College of the Environment, Forestry, and Natural Sciences2021-2022

Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Chemistry, Bachelor of Science

  • Available Emphasis Areas:
  • Chemistry Advanced - Emphasis
  • Forensics & Criminalistics - Emphasis
  • Health Preprofessional - Emphasis

This degree offers three emphases to allow students to tailor the program to their career goals.


What Can I Do with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry?

If you're excited by the possibilities in test tubes and eager to find adventure in the laboratory, then discover chemistry. Chemistry deals with the basic laws of the physical world and the composition and properties of matter. Advances in computer technology, pharmaceuticals, space exploration, and medicine all have their roots in the chemical sciences. Demand for well-trained technicians and researchers is rising. Our programs prepare you for careers in industry (about 75% of chemists are employed privately), pure science, or the health care professions. Many students prepare for medical, dental, or veterinary school with a chemistry major. Depending on your career path, you can choose one of several emphases. The chemistry program also offers opportunities to participate in faculty-led undergraduate research or independent study projects.

Career opportunities that might be pursued:
  • Biological or analytical testing laboratories
  • Pharmaceutical companies
  • State or federal government agencies
  • Agricultural chemical companies

With further education, one of these paths is possible:
  • Physician
  • Veterinarian
  • Crime lab analyst
  • University professor

University Requirements

  • To receive a bachelor's degree at Northern Arizona University, you must complete at least 120 units of credit that minimally includes a major, the liberal studies requirements, and university requirements as listed below.

    • All of Northern Arizona University's liberal studies, diversity, junior-level writing, and capstone requirements.
    • All requirements for your specific academic plan(s).
    • At least 30 units of upper-division courses, which may include transfer work.
    • At least 30 units of coursework taken through Northern Arizona University, of which at least 18 must be upper-division courses (300-level or above). This requirement is not met by credit-by-exam, retro-credits, transfer coursework, etc.
    • A cumulative grade point average of at least 2.0 on all work attempted at Northern Arizona University.
    The full policy can be viewed here.



In addition to University Requirements:

  • At least 39-50 units of major requirements
  • At least 22 units of emphasis requirements or at least 18 units of minor requirements

  • Up to 9 units of major prefix courses may be used to satisfy Liberal Studies requirements; these same courses may also be used to satisfy major requirements

  • Elective courses, if needed, to reach an overall total of at least 120 units

Please note that students may be able to use some courses to meet more than one requirement. Contact your advisor for details.

Minimum Units for Completion 120
Highest Mathematics Required MAT 137
Fieldwork Experience/Internship Optional
Research Optional
University Honors Program Optional
AZ Transfer Students complete AGEC-S Recommended
Progression Plan Link View Progression Plan
Emphasis or Minor Required

An emphasis or minor is required for this major.

Purpose Statement

Chemistry is a diverse discipline that encompasses living processes, inorganic interactions, and analytical methods. Chemistry deals with the basic laws of the physical world and the composition and properties of matter. Students trained in chemistry enter careers in academia, research, pharmacy, forensics, medicine, the environment, space exploration, and national defense. Students can select an emphasis that best prepares them for their chosen career path. 

The breadth of the field of chemistry requires a wide range of knowledge and skills. The goal of the NAU chemistry degree program is to ensure that our graduates:

  • are well versed in the fundamental principles of chemistry: the atomic theory of matter, the quantum nature of the atom, and the principle laws of thermodynamics;
  • are knowledgeable about frequently encountered elements, compounds, and reactions;
  • understand biosynthetic pathways and modes of action of biomolecules;
  • understand factors controlling the mechanisms of chemical reactions;
  • are knowledgeable about synthesis strategies and can successfully conduct synthetic sequences in the laboratory;
  • understand the principles of chemical analysis and are proficient at using modern instrumentation to carry out analysis;
  • are adept at solving problems independently and contributing to a team effort;
  • able to communicate their scientific results orally and in writing.

Student Learning Outcomes

All Chemistry Degrees
  • Atomic Theory: Recognize that modern chemical science is based upon the idea of atoms, their combination in compounds, and their recombination in the course of chemical reactions.
  • Quantum Nature of the Atom: Realize that physical and chemical properties of matter result from subatomic particles that behave according to physical rules not apparent in the behavior of macroscopic objects, and discern the importance of spectroscopy in establishing this behavior.
  • Thermodynamics: Understand the principal laws of thermodynamics and how these dictate the behavior of chemical substances. Students must also understand how the thermodynamic information about chemical and physical changes shape chemist’s explanations of interactions between atoms, molecules, and other ensembles of particles.
  • Frequently Encountered Elements, Compounds and Reactions: Possess a mental library of common substances, their physical properties, and reactions that they undergo. The major classes of organic chemicals and their reactions, the characteristic reactions of other elements of the periodic table, solubility, acid/base, and redox chemistry all must be familiar to students. Students must also be aware of the hazards, both personal and environmental, associated with elements and compounds.
  • Mechanisms of Reactions: Understand how the study of the rates of chemical reactions and the structures of the products of these reactions can lead to knowledge of the detailed atomic-level behavior of chemical substances and elucidation of their chemical and physical properties.
  • Synthesis: Use their knowledge of chemical reactivity to plan and execute the preparation of compounds from common starting materials.
  • Skills and Techniques: Work independently using their own hands and intellect to solve chemical problems with traditional and modern laboratory tools. Students work together in teams, sharing tasks, results and interpretations without compromising the integrity of the investigation.
  • Communication of Scientific Results: Retrieve detailed information about chemical and physical properties of substances and accounts of other experimental or theoretical research. Students must communicate their own results in writing and speaking using appropriate scientific formats and language. Students incorporate into their results an awareness of the global context in which results and theories are formulated, communicated, and debated.

All Chemistry Emphases 
  • Kinetic Molecular Theory: Understand that atomic, molecular and ionic particles are in constant motion. Ensembles of these particles have a characteristic distribution of kinetic energies based on the temperature of the sample.  Use knowledge of this distribution of kinetic energy to predict chemical and physical properties of the sample.
  • Structure and Bonding: Understand how atoms combine in covalent molecules, coordination complexes and ionic solids, and understand the importance of the 3-D arrangements of atoms and ions in these molecules. Students use this information to predict interactions between ions, atoms, molecules and other bonded collections of atoms.
  • Chemistry Analysis: Have the necessary knowledge and strategies for the separation, identification and quantification of compounds and elements from complex mixtures. Identify uncertainties associated with these measurements.
  • Measurement of Chemical and Physical Properties: Use traditional and modern laboratory equipment to measure chemical and physical properties of substances and be able to correlate the resulting data with chemical models of structure and reactivity.
  • Chemical Instrumentation: Understand the fundamental physical and chemical principles involved in instrumental chemical analyses. Understand the chemistry relevant to sampling and sample preparation and apply these to the successful operation of instruments regardless of model or manufacturer.
  • Biosynthesis and Bioactivity: Understand the biosynthetic pathways and modes of action of biomolecules. Understand the importance of the 3-D arrangements of atoms and ions in these molecules. Students should also be aware of the relationship between structure and bioactivity of molecules.
  • Forensics and Criminalistics: Perform a range of the job functions of a chemist in a forensic science laboratory including: following strict procedures regarding the handling and documentation of evidence, applying scientific protocols to ensure the quality and reliability of tests and equipment, and applying the appropriate chemical analytical scheme to be used on physical evidence.


Major Requirements
  • This major requires 57 to 80 units distributed as follows:

    • Chemistry Common Courses: 39 units
    • Selection of an emphasis or a minor: 18 to 41 units
      • Chemistry - Advanced Emphasis: 22 to 23 units
      • Forensics and Criminalistics Emphasis: 30 to 41 units
      • Health Preprofessional Emphasis: 24 to 25 units
      • Minor: 18 to 24 units

    Students must complete all Chemistry coursework with no more than two grades of D. Some prerequisite courses require a C or better.

    • Minor Option

      If selecting the Minor option, complete a minor of at least 18 units from those described in the catalog. In consultation with an adivsor, students should select a minor that's appropriate for their career aspirations and educational needs. 

      If electing to complete the B.S. Chemistry with a (non-Chemistry) minor, take the following 10-11 units plus at least 18 units of minor requirements.

General Electives
  • Additional coursework is required, if, after you have met the previously described requirements, you have not yet completed a total of 120 units of credit. 

    You may take these remaining courses from any academic areas, using these courses to pursue your specific interests and goals. We encourage you to consult with your advisor to select the courses that will be most advantageous to you. (Please note that you may also use prerequisites or transfer credits as electives if they weren't used to meet major, minor, or liberal studies requirements.)

Additional Information
  • Be aware that some courses may have prerequisites that you must also take. For prerequisite information click on the course or see your advisor.

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