Graduate Advising

Graduate Student Advising

The Master of Science thesis demonstrates that you are capable of pursuing a program of original and independent research, that you can formulate and carry out a research project, and that you can report on the project in a proper scientific manner. The thesis option prepares students for technical careers in industry, or for further study toward a more advanced degree. This option requires advanced coursework in chemistry, biochemistry, or environmental chemistry and research, with the latter culminating in an M.S. thesis. Shortly after entering the program, students select a faculty advisor based on their research interests and agree on a research problem. Under the guidance of their faculty advisor, students carry out the research program, and write and defend the thesis in a final oral examination.

An official Plan of Study must be filed with the Graduate School by the end of the first quarter of enrollment. The Plan of Study outlines the schedule of courses for the entire graduate program, and serves as a means for the Graduate School to determine whether all requirements for the M.S. degree have been satisfied. The plan must account for at least 45 total credits, and will include the following required courses:

Course Work Requirements:

  • CHEM 595 (seminar presentations), 2 credits (2 x 1 credit/quarter)
  • CHEM 596 (seminar attendance), 3 credits (3 x 1 credit/quarter) 
  • CHEM 690 (thesis writing credits), 12 credits (usually 2 x 6 credits/quarter) 


Additional courses are selected under the advisement of the Chemistry Department Graduate Advisor. Under normal circumstances, each student is expected to take 2-3 upper division lecture courses at the 500-level. Additional courses will include credits for independent research and may include coursework specific to those students holding TAs.

The maximum academic load for graduate students is 20 credits per quarter, however a typical course load for chemistry graduate students is 8 credits per quarter. Students enrolled in 8 credits are considered full time for purposes of financial aid and eligibility for veteran’s benefits. In most cases, enrollment in 8 credits is also required for TA eligibility (paid position). Some flexibility in this policy is possible for students at the end of their graduate program whose only remaining requirement is completion of the thesis. Questions about this situation should be directed to the Graduate Program Advisor

A draft of the Plan of Study will be developed with the Graduate Program Advisor during the initial advising meeting. Students are strongly encouraged to discuss this plan with their Research Advisor. Once the Plan of Study has been finalized, it should be filed with the Chemistry Department Program Coordinator and the Graduate School using the Plan of Study electronic form available in the forms section of the Graduate School website. If necessary, changes to a student’s original Plan of Study can be made by filing a Plan of Study Amendment electronic form (also available in the Forms section of the Graduate School website). 

Every quarter, prior to the beginning of registration, graduate students will receive an email from the Chemistry Department Program Coordinator notifying them that their overrides for the upcoming quarter have been entered based on their plan of study in DegreeWorks. Any changes to the plan of study must be approved by the Chemistry Department Graduate Advisor.