41B, please submit an EASy request for enrollment authorization.

All Other Majors:

  • Enroll in CHEM 40 Series: Undergraduate life sciences majors, which includes biological sciences, and other interested students who are not physical sciences and engineering majors. 

  • Major Department Advising: For clarification on which courses are required for your major, or for pre-health or pre-med students, please consult your major department or Health Beat Advising.

Refer to the following chart for guidance on enrollment. Last updated 06/20/2023.

Note for Engineering majors: This guidance is intended for students planning to complete the entire three-course Organic Chemistry Series. CHEM 41C is not required for all majors. Please check with your major department regarding which courses in the series are required for your major and/or Health Beat Advising if you are pre-health or pre-med.


Why No CHEM 40C? Impact on Pre-Health Students

The Organic Chemistry Series for Life Sciences has been redesigned as a two-course sequence, ensuring comprehensive coverage of all essential content. Health Beat confirms that pre-health programs accept a combination of CHEM 40A, 40B, and 43A as equivalent to one year of organic chemistry.

It is still advisable for students to verify directly with their desired professional programs for confirmation. For further assistance, students can seek guidance, access resources, and attend workshops through Health Beat to facilitate their application process.

Series Availability

CHEM 40 Series: CHEM 40A and 40B will be offered every quarter.

CHEM 41 Series: CHEM 41A, 41B, and 41C will be offered as follows for the 2024-25 academic year (subject to change):

  • CHEM 41A: Fall 2024 and Winter 2025
  • CHEM 41B: Winter 2025 and Spring 2025
  • CHEM 41C: Fall 2024 and Spring 2025

In subsequent academic years, the department aims to offer these courses multiple times per year based on demand and staffing.

Organic Chemistry Lab

CHEM 43A will serve as the Organic Lab for both the CHEM 40 and CHEM 41 series. There will be no separate lab for the CHEM 41 series.

Effect on Chemistry Course Prerequisites

No. Prerequisites for courses within the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry that previously included CHEM 40A, 40B, and/or 40C will remain unchanged. However, CHEM 41A, 41B, and 41C will be added as new prerequisite options. For instance, the prerequisite for CHEM 114A will now include either CHEM 40A or CHEM 41A.

It's important to note that courses outside the department of Chemistry and Biochemistry may not recognize the CHEM 41 series as a valid prerequisite for their courses. 

Degree Audit Update for Chemistry/Biochemistry Majors

If you're a major in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, your degree audit was revised in summer 2022 to include the CHEM 41ABC series as options for your major,