Return to: USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences
The Department of Chemistry offers degree programs that provide undergraduate and graduate students with core instruction and excellent research opportunities. Undergraduate programs leading to the BS and BA degrees are offered as well as a BS in biochemistry. The BS degree is intended for students preparing for careers in chemistry and related fields, and satisfies the guidelines for a chemistry degree recommended by the American Chemical Society. The BA degree is designed for students who wish a concentration of course work in chemistry, but who have career plans in the health sciences, business or law or other specialty areas. In addition, a chemistry minor is available for students who want a broader exposure to the chemical sciences. A minor program in biology and business is offered by the Departments of Biological Sciences and Chemistry and the Marshall School of Business and a minor program in environmental chemistry and sustainability is also offered jointly with the Environmental Studies program. Graduate programs are offered leading to the Master of Arts, Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy in Chemistry.
Seeley G. Mudd 418
FAX: (213) 740-2701
Chair: Peter Qin, PhD
Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, Biochemistry, Chemical Engineering and Materials Science and Quantitative and Computational Biology and Dana and David Dornsife Chair in Chemistry: Arieh Warshel, PhD
University Professor, Lloyd Armstrong, Jr. Chair for Science and Engineering and Professor of Chemistry: Hanna Reisler, PhD
Paul A. Miller Chair in Letters, Arts and Sciences and Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry: Curt Wittig, PhD
Harold and Lillian Moulton Chair in Organic/Polymer Chemistry and Professor of Chemistry: Nicos Petasis, PhD
George A. and Judith A. Olah Nobel Laureate Chair in Hydrocarbon Chemistry and Professor of Chemistry: G.K. Surya Prakash, PhD
Ray R. Irani, Chairman of Occidental Petroleum Corporation, Chair in Chemistry and Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering and Materials Science: Mark E. Thompson, PhD
Dean’s Professor of Physics and Astronomy and Professor of Physics and Chemistry: Moh El-Naggar, PhD* (Physics and Astronomy)
Provost Professor of Biological Sciences and Chemistry: Raymond C. Stevens, PhD (Biological Sciences)
Viterbi Professorship in Engineering and Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Chemistry, and Physics and Astronomy: Daniel A. Lidar, PhD (Electrical and Computer Engineering)
Judge Widney Professor of Chemical Engineering and Chemistry: Ray R. Irani, PhD
Gabilan Assistant Professors of Chemistry: Megan Fieser, PhD; Kate White, PhD
Professors: Stephen E. Bradforth, PhD; Richard L. Brutchey, PhD; Lin Chen, PhD (Biological Sciences); Xiaojiang Chen, PhD (Biological Sciences); Vadim Cherezov, PhD; Stephen B. Cronin, PhD (Electrical Enginnering); Valery Fokin, PhD; Myron F. Goodman, PhD (Biological Sciences); Malancha Gupta, PhD (Chemical Engineering); Anna Krylov, PhD; Chi H. Mak, PhD*; Noah Malmstadt, PhD (Chemical Engineering); Charles E. McKenna, PhD*; Sri Narayan, PhD; Matthew Pratt, PhD; Oleg Prezhdo, PhD; Peter Z. Qin, PhD; Richard W. Roberts, PhD; Remo Rohs, PhD (Biological Sciences); Barry C. Thompson, PhD; Andrey Vilesov, PhD; Clay C. C. Wang, PhD (Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences); Travis J. Williams, PhD
Associate Professors: Alexander Benderskii, PhD; Jahan Dawlaty, PhD; Kyung Woon Jung, PhD; Vsevolod Katritch, PhD (Biological Sciences); Smaranda Marinescu, PhD; Brent Melot, PhD; Susumu Takahashi, PhD; Chao Zhang, PhD
Assistant Professors: Cornelius Gati, PhD; Michael Inkpen, PhD; Shaama Mallikarjun Sharada, PhD (Chemical Engineering); Yong Zhang, PhD (Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences)
Professor (Teaching): Jessica Parr, PhD
Professor (Research): Karl O. Christe, PhD
Associate Professors (Teaching): Jasmine Bryant, PhD; Rebecca Broyer, PhD
Assistant Professor (Teaching): Thomas M. Bertolini, PhD
Assistant Professors (Research): Peter Djurovich, PhD; Terry Takahashi, PhD
Emeritus: Robert A. Beaudet, PhD; David A. Dows, PhD; Thomas C. Flood, PhD; Thieo Hogen-Esch, PhD; Gerald A. Segal, PhD; Kenneth L. Servis, PhD; Lawrence A. Singer, PhD; William P. Weber, PhD*
*Recipient of university-wide or college teaching award.
Bachelor of Science in Chemistry
The BS degree in Chemistry offers comprehensive preparation in all the core areas of the chemical and molecular sciences. Combining rigorous course work, hands-on training with the latest chemical instrumentations as well as a rich independent research experience, the BS degree in Chemistry prepares our graduates to pursue professional careers in the field of chemical and molecular sciences, or to continue their studies toward advanced degrees, usually the PhD, in chemistry or a related field in the molecular sciences. An option of a BA degree is also available.
Bachelor of Science in Chemistry with an Emphasis in Chemical Research: Information
The BS program in Chemistry with an emphasis in research is one of the first undergraduate programs in the country that offers a research-focus undergraduate degree in chemistry. The BS degree in Chemical Research provides a rich research experience for those students whose goal is to pursue research careers in various fields of the chemical and molecular sciences. The program leverages the strength of USC’s Chemistry Department to offer a curriculum in which research is integrated into the degree program under a purposeful structure:
- immersing students in a genuine research culture from day one;
- giving them first-hand experience in the research laboratory;
- training them in the latest chemical research techniques and instrumentation; and
- providing them with practical experience with how problems are formulated, investigated and solved in the process of scientific discoveries.
Research majors may choose from more than 30 active research groups in the Chemistry Department with which to complete their research requirement.
Bachelor of Science in Chemistry with an Emphasis in Chemical Biology: Information
Chemical Biology is the study of small molecules as targets to effect, manipulate or interrogate biological processes. With the rapidly expanding importance of chemical biology as a key discipline in the chemical and molecular sciences, the Chemistry Department offers a BS degree in Chemistry with an emphasis in Chemical Biology. Building on solid groundings in general, organic, analytical and physical chemistry, the BS in Chemical Biology integrates core knowledge contents from the interface between chemistry and biology, combined with practical laboratory experience and access to the latest chemical instrumentations. Chemical Biology majors will receive thorough training and in-depth preparation to enable them to pursue careers in the field of chemical and molecular biology, biochemistry or any related field in the molecular sciences.
Bachelor of Science in Chemistry with an Emphasis in Chemical Nanoscience: Information
The field of chemical nanoscience focuses on the synthesis of nanoscale materials as well as the understanding of their chemical, structure and physical properties. When the dimension of bulk materials is systematically reduced novel properties emerge on the nanoscopic scale. Nanoscale materials are substantially smaller than bulk, yet they are not small enough to be molecular, and they often exhibit properties that are surprisingly different from most molecular-size systems. This new paradigm in the chemical and molecular sciences offers exciting possibilities, both in its potential for discovering new phenomena particular to the nanoscale and as a vehicle to producing new and useful devices.
The BS degree in Chemistry with an emphasis in Chemical Nanoscience prepares students for a career in the rapidly growing field of nanoscience. The degree program enable students to understand the core chemical principles behind nanoscience and related technologies, focusing on: (1) the syntheses of nanomaterials, (2) their bonding and structural characteristics, and (3) their physical (electrical, optical and magnetic) properties. The BS degree in Chemical Nanoscience helps students build a solid foundation in chemistry and master the comprehensive core knowledge that is required for formulating and solving open problems in the field of nanoscience. The BS in Chemical Nanoscience combines rigorous course work with hands-on laboratory experience in the latest experimental techniques and instrumentation and offers a capstone research experience in the area of nanoscience.
Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry
The BS degree in Biochemistry is offered jointly with the Department of Biological Sciences. The Biochemistry degree combines core foundational backgrounds from chemical, biological and molecular sciences to offer an integrated program focusing on the chemistry and molecular mechanisms of biology, with rigorous course work and hands-on laboratory experiences. A BS degree in Biochemistry prepares students to pursue professional careers in chemistry and/or biology or for advanced studies in the field of biochemistry and molecular biology.
A chemistry minor is available for students who wish to broaden their exposure to the chemical sciences. In addition to a core of five chemistry courses (year-long sequences in general chemistry and organic chemistry and a one semester course in analytical chemistry), students must take one upper-division chemistry elective in either advanced organic or advanced inorganic chemistry.
Environmental Chemistry and Sustainability Minor
The environmental chemistry and sustainability minor is designed for students majoring in business, engineering, law, communications and other professional fields to give them the knowledge of chemistry needed to understand, formulate and manage scientific issues related to natural environmental processes as well as technologies involving the environment.
Grade Point Average in Major Subject
A grade of C- or higher is required in each chemistry course specifically listed as a degree requirement. The GPA for all chemistry courses required for a department major or a physical sciences major must be C (2.0) or higher. The GPA for all upper-division chemistry courses must also be C (2.0) or higher.
Honors Programs in Chemistry
A degree with honors in chemistry is available for eligible Chemistry BA, Chemistry BS, Chemistry BS — Research Emphasis, Chemistry BS — Chemical Nanoscience Emphasis, and Chemistry BS — Chemical Biology Emphasis students. To meet program requirements students must submit an application to the Department of Chemistry and satisfy the objectives of the program.
Students seeking admission must have at least junior standing (64 units) with an overall USC GPA of 3.5 or better in at least 16 units of chemistry courses. Students must complete 8 units of research (CHEM 490 or CHEM 494 , which may also satisfy major requirements*) under the supervision of chemistry faculty with the research results described in an undergraduate thesis reviewed and approved by a faculty committee. To graduate with honors students must earn a GPA of 3.5 in all chemistry courses required for the major and have an overall USC GPA of 3.5.
Upon graduation, transcripts will be noted “Bachelor of Arts with Departmental Honors” for Chemistry BA students, or “Bachelor of Science with Departmental Honors” for students who pursued the various Chemistry BS majors.
*For Chemistry BS, Chemistry BS — Chemical Nanoscience Emphasis, and Chemistry BS — Chemical Biology Emphasis, 4 units CHEM 490 are required for the major; for Chemistry BS — Research Emphasis, 4 units CHEM 490 and 4 units CHEM 494 are required for the major; and for Chemistry BA, 1–8 units of CHEM 490x are required for the major.
Honors Program in Biochemistry
A BS degree with honors in biochemistry is available for eligible students. In meeting program requirements students must submit an application and satisfy the objectives of one of the program options noted below.
Option One: Biochemistry Honors with Chemistry Research
Students seeking admission into option one must have at least junior standing (64 units) with an overall USC GPA of 3.5 or better in at least 32 units at USC, and have a 3.5 or better in at least 16 units in biological sciences and chemistry. Students in this option must complete 8 units of research (CHEM 490x ) under the supervision of chemistry faculty with the results of research being described in an undergraduate thesis reviewed and approved by a faculty committee. To graduate with honors under this option students must earn a GPA of 3.5 in all biological sciences and chemistry courses required for the major.
Option Two: Biochemistry Honors with Biology Research
Students seeking admission into option two must have at least sophomore standing (32 units) with an overall USC GPA of 3.5 or better both cumulatively and in 16 units in biological sciences and chemistry. Students in this option must complete 4 units of research (BISC 490x ) under faculty in biological sciences or under faculty in any other department approved by biological sciences. In addition, students must complete two semesters of Honors Seminar (BISC 493x ), 1 unit each, and one semester of Honors Thesis (BISC 494x ), 2 units. To graduate with honors under this option students must earn a GPA of 3.5 in all sciences and mathematics courses required for the major.
Upon graduation, transcripts of students following either option will be noted, “Bachelor of Science with Departmental Honors.”
The Chemistry department offers Doctor of Philosophy, Master of Arts, and Master of Science degrees in Chemistry, and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Chemical Physics. Close contact between students and faculty is a seminal feature of the chemistry graduate programs. The emphasis is on individualized programs aiming at in-depth understanding and development of scientific maturity. Attention is given to career aims, including research and development; secondary, college and university teaching; and the wide variety of industrial testing, operation and management areas.
A baccalaureate degree, equivalent to the BA with a major in chemistry at USC, is prerequisite to admission to the graduate program in chemistry. A baccalaureate degree in an appropriate physical science, engineering or mathematics is prerequisite to admission to the doctoral program in chemical physics.
Application must be made to the department on a special form, which includes application for fellowship and teaching assistant appointment and is available from the department website. Materials describing the faculty, research areas and facilities will be sent to each applicant.
The department does not accept applicants for a Master of Arts or Master of Science degree in chemistry. The MA and MS degrees are intended only as transitional degrees in the process of completing requirements for the PhD in chemistry.
These degrees are under the jurisdiction of the Graduate School. Refer to the Requirements for Graduation section and The Graduate School section of this catalogue for general regulations. All courses applied toward the degrees must be courses accepted by the Graduate School.
Teaching experience is required for the advanced degrees in chemistry.
ProgramsBachelor’s DegreeMinorDoctoral Degree