University of Notre Dame

The College of Science

Each department in the College of Science offers one or more majors. While there is substantial overlap, differences in requirements can start as early as your first year. For example, while CHEM 10171 is acceptable for most science majors, the biochemistry and chemistry majors require students to take CHEM 10181. If you are interested in more than one field of science as a potential major, review the mathematics and science courses recommended for each of your interests.

If you are thinking of a double major in two sciences, again, special attention to the overlap and differences in requirements is very important. Combinations of science majors that are normally approved include: biological sciences with chemistry; biological sciences with mathematics; biological sciences with physics; biochemistry with mathematics; biochemistry with physics; chemistry with mathematics; chemistry with physics; environmental sciences (first major) with mathematics; mathematics with physics; and Science Business, Science Computing, Science Education with supplementary major in ACMS or statistics.

As you look through the information about College of Science majors, review the mathematics and science courses recommended for your first year. If there are significant conflicts between programs of interest, speak with a First Year advisor about making your course choices.


  • Applied and Computational Mathematics and Statistics
  • Biochemistry
  • Biological Sciences
  • Chemistry
  • Environmental Sciences
  • Mathematics
  • Physics
  • Science Preprofessional (SCPP: premedical and other health-related professions)
  • Science-Business
  • Science-Computing
  • Science-Education

The College of Science requires a minimum of 124 credit hours for graduation. A minimum of 60 credit hours must be in science. All College of Science courses specified by a departmental program must be taken at the University of Notre Dame. In the College of Science, the topical science courses offered as options for non-science majors will not count as a science elective, toward the minimum science credit hour requirement, or toward the degree credit requirement.

The College of Science offers a wide variety of programs within each of its five departments:


The Department of Applied and Computational Mathematics and Statistics offers programs of study leading to the Bachelor of Science degree in applied and computational mathematics and statistics (ACMS). Computational skills, which are often required to solve real-world problems, will be developed continuously throughout the curriculum. For many students, significant work in an area of application will complement their core studies. The interplay between mathematics, statistics and the biological sciences are explored in the biological sciences concentration of the ACMS major. Graduates of the program will be well prepared for the graduate studies in applied mathematics and statistics, computational science, bioinformatics, and other interdisciplinary fields. Employment using quantitative methods in business and finance is also possible.


This program has a core curriculum that is required for all majors. As the biology major encompasses many areas of life sciences, including molecular genetics, cell biology, developmental biology, physiology, infectious disease and global health, evolutionary biology, and ecology, majors are able to prepare a solid foundation in any area they wish in support of graduate studies, medical or other health-related careers, or any number of other careers in life sciences. Because even many areas of ecology are now utilizing modern molecular methods of sample and data analysis, the major’s primary emphasis is on the modern molecular approach to life sciences. Students with strong interests in environmental biology often decide their first or second year to pursue the Environmental Science major as an alternative. Students with no interest in medical or other health-related post-baccalaureate programs often pursue a Ph.D. in some area of life science noted above. Other students might focus on biomedical research and preparation for modern clinical medicine of the 21st Century. All students with a research interest are encouraged to participate in undergraduate research no later than their junior year. Students preparing for medical school who have also thought of biomedical research or are interested in an M.D./Ph.D. career should seriously consider biology as a major. To better train all majors in advanced life science and research approaches to studies, this major requires more laboratory work than SCPP or APH2. Pre-medical biology majors are encouraged to participate in undergraduate research as well, no later than their junior year. To best prepare for this major, and to allow for maximum exploration of advanced courses in the last three semesters, including graduate courses open to majors, it is imperative that students begin their first year with BIOS 10161-10162 along with CHEM 10171-10172. For biology pre-medical students, this also facilitates studying overseas in the fall of junior year and still taking the MCAT on schedule. For any major not intending on taking the MCAT or related exam, application for either fall or spring semester overseas junior year is encouraged, especially for locations where science is offered for transfer credit.

Students majoring in biological sciences may choose among the following course groupings in the context of that program’s core curriculum:

1) General Biosciences (premedical)
2) Genetics, Physiology, Cell, and Molecular Biology
3) Ecology, Evolution, Environmental, and Organismal Biology
4) Microbiology and Infectious Diseases

Any one of the four groupings or any combination can serve as a “premedical core” curriculum. Students seeking a career in an area of biology or life sciences may use any of the four course groupings as a guide to selecting suggested classes based on their individual interests and career aspirations. However, the course groupings serve only as a guide to course selection; students are not required to stay with any grouping if their interests change. Selection of these second-, third-, and fourth-year courses is made at the end of the first year in consultation with the biology advisor.

Each individual student may develop his or her unique course sequence depending on interests or career aspirations. The major is quite flexible and students may change directions without having to start over since there are no formal tracks or sequences students must follow beyond the core curriculum. A substantial number of students preparing for medical, dental, or veterinary school and other health-related fields choose biological sciences as their major.


The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry offers majors in chemistry, biochemistry, and two specially designed combination programs: chemistry with business and chemistry with computing. The majority of graduates typically enter doctoral programs, professional programs (medicine, law, or business), or begin professional employment in such areas as pharmaceutical/biotechnological research, development, or sales.


The Department of Biological Sciences offers a program of study leading to the degree of Bachelor of Science with a major in environmental sciences. Also offered is a second major in environmental sciences for students in the College of Arts and Letters or in the Mendoza College of Business.

Students who decide to major or second major in environmental sciences at the beginning of their first year are strongly encouraged to complete Biological Sciences I and II (BIOS 10161–BIOS 10162) during their first year.


The Department of Mathematics offers the mathematics honors major and the mathematics career major for students interested in pursuing graduate work or industrial careers in mathematics. This department also offers special combination programs such as mathematics and life sciences, mathematics and computing, mathematics education, mathematics and business administration, mathematics and engineering science. A minor in actuarial science is a new course of study tailored to the needs of students interested in actuarial careers, especially in business. The minor is based in the Department of Mathematics and is best suited for math and ACMS majors.

The Seminar for Undergraduate Research (SUMR) is available only for honors mathematics majors.
Students in the College of Arts and Letters may major in honors mathematics or may study mathematics as a second major. Students in the Mendoza College of Business may study mathematics as a second major.

Neuroscience and behavior explores how the brain and nervous system influence human behavior, including how we think, make decisions, take risks,regulate emotion, and adapt to stress. The field is essential to how we understand physical and psychological health, along with disorders and their treatment and remediation. Neuroscience is a strongly interdisciplinary field of study, and the major includes required and elective courses in psychology and biology. Undergraduate research and elective coursework form other departments are encouraged.


The Department of Physics offers a core curriculum in classical and modern physics for all majors. There are several versions of the major, and several concentrations, designed to meet the needs and interests of a wide range of students. The core physics major is intended for students requiring a strong background in physics in pursuit of a career in science, engineering, business, or law. This core program can be augmented with concentrations in advanced physics, astrophysics and/or computing for students interested in a professional career in physics or in graduate school studies in physics or astronomy. Two other versions of the major are also offered. The Physics in Medicine Program is designed for students on a premedical, medical technology, or biophysics career track. The Physics in Education Program is designed for students wishing to teach high school. Concentration programs (e.g., applied physics) in other areas are also available. Students who do not intend to enter the College of Science may study physics as a second major.


The Department of Preprofessional Studies offers an interdisciplinary major in premedical science (science preprofessional) for the student interested in a career in medicine or other health oriented professions. This program is designed to provide a broad base in the sciences, mostly biology and chemistry, rather than a “major” in any one science. It includes a number of elective courses to permit interdisciplinary science combinations, as well as science/ nonscience combinations. This program includes more science courses than the APH2 program.


If you are seeking a broad science curriculum as the basis for a career in the health professions, business world, in science education, or computer applications, the Department of Preprofessional Studies offers three interdisciplinary collegiate sequences:

  • Science–Business (SCBU)
  • Science–Computing (SCCO)
  • Science–Education (SCED)

All of the programs allow for a strong science foundation while including a diverse background in the arts and humanities. A student in the science– business sequence takes five business courses starting in the junior year. The science–education sequence includes all education courses required for certification to teach science at the secondary level. In the science–computing sequence, a student ordinarily takes the basic computing courses in the junior year and additional courses in the senior year.