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A world leader in basic chemical research, the UChicago Department of Chemistry receives more funding from the National Science Foundation than any other chemistry department in the nation. Sixteen Nobel Prize recipients in chemistry have been affiliated with UChicago as faculty, researchers, or students. Two winners of the National Medal of Science are currently part of the chemistry faculty.

Chemistry is concerned with the preparation, composition, and structure of matter, and with the equilibrium and kinetic laws that govern its transformations. The B.A. and B.S. degrees in Chemistry are designed to provide a broad foundation in the three principal branches of the science: inorganic, organic, and physical chemistry. Analytical chemistry, often regarded as an independent branch, is incorporated into the program. Both curricula discuss experimental and theoretical work, and emphasize their interdependence. Both degree programs prepare the student for a career in chemistry. However, the B.S. degree offers a more intensive program of study. The B.A. degree also offers thorough study in the field of chemistry, but it provides a wide opportunity for elective freedom and for the pursuit of interdisciplinary interests in areas such as biochemistry, biophysics, chemical physics, geochemistry, pre-health professions, and education.

By their third year, students majoring in Chemistry are strongly encouraged to participate in research with a faculty member, though the majority of students begin much earlier than that—even as early as their first year in the College.