Science Sequences

General Information on Science Sequences

All science majors are required to complete a basic sequence in Chemistry, in Mathematics, and in Physics:

  • Chemistry (CHEM 10171-10172, 10181-10182 or 10171-10122)
  • Mathematics (MATH 10350-10360, 10550-10560, or 10850-10860)
  • Physics (PHYS 10310-10320, 10411-10424-20435, or 30210-30220)

Students electing a major that emphasizes the life sciences also complete an introductory sequence in biology:

  • BIOS 10161-10162 or BIOS 20201-20202.

The appropriate sequence for a student depends on the student's major.

The following describes all of the introductory sequences (including honors) available for science majors. Some options are also described for movement between sequences for the most common situations that occur after the student changes major plans. In all but the described situations, students are urged to consult with the offering department or the College of Science dean's office.

Biology Sequences

Many major programs in science require that a student take a basic sequence in Biology:

  • BIOS 10161-10162 (recommended sequence taken in the first year by most biology and biochemistry students; CHEM 10171-10172 or its equivalent is to be taken concurrently)
  • BIOS 20201-20202 (recommended sophomore sequence for preprofessional and other "life science" majors; CHEM 10171-10172 or an equivalent is a pre-requisite)

Either sequence is acceptable in any science major program which requires a majors-level Biology sequence.


  1. It is strongly recommended that all prospective biology or biochemistry majors take BIOS 10161-10162 in their first year in order to ensure the ability to schedule all required science classes within a four-year period.
  2. Students are not allowed to switch from the 20201-20202 sequence to the 10161-10162 sequence. BIOS 20201 must be completed before BIOS 20202 is taken; similarly, BIOS 10161 must be finished before BIOS 10162 is taken.
  3. In rare cases, students who started with BIOS 10161 will be allowed to finish the basic biology sequence with the course BIOS 20202. While this is allowed, a student should not plan this as an option! BIOS 20202 must be taken after  completion of general chemistry. Moreover, the two sequences cover different material and switching sequences is strongly discouraged.
  4. Upper-level students are not allowed to take courses in the sequence BIOS 10161-10162. Students who wish to take a basic biology sequence after their first year must thus plan to complete a general chemistry sequence before starting BIOS 20201 in the fall. Notre Dame offers the sequence CHEM 10171-10172 in its summer session.
  5. Because upper-level students are not allowed to take courses in the BIOS 10161-10162 sequence, it is not allowed for a student to take BIOS 10161 in the fall of first year followed by BIOS 10162 in the spring of a later year (For a recommended option, see note 3 above.).

Chemistry Sequences

Science majors take one of three basic sequences in Chemistry:

  • CHEM 10171-10172 (taken by most science students)
  • CHEM 10181-10182 (taken by chemistry and biochemistry majors)
  • CHEM 10171-10122 (for students who will not take additional chemistry and will not take biology)

Engineering majors take CHEM 10121-10122.


  1. Students may transition freely between the major's sequence (CHEM 10181-10182-20283-20284) and the non-major's sequence (CHEM 10171-10172-20273-20274). Thus, after completing CHEM 10171-10172 a student may decide to become a chemistry major and take CHEM 20283 at the beginning of the sophomore year.

Mathematics Sequences

Science majors take one of four basic sequences in Mathematics:

  • MATH 10350-10360 (most, but not all, "life science majors," including biology, environmental sciences, neuroscience and behavior, science preprofessional, science-business, science-computing, science-education and arts and letters preprofessional students take this sequence);
  • MATH 10550-10560 (science students majoring in ACMS, biochemistry, chemistry, mathematics, physics, or students in the College of Engineering take courses in this sequence);
  • MATH 10850-10860 (this sequence is taken by students in the Mathematics Honors program);
  • MATH 10450-10460 (this sequence is an alternative to MATH 10350-10360 for students in the Arts and Letters/Science Honors Program).
  • MATH 20550 (Calculus III) is required for physics and mathematics majors. Chemistry majors take CHEM 20262 (Mathematical Methods for the Chemical Sciences) in place of Calculus III.

Notes related to MATH 20570, 20580, 20750:

  1. Engineering students take MATH 20580 (Introduction to Linear Algebra and Differential Equations). Credit is not given for both MATH 20580 and MATH 20610 (Linear Algebra) taken by mathematics majors. Engineering students can continue their study of differential equations with MATH 30650.
  2. Mathematics majors take MATH 20750 (Ordinary Differential Equations). Credit is not given for both MATH 20750 and MATH 30650.
  3. Students are urged to bring all questions on this change to their advisor or to the Director of Undergraduate Studies for the Department of Mathematics. Students changing majors from the College of Engineering to a Mathematics major should also consult on course sequencing with the Director of Undergraduate Studies for the Department of Mathematics.

Notes related to change of majors:

  • The first-year sequence MATH 10350-10360 is not a suitable prerequisite for the course MATH 20550 (Calculus III). Students who have taken MATH 10350-10360 and then change major to a program requiring MATH 10550-10560 should consult their advisor and/or the Mathematics Department. MATH 10560 may be taken after MATH 10360, but students cannot count degree credit in both courses.
  • Moving from an arts and letters major to a life-science major: The following statement of guidance given to SCPP majors applies in many other cases: Students who have completed only six hours of mathematics in the first year may transfer into the SCPP program, but they will be required to complete a mathematics sequence equivalent to MATH 10350-10360 or MATH 10550-10560. Students having taken MATH 10250, 10260 (or 10270) may do this by taking MATH 10360, while those who have taken one semester of lower-level calculus should take both MATH 10350 and MATH 10360. Students will lose degree credit in making this change.
  • In all other cases, students should consult with their advisor and the Department of Mathematics.

Physics Sequences

Science majors take one of the following basic sequences in Physics:

  • PHYS 10310-10320 (sequences taken by science students majoring in mathematics and chemistry or students in the College of Engineering);
  • PHYS 10411-10422-20433 (sequence taken by physics majors and other interested students);
  • PHYS 30210-30220 (sequence taken by "life science majors," including biochemistry, biology, environmental science, math/LFSC, neuroscience and behavior, science preprofessional, science-business, science-computing, science-education, and arts and letters preprofessional students).

Notes related to change of majors:

  • The course PHYS 30220 may be taken after PHYS 10310 or PHYS 10411.
  • Students majoring in Physics will take a third course, PHYS 20433, to complete their basic introductory physics sequence. This course may be taken after either PHYS 10310 or PHYS 10411.
  • For students interested in an elective science credit, the course PHYS 20330 (General Physics III) is recommended to extend the physics sequence PHYS 10310-10320.