Office: Central Chemistry Office, 337 Campus Drive West
Mail Code: 94305-4401
Phone: (650) 723-2501
Web Site:

Courses offered by the Department are listed under the subject code CHEM on the Stanford Bulletin's ExploreCourses web site.

For further information about the Department of Chemistry, see the department's website.

Chemistry is about the nature of matter, how to make it, how to measure it, how to model it. In that sense chemistry really matters; it is essential to explaining all the real world. It holds the key to making new drugs, creating new materials, and understanding and controlling material properties of all sorts.  It is no wonder then that chemistry is called the "Central Science." Traditionally, it is divided into subdisciplines, such as organic, inorganic, physical, biological, theoretical, and analytical, but these distinctions blur as it is increasingly appreciated how all of science, let alone chemistry, is interconnected. 

A deeper understanding of chemistry enables students to participate in research and studies involving biotechnology, nanotechnology, catalysis, human health, materials, earth and environmental sciences, and more. Together, faculty, postdoctoral scholars, graduate and undergraduate students actively work side by side developing new probes of biological molecules, modeling protein folding and reactivity, manipulating carbon nanotubes, developing new oxidation and polymerization catalysts, and synthesizing organic molecules to probe ion-channels. The overarching theme of these pursuits is a focus at the atomic and molecular levels, whether this concerns probing the electronic structure and reactivity of molecules as small as dihydrogen or synthesizing large polymer assemblies. The ability to synthesize new molecules and materials and to modify existing biological structures allows the properties of complex systems to be analyzed and harnessed with huge benefit to both the scientific community and society at large.

Undergraduate Program


The mission of the undergraduate program in Chemistry is to provide students with foundational knowledge in the subdisciplines of chemistry as well as depth in one or more advanced areas, including cutting-edge research. Introductory course work allows students to gain hands-on experience with chemical phenomena, gather data, and propose models and explanations for their observations, thus participating in the scientific process from the start. In advanced labs and lectures, students build an in-depth knowledge of the molecular principles of chemistry empowering them to become molecular engineers comfortable with the methodologies necessary to solve complex problems and effectively articulate their ideas to the scientific community.  Ultimately the analytical thinking and problem solving skills developed within the chemistry major make students successful candidates for a wide range of careers in chemistry and beyond, including engineering, teaching, consulting, medicine, law, science writing, and science policy. 

Placement Test for First-Year Undergraduates

All students who are interested in taking general chemistry at Stanford must take the Autumn 2021 General Chemistry Placement Test before Autumn quarter begins, regardless of chemistry background. See How To Choose Your First Class for further details on the Placement Test. 

Graduate Program

The University's basic requirements for the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees are discussed in the "Graduate Degrees" section of this bulletin.

GRE Admissions Requirement

The general GRE and subject test in Chemistry are optional for 2021, but strongly recommended as part of the admissions application for the Ph.D. in Chemistry.

Fellowships and Scholarships

In addition to University and school fellowships and scholarships open to properly qualified students, there are several department fellowships in chemistry awarded based on merit. Teaching assistantships and research assistantships are provided to eligible graduate students. Teaching assistantships beyond the required quarters are available for those interested. Graduate fellowships, scholarships, and teaching assistantships are administered through the Department of Chemistry student services office.

Teaching Credentials

The requirements for certification to teach chemistry in the secondary schools of California may be ascertained by consulting the section on credentials under the "Graduate School of Education, Masters, Stanford Teacher Education Program (STEP)" section of this bulletin and the credential administrator of the School of Education.

Chemical Physics

Students with an exceptionally strong background in physics and mathematics may, with special arrangement, pursue a program of studies in chemical physics.


Emeriti: (Professors) Hans C. Andersen, John I. Brauman, Christopher E. D. Chidsey, James P. Collman, Wray H. Huestis, Robert Pecora, Barry M. Trost

Chair: Steven G. Boxer

Vice Chair: T. Daniel P. Stack

Director of Graduate Studies: Lynette Cegelski

Director of Undergraduate Studies: Christopher E. D. Chidsey

Professors: Steven G. Boxer, Carolyn R. Bertozzi, James K. Chen, Bianxiao Cui, Hongjie Dai, Justin Du Bois, Michael D. Fayer, Keith O. Hodgson, Chaitan Khosla, Eric T. Kool, Todd J. Martínez, W. E. Moerner, Edward I. Solomon, Robert M. Waymouth, Paul A. Wender, Richard N. Zare

Associate Professors: Noah Z. Burns, Lynette Cegelski, Matthew Kanan, Hemamala Karunadasa, Thomas E. Markland, T. Daniel P. Stack, Yan Xia

Assistant Professors: Steven M. Banik, Laura Dassama, Fang Liu, Grant Rotskoff

Courtesy Professors: Zhenan Bao, Stacey F. Bent, Yi Cui, Joseph M. DeSimone, Kelly Gaffney, Jianghong Rao, Andrew Spakowitz, Alice Y. Ting

Adjunct Professors: Christopher Walsh

Lecturers: Megan K. Brennan, Nathaniel Brown, Jennifer Schwartz Poehlmann, Kevin Sibucao, Joshua Visser

Graduate Advising Expectations

The Department of Chemistry is committed to providing academic advising in support of graduate student scholarly and professional development. This advising relationship entails collaborative and sustained engagement with mutual respect by both the advisor and advisee.

  1. The advisor is expected to meet at least monthly with the graduate student to discuss on-going research.

  2. There should be a yearly independent development plan (IDP) meeting between the graduate student and advisor. Topics include research progress, expectations for completion of Ph.D., areas for both the student and advisor to improve in their joint research effort.

  3. A research advisor should provide timely feedback on manuscripts and thesis chapters.

  4. Graduate students are active contributors to the advising relationship, proactively seeking academic and professional guidance and taking responsibility for informing themselves of policies and degree requirements for their graduate program.

  5. If there is a significant issue concerning the graduate student’s progress in research, the advisor must communicate this to the student and to the Graduate Studies Committee in writing. This feedback should include the issues, what needs to be done to overcome these issues, and by when.

For a statement of University policy on graduate advising, see the Graduate Advising section of this bulletin. Academic advising by Stanford faculty is a critical component of all graduate students' education and additional resources can be found in the Policies and Best Practices for Advising Relationships at Stanford and the Guidelines for Faculty-Student Advising at Stanford.