Graduate Programs

The goal of our department's graduate program is to help you reach your highest potential, to build the capacity to work independently and define and investigate new problems. Graduate-level chemists are able to both advance the fundamental understanding of their discipline and communicate what they have learned to others.

Our programs offer graduate students an opportunity to learn within a vibrant intellectual community. The size of our department is an important advantage to our graduate students. We are both large enough to provide cutting edge research facilities and training, yet small enough to guarantee close faculty-student interactions. This tight-knit culture is one of the major attractions of the graduate programs at the University of Denver. 

“When I came out to visit DU, I could immediately tell that the professors were interested in my individual success and not just the success of their lab.” —Jeffrey Amidon, graduate student

Detailed information about requirements for our graduate degree programs are found in the links at the bottom of this page. To get started on your application to our PhD program, click here.

Life at the University of Denver, however, is about more than teaching and research. The tree-filled campus is located in Denver, Colorado next to the beautiful Rocky Mountain Range. Free rapid transit passes on a system voted one of the best in the U.S. give students quick access to all the urban amenities of downtown, and unique mountain towns, hiking, and world-famous ski areas are just a short drive to the west. Division I athletics teams, including perennial national title contenders in hockey, skiing, and lacrosse help build a sense of campus community. And people from all areas appreciate the mild climate, the more than 300 days of sun per year, and the friendly culture of Colorado.

Graduate Student Support

We are committed to supporting the well-being and development of our graduate students. Students in the MS and PhD programs are provided financial support in the form of teaching assistantships, research assistantships, or fellowships. The stipend for students in good standing in the PhD program is over $32k/year. Students are also provided a tuition waiver and a health insurance scholarship to cover the cost of the DU student health insurance plan and health and counseling fees. Stipend support generally increases each year, and this is expected to continue.

Faculty-led research projects represent a major component of our MS and PhD degrees. Due to high ratio of sponsor funding to number of graduate students in our program, students and research projects are well supported. Students have excellent hands-on access to an array of instrumentation in the department.

  • Key Information for Applicants

    Did you know that in chemistry it is most common to go straight from undergraduate to a PhD without getting a Masters?

    Students are encouraged to consider applying to our PhD program. It is less common, but we do offer and admit students directly into our MS program. Please reach out to discuss this option.

    A summary of admission requirements is provided below. Full details can be found here.

    Due dates (For Fall 2025)

    • Priority Deadline 1 – December 9th, 2024 (Preliminary review for early offers of admission)
    • Priority Deadline 2 – January 15th, 2025 (All completed applications reviewed)
    • Miss the deadlines above? Reach out and apply! We continue to review new applicants even after the priority deadlines.

    GPA and Prerequisites

    The minimum requirement for consideration is 2.5. We understand that individuals often experience growth during their undergraduate degree and often work hard to improve their GPA over time. It is encouraged to address low grades in a particular class or period during your degree in your personal statement.

    The average undergraduate GPA of students entering our graduate program is ~3.3 (4.0 scale).

    We do not require GRE scores.

    Applicants must earn and submit proof of earning the equivalent of a baccalaureate degree in chemistry, biochemistry or a related field from a regionally accredited institution prior to beginning graduate coursework at DU. Additionally, it is beneficial if students have taken a full year of physical chemistry.

    Please reach out if you have questions about your preparedness for our program. Students with certain interdisciplinary backgrounds may also be interested in apply to the Molecular and Cellular Biophysics Program (link).

    English language requirements (TOEFL, IELTS, C1 Advanced, Duolingo)

    Our department is an inclusive environment with students from around the globe. Since most students are offered graduate teaching assistantships (GTA) as part of their financial support, the English language requirements for non-native English speakers are more stringent than the general requirements for admission consideration.

    The requirements to be considered for GTA support are:

    • IELTS – 8 on speaking section
    • TOEFL – 26 on speaking section
    • C1 Advanced - 200 on the C1 Advanced exam speaking section
    • Full details and exceptions can be found here

    International students who do not meet the requirements for GTA support are still considered for admission if they meet the general requirements. Fellowships may be available to highly qualified international candidates that do not meet the requirements for GTA support.

    Acceptance Rates and Outcomes

    Our acceptance rate varies from year-to-year, but ~47% of applicants are offered admission to our program.

    If you have additional questions about requirements, please contact us.

  • Course-Program Information

    For full detailed information on our graduate programs, please see the Bulletin.

    All first year students take a sequence of courses that provide deep exposure to core areas of chemistry and biochemistry, a unique benefit to the approach in our department. This broad education helps shape students who are chemically literate and who can then contribute profoundly to the cross-cutting interdisciplinary research for which many of our faculty are known.

    Course Requirements: First year graduate students typically take three courses each quarter that comprise the graduate core curriculum in chemistry. Students must maintain a B average in the following courses.

    1. CHEM 3110 - Chemical Systems I - Advanced discussion of modern concepts in organic chemistry.
    2. CHEM 3120 - Chemical Systems II – An advanced inorganic chemistry course that covers trends in the chemistry of the elements in terms of orbital interactions.
    3. CHEM 3130 - Chemical Systems III - An advanced physical biochemistry course. 
    4. CHEM 3310 - Molecular Structure and Energetics I – An introduction to symmetry and applications of group theory to molecular vibrations and to a molecular orbital interpretation of chemical bonding.
    5. CHEM 3320 - Molecular Structure and Energetics II - This is a course that covers computational methods in chemistry and biochemistry.
    6. CHEM 3220 - Advanced Analytical Chemistry - This course covers principles of chemical instrumentation and electronics applied to analytical measurements.
    7. CHEM 3831 - Advanced Protein Biochemistry - This course provides fundamental insights into the chemistry and physics of proteins.
    8. CHEM 3705 - Topics in Biochemistry – This course may include physical techniques for exploring biological structure, biological catalysis, and selected fields within biochemistry taught from original literature.
    9. An elective course is selected from topics that rotate each year, but often covers advanced organic chemistry, organic spectroscopy, organometallics, biochemistry, analytical chemistry.

    Research Rotations (MS and PhD): A trial period in a research laboratory takes place during November and December of the first year, and with additional rotations possible in summer before the start of the program or continuing into the spring of the first year. There are also opportunities to come the summer before classes and get a running start in lab!

    Cumulative examinations (PhD only): are generally taken during the student's second year in residence. These exams cover fundamental materials found in review articles and topics appearing in the current literature. The purpose of these exams is to acquaint the student with the literature and to keep the student abreast of new developments in his/her field. The student must pass three of six examinations.

    Proposition Oral Examination (PhD only): Upon successful completion of the cumulative exams, the student will develop a proposal of original research. The idea will be discussed in a preliminary meeting with the student's advisory committee. A public presentation will be given to the Department. After the public presentation, the student must defend his/her proposal before a committee. At the time of this proposition oral exam, the student's committee will evaluate the student's overall performance in course work, cumulative exams, and the proposition oral, and will decide if the student may continue in the Ph.D. program on the basis of this overall evaluation. 

    Seminar: All students in the PhD and the MS program present a technical seminar to the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. The topic of the seminar is chosen in consultation with the research advisor and other members of the department. 

    Original Work: A thesis (MS) or dissertation (PhD) of publishable quality based on the original research completed by the student under the direction of the research advisor is written. A summary of the work is presented in a public seminar and later defended in an oral examination before a thesis examination committee.
     

Filter programs

College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics

Chemistry

PhD

About this Program

The University of Denver's PhD in chemistry is designed for students whose ultimate aim is to find a career in scientific research. The goal of the program is to train scientists capable of independently pursuing high-level research projects. In addition to rigorous coursework, students complete a dissertation of publishable quality. This degree can prepare students for careers in academic and industrial research environments. Additionally, if the PhD is pursued in conjunction with other professional training, students can go on to work in fields that combine science with public policy, business and law.

Each student in the chemistry PhD program has an advisory committee that monitors their progress and advises them on their research. The relatively small size of our chemistry graduate program ensures we maintain an environment conducive to close interactions between students and faculty, as well as collaboration between students. We also make sure our students can tailor their programs of study to meet their specific interests and career needs.

College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics

Chemistry

MS

About this Program

The University of Denver's master of science in chemistry is designed for students who wish to work towards an advanced degree primarily for the purpose of conducting research. Students in the program will complete, present and defend a research thesis of publishable quality, and will focus their research in an area of their choice. Current faculty research includes efforts in biophysical, organic, analytical and environmental chemistry, as well as biochemistry. Students also may pursue research topics of their own devising.

As a relatively small graduate program, at least in terms of population, we're able to offer a personalized experience with close collaboration between students and faculty. Each student in the program will have an advisory committee that will monitor their academic progress and help provide guidance. Students who complete the program can go on to further graduate education or pursue careers in research or industry.

College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics

Chemistry

MA

About this Program

The University of Denver's master of arts in chemistry aims to instill students with the ability to learn independently and to define and help solve new problems. Chemists in our graduate programs work to contribute to the fundamental understanding of their discipline and help others understand their contributions and those of their contemporaries. Intended for students already working full time in industry or secondary education, the MA is an advanced degree with an emphasis on coursework as opposed to research, and a research thesis is not required.

The goal of this programs is to realize the full development of each student's talents and ensure they can develop skills that will serve them through their lives and careers. The relatively modest population of our graduate program allows us to maintain small class sizes with high levels of interaction between students and faculty, as well as frequent collaboration with other students. That tight-knit nature also helps ensure students are able to get all the support they need, and can tailor their educations to meet their specific needs and wants.

College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics

Molecular and Cellular Biophysics

PhD

About this Program

The University of Denver's PhD program in molecular and cellular biophysics provides students a core foundation in biophysical theory and practice, along with flexibility and individualized attention. Participation of faculty from the departments of biological sciences, chemistry and biochemistry, and physics and astronomy enhances the strength and breadth of our program by incorporating cross-disciplinary and collaborative approaches to research. Areas of research include super resolution microscopy, developmental dynamics, protein folding, protein network analysis, signal transduction cascades, single molecule biophysics, cellular physiology and the development of novel imaging techniques.

Students with strong quantitative undergraduate backgrounds in fields such as physics, chemistry and mathematics who desire to apply these skills to biological problems are encouraged to apply, as are those with backgrounds in cell or molecular biology and solid foundations in mathematics and physics. We particularly encourage projects in the traditional disciplines of physics, biology and chemistry, as well as those using methods of mathematical analysis and computer modeling.