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College enrollment rises slightly over previous year

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September 28, 2009

Prof. Alex Pines teaching Chem 1A
Professor Alex Pines teaching Chemistry 1A

Despite state and university budget woes, the number of new and continuing students in the College of Chemistry has risen slightly. The number of college undergraduate students now stands at 827 for the fall 2009 semester, an increase of about two percent over last year’s figure of 812.

Chemical engineering has enrolled 376 students. In chemistry, the number of students in the two majors (chemistry and chemical biology) totals 451, with 268 in chemical biology and 183 in chemistry. These totals include dual majors, so the actual number of full-time equivalent undergraduates for the college is 809.5.

The enrollments reflect the rapid growth of the chemical biology major. Initiated in the fall 2004 semester with 142 students, the number of chemical biology majors surpassed the number in chemistry by the fall 2006 semester. The major has been particularly popular with female undergraduates. 48 percent of chemical biology majors are women, compared to 43 percent in chemistry and 31 percent in chemical engineering. For the college as a whole, 39 percent of undergraduates are women.

Combining freshmen and transfers, there will be 270 new undergraduates in the college this fall, 108 in chemical engineering, 97 in chemical biology and 65 in chemistry. In addition, eight students are visiting from international universities.

At the graduate level, the chemistry department will welcome 84 entering students, 39 women and 45 men. The new graduate students will bring the total enrollment to 400 (152 women and 248 men).

Chemical engineering welcomed 30 entering graduate students this fall, 9 women and 21 men. Ten of the new students will pursue an M.S. from the Product Development Program. These new students will bring the total enrollment to 130 for the department, 38 women and 92 men.

In addition to students, about 250 postdoctoral researchers are employed in the chemistry department, and 46 in chemical engineering.

Says college Dean Rich Mathies, "It is gratifying to see that Berkeley students continue to recognize the value of education in the chemical sciences. Times are difficult, but we have worked hard to continue to provide access to key chemistry classes that serve roughly half of Berkeley's students. As a part of our new 21st Century Chemical Sciences Instruction initiative, we're constructing the Hildebrand Student Learning Center and Library to provide a new hub for student discussion and study groups."

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