Lower Division Courses

Humanities and Social Sciences Breadth Requirement – 15 units

The College of Chemistry’s humanities and social sciences breadth requirement promotes educational experiences that enrich and complement the technical requirements for each major.

The Breadth Requirement includes the Reading & Composition and American Cultures requirements.

Reading and Composition. Students must demonstrate reasonable proficiency in English composition by completing with a C- or higher an A-level course (e.g., English R1A) and a B-level course (e.g., Rhetoric R1B) selected from the list of approved Reading and Composition courses.

  • R&C courses must be taken for a letter grade
  • A-level courses must be completed by end of first year; B-level by end of second year
  • English courses at other institutions may satisfy the requirement(s); check with your Undergraduate Adviser
  • After admission to Berkeley, credit for English at another institution will not be granted if the Entry Level Writing requirement has not been satisfied

American Cultures. A requirement specific to the Berkeley Campus, American Cultures courses explore a broad range of topics through the lens of race and ethnicity.

Additional Breadth.  Remaining units must come from the following L&S breadth areas, excluding courses which only teach a skill (such as drawing or playing an instrument):

Arts and Literature
Foreign Language1,2,3
Historical Studies
International Studies
Philosophy and Values
Social and Behavioral Sciences

To find course options for breadth, go to the Berkeley Academic Guide Class Schedule, select the term of interest, and use the 'Breadth Requirements' filter to select the breadth area(s) of interest.

  • Breadth courses may be taken on a Pass/No Pass basis (excluding Reading and Composition)
  • AP, IB, and GCE A-level exam credit may be used to satisfy the breadth requirement

1Elementary-level courses may not be in the student's native language and may not be structured primarily to teach the reading of scientific literature.
2 For chemistry and chemical biology majors, elementary-level foreign language courses are not accepted toward the 15 unit breadth requirement if they are used (or are duplicates of high school courses used) to satisfy the Foreign Language requirement.
3For chemical engineering majors, no more than six units of foreign language may be counted toward the 19 unit breadth requirement.

Foreign Language Requirement

The Foreign Language requirement may be satisfied with one foreign language, in one of the following ways:

  1. By completing in high school the third year of one foreign language with minimum grades of C-.
  2. By completing at Berkeley the second semester of a sequence of courses in one foreign language, or the equivalent at another institution. Only foreign language courses that include reading and composition as well as conversation are accepted in satisfaction of this requirement. Foreign language courses may be taken on a Pass/No Pass basis.
  3. By demonstrating equivalent knowledge of a foreign language through examination, including a College Entrance Examination Board (CEEB) Advanced Placement Examination with a score of 3 or higher (if taken before admission to college), an SAT II Subject Test with a score of 590 or higher, or a proficiency examination offered by some departments at Berkeley or at another campus of the University of California.

Students should satisfy this requirement by the end of their third year (90 semester units).

Chemistry 4A, 4B, 12A+, 12B+

Students study general chemistry and quantitative analysis in a two-semester series (4A-4B) in the first year, and organic chemistry (12A+ - 12B+) in the second. 

  • Students who join the program after completing a general chemistry sequence that does not include quantitative analysis are required to take Chemistry 4B, 15, or 105.
  • Students who join the program after completing Chemistry 3A plus 3AL and 3B plus 3BL at Berkeley are allowed to substitute those courses for 12A+ and 12B+. Students who join the program after completing only Chemistry 3A plus 3AL at Berkeley are recommended to take 12B+.
  • A grade of C- or better is required in Chemistry 4A before taking 4B, in 4B before taking more advanced courses, and in 12A+ before taking 12B+.

Chem 12A = 112A and Chem 12B = Chem 112B for Spring 2017 or earlier.

Mathematics 1A, 1B, 53, 54

This program should start in the first semester of the freshman year.

Physics 7A, 7B

This program should start in the second semester of the freshman year.

  • For chemical biology majors, substitution of Physics 8A-8B is allowed, but 7A-7B are recommended.

Biology 1A and 1AL

Required for the chemical biology major only.