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Planning for Graduate Study in Chemistry & Chemistry Research at UA YOUR NAME Department of Chemistry The University of Alabama Tuscaloosa, AL 35487 Why Graduate School?

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planning for graduate study in chemistry chemistry research at ua

Planning for Graduate Study in Chemistry&Chemistry Research at UA


Department of Chemistry

The University of Alabama

Tuscaloosa, AL 35487

why graduate school
Why Graduate School?
  • Graduate training is needed to become proficient enough to be a strong participant in chemical research and the development of new knowledge.
  • With a PhD, you’ll be able to rise to top technical or administrative positions in industrial, academic, or government labs.
  • An advanced degree will result in a higher overall career earning potential.
graduate school can be fun
Graduate School Can Be Fun!
  • It’s hard work, but you’ll be performing challenging research in an area that interests you.
  • You’ll be developing lifelong friendships and professional relationships.
chemistry starting salaries
Chemistry Starting Salaries
  • From the American Chemical Society (ACS) for 2007 graduates.
  • Median salaries for starting chemists.
  • Typically, only 2-3 years after obtaining a PhD you will recover any salary “lost” while attending graduate school as a ~$21,000 per year GTA/GRA. After that, you’re ahead by $30,000 or more per year over a BS/BA chemist.
  • For 2007 graduates, the median starting salary for a new PhD chemist was $75,000. For 2004, this value was $65,000. Starting salaries are increasing!
preparation for graduate school
Preparation for Graduate School
  • Undergraduate Curriculum
    • ACS-Certified B.S. Degree (preferred, not required).
    • Take a full range of courses over all subdivisions of chemistry, including biochemistry.
    • Take as many upper level math, biology, and physics courses as time permits.
    • Acquire good skills in problem solving, teamwork, and communications.
  • Undergraduate Research
    • Seize the opportunity for research at your own institution.
    • Become a participant in a summer research program at an academic institution or an industrial intern or co-op.
  • Acquire Additional Skills
    • Computer skills, work processing, spreadsheets, databases, programming.
    • Acquaint yourself with chemistry journals and the scientific literature.
admission to graduate school
Admission to Graduate School
  • For regular admission, usually need GPA ≥ 3.0.
  • For regular admission, usually need Graduate Record Exam (GRE) ≥ 1000.
  • Most schools don’t require the Chemistry Subject GRE exam.
  • Letters of Recommendation (2 or 3) – ask faculty who you have interacted with.
  • Foreign Students – TOEFL ≥ 213 (computer exam, cBT) or ≥ 550 (paper exam, pBT) of >79 (internet exam, iBT).
  • Note: In Chemistry, you don’t need a Masters degree (MS) in order to obtain a doctorate degree (PhD).
where to apply
Where to Apply?
  • Gain info for your selection process from:
    • Undergraduate professors or advisors
    • ACS student affiliate meetings
    • Seminar speakers
    • Speakers at scientific conferences
    • Publications in chemistry journals
    • ACS Directory of Graduate Research
    • Brochures and wall hangers from various programs
    • Websites
    • Visits to departments were you are considering graduate study
where to apply continued
Where to Apply, continued
  • The most important questions to consider are:
    • (1) Where to go to school?
    • (2) Who to work for?
  • Choose a school with multiple research options that interest you.
  • If you want to work with a specific individual, contact them before applying. E-mail faculty whose research interest you.
  • Contact the Director of Graduate Recruiting or other faculty with questions.
  • Academic pedigree can still be important.
  • Visit a school before you accept their offer of admission.
financial support
Financial Support
  • Positions
    • Graduate Teaching Assistantship (GTA)
    • Graduate Research Assistantship (GRA)
    • Fellowships or Scholarships
  • UA Chemistry Current Support
    • Stipend (2008-2009 AY): $21,036 for 12 months
    • Full tuition waiver; no fees except for ~$60/semester
    • Free health insurance for the student ($1,500/yr value)
    • If a student remains in good academic standing, they are guaranteed support in the PhD program for up to 5 years.
  • You will be paid to go to graduate school, but don’t let money be a primary deciding factor. Make your decision based on how the overall program and its research opportunities meet your needs.
financial support conti
Financial Support, conti.
  • Put your offers on an equal footing. Compare:
    • Stipend: Is it for 12 months or 9/10 months with summers being different?
    • Tuition: Is it a waiver or are you given tuition money as taxable income? Must you pay it back? Are there hidden fees?
    • Health Insurance: Is it free to you?
    • Cost of Living: May negate differences in monetary offers.
    • Add-Ons/Sweeteners: Have in writing whether these are only for initial year or for all years.
    • Length of Financial Support: Is continuous support offered for the period of time in which you can reasonably be expected to complete your degree (e.g., 5 years for a PhD)? This is very important.
regional chemistry gta stipends 2007 2008
Regional Chemistry GTA Stipends, 2007-2008

*12 month net stipends = amount paid to the student minus tuition and fees that the student pays out of pocket

how and when to apply
How and When to Apply?
  • How?
    • Electronic applications are usually preferred over paper forms. For online application and info, check out the website of the department or university.
    • Many departments waive application fees for domestic students. It doesn’t hurt to ask the department’s Director of Graduate Recruiting before sending money.
  • When?
    • For complete consideration for all positions, including fellowships, it’s best to submit applications for Fall before the end of the prior calendar year.
    • Although most entering graduate students begin in the Fall semester, a few students may be admitted at the beginning of Spring semester.
    • It is never too late to apply.
parts of the ua application
Parts of the UA Application
  • Application Form – Online submission preferred
  • Statement of Purpose (SOP) -
    • Discuss experience, career goals, research interests.
    • Toot your own horn. This is your opportunity to tell the department anything that you want them to know about you.
  • GRE – Official scores sent by ETS are needed.
  • TOEFL – Needed by applicants when English is not their native language and they don’t have a degree from a US institution.
  • Transcripts – Official transcripts sent by your undergraduate institution.
  • Letters of Reference - Normally 3 are required. Ask faculty who know you well to write them.
overview of ua chemistry
Overview of UA Chemistry
  • 23 Research Active Faculty
  • Plan to hire a new department chair in 2009, plus a new assistant professor in the area of biochemistry
  • ~85 Graduate Students
  • Research in all major areas of chemistry, plus materials, green manufacturing, hydrogen storage, biomolecular products
  • Graduate Stipend: $21,036/year with waiver of tuition and free health insurance for the student
ua graduate chemistry programs
UA Graduate Chemistry Programs
  • PhD Program
  • MS Program
    • Plan I – Thesis Option
    • Plan II – Non-Thesis Option (Course work only)
  • Divisions and Research Programs
    • Analytical Chemistry
    • Biochemistry
    • Inorganic Chemistry
    • Organic Chemistry
    • Physical Chemistry
  • Interdisciplinary Programs
    • Center for Materials for Information Technology (MINT)
    • Center for Green Manufacturing (CGM)
    • Center for Advanced Vehicle Technology (CAVT)
    • Coalition for Biomolecular Products (CBP)
phd program degree requirements
PhD Program Degree Requirements
  • Usually completed in 4-5 years
  • Courses (72 credit hours total)
    • Placement exams (ACS exams) upon entering program assist in matching courses to a student’s background
    • 6 lecture courses - 18 credit hours
      • 4 in major area and 2 outside major area
    • Research Techniques – 6 credit hours
    • Advanced Research Techniques – 8 credit hours
    • Graduate Seminars – 16 credit hours
    • Dissertation Research – 24 credit hours
phd program degree requirements17
PhD Program Degree Requirements
  • Research
    • Selection of Research Advisor
      • Seminars for entering students with all Chemistry faculty
      • Detailed interviews with faculty of interest
      • Selection made by student late in their 1st semester of study or early in their 2nd semester
    • Dissertation Committee
      • 5 members selected by 3rd semester
      • Meet for IRR, ORP, Dissertation Defense
    • Start your research project under your advisor’s supervision – This is the fun part!
phd program degree requirements18
PhD Program Degree Requirements
  • Additional Requirements
    • Initial Research Review (IRR)
      • Present to dissertation committee by the end of the first month of your 4th semester
    • Cumulative Exams
      • 2-3 hour exams offered 10 times a year in each of the 5 subdisciplines of chemistry
      • Must pass 4 exams by the end of the 2nd year of study (20 attempts maximum)
      • Usually taken in major area, but can take outside of area
    • Original Research Proposal (ORP)
      • Present an defend (in writing and orally) an original idea outside of your own research area
      • Must be completed by 5th semester of study
phd program degree requirements19
PhD Program Degree Requirements
  • Seminars
    • Literature – during 2nd year
    • Research – during last semester
  • Dissertation
    • Write and defend orally - on your own research
    • Must result in at least one refereed publication
ms plan i research requirements
MS Plan I (Research) Requirements
  • Usually completed in 2-2.5 years
  • Admission preference is usually given to PhD applicants, except under special circumstances
  • Requirements similar to PhD Program except:
    • 30 credit hours with 4 lecture courses (3 in major area)
    • Only thesis committee meetings are IRR and thesis defense in last semester
    • No cumulative exams, ORP, or literature seminar
  • Research seminar to department in last semester
  • Thesis written and defended orally to thesis committee
ua analytical chemists
UA Analytical Chemists

Carolyn J. Cassady

Associate Professor

ANALYTICAL/BIOANALYTICAL CHEMISTRY: mass spectrometry, ion/molecule reactions, MS/MS of peptides by FT-ICR and TOF, sequencing metallopeptides

Shanlin Pan

Assistant Professor

ANALYTICAL CHEMISTRY: electrochemistry, single molecule Raman and fluorescence spectroscopy, nanomaterials and biosensors

Shane C. Street

Associate Professor, Director of Graduate Recruiting

ANALYTICAL/PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY: UHV surface science, thin film tribology, and surface chemistry

ua analytical chemists22
UA Analytical Chemists

Gregory J. Szulczewski

Associate Professor

ANALYTICAL/PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY: chemistry of surfaces and interfaces, thin film devices, colloidal particles for sensing applications

ua biochemists
UA Biochemists

Laura S. Busenlehner

Assistant Professor  

BIOCHEMISTRY/BIOINORGANIC CHEMISTRY: metal-related diseases, protein structure-function studies, amide hydrogen-deuterium exchange mass spectrometry

Russell Timkovich


BIOCHEMISTRY/BIOPHYSICAL/BIOANALYTICAL CHEMISTRY: electron transport proteins, NMR analysis of 3D protein structure, biosynthesis of novel tetrapyrroles

John B. Vincent

Professor, Interim Department Chair

BIOINORGANIC CHEMISTRY/BIOCHEMISTRY: elucidation of the structure, function, and mode of action of metallobiomolecules, biological chromium chemistry

ua biochemists conti
UA Biochemists, conti.

Stephen A. Woski

Associate Professor, Director of Graduate Studies

ORGANIC/BIOORGANIC CHEMISTRY: non-natural nucleoside synthesis, peptide nucleic acids, interactions of metal complexes with DNA, synthesis of components for molecular electronics

An addition biochemistry faculty member will be hired and is expected to start in Fall 2009.

ua inorganic chemists
UA Inorganic Chemists

David E. Nikles


INORGANIC/MATERIALS CHEMISTRY: materials for information technology, polymer coatings for magnetic tape, porphyrin synthesis, porphyrin-dendrimers as optical devices

Robin D. Rogers

Robert Ramsay Professor of Chemistry, University Research Professor, Director of the Center for Green Manufacturing

ANALYTICAL/INORGANIC CHEMISTRY: separation science, ionic liquids, x-ray diffraction & crystal engineering, self-assembled porphyrin arrays

Joseph S. Thrasher


INORGANIC/ANALYTICAL CHEMISTRY: novel sulfur-fluorine compounds, industrial fluorine chemistry, computational chemistry

ua inorganic chemists26
UA Inorganic Chemists

Thomas Vaid

Assistant Professor 


organic electronic materials, solar energy conversion

ua organic chemists
UA Organic Chemists

Anthony J. Arduengo, III

Saxon Professor  

ORGANIC/INORGANIC: the chemistry of new or unusual bonding arrangements, material science, new reagents for synthesis

Silas C. Blackstock


ORGANIC CHEMISTRY: electron transfer chemistry, high-spin polyradical ions, redox-gradient dendrimers, electron donor-acceptor bonding, crystal engineering

Michael P. Jennings

Assistant Professor

SYNTHETIC ORGANIC CHEMISTRY: total synthesis of biologically active natural products, enantioselective methodology development based on novel chiral ligands, asymmetric catalysis

ua organic chemists conti
UA Organic Chemists, conti.

Kevin H. Shaughnessy

Associate Professor, Director of Undergraduate Studies

ORGANIC/ORGANOMETALLIC CHEMISTRY: metal-catalyzed organic synthetic methodology, environmentally benign reactions, High-throughput screening of reaction selectivity

Timothy S. Snowden

Assistant Professor

SYNTHETIC ORGANIC CHEMISTRY: synthetic methodology, natural product synthesis

ua physical chemists
UA Physical Chemists

Martin G. Bakker

Associate Professor 

PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY: EPR, radical dynamics/reactions in organized media, surfactant aggregation, materials

Michael K. Bowman

Associate Professor

PHYSICAL/BIOPHYSCIAL CHEMISTRY: EPR, structure and function of metalloproteins, defect centers in crystalline and non-crystalline solids

David A. Dixon

Robert Ramsay Professor of Chemistry

PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY: computational and theoretical chemistry, applications to organic, inorganic, bio, environmental, industrial, and materials

ua physical chemists conti
UA Physical Chemists, conti.

Arunava Gupta

MINT Professor

MATERIALS and PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY: nanostructured materials for biomedical applications and information technology

Robert M. Metzger


PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY: molecular electronics, electrical conductivity in organic crystals, unimolecular organic rectifiers