Chemistry, MS

Master of Science Program

A candidate for the degree of MS in chemistry is expected to demonstrate a general knowledge in the field and the ability to do original work in a specialized area of the field of chemistry, leading to an acceptable thesis. The program is guided by an advisor and the departmental graduate committee until certification and approval of a research subject and advisor. The research problem is started as early as possible in the student’s graduate education, consistent with the attainment of an acceptable general proficiency as determined by the satisfactory completion of appropriate courses and examinations.

The departmental graduate committee recommends for the degree of MS in chemistry students who complete the following requirements:

  • An acceptable research project and thesis (CHEM 599)
  • Participation for one semester in the graduate seminar (CHEM 592)
  • Two semesters of Frontiers in Chemistry (CHEM 593)
  • Four graduate courses, at least three of which ordinarily are in chemistry, the balance in related courses approved by the departmental graduate committee. A student in the biological chemistry program must complete at least two courses in chemistry and the remainder from the fields of biological sciences and other sciences (physics, computer science, geology, mathematics or engineering) approved by the faculty advisor. A student in the materials chemistry program must complete at least two courses in chemistry, including CHEM 544, and at least two courses from the fields of materials science and engineering, geology, physics or engineering approved by the faculty advisor.
  • Passing an oral examination on the subject of the research thesis
  • A total of at least 30 graduate credits obtained under the above requirements

The examining committee for each candidate consists of at least three faculty members appointed by the departmental graduate committee. In interdisciplinary programs, one member may be from another department.

  • Biological Chemistry and Biochemistry Track
    The graduate program in biological chemistry and biochemistry is a program for students wishing to specialize in the chemistry of biological systems. Students entering this program take a biochemistry placement examination in lieu of an organic, inorganic or analytical placement examination. Students may count an additional course outside the department toward the minimum six to eight courses necessary for the PhD degree.
  • Materials Chemistry Track
    An interdisciplinary graduate program in materials chemistry has been approved by the faculty. Students may take a materials and solid-state placement examination in lieu of the organic and analytical placement examinations. Relevant cumulative examinations are given, and courses outside the department are required toward the minimum courses necessary for the MS and PhD degrees.

Once You're Admitted

Placement Exams

Entering students must demonstrate proficiency at the undergraduate level by satisfying a placement requirement. Three options are available.

  1. Pass ACS Placement Examinations in the areas of analytical, inorganic, organic and physical chemistry;
  2. (Biological Chemistry emphasis) pass the ACS Placement Examinations in any two traditional subdisciplines of chemistry (organic, analytical, inorganic, physical) and a Placement Examination in biochemistry;
  3. (Materials Chemistry emphasis) pass the ACS Placement Examinations in inorganic and physical chemistry, and either a Placement Examination in solid state and materials sciences, or the ACS Placement Examinations in analytical and organic chemistry.

The biochemistry and solid state/materials sciences placement examinations for students in interdisciplinary programs are comprehensive, making the overall placement requirement comparable for all students.


  1. A student may not enroll in a graduate course in any subdiscipline area for which the placement requirement has not been satisfied.
  2. All deficiencies must be removed within twelve months after entering the program. Failure will lead to dismissal from the program.
  3. A placement deficiency is normally removed by course work as determined by the GPC. Deficiencies in analytical, inorganic, organic, or physical chemistry are removed by:
    1. Receiving a grade of B or better in an advanced level undergraduate course in Harpur College (numbered 300-499),
    2. Receiving a grade of S in a remedial tutorial assigned by the GPC.
  4. Deficiencies in biochemistry or solid/state materials sciences are removed by one or two courses as specified by the GPC on an individual basis.
  5. Entering students who have already taken the appropriate courses in Harpur College may petition the GPC to have the corresponding placement examination(s) waived. The biochemistry or solid state/materials sciences requirement may be waived if the student transcript shows at least two appropriate courses in Harpur College or the Watson School.
  6. Remedial course work will match the deficiency as close as possible. Remedial courses cannot normally be counted in satisfying the degree course requirement; exceptions are indicated in writing by the GPC at the time of the placement.
  7. A placement deficiency may also be removed by retaking the Placement Examination successfully after a period of self-study. Placement Examinations are given three times a year: the week preceding the beginning of the Fall semester, the first week of the Spring semester, and the last week of the Spring semester.
  8. Satisfying the placement requirement is to be given absolute priority during the first two semesters in residence and will be the first concern in arranging the student’s schedule.
  9. Students who fail all Placement Examinations upon entering will automatically be placed on probation; failure to remove at least two deficiencies by the end of the first semester will result in dismissal.