Degree Programs/Advising

Undergraduates need to see their advisor every fall to prevent an academic hold. Go to the Undergraduate Advising page for times, dates and names of advisors.

Graduate students need to see their advisor twice a year. (Usually the research professor is your advisor.) See Graduate Advising.

See the Pre-Health website.

Students who earn a score of 3 or 4 out of a maximum of 5 on the Chemistry Advanced Placement Exam can get credit for CHEM 115 but will need to take CHEM 215 and 216. Students who earn a score of 5 do not need to take CHEM 115 or 215 but will need to take CHEM 216 (unless they can demonstrate to a major advisor that their high school chemistry course included appropriate lab experiments). Students who earn a score of 4 or 5 on either the AB or BC level Calculus Advanced Placement exam can get credit for MATH 226. Students who earn a score of 4 or 5 on the Biology Advanced Placement exam can get credit for BIO 230.

Note that it is the student’s responsibility to make sure that the testing service sends their advanced placement exam score(s) to SFSU and ensure that this information appears on their Advanced Standing Evaluation (ASE) form. Note the following University policy on Advanced Placement credit. “San Francisco State University grants credit toward its undergraduate degrees for successful completion of examinations of the Advanced Placement (AP) Program of the College Board. Students who present scores of three or better may be granted up to six semester units of college credit. The university also recognizes advanced placement (AP) courses undertaken by high school students in conjunction with a collegiate institution in those instances where the collegiate institution has recommended credit. For additional information, the student may call or write the Admissions Office or visit One Stop in the Student Services Building.

Most students change their major at least once while in college. Student choosing to change your major to one of the Department’s programs will need to complete a “Request for Change of Undergraduate Major/Minor or Addition of Secondary Major or Minor” form. This requires the signature of the Department Chair. Students changing their major between one of the Department’s programs (i.e., B.S. Chemistry to B.S. Biochemistry) will likewise need to complete this form and should note the differing course requirements for these programs (specifically, physics and calculus).

Yes, assuming that the student can demonstrate the requisite knowledge and skills required for that course. This requires the student contact the appropriate faculty person responsible for teaching the course, completing a “Credit by Examination” form, and taking a comprehensive examination to test their knowledge of the relevant concepts and materials.

Yes. Typically, students can use some of their course required for the major and double-count these towards their GE requirements (i.e., calculus may be counted towards GE Segment I and specific biology, chemistry, and physics classes may be counted towards GE Segment II). There are specific rules for this and students are urged to refer such questions to a GE advisor well before graduation to ensure they have met all the GE and major requirements.

Yes, but you should be aware that many of the upper division biology course options listed in the Bulletin require BIO 240 as a prerequisite. Given that this is not a required course for this degree program, and the fact that this should be a “hidden prerequisite,” students should complete CHEM 340 before enrolling in these advanced biology courses and show an unofficial transcript to the relevant instructor, who will usually waive this prerequisite.

Enrolling in Courses

The deadline is usually four weeks after classes start. Check the academic calendar for details.

See the CHEM 115 page for details about the class and testing.

CBSA is in charge of these lab manuals and sells the them. You will be contacted the first day of class regarding sales.

Yes, especially in the case where the lab section is full and there are other students trying to get into the class. In such cases, the instructor may elect to drop students who do not attend class on the first day. If you cannot attend class on the first day, you should notify the instructor ASAP.


  1. Fill out the probation form.
  2. Have your advisor sign it.
  3. Turn in to TH 806 for chair's signature.
  4. Pick up the form and call (415) 405-3955 to make an appointment with the student resource center (college dean's office).

While nothing prevents you from selecting the CR/NC option, you must keep in mind that all courses required for the major must be completed with letter grades (with the exception of CHEM 693 – Cooperative Education). Hence, the only reason to select a grade of CR/NC would be when you have no intention of using this course to meet graduation requirements for the major. Once a student selects CR/NC as a grading option, this decision is irrevocable.

Yes. Some students are interested in earning degrees in both chemistry and biochemistry. The value of such a dual major is debatable, as there is significant overlap in the courses required for both degrees. Nevertheless, if students would like to pursue this, there is nothing prohibiting them from doing so. However, they should note that the University cannot award B.A. and B.S. degrees in the same semester, and must pay a small additional fee for graduating with the second degree.

Academic Renewal may be used for the purpose of disregarding some undergraduate coursework from graduation requirements. According to Title 5 (Section 40402), "When, in the opinion of the appropriate campus authority, work completed during a previous enrollment at the campus or at another institution of higher education is substandard and not reflective of the student's present scholarly ability and level of performance, all work completed during one or two semesters, as the appropriate campus authority shall decide, may be disregarded in the computation of grade point averages and other requirements for graduation." The conditions for approval noted below must be met for academic renewal to be invoked.

  • The student has requested the action formally and has presented evidence that work completed in the term(s) under consideration is substandard and not representative of present scholastic ability and level of performance; and 
  • The level of performance represented by the term(s) under consideration was due to extenuating circumstances; and 
  • There is evidence that the student would find it necessary to complete additional units and enroll for one or more additional terms in order to qualify for the degree if the request were not approved; and 
  • Five years have elapsed since the most recent work to be disregarded was completed; and 
  • Since the most recent work to be disregarded was completed, the student has completed, at SFSU, fifteen semester units with at least a 3.0 GPA, 30 semester units with at least a 2.5 GPA, or 45 semester units with at least a 2.0 GPA 

If approved for Academic Renewal, the student's permanent academic record shall be annotated so that it is readily evident to all users of the record, that no work taken during the disregarded term(s), even if satisfactory, may apply toward baccalaureate requirements. However, all work must remain legible on the record ensuring a true and complete academic history (Executive Order 213).

Withdraw/Repeat Courses

See Dropping and Withdrawing.

During the first four weeks of a semester, students may withdraw from a course at their own discretion without academic penalty. It is the student’s responsibility to do so via touch-tone registration before the withdrawal deadline, which is typically at the end of the fourth week of the semester. 

After the fourth week of the semester, University policy does not allow withdrawals without “serious and compelling reasons” which must be verified. A student seeking to withdraw from a class during the last four weeks of the semester should note that such withdrawals are not permitted except in cases of verified accident or serious illness where the cause of withdrawal is clearly beyond the student’s control and assignment of an incomplete grade is not practical. In such cases the student seeking to withdraw must complete a “Petition for Withdrawal” form (available from Department Office, Thornton Hall room 806), submit an unofficial transcript and appropriate documentation, and obtain approval of the instructor and Department Chair. 

Unacceptable reasons include the following:

  • Not knowing the prerequisites
  • Not doing well in the course
  • Need a good grade for medical school
  • Got a new job
  • Chronic illness which dates back prior to registration
  • Several days of illness
  • Too heavy of a course load

Acceptable reasons for withdrawal (which must be verified, include the following: 

  • Withdrawal from University
  • Extended illness that began during the semester
  • Obligations stemming from a death in the family
  • Non-voluntary and unavoidable changes in work hours
  • Serious emotional problems

Students seeking to obtain a retroactive withdrawal (withdrawing from a class after the semester is over and a grade has been assigned) must complete a “Petition for Retroactive Withdrawal” forms (available from Department Office, Thornton Hall room 806). Such withdrawals are only permitted in cases where circumstances of a serious and compelling nature prevented the completion of course work and extenuating circumstances prevented the student from submitting a withdrawal petition before the end of the semester. This form should be submitted during the semester in attendance following the semester when the original grade was assigned along with appropriate documentation. A retroactive withdrawal is not appropriate when the student has completed the course and earned a grade, or when the student has stopped attending class but there was sufficient data for the instructor to make a judgment and assign a grade.

Students who receive a poor or failing grade in a class can repeat that course. Note that the Department’s undergraduate degree programs require that all courses for the major must be completed with grades of C or better (with one exception for the B.A. and B.S. Chemistry degrees).

University policy states that “if a student has previously withdrawn from the same course two times, the instructor or Department Chair shall deny the petition.”

A student may be eligible for an incomplete grade if his/her assignments (i.e., exams and/or lab reports) were not completed due to circumstances beyond his/her control. An incomplete grade can be used only if the student was performing at a passing level at the time the incomplete was issued and if he/she has completed at least 75% of the required course work. A request for an incomplete is usually initiated by the student who fills out a “Petition for Incomplete” form, and requires the signatures of both the instructor and the Department Chair.

Note that the student must complete the work agreed upon within on calendar year following the term in which the incomplete was assigned or the incomplete grade will revert to an F. If an extension of this time period is necessary due to extenuating circumstances, the student should contact the instructor and fill out a “Petition for Waiver of College Regulations” form.


  1. Fill out a petition for grade change form.
  2. Have instructor sign form.
  3. Bring form to TH 806 for chair signature.

The deadline is usually four weeks after classes start. Check the academic calendar for details.

The SF State Bulletin is the major resource used by both students and faculty in determining the specific requirements for graduation. Students are bound by the requirements for their degree at the semester in which they declared their major and not by the requirements listed in the Bulletin during the semester they graduate (no ipso facto rules). If a student has been continuously enrolled, he/she may use the requirements from the semester he/she began his/her studies or the semester he/she graduates.

Prior to graduating, students must fill out the “Application for Graduation” form. The first part of this form pertains to courses required for the major. Here, a student must list all the courses required for the major and the grades they received. Students should bring this form and an unofficial transcript to their advisor so that he/she can ensure that they’ve met all of the requirements for their degree.

Some specific guidelines to keep in mind when completing this form include the following:

  • All courses required for the major must be taken for a letter grade (CR/NC not allowed except for CHEM 693) 
  • All courses required for the major must be completed with grades of C or better (note that the BA and BS Chemistry degrees allow for one exception here). 
  • All courses required for the major must be completed with a GPA of 2.0 or better.
  • In cases where a specific course was taken more than once (due to a withdrawal, incomplete, or failing grade), the student should list the course only once and report the best grade.

The second part of the “Application for Graduation” form pertains to GE requirements, in which students must list the GE courses they have completed and their grades. In some cases, students have had to postpone their graduation to complete additional GE requirements, they took GE Segment III courses before they achieved junior standing, etc. Students are strongly encouraged to meet with a GE Advisor well before graduation to ensure that they’ve met all the requirements.

The answer is yes, especially when the degrees are from two different programs and/or departments. Using chemistry and biology as an example, a student can obtain degrees in both of these fields assuming they have satisfied the requirements for both degrees and they submit graduation applications for both of these degrees. If the student is choosing to apply for two degrees from the same program or department, the answer is a little more complicated. The text below lists all possible permutations of degrees from our Department along with the relevant University policy.

Students cannot earn both B.A. Chemistry and B.S. Chemistry degrees. "Double majors leading to the same baccalaureate degree (B.A. or B.S.) do not constitute separate baccalaureate degrees and only one degree and one diploma will be awarded."

Students can earn both B.A. Chemistry and B.S. Biochemistry degrees. "Students may apply for two different baccalaureate degrees (B.A. and B.S.) during the same degree period (meaning the same semester) provided they submit separate applications for each degree and pay the $40 fee for each application. Students who complete concurrently the requirements for two or more baccalaureate degrees will be acknowledged on separate diplomas for each degree earned."

Students can earn both B.S. Chemistry and B.S. Biochemistry degrees. “Double majors leading to the same baccalaureate degree (B.A. or B.S.) do not constitute separate baccalaureate degrees and only one degree and one diploma will be awarded…Double majors within the same baccalaureate program do not constitute separate baccalaureate degrees. Only one degree with multiple majors and/or minors will be awarded and one diploma with all earned majors and minors will be issued. The student record will reflect a maximum of three majors and two minors for each baccalaureate degree. Students can designate the order in which their multiple majors and minors will be printed on the diploma by consulting with their graduation counselor in Undergraduate Admissions. Only one $40 application fee is required. A separate form must be submitted and signed for each major and minor."

See the rules for Double Majors.


Contact the Chemistry Office for current speakers.