Core Curriculum for the Vagelos Scholars Program - Includes the Biochemistry Major
(5 c.u. per semester)


Freshman Year  
Fall Spring
CHEM 022 CHEM 022
CHEM 101 or 115 CHEM 102 or 116
MATH 104, 114, or 116 MATH 114, 240, or 260
PHYS 150 or 170 PHYS 151 or 171
College Requirement College Requirement

*Note: Most freshmen enter with some Advanced Placement background. We expect all freshmen to take chemistry, mathematics and physics in both semesters. For example, if you will have AP credit for Physics 150 and 151, you should take Physics 170 and 171. If you have credit for Math 114, you should take Math 240 and 241 or Math 116 and 260. Students starting with Chemistry 101 or 115 and finding them repetitions of previous courses may take Chem 241 in the second semester.

Sophomore Year  
Fall Spring
CHEM 241 CHEM 242 or 243
CHEM 251 - either semester PHYS 240
MATH 240 or other math course Courses for additional major or M.S.
PHYS 280, BIOL 205, or BIOL 221  
Courses for additional major or M.S.  

Three semesters of mathematics are required. If you complete Math 240 or 260 as a freshman, Math 241 is encouraged. Alternatively Physics 230 or any Mathematics 200 level and above are acceptable.

Summer research with stipend at rate comparable to Ph.D. stipend (1 c.u. no grade). Fourteen of the sixteen week summer break.

Junior Year  
Fall Spring
CHEM 221 CHEM 222
CHEM 245 (if not already completed) CHEM 452
CHEM 451 Courses for additional major or M.S.
Courses for additional major or M.S.  
Summer research with stipend at rate comparable to Ph.D. stipend (1 c.u. no grade). Fourteen of the sixteen week summer break.
Senior Year  
Fall Spring
BCHE 404 / CHEM 999 BCHE 404 / CHEM 999
Courses for additional major or M.S. Courses for additional major or M.S.

The Program requires that 40 academic year course units are to be earned at Penn, in addition to any Advanced Placement credit and summer course credit earned. All College of Arts and Sciences General Education Requirements must be satisfied before graduation.

The core consists of four components: (a) a two-semester freshman seminar (half credit each semester); (b) the Biochemistry, Chemistry, or Physics major; (c) additional courses in Biology, Mathematics and Physics; and (d) participation in at least two summers of research. All freshmen will take chemistry, mathematics, and physics in both semesters.

We expect that most entering Freshman interested in and qualified for this program will have advanced placement credit in Calculus I (Math 104). Chemistry 53, 54 laboratory will be waived in most cases. If a student wants or needs to take Calculus I, and/or Chemistry 53, 54, accommodation is possible. Students anticipating one semester of Advanced Placement in chemistry should take Chem 101 or Chemistry 115 and waive Chem 102. Those expecting Advanced Placement credit for an entire year of freshman chemistry (2-3 c.u.) may start organic chemistry. Students with additional Advanced Placement background in mathematics or physics are encouraged to take Mathematics 240/241 and Physics 170/171 respectively. All students are expected to complete a minimum of 40 credit units at Penn. This means 5 credit units each Fall and Spring semester for four academic years.

Students are expected to maintain a grade point average halfway between A and B in all of their science and mathematics courses. In practice this means that your grade point average should place you in the upper third of the College.

We note that the program automatically meets all of the premedical undergraduate course suggestions or requirements of U.S. medical schools.

Also Required: Second Major or Submatriculation

More than 85% of the students end up submatriculating for an M.S. The most common second majors for Biochemistry Majors are Chemistry, Physics, and Biophysics. Other majors in include Biological Basis of Behavior, Biology, Mathematics, and Psychology.

Physics or Chemistry can be the primary major.

For Physics, in the sophomore year, two of CHEM 241, 242, 243, or 251 are required, along with MATH 241, PHYS 230, and PHYS 250 (in place of PHYS 240). Junior and Senior years consist mostly of physics courses.

For Chemistry, see sample schedules.