Because of the way that prerequisites are written for the Undergraduate Catalog, students sometimes are confused as to the prerequisites for 400-level BCHM courses. The following description of the prerequisites may help:

In order to qualify for BCHM 461 or BCHM 463, you must have successfully completed four (4) semesters of university level chemistry. The four semesters must consist of two semesters of General Chemistry, and two semesters of Organic Chemistry. Each of the four classes must include a laboratory or be accompanied by a completed co-requisite laboratory course.   In addition, the four chemistry courses must be a sequence of courses; i.e., successful completion of the first semester courses is a prerequisite for the second semester course, and so on.

What that means in practical terms is that you have to have taken and passed CHEM 271 or 276 and CHEM 272 or 277 and organic II with lab.

At the University of Maryland, students may complete the four term sequence by taking all four terms here, or by various combinations of transfer credit, Advanced Placement credit, and/or chemistry courses on campus. Whatever the means of completion of the prerequisite courses, a student that is qualified for BCHM 461 or BCHM 463 must have successful completion of a second term General Chemistry AND a second term Organic Chemistry on their transcript.   CMNS majors must complete all prerequisite courses with a grade of C or better.

Here is an FAQ related to BCHM prerequisites

I am majoring in a non-CMNS major, and need BCHM 463 (or BCHM
461), but I got a D in CHEM 241 and/or CHEM 271. Can I enroll in BCHM 463 (or BCHM
461)?

  • You are permitted to take BCHM 463 (or BCHM 461), but are advised that taking biochemistry following a D in organic II is, in the eyes of the Department, unwise. Biochemistry is the study of  chemical process inside a living cell. Not having a solid foundation of general and organic chemistry will make passing a biochemistry course difficult if not impossible.

I haven’t taken all the prerequisites, but I have taken courses in molecular and
cellular biology, genetics, pathology, etc. Can I take biochemistry?

  • No. Those courses are not adequate preparation for biochemistry. Experience has shown that students in your situation who have been allowed to take biochemistry either fail or withdraw in lieu of failing.

Can I take CHEM 271 and/or CHEM 272 and biochemistry at the same time?

  • No. If you need to take a biochemistry course, you need to fulfill the prerequisites first.

Why is the Department so inflexible about these prerequisites?

  • The Department is no more inflexible about the biochemistry prerequisites than any others. The prerequisites are in place to prevent students from wasting their time and money by taking courses that they have little chance of doing well in.

But I heard about some student in my major who was allowed to take Biochemistry without organic, and did fine.

  • Vague anecdotes like this one abound for every difficult course on campuses across the country. Even if such students exist, this is an example of a situation where the exception proves the rule. The fact is, students who haven’t completed organic are simply not prepared for biochemistry, and that is the reason for the prerequisite.

So why the special Biochemistry prerequisite FAQ?

  • Every year, a number of students, often with avoidance of organic II or CHEM 272 as the motivation, request waivers of the prerequisite for biochemistry courses. These students generally think that “biochemistry” is a biology course with some chemistry thrown in. This assumption is in error; biochemistry is a chemical discipline that uses the tools and concepts of organic chemistry, physical chemistry, along with inorganic chemistry and analytical chemistry to investigate biological systems.

Is it necessary to take Biochemistry II (BCHM 462) and Biochemistry III (BCHM 465) in that order?

  • No, BCHM 462 and BCHM 465 can be taken in either order.
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