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Undergraduate Marine and Atmospheric Chemistry

The Marine and Atmospheric Chemistry Option of the Bachelor of Science Degree in Chemistry allows the student to extend their laboratory-based understanding of the principles of chemistry to the marine environment, the world ocean, and atmosphere. Your solid foundation in chemistry is broadened by an introduction to chemical oceanography and atmospheric chemistry and the special techniques appropriate to those disciplines. Marine chemists work to understand geochemical distributions and to predict the fate of chemical species in the marine environment. These studies may include both local and global cycles of nutrients and metals, the fate of organic compounds in the sea, trace metal contamination patterns or the generation and cycling of natural gases, like methane and carbon dioxide. Problems of atmospheric pollution and climate change due to increasing greenhouse gases are in the domain of atmospheric chemistry. Chemical research spans the full range of global environments from the stratospheric ozone layer to depths of the ocean.

Declaring the Major

The Marine and Atmospheric Chemistry Option of the Chemistry Major is open to all Stony Brook undergraduates. Perhaps the ideal time to declare the major is at the beginning of a student's sophomore year. It is usually unwise to postpone the declaration past the beginning of the student's junior year. Students who wish to elect this major should speak to the Director of Undergraduate Studies of the Department of Chemistry. They are also advised to contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies in the  School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (SoMAS).

Plan of Study

First-year students usually begin their studies toward the major by completing their introductory studies in chemistry and mathematics. In the sophomore year, studies in marine and atmospheric sciences are combined with mathematics and physics courses. In the junior and senior years, lecture courses in physical, inorganic, and marine or global chemistry are completed as well as an advanced laboratory course in analytical chemistry.


To introduce the student to independent research, each student is encouraged to seek out independent research opportunities. The faculty of the Department of Chemistry, and chemical oceanographers in the MarineSciencesResearchCenter, welcome qualified undergraduate students into their research laboratories. These opportunities are especially suitable for students in their junior and senior years of study. Interested students should review the research interests of the various faculty members and then discuss the possibilities for independent study or research with the individual faculty members who have the research programs of greatest interest. Each summer there are numerous special research programs available at Stony Brook, at nearby Brookhaven Laboratory and at other universities across the country, open to qualified students. Interested students should talk to the Director of Undergraduate Studies several months in advance.


advantage of career opportunities in both the private and the public sector. Numerous agencies at all levels of government as well as national, and international, research groups maintain technical positions for marine or atmospheric chemists. The environmental conservation programs of coastal communities, laboratories of the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, as well as a host of environmental consulting firms, provide entry level opportunities for appropriately trained chemists. Students who supplement the requirements for the Marine and Atmospheric Chemistry Option with carefully selected courses in biology and the social sciences will increase their employment prospects. Since a recognized chemistry program with ample laboratory experience (including research) may provide an edge with many employers, it is suggested that students consider completing the requirements for a degree certified by the American Chemical Society. The Marine and Atmospheric Chemistry Option is also an excellent preparation for students who plan to pursue graduate research in oceanography, atmospheric science or earth science. Masters degrees are usually obtainable after one and a half to two years additional study. Ph.D. degrees usually require four-five years study beyond the Bachelor of Science Degree. Graduate students usually receive substantial stipends throughout their period of graduate study.


Special internships are available for qualified undergraduate students majoring in the chemical sciences. These programs allow students to combine work in an industrial setting with their academic studies. Students in the program work in an industrial laboratory one or two days a week. In return they receive a salary from the company and academic credit from Stony Brook. Interested students should talk to the Student Affairs Coordinator several months in advance.

Double Majors

Highly motivated students often choose to complete the requirements for two majors. Students choosing to major in chemistry may wish to consider a second major in such fields as atmospheric science, engineering chemistry, physics, mathematics, geoscience or biology. Students completing a double major will have an extra credential when looking for a job or when applying for graduate study. However a double major is certainly not a good idea for everyone. Often a better approach is to choose particular advanced courses as electives, matching one's own interests and abilities. And in all cases students should consider the importance of research and additional laboratory courses.

American Chemical Society Certification

The American Chemical Society is the national organization for chemists in the United States. The Society publishes the most prestigious journals, hosts the major national chemistry conferences, and influences chemical education in the country. The Society sets standards for the undergraduate chemistry programs at American universities. As part of this program the American Chemical Society's Committee on Professional Training has defined a minimum set of courses that they consider necessary for a student to achieve the skills needed for entry into the chemistry profession. Students who complete these requirements have their degrees certified by the Society. Students receiving certified degrees are eligible for immediate entry into the Society upon graduation. Certification requires the completion of a small number of courses in addition to those required for the major.

Major Requirements for the Bachelor of Science Degree

Candidates for the Bachelors of Science Degree in Chemistry who elect the Marine and Atmospheric Chemistry option must complete the Chemistry Core Requirements of basic chemistry, mathematics and physics courses, plus a series of area requirements unique to the Marine and Atmospheric Chemistry Option. In addition all students must fulfill the Upper-Division Writing Requirement.

All required courses must be taken for a letter grade; P/NC grades are not acceptable. All of the courses used to fulfill the requirements of the major (CHE, MAT, PHY, BIO, etc.) must be passed with a grade of C or higher, with the exception of three courses, for which the grade may be C-. No transferred course with a grade lower than C may be used to fulfill any major requirement.

Completion of the major requirements entails approximately 65 to 67 credits.

A. Core Requirements

  • CHE 129/130 or 131 & 132 or 152 ( General Chemistry I & II or Molecular Science I)
  • CHE 133 & 134 or 154 ( General Chemistry Laboratories I & II or Molecular Science I Laboratory)
  • CHE 301 & 302 ( Physical Chemistry I & II )
  • CHE 303 ( Solution Chemistry Laboratory)
  • CHE 321 & 322 or 331 & 332 ( Organic Chemistry I & II or  Molecular Science II & III)
  • CHE 375 ( Inorganic Chemistry)
  • CHE 327 ( Organic Chemistry Laboratory) or CHE 383 ( Introductory Synthetic and Spectroscopic Laboratory Techniques
  • CHE 385 ( Tools of Chemistry)
  • MAT 131 & 132 ( Calculus I & II) (Substitutions are possible. See note 1.)
  • MAT 211 or AMS 210 ( Introduction to Linear Algebra or Applied Linear Algebra) (Substitutions are possible. See note 1.)
  • PHY 131 & 132 ( Classical Physics I & II) with PHY 133 & 134 ( Classical Physics Laboratory I & Classical Physics Laboratory II) or PHY 141 & 142 ( Classical Physics I & II: Honors) or PHY 125, 126 & 127 ( Classical Physics A, B & C) with PHY 133 & 134 ( Classical Physics Laboratory I & Classical Physics Laboratory II)

B. Area Requirements for Marine and Atmospherics Chemistry Option

  • ATM 205 Introduction to Atmospheric Science
  • MAR 308 Principles of Instrumental Analysis
  • MAR 333Coastal Oceanography
  • MAR 351Introduction to Ocean Chemistry
  • Two electives chosen from: MAR 301 Environmental Microbiology, MAR 302 Marine Microbiology and Microbial Ecology, MAR 334 Remote Sensing of the Environment, MAR 336 Marine Pollution, MAR 394 Environmental Toxicology and Public Health, ATM 305 Global Atmospheric Change, ATM 345 Atmospheric Thermodynamics and Dynamics, ATM 397 Air Pollution and Its Control

C. Upper-Division Writing Requirement

  • Successful completion of CHE 385


  1. Alternate Mathematics Sequences

    The following alternate sequences may be substituted for major requirements or prerequisites: MAT 125, 126,127,or 141, 142, or MAT 171, or AMS 151, 161 for MAT 131, 132. MAT 203 for AMS 210 or MAT 211. MAT 203 may be replaced by AMS 261.

  2. Transfer Credit

    At least twelve credits of upper-division work in chemistry must be taken at Stony Brook; these must be taken in at least two of the major subdisciplines (inorganic, physical, and organic chemistry).

  3. American Chemical Society Certification 

    The American Chemical Society's Committee on Professional Training has set nationally recognized standards for professional preparation in chemistry. The Chemistry faculty recommends that students intending to pursue careers in the Chemical Sciences secure ACS certification along with their Bachelor of Science in Chemistry degree.

    For ACS certification, students electing the Marine and Atmospheric Chemistry Option need to complete the following courses:
    • CHE 346 Biomolecular Structure and Reactivity
    • CHE 384 Intermediate Synthetic and Spectroscopic Laboratory Techniques
    • CHE 496 Senior Research
  4. Additional Areas of Study

    Because knowledge of computer programming is of great value to all chemists, a course in computer programming is recommended.
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