Chemistry Overview

The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry enjoys a solid reputation as a quality program with faculty who strive to be the best teachers and researchers on campus.

Students entering the University of San Diego and/or declaring a major during 2020-2021, should follow information contained in the printed course catalog (also known as the "catalog of record") published on April 1, 2020. Access the catalog of record at

Chemistry is the study of matter and energy and the changes they undergo. It plays a key role in understanding the natural universe and in the scientific and technological revolution that has shaped modern society.


The chemistry program provides a strong foundation in the principles and practices of modern chemistry within the framework of a liberal arts education. The major is designed to give students both the theoretical bases of the discipline and extensive hands-on experience testing theories in the laboratory. We also offer courses that fulfill the science and technology portion of the core curriculum requirements. These courses are designed to acquaint students majoring outside the natural sciences with the basic principles and methods of modern science and with the history and development of scientific thought.

The American Chemical Society (ACS), a national organization that develops and administers guidelines defining high quality undergraduate programs, has approved USD’s chemistry curriculum. All chemistry majors earn an ACS-certified degree.

Our faculty provide dynamic classroom and teaching laboratory experiences, embrace student-learning approaches using active learning techniques to give our new scientists a mix of unique student-centered teaching opportunities.  From your first experience in general chemistry to your last semester in upper-division course and laboratory work our faculty continuously improve how to provide a meaningful and rigorous delivery of interesting and challenging chemistry courses.

Upper division courses are a sequence of integrated laboratory/lecture courses in organic/physical chemistry, inorganic/physical chemistry, biophysical chemistry, instrumental methods and biochemistry. This allows each student to be exposed to an interesting mix of chemistry concepts and techniques making them competitive for professional school and qualified candidates in the job market.

USD's chemistry program is designed to qualify students for: admission to graduate school in chemistry; positions as chemists in the workforce; admission to medical, dental and pharmacy schools; or secondary teaching.