Transfer Students & Transfer Credit

Regular registered MIT students can apply to receive credit for chemistry courses taken at another college or university by following the procedures outlined below. Transfer credit will be awarded only when the course taken elsewhere substantially resembles an MIT chemistry subject and when the student receives a grade of at least B (or the equivalent). When an application is approved, the student receives credit for the equivalent MIT subject with a grade of "S".

Information for Incoming Students (Freshmen and Transfer Students)

Incoming freshmen who have taken a college-level chemistry course at another college or university (rather than in their high school) have the option of either (a) taking the MIT Chemistry Advanced Standing Exam (see below), or (b) applying for transfer credit. Incoming freshmen who wish to apply for transfer credit should follow the instructions here and instructions for incoming transfer students is available here.

Advanced Standing Exams for 5.111/5.112

Incoming freshmen who wish to receive credit for 5.111 based on chemistry courses they have taken in high school are not eligible for transfer credit and must take the MIT Chemistry Advanced Standing Exam. Students who pass this exam receive credit for 5.111 with a grade of P; no record is kept of non-passing grades.

Upperclass transfer students who have not taken 5.111, or 5.112 at MIT may take the Advanced Standing Exam. If you pass this exam you will receive credit for 5.111 and a letter grade (A through F, which is not counted in your grade point average). Register HERE to take the Advanced Standing Exam as a Transfer Student. The deadline for registration is Monday, August 11, 2014.

Summary of Transfer Credit Application Procedure for Current MIT Students

  1. Print a copy of the form "Request for Additional Credit Based on Subject Completed at Outside Institution" or pick up a copy from the Chemistry Education Office (6-205).
  2. Complete the form and bring it to the Chemistry Education Office (6-205) with the supporting documents (see below).
  3. Your application will be reviewed by the Chemistry Transfer Credit Examiner, with the assistance of other faculty. You will be notified of the status of your application by the Chemistry Education Office.
  4. If your application is approved, the "Request for Additional Credit" form (signed by the Chemistry Transfer Credit Examiner) will be returned to you. This form should be handed in to the Registrar's Office in 5-119.

Inquiries Concerning Transfer Credit

MIT Chemistry does not “pre-approve” courses for transfer credit (eg, for classes taken over the summer). If, however, you would like to have the Transfer Credit Examiner give you a non-binding opinion as to whether the course you want to take has a chance to transfer, then follow these three steps:

1. Obtain a detailed syllabus and catalog course description for the course you wish to take - be sure to include lecture hours, textbook information, and lecture topics.

2. Fill out the "Request for Additional Credit Based on Subject Completed at Outside Institution" form.

3. Bring these materials to the Chemistry Education Office (6-205) with your name, email address, and the course you want this class to count for (ie, if you hope to take a general chemistry course somewhere else and have it count for 5.111, please write that down)

4. The Transfer Credit Examiner will look over the materials you provide and conjecture as to the possibility of the credit transferring. Please note that responses to such inquiries are non-binding advisory opinions only. Transfer credit will not be approved until after you have taken the course and an application form, transcript, and all of the supporting material described below is submitted for evaluation.

Application Procedure: What to Submit

  • A copy of the official transcript from the outside institution showing the final grade (B or higher) for the subject you completed. You must arrange to have the transcript sent directly to the MIT Registrar's Office, and you should then obtain a copy from the Registrar to submit to the Chemistry Department with your application for transfer credit.
  • A completed copy of the form "Request for Additional Credit Based on Subject Completed at Outside Institution." This form requires you to provide information on the course taken at the outside institution including the subject name and number, the principal textbook(s) used, the chapters covered, and the number of hours per week of lectures, recitations, etc.
  • A copy of the catalog description for the course taken at the outside institution as well as a detailed syllabus for the subject.
  • Applications for transfer credit must be accompanied by copies of all of your problem sets and exams, showing your original work, from the course taken at another college or university. 

Guidelines for Specific Chemistry Subjects

Principles of Chemical Science (Chemistry 5.111/5.112)

Upperclass students (and second-semester freshmen) who have taken a college-level chemistry course at another college or university can apply for transfer credit (awarded as a grade of S in 5.111) by following the application procedure described above. Completion of two semesters of general chemistry covering the topics outlined below usually is necessary to receive credit; however, one semester of an accelerated general chemistry course that covers this material may also be acceptable. The Transfer Credit Examiner will review the syllabus, problem sets, and exams that you must provide with your application to determine whether the course you took is acceptable with regard to the scope of topics studied and depth of coverage. A grade of B or better must be received in each course to qualify for credit. All of the following topics must be covered in the courses being considered for credit:

  • Atomic theory, wave-particle duality, photoelectric effect, diffraction
  • Introduction to quantum mechanical concepts: wave equation, wavefunction
  • Hydrogen atom orbitals, shell structure, trends in periodic table
  • Photoelectron spectroscopy
  • Covalent and ionic bonds, Lewis structures, VSPER
  • Molecular kinetic theory, Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution function
  • Intermolecular forces and liquids
  • Internal molecular motions and spectroscopy
  • Heat, work, energy, heat capacity
  • Enthalpy, entropy, free energy
  • Chemical equilibrium
  • Acid-base calculations, buffers and titrations
  • Electrochemistry, oxidation-reduction
  • Hybridization, valence bond theory, molecular orbital theory
  • Transition metals and coordination chemistry, ligand field theory, magnetism
  • Kinetics, rate laws, catalysis
  • Structure and bonding in solids, electronic and polymeric materials
  • Introduction to biochemical concepts

Organic Chemistry (Chemistry 5.12 and 5.13)

The 5.12/5.13 organic chemistry sequence at MIT covers more material and involves a more sophisticated treatment of many topics as compared to typical one-year organic chemistry courses offered at other institutions. In general, students who have taken a standard one-year course at another university and received a grade of B or higher can apply for transfer credit for 5.12 by following the application procedure detailed above. Credit for 5.13 will not be awarded based on a "standard" one-year organic chemistry course taken elsewhere. However, students who have taken one year of an "honors" or "accelerated" version of organic chemisty at another institution may be eligible for 5.13 transfer credit. If you wish to apply for 5.13 transfer credit, follow the application procedure described above and provide supporting material indicating that the course you took was an "honors-level"course which covered all of the following topics:

  • Structure and bonding in organic compounds
  • Substitution and elimination reactions: mechanism and synthetic applications
  • Carbonyl chemistry including reactions of carbohydrates
  • Chemistry of benzene derivatives
  • Structure determination, including application of IR, MS, and proton and carbon NMR
  • Stereochemical principles including conformational analysis
  • Mechanism and synthetic applications of stereoselective reactions
  • Chemistry of alkenes and alkynes
  • Molecular orbital theory, pericyclic reactions
  • Chemistry of heterocyclic compounds
  • Chemistry of carbocations, including rearrangements
  • Chemistry of carbenes and free radicals
  • Retrosynthetic analysis, applications of C-C bond-forming reactions in synthesis

Physical Chemistry 5.60 ("Thermodynamics and Kinetics")

Chemistry 5.60 discusses the principles of both thermodynamics and chemical kinetics at a level much more sophisticated than that presented in 5.111/5.112. This subject covers topics typically taught in upper-level physical chemistry courses at other institutions. Multivariable calculus is employed to describe the principles of thermodynamics and 5.60 also includes a comprehensive discussion of reaction kinetics based on the application of differential equations. Students can apply for transfer credit for 5.60 by following the application procedure described above.

Other Chemistry Subjects and Further Information

Transfer credit for other chemistry subjects will be handled on a case-by-case basis. For more information, contact Abigail Greff at