College of Chemistry Scholars Program (COCSP)

Scholars ProgramOverview

The College of Chemistry Scholars Program (COCSP) was established in 1991 to promote and advance the educational and career opportunities of students from underrepresented groups in the fields of chemistry and chemical engineering. It also seeks to address industry's needs for a diverse pool of individuals qualified for technical employment as well as the societal need to understand the chemical and technical processes that shape our lives. There are two components of the Scholars Program: outreach and retention.


What Are Our Goals?

  • To recruit students from underrepresented groups in the chemical sciences to study chemistry and chemical engineering at Berkeley.
  • To inform students from these groups about careers in chemistry and chemical engineering and encourage them to prepare for college-level study in these fields.
  • To educate the community about the impact of chemistry in the world in which they live.


What Are Our Goals?

  • To increase the retention and success rates of students in the College from groups historically underrepresented in chemistry, chemical engineering, and other science fields.
  • To prepare these students for success in science-based industry, public service, or graduate study.

How Do We Achieve Them?

The COCSP has developed a supportive environment and academic community, as well as an innovative, collaborative learning approach to the curriculum of the general (freshman) and organic (sophomore) chemistry courses.

The program offers an intensive discussion session (IDS) for three hours each week in addition to regular lectures and laboratories. The IDS employs nontraditional teaching strategies that encourage the development of a community of scholars. Interactive learning is a core principle and is pursued through worksheets, problem sets, and community-building activities such as faculty visits, laboratory tours, and graduate/professional school preparation seminars. Membership, as a rule, is by invitation and requires the student's agreement to participate fully in the program's activities.

At the completion of the sophomore year, participants are encouraged to pursue research and are assisted by COCSP staff in selecting a faculty mentor. Selected advanced students receive stipends to serve as tutors for the IDS and after-class sessions.


The College of Chemistry Scholars Program is supported by contributions from Chevron, Merck, and Rohm & Haas.

[content coordinated by Shamaya Pellum]