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About the Graduate Program


The Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology offers rigorous programs of graduate study leading to Ph.D. degree or M.S. (with or without research thesis) degree. The Ph.D. curriculum balances directed research with coursework to prepare our graduates for careers in industry and academia.  The M.S. program is designed to serve the needs of industrial chemists seeking to broaden and enrich their knowledge-base.  Regardless of degree program or area of specialization, graduate students begin with lecture courses that lay the foundation for intellectual development in their chosen area. Students then shift their focus to research projects under the direction of their research advisors, culminating with a thesis or dissertation. Financial support is guaranteed for all Ph.D. candidates in good academic standing, and may come from a variety of sources including research assistantships, teaching assistantships and a variety of fellowships, including the GAANN (Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need) program administered by the Department of Education.

The contacts listed below can address specific questions about the graduate programs in our department, as well as our policies and application procedure.  In addition, students desiring more information about how to prepare for and succeed in graduate school may wish to consult these online resources provided by the American Chemical Society.

Graduate Research

All Ph.D. students and many Masters students conduct original research under the direction of a faculty advisor as a major component of their studies. Research efforts in the department span a broad range of topics of current relevance across the various sub-disciplines of chemistry and chemical biology. Our faculty are extremely successful at securing funding from government agencies (e.g. NSF, NIH, Dept. of Energy, Dept. of Defense); since 2010 the department has consistently ranked in the top 10 chemistry departments nationwide in terms of total research expenditures. We are excited to expand our research efforts into our brand new chemistry building, opening in January 2018.

Much of the research in the department is deeply interdisciplinary, which means that our students enjoy opportunities for intellectual growth and research partnerships extending well beyond the traditional subdisciplines of chemistry.  Our faculty have joint appointments and supervise graduate students and postdocs in many research centers and institutes around the New Brunswick campus, such as:

The broad scope of these centers and institutes, as well as the department's own resources, provide a vast array of state-of-the-art instrumentation to support our research efforts:

Research Instrumentation Summary

  • high-field NMR spectrometers (600, 700 & 800 MHz) capable of multinuclear 2D and 3D experiments
  • several X-ray diffraction instruments, including single-crystal diffractometers, 2D Histar X-ray imaging system, and multiple powder diffractometers
  • ultrahigh vacuum surface analysis apparatus with Auger, photoelectron and electron energy loss spectroscopy, mass spectrometry, low energy electron diffraction and He atom scattering
  • Scanning probe microscopy instruments, including scanning tunneling and atomic force microscopes
  • infrared, UV-vis and fluorescence spectroscopy instrumentation including temperature programmable optical rotatary dispersion–circular dichroism spectrapolarimeters, temperature-controlled fluorescence spectrophotometer, low-temperature FTIR spectrometers, nanosecond flash-photolysis, and high-resolution UV-visible and Raman spectrometers
  • other experimental instrumentation including a SQUID magnetometer, inductively coupled plasma (ICP) mass spectrometer, HPLC-mass spectrometer with electrospray ionizer, automated DNA and peptide synthesizers
  • computational chemistry cluster with ~1400 parallel cores, and local support for accessing massively parallel supercomputers at national centers

Typical timeline for Ph.D. degree

Year 1

All first year students are supported on fellowships (i.e. no teaching duties), allowing then to focus on excelling in their coursework, and identifying a suitable research advisor. Finding a good fit for one’s interests in a research group is extremely important; in their first year, our Ph.D. students choose two groups in which to do a 6-week rotation. The rotations help students and faculty assess the prospects for future success; every effort is made to accommodate the first choices of both students and faculty to ensure the best fit possible.

Year 2

In the second year, Ph.D. students finish up their coursework and begin to devote more time to their research projects. This is also when the students choose the members of their Ph.D. advisory committee, and take their qualification exams for admission to candidacy. The exam involves a public research seminar presented to the department, and preparation of a research proposal, which is defended before the student’s Ph.D. committee in a closed-door session.

Years 3-5

Once students have been admitted to Ph.D. candidacy, they continue developing their research projects, generating results, preparing manuscripts for publication, presenting their work at research conferences, and helping to prepare grant proposals. By the fifth year, a student has typically progressed far enough in their research to write and defend their dissertation, which is the last step before they are awarded their Ph.D. degree.

Incoming class for Ph.D. program in Fall 2016


Back row (left to right): Elliott Dolan, Santanu Malakar, Jonathan Roth, Robb Young, Krystal House, Hemanth Maddali, Shengmin Zhou, Zhongkai Cheng, Kun Zhu
Middle: Yu Wang, Mariana Reis Nogueira de Lima, GeorgeMarie Chalet, Travis Beard, Syed Huq, Yanyao Liu, Kaidong Hu, Adili Alafate
Seated: Garrett Gotthelf, Catherine Miles, Ashima Chopra, Jeffrey Luo

Our incoming class comes to us from 18 different universities across the world:

The College of New Jersey, NJ  Rutgers University, NJ  Gettysburg College, PA  Brandeis University, MA  Hope College, MI

Wuhan University, China  University of the Virgin Islands, VI  Susquehanna University, PA  University of Delaware, DE

Peking University, China  Nanjing University, China  University of Science and Technology, China

The University of California, Berkeley, CA  Stony Brook University, NY  Anhui University, China

Ewha Womans University, South Korea   Lanzhou University, China  Nankai University, China

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