About the Program

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Penn State’s Graduate Chemistry Program boasts an educational opportunity unlike any other. All barriers between the various areas of chemistry research (analytical, biological, environmental, inorganic, materials, organic, physical, and theoretical) have been removed, thus fostering an environment of rich collaboration. Our graduate students are strongly encouraged to excel in their graduate studies, to develop and enhance their scientific passion, and to contribute to the scientific community at large.

Graduate Studies

Our graduate students maintain a high level of excellence in their graduate studies, within a context that promotes an individualized experience. Students are not required to follow a pre-fabricated schedule, but rather have the freedom to enhance their individual research interests through personalized program plans. All students complete five graduate-level courses within their first twelve to eighteen months in the program. Because we encourage our students to begin research as soon as they are ready, our student’s research capabilities are strengthened by the ability to select coursework pertaining to passions, interests, and current research.

Students are encouraged to choose from a variety of intermediate and advanced courses in Chemistry, including courses on special topics taught by faculty members actively engaging in research in those areas. Courses in related fields such as physics, mathematics, biochemistry, biophysics, polymer science, material science, and computer science may also be taken.

Once coursework is completed, students are required to successfully complete their Oral Comprehensive Exam. This exam consists of a description of a student’s research progress and the defense of a brief original research proposal. This component is to be completed by the end of a student’s fifth semester in residence.

Lab Association

Students rotate with 3-5 faculty members to learn more about the current research projects, future research projects, and lab culture fill lab spaces. Should the student and faculty pair decide that officially joining the lab is in the best interest of both parties, a formal match has been made and the student officially joins the research lab.


We believe the most important component of the graduate program is the research experience. Only after a student formally joins a research lab can the research experience truly begin. As the required milestones of the program are met, we expect a student’s research to begin to impact the science community at large; sharing research findings at national meetings and conferences, and through consistent publication, are critical components of graduate training. All of these experiences will then lead to completion of a dissertation based on original research. Successfully completion of the dissertation is the most important aspect of the graduate career!


Students are privileged to conduct research in our many state of the art facilities, which are fully accessible to students. Penn State takes pride in training students to complete their own experiments, which further enhances the research and education experience. Our facilities are accessible 7 days a week, 24 hours a day upon completion of safety and unit-specific training that is designed both to ensure proper instrument use and enhance the student’s research training.


Additional Information

National Research Council Rankings of Chemistry and other Penn State Science Programs

Graduate School:

The Graduate School
Requirements for Graduate Admissions
Thesis and Dissertation Information


Graduate Student Housing
Student Activities
Visitors Guide


The Integrative Biosciences Graduate Program (IBIOS)

PubMed MSDS Vermont (SIRI)

University Park Libraries
Research/Penn State Magazine


Environmental Health & Safety
Emergency Preparedness

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