Why study chemistry?

At KU Chemistry, we have faculty dedicated to mentoring both undergraduate and graduate students and to helping each student achieve scientific maturity. In addition to required classroom and laboratory courses, options exist for doing research in exciting areas of mainstream chemistry, including emerging fields of microfluidics, precision medicine and sustainable catalysis.

Graduate Program

For a student wishing to earn a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree or a Master’s of Science (M.S.) degree in chemistry, the selection of a graduate school is one of the most important career decisions you will make. Your choice will not only determine where you will be during the next several years, but will lay the foundation for your future.

At the University of Kansas, we feel that our program provides exceptional and diverse opportunities for the student interested in a career in cutting-edge research, higher education or any one of a number of chemically related positions requiring an advanced degree. We have a department of outstanding faculty, each of whom is dedicated to providing mentoring to graduate students and guiding them during their journey from undergraduate to colleague.  

Admission to Graduate Studies

An applicant seeking to pursue graduate study in the College may be admitted as either a degree-seeking or non-degree seeking student. Policies and procedures of Graduate Studies govern the process of Graduate admission. These may be found in the Graduate Studies section of the online catalog.

Please consult the Departments & Programs section of the online catalog for information regarding program-specific admissions criteria and requirements. Special admissions requirements pertain to Interdisciplinary Studies degrees, which may be found in the Graduate Studies section of the online catalog.

Graduate Admission


Before beginning graduate work, students should have completed a bachelor’s degree in chemistry or a related field.


Applications for admission are accepted online through the Office of Graduate Studies. Applications must include academic transcripts from all post-secondary schools attended, as well as recommendation letters from three individuals familiar with the applicant¹s academic background and abilities. Additional materials that are strongly recommended include Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores, and a resume/CV and personal statement describing the applicant¹s qualifications and reasons for pursuing a graduate degree in chemistry. International applicants should also provide scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS-Academic). Although the preferred submission deadline is December 15, applications must be received by April 15 to be considered for admission in the fall semester.

To apply, complete the online graduate application form and upload all requested documents.


Completed applications are reviewed by a committee of faculty members from the Department of Chemistry. Offers of admission depend on favorable evaluation of the application materials and an expectation that the student will attain an undergraduate grade-point average of B or higher in chemistry and all other natural science and mathematics courses. Admission to the graduate program is contingent upon completion of a bachelor¹s degree in chemistry (or a related field) and all other general admissions requirements.

Ph.D. Degree Requirements

Each Ph.D. aspirant must complete the following course requirements:

  1. Distribution Requirement: Complete the same distribution requirement as for the Master of Science in chemistry.
  2. Complete with a B or higher 4 courses at the 700 level or above in chemistry or a related area. The list of courses to be completed must be agreed upon by the student and the student’s research advisor and approved by the Graduate Affairs Committee before the beginning of the student’s second semester in the program. (Changes to the list can only be made with the approval of the student, the research advisor, and the graduate affairs committee.) Note: these 4 courses represent a minimal set and do not preclude the student, with consultation of the research advisor, from taking additional courses in support of the research effort.
  3. Complete CHEM 700 (Responsible Scholarship in the Chemical Sciences) and CHEM 701 (Laboratory Safety in the Chemical Sciences) with a B or better. CHEM 700 satisfies the university's Responsible Scholarship requirement for the chemistry Ph.D.

These courses must be satisfactorily completed before a student takes the comprehensive oral examination.

The aspirant also must fulfill the following requirements:

  1. A comprehensive oral examination must be completed. The student must prepare a written, original research proposal before the examination is scheduled. The proposal must be presented and defended orally at the examination; however, the examination is comprehensive in nature. The student must be prepared for questions on a range of topics in the discipline. It should be noted that requirements (1) and (2) must be completed before the comprehensive oral examination can be taken. Failure to pass the oral examination before the beginning of the fourth year of graduate study leads to ineligibility for support by departmental or research funds.
  2. A dissertation based on original work of high quality in one of the principal fields of chemistry must be completed.
  3. A final oral examination and defense of the dissertation must be completed.

For further details, see Doctoral Degree Requirements, Doctor of Philosophy in the Graduate Studies section of the online catalog.