The University of Chicago | Graduate Admissions

Chemistry - PhD

Division: Physical Sciences
Degree Type: PhD

Program Description

The PhD program in the Department of Chemistry offers wide opportunity and unusual flexibility for advanced study and research, and is designed to encourage individuality, independence, and excellence in students. Most students select their research advisor by Winter Quarter of their first year and are engaged in research by the Spring Quarter. The Department has neither a system of cumulative examinations nor a written major examination. There are relatively few course requirements; there is great flexibility as to which courses may be taken.

In the Division of the Physical Sciences, barriers between departments are low. Students in the Department of Chemistry often take courses in other departments and can even earn the degree in chemistry for research that has been done under the supervision of a member of another department. Students are encouraged to fashion special programs of study under the guidance of the faculty.

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Dr. Vera Dragisich, Chair
Graduate Admissions Committee
Department of Chemistry
5735 South Ellis Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
FAQ section:

Application Method

Applications should be initiated through the online application.


Deadline for admissions and financial aid: December 15

Campus Visits

The Department does not require interviews for applicants, but you are welcome to visit campus, sit in on classes, and meet with current students. Once admitted, you will be invited to visit the Department (all expenses paid) during one of our two Visit Weekends. You may contact faculty with questions, but there is no expectation that you do so.

Degree Objective

The Department of Chemistry admits applicants only for the PhD degree.

Application Requirements

  1. Undergraduate transcripts (one official copy from each institution attended)
  2. 3 Letters of Recommendation
  3. Results of the GRE Examination (to include the Subject Test in Chemistry)
  4. Official TOEFL or IELTS Scores (international applicants only)

Admissions Decisions

During the admissions process, decisions are released as applications are evaluated; however, decisions are made no later than March 15.

Program Requirements

In the first year, students must satisfactorily complete nine courses. At least six of these must be 30000-level courses from the offerings of the Department of Chemistry or of related departments in the Divisions of the Physical and the Biological Sciences; of these six courses, at least two shall be in different areas of chemistry, e.g., inorganic, organic, or physical chemistry.

Students who have completed all courses with grades of "C" or better ("P" in research courses) may be recommended for the SM degree; these students may, at the discretion of a faculty member, be required to submit a paper on their work in Chemistry 35000 or a 40000-level research course.

At the end of Spring Quarter in the first year, the faculty review the student's overall record. Course performance is a major part of this review; a "B" average or better in all 30000-level courses (excluding Chemistry 35000) is expected. At this time the Department will advise students whether they are qualified to continue studies and to prepare for the PhD candidacy examination.

A student seeking admission to PhD candidacy must take the candidacy examination before the end of his or her fifth quarter in residence (the exam is typically taken in October; for this purpose, Summer Quarter is counted as a quarter in residence).

The PhD degree is granted upon satisfactory completion of scholarly research work that is presented in a written thesis, discussed in a public seminar, and defended orally before a faculty committee.

Costs & Financial Aid

All applicants for admission to graduate study in chemistry will receive support as Teaching Assistants during their first year in residence and as Research Assistants in following years. Our Teaching Assistants devote one afternoon per week to laboratory supervision of a section of about 14 students and they hold a Discussion Session and Office Hours for their section. Associated duties, to include grading and proctoring, may require from seven to 10 additional hours. During the 2014-2015 academic year, Teaching Assistants will receive a monthly stipend of $2,500 plus a full-tuition merit scholarship, and health insurance will be covered. Contingent upon satisfactory academic performance, both as an Assistant and as a student, this support continues through the first three quarters of study. Currently the total value of this nine-month award is $73,812.