Skip to main content

FAQ - Freshmen

Undergraduate: AP, IB and A-Level Credit in Chemistry

Students who have qualifying Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), or A-Level exam scores in Chemistry may receive credit for one or more UCSD Chemistry courses used for their major. In order to receive any course exemptions student must first send their official test scores to the UCSD Office of Admissions. After test scores are received it takes approximately 8 weeks for the courses to be added to the student's UCSD record.

If you took the Chemistry Advanced Placement Exam (AP):

If taken Spring 2012 or after:
Score 5 = credit for CHEM 6A, 6B, 6C; may take CHEM 6AH, 6BH, 6CH for credit
Score 4 = credit for CHEM 4, may take CHEM 6A or 6AH
Score 3 = credit for CHEM 4, may take CHEM 6A or 6AH
If taken prior to Spring 2012:
Score 5 = credit for CHEM 6A, 6B, 6C; may take CHEM 6AH, 6BH, 6CH for credit
Score 4 = credit for CHEM 6A or 11, may take CHEM 6B or 6AH
Score 3 = credit for CHEM 4, may take CHEM 6A or 6AH
We do not offer credit for CHEM 7L (General Chemistry Laboratory) based on AP Exam Scores.
For other AP exam and unit credits please see: http://www.ucsd.edu/catalog/pdf/APC-chart.pdf

If you took the Chemistry International Baccalaureate Exam (IB):

Score of 7= credit for 6A, 6B, 6C; may take CHEM 6AH, 6BH, 6CH for credit
Score of 6 = credit for Chem 6A and 6C.
Score of 5 = credit for Chem 6A.
We do not offer credit for CHEM 7L (General Chemistry Laboratory) based on IB Exam Scores.
For other IB exam and unit credits please see: http://ucsd.edu/catalog/pdf/IBC-chart.pdf
 

If you took the Chemistry A-Level Exam:

Grade of A= credit for CHEM 6A, 6B, 6C; may take CHEM 6AH, 6BH, 6CH for credit  
Grade of B= credit for CHEM 4 only  
Grade of C= credit for CHEM 4
We do not offer credit for CHEM 7L (General Chemistry Laboratory) based on A-Level Exam Scores.

Do I have to take the Chemistry Placement Exam?

The Chemistry Placement Exam is not required by the department. However, your college may require that you take the test in order to provide you with course recommendations.

You do not need to take the placement exam if:

  • You have taken the AP Chemistry exam before Spring 2012 and received a 4 or higher
  • You have taken the AP Chemistry exam in Spring 2012 or after and received a 5
  • You have taken the A-Level exam and received an A grade
  • You have taken the IB exam and received a 6.
  • You have taken general chemistry at a california community college
The results will place you into one of the following courses: CHEM 4, CHEM 6A, or CHEM 6AH. The placement exam serves as a guide, and you are not required to follow the recommended placement.

The sooner you take the placement exam, the sooner your college can recommend a chemistry class for you to take in the Fall.

If you have any other policy questions, please look visit http://newstudent.ucsd.edu

You can take the Chemistry Placement exam here.

How do I take the Chemistry Placement Exam?

You can take the Chemistry Placement exam here.

This examination is designed solely to measure your preparedness for beginning general (introductory) courses in chemistry at UCSD. The results will be used only for advising purposes and will not become part of your permanent records.

For example, if you place into CHEM 6A, you may still choose to enroll in CHEM 4, or vice versa.

Deadline: New freshmen and transfer students who opt to take the web-based Chemistry placement exam must do so at least 72 hours prior to their enrolling in classes. See your college orientation site for more information.

Which UCSD student accounts do I need to take the Chemistry Placement Exam?

All students will need their Student Single SignON (SSO) account. Access to the placement exam authenticates with the Student Sign On credentials.


Students connecting from home must first establish a VPN to UCSD and will also need their Student Active Directory (AD) account. Access to the UCSD VPN server authenticates with the Active Directory (AD)credentials.

Your AD username is usually the first part of your UCSD e-mail address, before the @ symbol. If you forgot your password, you can reset it at password.ucsd.edu

Learn how to build a VPN to UCSD at: Virtual Private Networks (VPN) at UCSD


If your UCSD Student Accounts are NOT working, the folks at the Provost IT Services Group (PITSG) can help you. They can also answer your VPN questions.  The contact info for the PITSG is:

PITSG
Phone: (858) 534-6946 
Email: pitsg@ucsd.edu

If you have policy questions, please look at:

http://newstudent.ucsd.edu

If I get placed into CHEM 4, will I be behind in my 4-year plan?

Most generic four-year plans state that you should be taking CHEM 6A in your first quarter. However, if you are placed into CHEM 4, you may have insufficient preparation to start CHEM 6A and should consider starting off with basic chemistry.  There are ways to "catch up" so that you stay on track for graduation, such as taking CHEM 6C during Summer Session after your first year.

Who should I contact if I have questions about my major?

If you do not find the answers to your questions here, please feel free to contact us at 858-534-4856 or through the VAC. If you do not yet have access to the VAC and prefer to email, please contact chemadvising@ucsd.edu. If your questions are regarding the New Student Site, please contact your college.

FAQ - Transfer Students

Who should I contact if I have questions about my major?

You have several options to get your question answered. Visit the Advising page for details.

For less complex, time-sensitive questions:

  • Contact the Chemistry and Biochemistry Undergraduate Advisors through the Virtual Advising Center (VAC)
  • Stop by YORK 4010 for Walk-In Advising 
  • Call the Chemistry Academic Advising office at 858-534-4856 

For long term course planning or more in depth questions:

We recommned you attend the Transfer Info Session.  See Announcements for details.

How do I petition my transfer courses for UCSD equivalent course credit?

Chemistry Courses

You may need to submit a Course Substitution Petition. Visit our Petition page for details.

We strongly recommend that all petitions and supporting documentation be submitted as soon as possible so we can attempt to have a final outcome on your petition prior to your Fall enrollment period.  Please note petitions are not guaranteed to be approved and can take up to 4 weeks to be processed. You will be notified of the final outcome through the Virtual Advising Center (VAC).

Non-Chemistry Transfer Courses

Each department is responsible for evaluating relevant coursework for potential UCSD equivalency. For example, the Biology Department reviews biology coursework, the Mathematics Department reviews math coursework, etc. For course and petition information in Biology, Math or Physics, please contact each department individually.

Biology Division
Email: biousis@ucsd.edu
Phone: (858) 534-0557
Office: Pacific Hall 1128

Math Department
Email: mathadvising@math.ucsd.edu
Phone: (858) 534-3590
Office: Applied Physics & Mathematics Building (AP&M), Room 7409

Physics Department
Email: advising@physics.ucsd.edu
Phone: (858) 534-1745
Office: 2581 Mayer Hall Addition

How will the classes I've taken elsewhere transfer to UCSD and to the major?

If you took coursework at a California community college* that contains an articulation agreement on ASSIST.org, you should receive transfer credit automatically. For example, if you took CHEM 1A and 1B from Pasadena City College, you should automatically receive credit for CHEM 6A, 6B, 6C, and 7L at UCSD once UCSD Admissions has posted your transfer classes to your academic history.

Once your transfer classses have been posted to your academic history, make sure to check your record for accuracy.

The courses I took are listed on ASSIST.org with UCSD approximations, but the UCSD chemistry credit is missing from my Academic History. What do I do?

If you took your chemistry coursework at two separate community colleges in SEPARATE DISTRICTS, you will need to submit a Course Substitution Petition.

If you took your chemistry coursework at two separate community colleges in the SAME DISTRICT (e.g. San Diego Mesa College and San Diego City College), please contact the Chem Dept. via VAC. It may be that the system didn't assign the credit automatically and we may need to update your credit manually.

How can I switch to a major within the Chemistry/Biochemistry Department?

All 5 majors in the Dept. of Chemistry & Biochemistry are not capped and can be declared online via the Major/Minor tool. You are eligible to change your major after enrolling in your first regular quarter of classes.

Before you change into one of our majors, we recommend you do the following:

  • Read about the department's 5 majors and their requirements
  • Check with your current major department regarding their policy for readmission into their majors (in case you change your mind). For example, majors in the Division of Biological Sciences are capped, and require application into the major.)
  • Ask Chemistry Advising questions via VAC or walk-in advising

Chemistry lectures and labs were taught as one course where I took them. However, at UCSD, they are taught separately. How will my classes transfer to UCSD?

ASSIST.org may provide the answer. If not, you will need to petition.

How many classes or units for the major must I complete at UCSD?

You need to complete at least 48 upper-division units of coursework within the Chemistry Department to earn your Chemistry degree.  This requirement is known as Department Residency.  Lower-division coursework does not apply to the 48 unit Residency Requirement.

Be sure to check with your College on the number of upper-division units they require.

Are there courses you recommend I complete before I transfer to UCSD?

Yes. Please see the Transfer Prep page for more information. 

What if I can't take the recommended prep classes?

Focus on general chemistry and calculus first since these are prerequisites for all other chemistry, physics, and math courses you will need for the degree.

Pharmacological Chemistry majors should then try to take one year of biology with lab.

FAQ - Continuing Students

Effective Fall 2017, the organic chemistry sequence was renumbered as follows:

  • CHEM 140A (Organic Chemistry I) = CHEM 40A (Organic Chemistry I)
  • CHEM 140B (Organic Chemistry II) = CHEM 40B (Organic Chemistry II)
  • CHEM 140C (Organic Chemistry III) = CHEM 40C (Organic Chemistry III)
  • CHEM 143A (Organic Chemistry Laboratory) = CHEM 43A (Organic Chemistry Laboratory)

The UC San Diego Academic Senate's Educational Policy Committee determined that students who were admitted to UC San Diego in Fall 2016 and earlier will be granted an exception to utilize CHEM 40A, 40B, 40C, 43A, or 43AM (or their Honors equivalencies) as upper division for all degree requirements, so long as the lower division version of the organic chemistry course(s) are completed at UC San Diego by Spring 2021

Please note that:

  • Students are not allowed to opt out of this exception. Petitions to use these courses as lower division will not be considered.
  • Degree audits should be updated to apply the lower division organic chemistry courses taken at UC San Diego by SP21 to upper division requirements, as applicable, by the beginning of Fall 2018.

Please see below for the frequently asked questions regarding this change. If you still have questions after reading through the answers below, please contact a Chemistry and Biochemistry Academic Advisor.

I was admitted to UCSD before Fall 2017, when the organic chemistry courses were still upper-division. Will these courses fulfill an upper-division requirement?

Yes.  Students who were admitted to UCSD prior to Fall 2017 will be granted an exception to use CHEM 40A, 40B, 40C, 43A, or 43AM (or their honors equivalencies) as upper-division for all degree requirements, as applicable toward major, minor, general education, and university requirements-- so long as the lower division version of the organic chemistry course or courses are completed at UCSD by Spring 2021.

I was admitted to UCSD before Fall 2017. I want to use a lower-division organic chemistry course to fulfill a lower-division, instead of an upper-division, requirement. Is this allowed?

No.  Students are not allowed to opt out of this exception. Petitions to use these courses as lower-division will not be considered.

I was admitted to UCSD before Fall 2017 and therefore my organic chemistry course(s) should be counting as upper-division in my degree audit; however, they are instead showing up in the lower-division section. Why is this?

By now, all degree audits should be updated to reflect this exception. If you see an error in your degree audit, please contact the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department via the VAC. 

I was admitted to UCSD Fall 2017. Can I use a lower-division organic chemistry course to fulfill an upper-division requirement?

No.  Only students who were admitted to UCSD prior to Fall 2017 will be able to use a lower-division organic chemistry course to fulfill an upper-division requirement.

I was admitted to UCSD before Fall 2017 and I have an approved minor with classes I no longer need to take (e.g. CHEM 152, 154). Do I need to resubmit my minor proposal?

No.  You do not need to resubmit your minor proposal. If you want to use any lower-division organic chemistry courses toward your minor, please send us a VAC message indicating all of the courses you want to use toward your minor. We will review your course selection and will send you a VAC message if it is approved.

I took a lower-division organic chemistry course at another UC. Will I receive upper-division credit at UCSD?

No. You will receive lower-division credit for the course.* The course level from the transfer institution must be maintained.

*You will only receive UCSD chemistry credit if the course you took or wish to take is listed on our pre-approved list of UC equivalent courses or if you have an approved petition

I'm on a waitlist. Should I stay on the waitlist or drop it and find another course?

If you are one of the first few on the waitlist, you may want to remain on the waitlist; often we are able to accommodate more students by adding new sections or expanding the class size.  When that is possible, we first notify students who are on the waitlist. If you are waitlisted for a full section and there is an open section with another instructor, it is highly recommended to switch to the open section.

Note that with some courses, there can be quite a bit of "movement," i.e. students drop the class or are dropped due to non-payment of fees or missing prerequisites.  It is difficult to predict whether you will be added via waitlist. Please feel free to contact an Academic Advisor to inquire about your particular situation.

I haven't completed the prerequisites for a class. Can I still enroll in it? Can I take the prerequisite class at the same time?

All prerequisites must generally be completed before you will be allowed to take a class. That said, you may be allowed to waive a prerequisite for a course, under certain circumstances.

If you are requesting to be allowed to take a course without having completed the prerequisite, you may submit a Prerequisite Waiver via the EASy system. Prerequisite Waivers require the approval of the instructor.  

Note: You may have an equivalent course that the system does not recognize, especially if you are a transfer student.  If you have an equivalent course that does not automatically transfer, you may have to submit an online petition for a Course Substitution so that the course can be reviewed for equivalency. 

If you are still unsure of whether you need to petition, you may contact a Chemistry department Academic Advisor  through the VAC or visit the Student Affairs office during walk-in hours in YORK 4010.

I cannot attend the first lab meeting. Will I be dropped?

Yes. Those who do not attend the first lab meeting will be dropped. 

A lot of people dropped my CHEM class after the first midterm, so can I add the class now?

If it is before the university's Add Deadline (Friday of Week 2) and there are seats available on WebReg, then you may enroll via WebReg.  If it is past Friday of 2nd week, you may request a Late-Add as soon as possible.  However, please note that the Chemistry department adheres to the University deadlines.  Exceptions to the University's add deadline may be considered only for students with extenuating circumstances.  Contact the Chemistry Advising office for further assistance.

Why did I receive a W for a lab I dropped?

Likely, you did not drop the class quickly enough. Lab courses must be dropped before the end of the second lab meeting; otherwise, you will receive a "W". Chemistry labs tend to be heavily impacted and we must make space available to those who will stay and complete the course.

I am not doing well in one of my Chemistry classes. Should I drop it?

If your current grade is around a D or an F grade, then you should consider dropping the course.  One or a few W grades will not harm you, whereas a D or an F will significantly lower your GPA. Furthermore, continuing to advanced courses after receiving a D or an F in lower courses almost guarantees more failure. All science is very cumulative.

You have until the Friday of 6th week to drop a lecture class with a W. You will receive a letter grade in the course after this time. 

Keep in mind, if you have already received a W for the course, you may not drop it again for a W grade. Per UCSD policy, students who drop a course after the drop with a W deadline (Friday of Week 4), for a course in which they have previously earned a W grade, will instead receive an F grade.

Do not wait until the last minute to drop, to allow for technical issues. Make sure you are in an area with a reliable Internet connection. No exceptions will be made for students who claim their Internet was down.

What happens when I repeat a course?

When you retake a course, the new grade will replace the old grade in the calculation of your GPA.  Both the old grade and the new grade remain on your record, but only the new grade will be factored into your GPA. You earn units only for a course that counts toward the GPA. (The rules are different for Graduate Students. They keep both old and new grades in the GPA calculation.)  Please note that grade replacements are only good up to 16 units.  If you have more than 16 units of course repeats, the new grade and old grade will be averaged.

I got a D or an F in one of my classes. Do I have to retake it?

A D grade is considered passing, so you will receive credit for the course.  That means you can use the D grade to move on in a sequence. However, moving on when you are not prepared guarantees further low grades. For example, if you receive a D grade in CHEM 6B, you are allowed to move onto 6C; however, you almost surely should not, unless your goal is to switch majors but use the courses for General Education requirements.

Upper-division courses have a special rule if you are a major within the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department: you are allowed to graduate with one D in your upper-division coursework for your major.. If you receive multiple D grades, then you must repeat enough to remove all but one D grade.

For F grades, you must repeat the course, if it is a required course for your major.  F grades for courses that are not required do not necessarily have to be retaken, but it would be a good idea to repeat them to boost your overall GPA.

I have questions about the grade that was assigned in my course, what can I do?

Begin by contacting your professor. Only the professor can change a grade.

I got an F in a class, but it is a prerequisite for a class I am taking next quarter. Will I be dropped?

Yes.  Prior to the beginning of the quarter the enrollment system will scan for prerequisites and if you do not have the prerequisite completed, the system will automatically drop you.

Can I take courses toward my major at a community college over the summer?

Some major requirements can be taken at the community college such as lower division courses and organic chemistry.  Equivalent courses can be found on Assist.org

If you wish to use any other course not listed by Assist.org toward a major requirement, you must submit a Pre-Approval petition. 

How do I find a course to take at the community college?

Use ASSIST.org to find equivalent courses. 

How do I find an equivalent course to take at a UC?

See list and instructions here: UC Equivalent Courses

How do I find an equivalent course to take at a CSU or other four-year institution?

Look in the course catalog for the institution. Look for courses that their chemistry major requires.  Remember that before you can get transfer credit, you must submit a Pre-Approval petition to the UCSD Chemistry and Biochemistry department to ensure that the course is equivalent to a Chemistry course at UCSD. If approved, credit can be granted after successfully completing the course.

Can I take major classes for Pass/No Pass?

No.  All classes taken to meet major requirements must be taken for a letter grade. This applies to both upper and lower division requirements.

The only exception to this rule is CHEM 195, 197, and 199 which are only offered with the pass/no pass grading option.

Can I get a D in a course and use it for my major?

Yes.  You are allowed one D in your upper-division coursework required for your major. Note that it is always recommended to retake a course in which you receive a D, especially if that course is part of a sequence.

How do I declare a CHEM major?

Department approval is not required to declare any of the five majors that we offer. If you want to declare or change your major, see Triton Link.

If I still have requirements that I'll be taking in summer, can I participate in commencement?

The department cannot determine this. Please speak with your college academic advisor to inquire.

How can I use Study Abroad toward major requirements?

We are very supportive of students who wish to study abroad. It is important to speak with an advisor in York 4010 as soon as you begin to think seriously about EAP or other related programs. For more information, please visit: http://icenter.ucsd.edu/_files/pao/your-major/biochemmap.pdf

How do I declare a minor in Chemistry?

If you want to declare a minor, see Triton Link .

Can I overlap classes to fulfill both my major and minor requirements?

You may apply only two upper-division courses toward both your major and minor. For example, a biology major may count CHEM 114A and 114B toward both the major in biology and the minor in chemistry.

Lower-division courses can be applied to both your major and minor. 

Can I take CHEM classes Pass/No Pass for my minor?

No.  All courses for the minor must be taken for letter grade. Note that AP courses may not be used for a minor, and all upper division courses must be taken at UCSD.

When do I need to submit a petition to the Chemistry and Biochemistry department?

Any deviation from the department/university requirements as listed in the general catalog for the year you entered UCSD, or any substitution of courses, whether from UCSD or another institution, must be approved by petition.  

Please fill our your petition carefully, and be very clear and concise about what you are requesting and why. Supporting documentation is required for some petition types. 

Submit department petitions as soon as possible, as petition review may take 2-4 weeks. University petitions may take longer. For more information on petitions click here.

How can I earn departmental honors?

See Chemistry Honors page for details!

If I already have a B.A. or B.S. can I earn a second bachelor's degree at UC San Diego?

UC San Diego does not currently accept students for second baccalaureates.

Can I take classes after receiving my undergraduate degree?

No. Once you have received your degree, your undergraduate record is officially closed. You can take UC San Diego Summer Sessions courses, but these appear on a separate record and are not included with your undergraduate work. You can also take UC San Diego Extension courses because they maintain their own student records.

How do I schedule an appointment to see an advisor?

Please call us at 858-534-4856 to schedule an appointment. Appointments are usually for course planning, going over the major or major options, or longer questions that require discussion.

If you have quick, general questions, you can send them to the Virtual Advising Center or drop by the office at York Hall 4010 for walk-in advising during our normal business hours.

I filed my DDA to graduate this quarter. When will I get my diploma?

UC San Diego degree processing takes up to 90 days (3 months). The college completes the review of applications/degree audits for graduation as follows: Fall DDAs - early March, Winter DDAs - late May, Spring DDAs - mid August, and Summer DDAs - late October. The Office of the Registrar begins posting degrees to official transcripts after the college completes the review of applications/degree audits. Diplomas are mailed shortly thereafter. 

The Urgent Degree Posting process expedites the posting of the degree to the student's transcript (an official proof of degree) after the department confirms completion of the major and the college confirms completion of university and general education requirements. A request for urgent posting of degree is an exception.  Please contact your specific college for instructions and requirements.