Graduate Program Frequently Asked Questions
Have questions about a graduate program in Chemistry and Biochemistry? Our department has the answers.
Potential applicants often have many questions regarding application for admission to the Graduate Program in Chemistry and Biochemistry at Northern Arizona University.
Your questions may be answered here:
Do I need to contact NAU Chemistry and Biochemistry faculty members before I apply for graduate studies? Accordion Closed
Absolutely YES! You MUST contact prospective faculty mentors at the Department of who do research in the area you wish to study.
Introduce yourself and ask faculty members who you might like to work with if they are accepting new graduate students. If they are, tell them about your background, coursework, etc. Tell them why you are interested in working with them and earning your master’s degree under their mentorship. Please be sure to understand the mentors’ areas of research and know why you want to work with them. This is a good time to ask potential mentors if your credentials and education are adequate, or if updated coursework might be needed before or after admission to the program. Ask the prospective mentor, once s/he knows something about you, if they would be willing to sponsor your application if it comes up for review for admission to the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry graduate program.
Please note that you cannot be admitted to the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry graduate program unless an NAU faculty member stands up during the admissions review process and says that s/he is interested in taking you on as a graduate student and can support you financially with a TA-ship, RA-ship, or other mechanism. This is especially important for international applicants. At that point (i.e., only when that expression of interest/support is made by the faculty member) will the Graduate Program Committee review your application for admission, and rank you relative to other grad applicants who also have a potential faculty mentor. How you rank relative to other committed candidates at that point will determine whether you are offered admission. Therefore, your first step is to try to make a connection with an NAU faculty member and see if there is a good fit for you here at NAU.
What graduate programs does the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department offer? Accordion Closed
The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry graduate program consists of three programs:
Thesis-based master’s degree
The objective of our graduate program is to provide an experience that meets the educational goals of the individual student while providing opportunities for research in traditional and interdisciplinary areas of chemistry. We prepare you for careers in industry and teaching, as well as for post-graduate and professional programs at other institutions.
Coursework-based master’s degree
Students may enroll in a non-thesis master’s program in Chemistry, starting Fall 2022. This degree is desirable for the growing scientific and technical workforce in Arizona as well as for continuing education for in-service K-12 teachers and employees in Flagstaff’s science and technology firms. Notably, the existing thesis-based plan requires a full-time commitment to the program, while the non-thesis degree can be completed part-time. The non-thesis degree also provides additional options for traditional students who find that the thesis-based degree is not suitable to their skills or needs. Non-thesis degree students must still apply a specific faculty member in the Department who will mentor them through the program.
Accelerated master’s program
The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry offers an accelerated bachelor’s to master’s degree (4+1) program that allows qualified students to start a Master’s degree, while simultaneously completing their Bachelor’s degree. We want you to progress toward your educational and career goals while saving time and money.
What criteria are faculty mentors looking for in potential graduate students? Accordion Closed
Criteria that faculty mentors may look for in applicants include:
Demonstrated promise for independent research development, design, interpretation and presentation
- previous research experience as an undergraduate student or associated with post-baccalaureate work, with reference letters attesting to the applicant’s abilities; and/or
- research presentation(s) at regional, national or international conferences in the profession, with reference letters attesting to the applicant’s abilities; and/or
- co-authorship(s) of peer-reviewed publication(s), with reference letters attesting to the applicant’s abilities
Demonstrated promise for success in graduate level course work in Chemical Sciences and supporting areas relevant to the student’s area(s) of study
- strong undergraduate grade point average in a science degree program and supporting science courses; and/or
- strong performance on the GRE (earlier format), such as a composite score (verbal, quantitative and writing) with a percentile of 70% or higher.
What specific science courses must I take as an undergraduate or post-baccalaureate student in order to be eligible for admission to the graduate program in chemical sciences? Accordion Closed
All applicants must have earned a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university, and we expect that the bachelor’s degree will be in a chemical science or other science closely related to their expected field of graduate study. Applicants holding non-science bachelor’s degrees but with very significant post-baccalaureate or undergraduate minor concentrations in chemistry-oriented science can also be considered for admission to the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry graduate program, with strong mentor support.
While there are no specific chemical sciences, math, or chemistry courses required for admission to the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry program, this does not mean that there are no course requirements at all—it is just that each faculty mentor looks for different sets of classwork experience, research experience, grades, test scores, letters of recommendation, and personal goals in their prospective graduate students (talk to your potential faculty—see above—communicating with potential mentors is critical for any admission application to the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry graduate program).
If accepted, am I required to demonstrate proficiency in chemistry through exams or other mechanisms? Accordion Closed
Yes! Admitted students in any of the Department’s graduate programs must contact their relevant research advisor as soon as admitted to the program. The policy regarding proficiency exams is available here: Proficiency Exam Policies Fall 2022
Is financial aid available? Accordion Closed
Typically, all of our admitted graduate students are offered some type of graduate assistantship (either TA or RA). A few are admitted on competitive fellowships (these are not always available, please talk to potential mentors to see if any may apply to you). We do not ordinarily admit students without offering them some support, unless the applicant states that they are self-supporting.
The graduate assistantship stipend at NAU depends on whether you will be entering a MS or PhD Program, and whether you will be a TA or RA. Please contact your potential NAU faculty mentor (major professor) or the Graduate Coordinator for additional information.
Is financial support for International students available? Accordion Closed
Financial support for all applicants is limited. In addition, International students are required by NAU policy to demonstrated sufficient financial support. https://nau.edu/graduate-college/international-graduate-admission/
In addition to either an F-1 or J-1 visa, the following is probably important for international applicants to know, “Upon admittance to a program, international students must verify they have adequate funding available to support educational costs and all other costs associated with their stay in the United States before a visa application is processed. International students must submit one, or a combination of any of the following documents to verify availability of $44,853” (Estimated for Spring 2023)
Is a TOEFL score required? Accordion Closed
Admission to the program for international students is coordinated through the International Graduate Admissions program In addition to the admissions requirements for all graduate students, international students must meet additional criteria to be eligible for admission to NAU. During the process of contacting and communicating with specific NAU faculty member to discuss your interest in the program, you may be expected to demonstrate proficiency in written and spoken English during the video call (e.g. Skype or Zoom).
What is the required minimum undergraduate GPA for admission? Accordion Closed
Minimum undergraduate GPA for regular admission is 3.0 (on a 0-4 scale). While in certain cases, student may be admitted with GPA’s under 3.0, University policy is that such student are placed on academic probation until their GPA’s rise above 3.0 (typically after their first semester of graduate studies). Students with less than a 3.0 GPA are not eligible for Teaching Assistantships or tuition waivers.
Are there research lab rotations for first year grad students so they can choose a mentor? Accordion Closed
No, we do not use the rotation system. You must have an assigned mentor before you can be admitted to the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry graduate program (see above).
What is the average number of students who apply to the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry graduate program each year, and how many of those applicants are admitted? Accordion Closed
Typically, 20-30 apply, and 5-7 are admitted. This varies somewhat year-to-year, depending on applicant pool and grant funding situations of individual faculty.
Is the GRE required? Accordion Closed
While the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at NAU no longer requires the GRE exam for consideration for admission to its MS programs, you may still submit GRE scores if you feel it would benefit your application.
How do I apply? Accordion Closed
All applications are submitted online through the Graduate College. Please go to the Graduate College admissions website to get started.
Should I send application materials to potential faculty or the graduate advisor? Accordion Closed
No! Please do not send materials (e.g. resume or curriculum vitae, university transcripts, recommendation letters, test scores, etc.) to the faculty or graduate advisor unless you have specifically been requested in writing to do so. All materials should be uploaded online through the Graduate College. Please go to the Graduate College admissions website to get started.
When is the deadline for application submission and decisions? Accordion Closed
The deadline for submission of your complete application (all letters, transcripts, GRE scores, etc.) can be found on the Graduate College website. Typical deadlines for NAU are March 1st for fall semester (August start) and October 1st for spring semester (January start).