FAQ for students deciding between sequences
What is the Chemistry for the Life Sciences course sequence?
The Chemistry for the Life Sciences course sequence is a 3-course, 13 credit chemistry course sequence in which students complete chemistry coursework typically found in one full year of general/inorganic chemistry and one full year of organic chemistry over the course of 3 semesters. After completing this course series, students are able to advance onto biochemistry and molecular biology coursework.
Why was the sequence created?
In the fall of 2016, the University of Minnesota Department of Chemistry began to offer a 3-course, 13-credit Chemistry for the Life Sciences sequence that they created upon CBS’s request. This three-semester series was developed specifically to prepare students in life sciences with the chemistry knowledge needed to be successful in their life sciences domains, including the health professions. In reducing content that is less central to the life sciences, the sequence allows students to progress through the chemistry content most critical to the life sciences at an accelerated pace, as well as engage in more advanced coursework earlier in their academic careers.
How is the Chemistry for the Life Sciences course sequence different from the Chemistry 1061 (traditional) course sequence?
The Chemistry for the Life Sciences course sequence allows students to complete coursework typically found in four semesters of chemistry (General/Inorganic Chemistry 1 & 2 and Organic Chemistry 1 & 2) over the course of three semesters at an accelerated pace. The sequence is able to be shorter than a traditional series by streamlining topics that are typically covered in both general and organic chemistry, cutting review topics, and eliminating topics less central to the life sciences such as nuclear chemistry, transitional metal and coordination chemistry, and molecular orbital theory.
Chemistry for the Life Sciences course sequence:
- CHEM 1081/1065: Chemistry for Life Sciences I + Lab (3 credits lecture, 1 credit lab): Similar to traditional first-semester general chemistry courses, this pairing is paced more quickly, covering content from general chemistry I and moving on to content typically covered in a second semester of general chemistry.
- CHEM 1082/1086: Chemistry for Life Sciences II + Lab (3 credits lecture, 1 credit lab): These courses complete general chemistry education and begin organic chemistry content.
- CHEM 2081/2085: Chemistry for Life Sciences III + Lab (3 credits lecture, 2 credits lab): This final semester focuses exclusively on remaining organic chemistry content and its application.
At the end of this sequence, students obtain 13 credits of General Chemistry through Organic Chemistry.
Chemistry 1061 (traditional) course sequence:
- CHEM 1061/1065: Chemical Principles I + Lab (3 credits lecture, 1 credit lab)
- CHEM 1062/1066: Chemical Principles II + Lab (3 credits lecture, 1 credit lab)
- CHEM 2301: Organic Chemistry I (3 credits lecture)
- CHEM 2302: Organic Chemistry II (3 credits lecture) Note: Not required by some CBS majors, but may be required by some health professional school programs to fulfill prerequisites.
- CHEM 2311: Organic Lab (4 credits lab)*
At the end of this sequence, students obtain 18 credits of General Chemistry through Organic Chemistry.
Regardless of which sequence is selected, many CBS students then go on to complete the following at a minimum. Biochemistry majors also complete additional advanced biochemistry coursework.
- BIOC 3022 - Biochemistry for the Life Sciences (3 credits lecture): Designed as the fourth semester after the three-semester chemistry sequence, our re-envisioned biochemistry course capitalizes on the knowledge built in the sequence to teach more in-depth and cutting edge biochemistry as relates to the life sciences. This course provides an introduction to biochemistry including discussion of the structure and functions of biomolecules (proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, and nucleic acids), central metabolic pathways, and the mechanisms of enzyme action.
Can students switch between the two chemistry course sequences?
Students are only able to switch between the two chemistry course sequences after the first course in each sequence (CHEM 1061 or CHEM 1081). However, after a student completes CHEM 1062 or CHEM 1082, students cannot easily switch between the sequences. The second semester coursework varies significantly between the sequences so much that the courses are not deemed equivalent. If you have further questions about this, please contact an academic advisor.
Does completing the Chemistry for the Life Sciences course sequence versus the Traditional sequence affect my competitiveness for health professional school?
In CBS’s outreach to health professional schools and programs to educate them about CBS’s new chemistry curriculum, no school or program that indicated that they would prefer one chemistry course sequence over the other to fulfill their prerequisites. Some health professional schools and programs did indicate that they would like students to complete additional chemistry coursework to meet their prerequisites.
Because competitiveness for health professional school is based on a variety of factors, the difference between fulfilling prerequisites one way versus another way has much less of an impact on applicant’s competitiveness versus overall grade trends and entrance exam scores when assessing a candidate’s academic metrics. Furthermore, academic metrics are only one part of an individual’s competitiveness; a CBS Career Coach is happy to meet with students to talk about how health professional schools assess competitiveness from a holistic point of view.
Where can I find more information about the Chemistry for the Life Sciences course sequence and information about how it might relate to my future application to health professional schools?
Students may visit z.umn.edu/lifescienceschemistry to see syllabi for each of the courses in the Chemistry for the Life Sciences course sequence. Students may also visit this site to learn additional information about how completing the Chemistry for the Life Sciences course sequence relates to applying to a health professional school and who to contact for further questions.
FAQ for students getting ready to apply
How many health professional schools across the country accept the sequence to fulfill their prerequisites?
Upon review of the Chemistry for the Life Sciences course sequence, the University of Minnesota Medical School, College of Pharmacy, College of Veterinary Medicine, Genetic Counseling Program, Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) Program, and Medical Laboratory Sciences (MLS) Program have agreed that they will accept the Chemistry for the Life Sciences series to satisfy their chemistry course prerequisites, and they have all provided CBS with written documentation of this agreement.
The University of Minnesota Dental School will require its DDS applicants to complete one additional chemistry course to fulfill its prerequisites.
CBS reached out to numerous health programs across the country to share its new chemistry sequence and determine how programs would assess the Chemistry for the Life Sciences course sequence to fulfill prerequisites. Based upon communication received and program prerequisite review, the Chemistry for the Life Sciences course sequence will fulfill general and organic chemistry prerequisites for the majority of medical schools, osteopathic medical schools, veterinary medicine programs, physician assistant programs, genetic counseling programs, and optometry programs.
Many pharmacy and dental schools also communicated that this sequence would fulfill their prerequisites, but some did indicate they would like students to complete additional coursework if they choose the Chemistry for the Life Sciences course sequence instead of the Chemistry 1061 (Traditional) course sequence.
Details about specific health professional schools and programs can be found here.
If a health professional school indicates they want me to take more chemistry coursework, what are my options?
A student should consult z.umn.edu/cbschemistrysupport to review any specific health program’s prior communication to CBS, as well as review how to communicate this sequence to programs that CBS has not received communication from. If a program communicates to a student that they need to complete additional coursework to fulfill a program’s prerequisites, the following options are available to CBS students after completing Chemistry for the Life Sciences:
- Chemistry 2101: Introductory Analytical Chemistry Lecture (3 credits, lecture): Methods/concepts of measurement by chemical/instrumental analysis, including titrimetry, quantitative spectrophotometric analysis, chromatographic separations, equilibrium/rate methods.
- Chemistry 4411: Introduction to Chemical Biology (3 credits, lecture): Chemistry of amino acids, peptides, proteins, lipids, carbohydrates, and nucleic acids. Structure, nomenclature, synthesis, reactivity. Techniques to characterize biomolecules.
- Chemistry 4601: Green Chemistry (3 credits, lecture): Survey key aspects of green chemistry in modern research and development both in academia and industry, as well as relevant implications for the environment, technology, and public policy.
More information about these courses are available at the previously provided link. Before registering for one of these courses, students should follow up with health professional schools directly to determine if these are acceptable options to fulfill prerequisites if schools require more chemistry coursework after Chemistry for the Life Sciences. If a program requires a different course than these options, a student is strongly encouraged to meet with their academic advisor to determine what options, including options at another 2-year or 4-year institution, might be available.
When must prerequisite courses be completed by when applying to health professional school?
Programs can differ in terms of when they would like prerequisites to be completed. It is not uncommon for students to have some prerequisite courses still in progress at the time of applying to health professional school. Many programs indicate that students must complete prerequisite courses by the time they matriculate (begin courses in the health professional program). Because programs can differ in terms of when they would like prerequisite courses completed by, it is important to review each individual program’s website to ensure that prerequisite courses are finished by the time a program specifies they should be completed.
Where can I find more information about how to share information about the Chemistry for the Life Sciences course sequence on my application and with conversations with health professional schools?
Students may visit z.umn.edu/cbschemistrysupport to receive additional application support as it relates to applying to health professional school after completing the Chemistry for the Life Sciences course sequence. On this page, the following is available:
- A summary of CBS outreach to different health professional schools and programs across the country and these programs’ responses to CBS’s chemistry sequence with regards to fulfillment of program prerequisites
- Additional chemistry coursework options if a program has requested a student complete more chemistry coursework, including syllabi for these courses
- Application advice resources including a webinar on how to share the Chemistry for the Life Sciences coursework in the Centralized Application Service system for each health profession
- A letter to share with programs who have more questions about the sequence
- A link to a webpage (z.umn.edu/cbschemistry) designed for health professional schools and programs that provides more information about the Chemistry for the Life Sciences sequence, along with syllabi for all courses in the sequence
- Information about who to contact about questions not answered in these FAQs