Chem-Grad-ChecklistAt least a year before you submit your graduate school applications, you should start researching schools and building a checklist. Below are a few things to keep in mind.

1. Conduct Web Search to Find the Right Graduate School

The majority of graduate school departments have extensive websites of their graduate programs. You can also write to the Graduate Admissions Officer of the department that interests you. Your choice of institution will depend on the following factors:

  • Matching your interests with those of the faculty
  • Admission requirements
  • Possibilities for futre employment
  • Location of the institution
  • Financial aid

It is recommended for applying to graduate schools by choosing one or two “safety” schools, a few in the middle range, and a couple of “if you’re lucky” schools.

2. Check Out these Resources from the American Chemical Society (ACS) Websites

  • Graduate Education in Chemistry

    Information about resources, planning for graduate work in chemistry and more.

  • DGRweb

    The ACS Directory of Graduate Research, an online resource on faculty and their research programs in institutions throughout the U.S. and Canada. You can use the directory to find out about the individual professors whose work appeals to you.

3. Gain Professional Experiences

In chemistry, undergraduate research is practically a prerequisite for graduate school. Fortunately, undergraduate research can take place in several different settings, including at your home institution, at a summer Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU), or through an industrial internship. Starting your junior year, you should become involved in research projects to acquire uncommon skills (e.g., software, methods, instruments, or reactions that most undergraduates wouldn’t have practiced). Additionally, having your research presented at a conference or published is a strong evidence that you can communicate your science and that you can bring projects to completion.

Involvement in other experiences can also prepare you for graduate school. For example, teaching or tutoring experience may show that you’ll be able to handle the first-year teaching assignment. Leadership in the ACS student chapter will show that you have an interest in chemistry that extends outside the classroom or laboratory.

4. Take the GRE Test

The Graduate Record Exam (GRE) is required for admission to most graduate programs in chemistry. Please review the specific test requirements for the school to which you are applying. You may request to have score reports sent to your schools when you take the test. If you take the GRE multiple times, your score reports will contain all of your scores. In most cases, the verbal and quantitative GRE examinations are required. The general GRE is offered in both electronic and paper form. Informal scores are sometimes available at the test site before you leave, but be sure to allow approximately six weeks for score reports to reach the desired institutions. Some institutions also require Chemistry Subject GRE examination. Many students find it advantageous to take these exams during the summer prior to their application so they have time to re-take the exam if necessary.

Give yourself adequate time (3-6 months) to prepare.

  • GRE study guides are available in the UMHB library. Seubject search Graduate Management Admission Test – Study Guides or Graduate Record Examination – Study Guides.
  • Register for the GRE to see upcoming test dates.

5. Write a Killer Personal Statement

Most chemistry graduate school programs ask for a statement that describes your research experience and career goals in one to two pages. Be sure to include evidence that you actually have the intellectual tools and the background to do what you’re proposing. Suggested books in the UMHB library are:

  • Peterson’s How to Write the Perfect Personal Statement by Mark A Stewart
  • Graduate Admission Essays: Write Your Way into the Graduate School of Your Choice by Donald Asher

6. Complete the Graduate School Application

Completing your applications requires test scores, transcripts, letters of recommendation, lists of achievements and activities, and your personal statements.

Most programs will probably require you to submit your application between January and March of the year you wish to enroll. Admission decisions are usually made by April 15. Check your deadlines carefully.

7. Apply for Financial Aid

Chemistry graduate school stipends allow you to be paid for doing interesting research as well as receiving “free” graduate education. If you’re applying for financial aid, you may need to submit your entire application earlier than students who are not applying for financial aid, so make sure you check the deadlines and search the university website for research assistantships, teaching assistantships or fellowships.

The Department of Chemistry, Environmental Science & Geology at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor strives to equip all our students with an awareness of the impact modern technology has on our society, as well as introduce them to the essentials of these disciplines. We invited you to visit our department website for more information.