Distinguished Majors Program

Distinguished Majors Symposium

Friday, April 19th, 2024 


Students may enroll in the Distinguished Majors Program in Chemistry at any time. You need to have an idea if the Distinguished Majors Program is something you wish to pursue prior to the beginning of the seventh semester [only because TWO semesters of research (3 credits each) are required]. Application for the Distinguished Majors Program must be made by February 1st of your fourth year. Students enrolled in the Distinguished Majors Program must have a cumulative GPA of 3.400 or higher by graduation. Administration of the Distinguished Majors Program is the responsibility of the department’s Undergraduate Studies Committee.

Course Requirements

Candidates for the Distinguished Majors Program in Chemistry will complete all requirements outlined in the Undergraduate Record, on our website, and in handouts for the B.S. in Chemistry (any or no Specialization). Students completing the requirements for the B.A. in Chemistry are required to pass an additional three-hour lecture course in chemistry, at the 400-level or higher, beyond the minimum requirements for the B.A. No additional formal course work in chemistry is required in the Distinguished Majors Program for those students who complete the B.S. in Chemistry (any or no Specialization). The courses comprising the requirements for the B.S. in Chemistry and the B.A. in Chemistry can be found in the Undergraduate Record, on our department website, or in our handouts.

Students in the Distinguished Majors Program will complete, in addition to the courses outlined above, two semesters (6 credit hours) of guided study and research (CHEM 3951, 3961, 4951, and/or 4961) under the supervision of a member of the faculty. (B.S. in Chemistry majors may also count these research courses toward fulfillment of the research option for CHEM 3721 and ACS Certification.) The student's research does not need to be within the Department of Chemistry. The student’s research work will be described in written form.

*Effective Fall 2024, each candidate will have a committee of three faculty members - two chemistry faculty and their PI/Mentor.

As indicated in the Undergraduate Record, the student’s cumulative gpa at graduation must be 3.4000 or higher for all courses taken at the University of Virginia (not just the major courses).

The Nature of the Final Projects

The fourth-year project is intended to foster independent thought and to develop the student’s ability to perform scientific research. “Research” in this context may be experimental, theoretical or computational, but must make reference to experimental work, including the canons of experimental design and the interpretation of data. It is essential to place the work in a modern context, which requires a review of the relevant primary chemical research literature. The thesis must be approved by the research advisor and submitted to the Undergraduate Advising Committee three days prior to the symposium and poster session. The symposium and poster session are held on the same day. Both events are free and open to the public. 

Public Presentation of the Final Projects

In addition to a thesis of the fourth-year project, students are required to do a seven to eight minute PowerPoint presentation at the DMP Symposium and present a research poster at the Department of Chemistry's ACS Poster Session in April. A defense of the thesis is no longer required. 


The student's committee along with members of the Undergraduate Programs Committee will evaluate the written report of the research project, poster, and the oral presentation. They will recommend to the Chair of the Department of Chemistry that the degree be awarded

  1. with distinction
  2. with high distinction
  3. with highest distinction

as they consider appropriate. The precise designation will be decided on an individual basis, and reflect the research advisor’s and the committee’s judgment of the student’s academic performance and research accomplishments. The commitees may also recommend that none of the levels of distinction be awarded to a particular student. The Chair will review the recommendations of the Undergraduate Studies Committee and forward the Department’s recommendation to the Committee on Special Programs no later than ten days before Commencement.

For more information on the Distinguished Majors Symposium or the Defense, please see the Distinguished Majors Program FAQs or contact Cindy Knight.


The information contained on this website is for informational purposes only. The Undergraduate Record and Graduate Record represent the official repository for academic program requirements. These publications may be found at www.virginia.edu/registrar/catalog/ugrad.html