Frequently Asked Questions - Chemistry Graduate Program
We appreciate your interest in the Purdue Graduate Program in Chemistry. As a first step, please read the FAQ section below.
SUBMITTING AN APPLICATION
MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS TO APPLY
QUESTIONS ABOUT THE APPLICATION PROCESS
FOR INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS
Applications should be submitted to the Purdue Graduate School. You must complete all parts of the application and submit your payment online at www.purdue.edu/gradschool. We will not review or consider partial applications.
We are now seeking applications for admission beginning in Fall 2021. The chemistry program has set a deadline of 11:59 pm on Friday, December 15, 2020 for applications to our Fall 2021 graduate class. This means that individuals who have submitted a complete application on or before December 15 will receive a review and decision. There is no guarantee that later applications will be reviewed.
We start reviewing applications in late October or early November. Admissions decisions may be made on a rolling basis as applications are received, so there may be an advantage to applying early.
No. Fall is our only admission period to the graduate program. We do not offer admission for Spring or Summer.
Nothing is missing in a complete application. You will have answered all questions and submitted the required documents including: transcripts from each of the universities that you have attended; a statement of purpose; 3 letters of recommendation; and test scores proving your competence with the English language (if you are an international student from a non-English-speaking country).
If you request a transcript or letters from your recommenders on December 14, it is unlikely that we will have received them within 24 hours, making your application incomplete. Please note that we are not asking for a final transcript: we know that most applicants are still completing their degree. We are asking for an OFFICIAL transcript, issued by the registrar at your university (and translated into English if it was issued in any other language).
Select one of the divisions that best matches your interests at this time. You may change your mind once you arrive on campus and are selecting an advisor. Many students become involved with projects which overlap divisions. We will use the division you select as a way to assign faculty to review your application. For example, if your resumé includes research or publications on inorganic chemistry and letters from inorganic chemists and you’re interested in learning more about this subject, then you will be best served by specifying inorganic chemistry as your area of interest.
Most of our applicants don’t have a final transcript when they apply, because they are still completing their undergraduate degree, or MS degree. However, you can still submit an official transcript. Please follow the instructions in this link: Transcripts If you are offered admission to Purdue, you will be reminded to provide a final, official transcript once you complete your current degree. That version must show that a degree was granted to you. This must be provided to the Graduate School.
Yes! This is mandatory and an application will be incomplete without it. This essay provides a valuable insight for the faculty evaluating your application. The Graduate School has guidelines on the Statement of Purpose at this link, and the Purdue Online Writing Lab has hints and advice for writing a quality Statement of Purpose at this link.
If you are a US citizen who has been significantly involved with any racial, ethnic, socio-economic, or educational communities that have traditionally been underrepresented in higher education, please make the effort to submit a diversity essay. Although this is optional, it is also a prerequisite for an excellent fellowship offered by the graduate school (Purdue Doctoral Fellowship). You won’t be considered unless you have submitted this essay. You will see this option once you have completed the ‘Program Details’ section of your application and indicated your graduate major and area of interest.
This is also an option, but highly recommended. A resume allows you to present a complete picture of your experience and accomplishments to your faculty reviewers.
The Chemistry Department requires three (3) letters of recommendation. It is strongly recommended that at least one of these letters be written by someone who supervised your research efforts. This includes research done while you were an undergraduate, or during a graduate level program, or during employment.
Exceeding this word limit gives the impression that you are unable to write concisely. Therefore, this should be avoided.
It is recommended that you have a minimum of 35 semester hours of undergraduate credit in chemistry as a basis for graduate work. These 35 hours should include the basic undergraduate courses in general chemistry, quantitative analysis, inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry and physical chemistry. In addition, the student should have credit in mathematics through integral calculus and one year of physics. Additional courses in mathematics and physics are desirable.
A Master’s Degree is not required. Most of our applicants are in the process of completing a bachelor’s degree (B.S. or B.A.). Some are also completing a master’s program (M.S.) when they apply, but that is not required for admission. However, it is required that you complete the program in which you are enrolled when you apply. The graduate school will require a final and official transcript showing the degree earned, preferably before you arrive on campus or register for courses.
We DO NOT require a GRE score and prefer you not send it.
You should apply with at least a 3.0 grade point average (GPA) on a 4.0 point scale.
Once your application is complete, the Graduate School will release it for review by a panel of chemistry faculty. These professors will make recommendations to either admit or deny your application. You could be placed on a waitlist, especially as the deadline nears and there are fewer openings remaining. If you are placed on a waitlist, your application was good enough for admission but the problem is timing (and lack of space). Again, the earlier you apply, the better your chances!
The review panel includes representatives from each division (analytical, biochemistry, chemical biology, chemical education, inorganic chemistry, materials chemistry, organic chemistry, physical chemistry or theoretical chemistry) who are assigned according to the ‘Area of Interest’ that you selected in your application.
No! While it is frequently the custom at other universities (particularly in other countries) to negotiate directly with a professor for admission to a graduate program, this is not the practice at Purdue. First you must apply to the Purdue Graduate School, complete your application and only then will your application be reviewed by our faculty panel. There is no shortcut to admission. Please don’t ask our faculty (or staff) to respond to an email request to offer an opinion about whether you might be admitted. You can’t avoid the admissions process.
Individual professors have the opportunity to interact with new graduate students after they have been admitted to the program. If you received an invitation to Purdue, you will also receive an invitation to visit us (at our expense). That is the time to talk with our faculty. Once you accept our offer, domestic students may also have a chance to work in certain labs during the summer (and be paid for your efforts). After you arrive in the fall, you will begin a series of visits and interviews with individual labs as you search for a research program and thesis advisor. There will be many opportunities to meet professors, but FIRST you must be admitted through the process already described in these FAQ.
If you waive your right to examine your letter, it ensures your recommender that his/her letter will be confidential. Some recommenders will refuse to send a letter of recommendation unless they know that it will be confidential. Therefore, it helps you to waive your right to examine.
Purdue Chemistry has been very fortunate in receiving high numbers of excellent applicants each year but our limited number of positions makes the process of selection difficult. Offers of admission to the graduate program in chemistry will be made on an ongoing basis until our targeted class size is achieved. The earliest offers could be expected by January. The latest offers could come by April 15, which is also the final deadline for acceptance of our offer. If other applicants decline our offer, opportunities are created for those on our waiting list.
We don’t rank people on the waitlist. As we approach the acceptance deadline, we may notice shortages for some divisions and then respond by seeking out applicants with a specific “Area of Interest”. If all of our offers are accepted, we won’t go to the waitlist at all. It is impossible to predict what will happen or if you will receive an offer once you are notified that you’re on the waitlist. If you get another offer, you should take it.
Notification is done by email which will advise you of one of the following three outcomes: (a) offer of admission (b) placement on a waiting list or (c) denial of admission. One email will come to you from the Department of Chemistry. A separate email will be sent by the Graduate School. If you have received an offer of admission, the financial details will be outlined in the email from the Chemistry Department, while important information about your Purdue University identification and access will be sent by the Graduate School. Notification will be delivered to the email address that you provide in your application.
Students receiving an offer will be invited to our Graduate Symposium, which is a visitation weekend in March. During this visit, students will have the chance to interact with the Chemistry Department faculty, students and staff. Travel expenses will be reimbursed up to a stated limit (usually sufficient to cover airfare for those living in the USA, but insufficient for overseas trips). Your first step will be to determine whether you can attend this weekend event and learn more about the program by talking with graduate students, professors and the individuals who run the graduate program. If you wish to attend this weekend event, follow instructions in the offering letter.
If you can’t attend the weekend, but wish to visit the department, there will be instructions about setting up an individual visit. If you choose this alternative, it is possible to set up appointments with faculty and/or students you are interested in meeting. However, the Graduate Symposium provides you with the best access to faculty discussions, tours and informational events and will ensure that your expenses are either covered or reimbursed.
Students receiving an offer of admission need to formally respond both to the department and the Graduate School with a statement of acceptance, not later than April 15. An email will be sufficient for the department and the Graduate School asks you to respond via their application site.
If you accept an offer from another program, we request that you to let us know as soon as possible so that we can make an offer to those students on our waiting list.
Transcripts that are written in languages other than English must be accompanied by an English translation. Please remember to send BOTH versions.
International students who are enrolled in a graduate-level program in the United States at the time of their application and subsequently offered admission to Purdue must provide proof that they have completed their degree at the other institution. A final, official transcript listing their degree must be forwarded to the Graduate School before they can enroll for courses as a graduate student in the Chemistry Department at Purdue University.
If you come from a country in which English is not a primary language, you must submit TOEFL or IELTS scores from a test in English competency taken within two years of your application. A degree from an American university does not exempt you from this requirement.
If you are an international student, from a country in which English is not the primary language, then you must submit your test scores for TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or the IELTS (International English Language Testing System). Scores must reflect testing completed within the prior two years. To report TOEFL scores, enter 1631 as the location code on the ETS (Educational Testing Service) online form to designate the Purdue University West Lafayette campus. Your application must be submitted before your TOEFL scores will link to the application and it may take several days.
The minimum overall scores for these tests are provided at the following link: English Proficiency. Please take note of the minimum scores for writing, reading and listening. A list of English-speaking countries is provided at the same link. The Department of Chemistry requires a minimum ‘speaking’ score of 22 (TOEFL) or 7 (IELTS).
The Department of Chemistry will not waive this English test requirement for those international students who have obtained a degree from an American university. Graduate students who receive a teaching assistantship in our program must be able to communicate effectively with the students that they instruct. New international graduate students are not cleared to teach until they pass an oral English proficiency test. In our experience, the stated TOEFL or IELTS test scores increase the probability of passing that test.
The Graduate School states minimum scores for admission but also allows each department to set their own minimums. The Department of Chemistry requires the following TOEFL minimum scores:
- Reading 19
- Speaking 22
- Listening 14
- Writing 18
Offers to incoming PhD students include financial support for a period up to 5 years from the date of admission, presuming satisfactory progress and performance. In exchange for this support, students participate as teaching assistants (TAs) in both undergraduate and graduate level courses for fall and spring semesters and occasionally for the summer session. The time commitment is typically 20 h/week.
Faculty with sufficient funding may also reward students with research support enabling them to focus solely on investigations related to their thesis. This would typically not happen until the second or third year. Research assistantships (RAs) tend to be granted after a graduate student has completed their own course work, cumulative exams and oral preliminary exam.
Competitive fellowships are available for exceptional students throughout their graduate career. A limited number of one or two year fellowships will be offered to new graduate students selected for Fall 2021 admission. Students on fellowships may elect to supplement their income by teaching on a limited basis (10 h/week).
At this time, we are primarily seeking PhD students. An exception is granted for veterans and active service US military applicants who are fully funded by scholarships and seeking an MS degree.
Department of Chemistry
560 Oval Drive
West Lafayette, IN
Assistant Head of Chemistry