The chemistry teaching started in 1922 with three constituent colleges St. Stephens, Hindu and Ramjas. The chemistry teaching was confined to a two year course for B. Sc. degree department and the teaching up to I.Sc. Level was conducted in the constituent colleges of the University. In October 1933, the University Offices and library shifted to the Viceregal Lodge Estate and the chemistry department made an inconspicuous beginning in the Viceregal kitchen which was used for conducting the lectures and practical classes. In 1942, New laboratories and lecture rooms were constructed and visionary faculty members were invited by special efforts of illustrious Vice Chancellor, Sir Maurice Gwyer.
In June 1949, Professor TR Seshadri took over as head of the department and owing to his untiring effort, the research activities gradually increased, and the department attained formidable reputation in the international scene as one of the finest schools of chemistry. In 1963, the University Grants Commission recognized the department of chemistry as a Centre of Advanced Study for the Chemistry of Natural Products. In 1965, the department of chemistry was recognized as a Centre of Advanced Study in Chemistry.
In eighties several faculty members joined the department and the department expanded rapidly in terms of both research and teaching and a large number of small independent groups started flourishing. Various faculty members made significant contributions in computational chemistry, biopolymers, physical chemistry of polymers, organic synthesis, medicinal chemistry, apart from the structure elucidation of natural products, biotransformations, chemical communications, structure investigation of metal complexes, organometallic chemistry and analytical chemistry. After the year 2000 new group of faculty members joined the department with specialization in newer areas that included biomolecular structures, synthesis of nucleosides, medicinal chemistry, electrochemistry and material chemistry. With advent of the new era of materials and nanomaterials other young and energetic faculty members have also joined the department. With this input the department is marching forward in newer areas of research and teaching.
The department of chemistry is well known for its excellence in teaching and research. The faculty members of the department are engaged in state of the art research as well as guiding the Ph.D., M. Tech. M. Sc. and Post Doctoral Students. The department has made great strides by revising and updating the M. Sc. syllabus time and again. A thoroughly updated and revised M. Sc. syllabus has been implemented in the year 2009. In the international year of chemistry, the department started new project work in M. Sc. syllabus where students have exposure of writing the project and also develop communication skills. Advanced level optional courses are also offered at the Ph.D. levels and these courses are taught semester wise. Collaborative research programmes with many research laboratories and research institutes in Delhi and outside India are also operating very successfully with mutual benefit.
The department has distinguished itself as a centre for innovative and pioneering research in a wide range of areas in chemistry and chemistry interfacing with physical and biological sciences. It has attained the status of a DST-FIST Sponsored department by DST in 1982. The department is recognized as one of the best performing chemistry department in the country by DST in the International Year of Chemistry (2011).