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Thinking about taking chemistry courses? You need to know:

  • Chemistry courses are structured and must be taken in a specific order
  • Some chemistry courses are only offered in the Fall or Spring, not both semesters
  • Your past experience in chemistry will determine which courses you start with at W&M

See the Undergraduate Catalog for full course descriptions. Have transfer credits that might apply towards your degree? Visit the registrar's site for details about transfer credit evaluation. 

If you want to major in chemistry, you should complete CHEM 103 and 103L (General Chemistry I and Lab) and CHEM 206 and 206L (Organic Chemistry 1 and Lab) in your freshman year, if possible. If you get a later start, there are other plans of study that will allow you to complete your degree in 4 years, but this will put you on the easiest track.

Calculus is a prerequisite for several required chemistry courses. You should try to complete MATH 111 and 112 (Calculus I and II) in your freshman year.

We offer different levels of introductory chemistry courses for freshmen, depending on high school preparation.

If You Have AP/IB Credit

If you have AP or IB credit, we encourage you to take CHEM 205 (Advanced Freshman Chemistry) in the fall. This course allows you to begin you study of chemistry in your first semester. Without this course, you would have to wait until the spring semester to take a chemistry course.

You may also take CHEM 190 in the spring. Contact the Director of Undergraduate Research for more information.

If You Don't Have AP/IB Credit

Well-prepared students without AP or IB credit who intend to major in Chemistry may elect to take CHEM 205 with instructor permission. These students must also take CHEM 103L laboratory, and either CHEM 254 or CHEM 256 laboratory.

Placement Testing and Credit by Examination

If you believe you have a strong high school chemistry background, you may opt to take the general chemistry diagnostic exam offered by the Chemistry Department. Based on your score on this short exam you will be encouraged to take either CHEM 205 or CHEM 103 as your first course in chemistry. You might wish to take this exam even if you have AP or IB credit for CHEM 103. Success on the diagnostic exam can help confirm that you are ready to take the accelerated CHEM 205 course. Be sure you are logged into Blackboard before you access the exam directly with this link.

Well-prepared students who don’t have AP or IB credit for CHEM 103 are welcome to enroll in CHEM 205. A diagnostic assessment is available here to guide your decision. On the other hand, those who wish to earn CHEM 103 credit can take an exam at the beginning of the fall semester. This exam is similar in length and scope to final exams in CHEM 103.  Passing the exam will result in credit for CHEM 103 and 103L appearing on your transcript.  Note that you do not have to take or pass the exam for CHEM 103 credit to enroll in CHEM 205.  Passing the exam also gives you the option of enrolling in CHEM 208 in the spring instead of CHEM 205 in the fall.  Email the department or call 757-221-2540 before fall orientation if you would like to schedule an examination.

Introductory Courses offered only in the Fall semester
  • CHEM 103 - General Chemistry I
  • CHEM 103L - General Chemistry Laboratory I
  • CHEM 205 - Advanced Freshman Chemistry
Introductory Courses offered only in the Spring semester
  • CHEM 190 - Freshman Honors Research
  • CHEM 206 - Organic Chemistry I
  • CHEM 206L - Organic Chemistry Laboratory I

First Semester Course Guide by Major