Chemistry, M.S. Program
The Master of Science degree provides students with advanced training in chemistry and the analytical skills needed to process and critique complex chemical information. The program requires a set of core courses encompassing the different disciplines of chemistry. Students may complete the remaining unit requirements with coursework in chemistry or may choose a biochemistry concentration, with the additional coursework in that area. The degree program mainly serves students in four categories: those seeking opportunities in the chemical industry requiring training beyond the baccalaureate level, employed chemists who wish to enhance their career potential, future teachers of high school or community college chemistry, and individuals contemplating more advanced graduate study.
Because of the rapid progress in the fields of chemistry and biochemistry, the department strives to offer a range of courses that cover not only established principles but also recent advances. Through laboratory-based coursework and research opportunities, students are prepared for new developments in experimental methods and instrumentation. They acquire experience reading and analyzing the chemical or biochemical literature in several courses, as well as through a research-based laboratory or computational project (Plan A) or by developing a written literature review (Plan B).
Program Learning Outcomes
Students graduating with a Master of Science in Chemistry will be able to:
- demonstrate mastery of specialized knowledge in the chemical sciences beyond the undergraduate level
- work effectively and safely in a laboratory environment using chemistry laboratory techniques and chemical/biochemical instrumentation.
- use theoretical and experimental chemistry methods to test hypotheses or analyze and design solutions to problems
- research, understand, organize, and critically assess information from the chemical literature
- present complex chemical information via oral and written reports
Programs & Concentrations
Within the Chemistry degree, candidates will choose one of four courses of study:
- M.S. Chemistry, Plan A (Thesis)
- M.S. Chemistry, Plan B (Comprehensive Exam)
- M.S. Chemistry, Concentration in Biochemistry, Plan A (Thesis)
- M.S. Chemistry, Concentration in Biochemistry, Plan B (Comprehensive Exam)
Both Plan A programs require a University Thesis, whereas both Plan B programs require completion of a literature review paper and passing terminal written and oral exams.
The laboratories are modern and well-equipped. Major instrumentation includes a 500 MHz nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer (NMR), a capillary gas chromatograph with mass-spectral detection (GC/MS), Fourier-transform infrared spectrophotometers (FTIR), an inductively coupled plasma-optical emission spectrometer (ICP-OES), high performance liquid chromatographs (HPLC), a fast protein liquid chromatograph (FPLC), a fluorescence spectrometer, thermocyclers, a plate reader with UV and fluorescence detection, a molecular imager and a diode-array ultraviolet-visible spectrophotometer. A molecular modeling facility is available for instruction and research.
The Masters’ degree program is under the nominal direction of the graduate coordinator, with the participation of the Graduate Studies Committee. All inquiries should be directed to the graduate coordinator or to the department chair.
The basic requirements for entry into the program are possession of a baccalaureate degree in Chemistry or Biochemistry, including a year of physical chemistry, and a GPA of at least 2.6 in upper division chemistry and biochemistry courses. Applicants not meeting the GPA requirement may still be accepted subject to receipt of acceptable letters of recommendation. The G.R.E. subject test in chemistry or biochemistry is optional. Applicants not having an undergraduate major in chemistry or biochemistry may be accepted into the program depending on the amount of undergraduate coursework required to remove deficiencies.
Qualified applicants are accepted in “Conditionally Classified Graduate” status. To become fully “Classified Graduate,” students must remove any deficiencies in the undergraduate coursework, complete eight units applicable to the degree, and satisfy the University Writing Skills Requirement.
Plan A, Thesis
A university thesis is required both for the M.S. Chemistry, Plan A and the M.S. Chemistry, Concentration in Biochemistry, Plan A degrees. A thesis topic is decided by mutual agreement between a graduate student and an appropriate faculty member.
Candidates whose employers permit the use of appropriate facilities and approve the release of the applicable findings may arrange to conduct research on their employers’ premises in support of their M.S. theses, subject to prior approval by the department.
Plan B, Comprehensive Examination
Plan B entails completion of a significant literature search and submission of a written report on the selected topic. Candidates must pass an oral examination covering the report and also pass a written comprehensive exam consisting of topics from the coursework applied to the degree.
Advancement to Candidacy
Advancement to Candidacy requires that the student complete eight units in 600-level courses applicable towards the degree with an average grade of 3.0 or better and select a research advisor for the thesis or a supervisor for the Plan B literature review paper. Additionally, students must satisfy the University Writing Skills Requirement and qualify for “Classified Graduate” status within two years of admission.
The M.S. programs in Chemistry provide for the degree to be obtained under Chemistry or Chemistry, Concentration in Biochemistry. Under either program, Plan A (University Thesis) or Plan B (Comprehensive Exam) must be selected.
Chemistry Degree Requirements (30 units)
In order to be eligible for the degree, the student must satisfy the following departmental requirements:
One year of undergraduate biochemistry is required for students choosing the Biochemistry concentration.
The following 15 units of core coursework are required for all Chemistry, M.S. students:
University Thesis Coursework (Plan A)
Students selecting University Thesis as their capstone experience must submit to the department an acceptable master’s degree thesis and complete the following six (6) units:
- CHEM 681 - Research Units: 1-2 (must be repeated twice for four  units)
- CHEM 691 - University Thesis Units: 2
Comprehensive Exam Coursework (Plan B) *
Students selecting Comprehensive Examination/Review Paper as their capstone experience must complete the following four (4) units:
- CHEM 692 - Comprehensive Exam Units: 2
- CHEM 693 - Review Paper Units: 2