Chemistry Graduate Schools with Program Information

Graduate degree programs in chemistry are offered at the master's and doctoral degree levels. Those who wish to enroll in one of these options must hold an undergraduate degree in chemistry or a related area. Graduate degree programs require students to choose a concentration area within this expansive field.

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Chemistry encompasses many subfields, such as organic chemistry, analytical chemistry, inorganic chemistry and physical chemistry. At the graduate level, it is possible to earn a master's degree, doctoral degree or graduate certificate in chemistry.

Ten Chemistry Schools

The table below lists ten schools that offer graduate degree programs in chemistry.

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered* Tuition (2015-2016)*
California Institute of Technology Pasadena, CA 4-year, private not-for-profit Master's, Doctoral $43,710
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge, MA 4-year, private not-for-profit Master's, Doctoral $46,400
University of California-Berkeley Berkeley, CA 4-year, public Master's, Doctoral $11,220 (In-state); $26,322 (Out-of-state)
Harvard University Cambridge, MA 4-year, private not-for-profit Master's, Doctoral $41,832
Stanford University Stanford, CA 4-year, private not-for-profit Master's, Doctoral $45,729
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Champaign, IL 4-year, public Master's, Doctoral $15,023 (In-state); $28,213 (Out-of-state)
Northwestern University Evanston, IL 4-year, private not-for-profit Master's, Doctoral $48,624
Scripps Research Institute La Jolla, CA 4-year, private not-for-profit Doctoral** Tuition covered by institution**
University of Wisconsin-Madison Madison, WI 4-year, public Master's, Doctoral $10,728 (In-state); $24,054 (Out-of-state)
Columbia University New York, NY 4-year, private not-for-profit Master's, Doctoral $42,280

Sources: *National Center for Education Statistics, **School website

School Selection Criteria

The following are considerations that individuals who are looking to earn a graduate degree in chemistry could keep in mind when choosing a school:

  • A prospective chemistry graduate student must first decide which subfield he or she is interested in studying, as some schools may be stronger in one or two particular areas of chemistry.
  • Students who are considering PhD programs may want to find out what the average completion time is for graduates and how it compares to the national average of 5.1 years.
  • A prospective student also has to take into consideration the research interests of professors at his or her target school, since professors with whom they share research interests may act as thesis or dissertation advisors.
  • Prospective students may want to find out about financial aid options for prospective students, such as teaching assistantships. It is important to note that PhD programs are commonly fully funded, while master's degree and certificate programs often require students to pay tuition.

Master's Degree Programs

In Master of Science (MS) in Chemistry programs, students are typically required to take advanced courses in multiple areas of the field before choosing a specific subfield of interest on which to focus their studies, such as biochemistry, analytical chemistry, inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, physical chemistry, materials chemistry, theoretical chemistry or polymer science. Some schools offer non-thesis program options in which degree requirements can be fulfilled entirely with coursework. More commonly, master's degree students conduct hands-on research in their area of interest, leading to a final master's thesis. Upon graduation, they may advance to PhD programs or pursue a research career in industry or academia.

Doctoral Degree Programs

In PhD in Chemistry programs, students begin by taking advanced coursework in a variety of subject areas as well as a specific subject of concentration, similar to master's degree programs. In order to advance to PhD candidate status, they must pass written and oral qualifying examinations. From there, they conduct advanced, publishable research leading to the submission and defense of a final dissertation in a particular topic of interest. PhD students may also be required to fulfill undergraduate teaching requirements. Depending on the program, applicants may need to hold an MS before they can enroll, but some schools accept students with bachelor's degrees.

Graduate Certificate Programs

For bachelor's degree-holders who want to take advanced chemistry coursework without committing to a full degree program, some schools offer graduate certificate programs. Students may enroll in a general program that includes courses in multiple subfields, or they may choose a specialized certificate in a topic such as polymer chemistry, biomedical chemistry, chemical biology, chemical physiology or analytical chemistry. Graduate certificates can serve to boost the careers of working professionals in chemistry-related jobs, or students may be able to apply the credits toward master's or PhD programs in the future.

Many of the top schools in the country offer master's and doctoral programs in chemistry; graduate certificates are also available. As the study of chemistry is broad, prospective students must choose an area of concentration and take into consideration which schools are strong in this aspect.

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