Organic Chemistry

Organic chemistry studies the composition, reactions, properties, and preparation of substances that contain carbon.

Carbon is essential for life on Earth because it forms much of the core scaffold that provides biological molecules with their three-dimensional shapes and structures. From DNA and RNA to proteins, sugars, and lipids, carbon is found everywhere. As such, doctors, veterinarians, dentists, pharmacologists, chemical engineers, and chemists all need to have an understanding of organic molecules, their properties, and their reactivity. Organic molecules play key roles in the foods we eat and the soaps, detergents, plastics, cosmetics, medicines, insecticides, and pesticides that we use on a near-daily basis. In addition, organic chemistry and the manipulation of organic molecules is often the key to developing new avenues of discovery in both materials science and medicine and achieving a better understanding of the world around us.  
Although taking organic chemistry may seem intimidating, our dedicated professors and staff are here to help, and remember that many organic chemistry students change their majors to chemistry because of what they learn and discover during the course! 

Organic Chemistry at WashU

Syllabi are provided to students to support their course planning; please take a look at the syllabus for any constraints on use. The following link will take you to Syllabi Central:

Tips for surviving Organic Chemistry

See our Advice from Learning Assistants (LA) page to hear directly from our students! The tips below are from the WashU Chemistry Department.
Tip 1: Attend the Lecture
Tip 2: Ask a lot of questions and visit office hours
Tip 3: Take advantage of Workshops and other resources