The

**number average molecular weight**is a way of determining the molecular weight of a polymer. Polymer molecules, even ones of the same type, come in different sizes (chain lengths, for linear polymers), so we have to take an average of some kind. The number average molecular weight is the common average of the molecular weights of the individual polymers. It is determined by measuring the molecular weight of

*n*polymer molecules, summing the weights, and dividing by

*n*.

The number average molecular weight of a polymer can be determined by osmometry, end-group titration, and colligative properties.

An alternative measure of the molecular weight of a polymer is the weight average molecular weight. Their ratio is called the polydispersity index.