Fall Deadline December 1
Spring Deadline The program does not admit in the spring.
Summer Deadline The program does not admit in the summer.
GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) Not required.
English Proficiency Test Every applicant whose native language is not English or whose undergraduate instruction was not in English must provide an English proficiency test score and meet the Graduate School minimum requirements (
Other Test(s) (e.g., GMAT, MCAT) n/a
Letters of Recommendation Required 3

Prospective graduate students are expected to have satisfactorily completed the equivalent in classes and labs of the fundamental courses in chemistry offered at UW–Madison, one year of physics, and mathematics through calculus. Students who have not completed all the prerequisites may be admitted in exceptional cases, but any deficiencies must be made up in the first year of graduate study.

A grade point average of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) in the last 60 hours of undergraduate work is the minimum required for admission to graduate studies. Students for whom English is not the native language are required to present scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Before teaching assistant appointments can be finalized, students for whom English is a second language must participate in the SPEAK Test, the institutional version of the Test of Spoken English (TSE).

Admission deadline for the fall semester is December 1. Although some recommendation letters might not have been received at that time, the application should be substantially complete by then to be considered for admission in the following fall.

Admission for the spring semester is not the norm, and applications for spring should only be submitted following discussion with a faculty member and/or the Graduate Program Office. Most summer admissions are applicants who were already admitted for the fall semester and decided to start earlier so they could serve as a teaching assistant or research assistant.

Graduate School Resources

Resources to help you afford graduate study might include assistantships, fellowships, traineeships, and financial aid. Further funding information is available from the Graduate School. Be sure to check with your program for individual policies and restrictions related to funding.

Program Resources

With few exceptions, students admitted to the Ph.D. program in the Department of Chemistry are guaranteed support for five continuous academic years. The support will be at the level of at least 50% time, and may come from a variety of sources—teaching assistantships, research assistantships, project assistantships, traineeships, and fellowships. This guarantee requires that you remain a graduate student in good standing in the Ph.D. program in the Department of Chemistry, and that your teaching or other assigned responsibilities are satisfactory.

Currently, graduate students who have at least a 33.4% appointment for a fall or spring term are eligible to receive a full tuition (but not segregated fee) waiver.

Although serving as a teaching assistant is not a requirement of the chemistry department at this time, teaching can be an important part of the graduate training you receive. Most students will serve at least two semesters as a teaching assistant, and many will serve for two years. Whether or not an individual student will be appointed as a teaching assistant, research assistant, trainee or fellow depends on the availability of funding from the major professor, and eligibility for traineeships and fellowships from other sources.

Minimum Graduate School Requirements

Review the Graduate School minimum academic progress and degree requirements, in addition to the program requirements listed below.

Major Requirements


Face to Face Evening/Weekend Online Hybrid Accelerated
Yes No No No No

Mode of Instruction Definitions


Minimum Credit Requirement 51 credits
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement 32 credits
Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement Half of degree coursework (26 credits out of 51 total credits) must be completed graduate-level coursework; courses with the Graduate Level Coursework attribute are identified and searchable in the university's Course Guide.
Overall Graduate GPA Requirement 3.00 GPA required.
Other Grade Requirements The Graduate School requires an average grade of B or better in all coursework (300 or above, not including research credits) taken as a graduate student unless conditions for probationary status require higher grades. Grades of Incomplete are considered to be unsatisfactory if they are not removed during the next enrolled semester.
Assessments and Examinations During their second year, the students complete the Thesis Background Exam (TBE). They write a paper describing the background of their research, research progress, and future research plans and orally defend their understanding and research to their mentoring committee.

During the third year, the students complete the Original Research Proposal (RP) Exam. The students propose an original research project outside their area of study and write a paper describing the project. They orally defend their proposed project to their mentoring committee.

At the end of their fourth year, the students complete the 4th-Year Meeting with their mentoring committee. This meeting includes an oral presentation of their research and discussion of what research needs to be completed to obtain the PhD. The students and committee discuss the students' future plans.

At the end of their fifth year, if not defending their dissertation, the students complete the 5th-Year Meeting with the mentoring committee. This meeting includes an oral presentation of their research and discussion of what research needs to be completed to obtain the PhD. The students and committee discuss the students' future plans.

In the 5th or 6th year, the students write, defend, and submit their dissertation.
Language Requirements There are currently no language requirements to obtain the Ph.D. in Chemistry.
Doctoral Minor/Breadth Requirements Doctoral students must complete the required courses plus a minimum of 9 credits of minor courses. This requirement may be satisfied by an external minor (option A) or a distributed minor (option B). The minor, whether option A or B, is designed to represent a coherent body of work. To ensure coherence, the student must consult with their research advisor. The Ph.D. Minor Agreement Form should be submitted to the Graduate Program Office for approval at an early date, before the student is halfway through the proposed course sequence.

Required Courses

CHEM 901 Seminar-Teaching of Chemistry1
CHEM 607 Laboratory Safety1
CHEM 964 Seminar: Molecular Dynamics0-1

Students must complete CHEM 901 Seminar-Teaching of Chemistry in the fall of their first year and CHEM 607 Laboratory Safety in the spring of their first year. After joining a research lab, usually in the fall semester of the first year, students enroll in CHEM 964 Seminar: Molecular Dynamics in subsequent semesters.

The Department of Chemistry recognizes 7 paths to the Ph.D. in Chemistry; each path has specific required courses, called core courses, and other path-specific requirements.1

Analytical Chemistry Track

CHEM 721 Instrumental Analysis3-4
CHEM 920 Seminar-Analytical Chemistry0
Select two of the following:
Organic Analysis
Experimental Spectroscopy
Genomic Science
Methods and Technologies for Protein Characterization
Atmospheric Chemical Mechanisms
Selected Topics in Analytical Chemistry
Separations in Chemical Analysis
Electronics for Chemical Instrumentation

Chemical Biology Track

CHEM/​BIOCHEM  704 Chemical Biology3
Select one of the following seminars:0
Seminar-Inorganic Chemistry
Seminar-Analytical Chemistry
Seminar-Organic Chemistry
Select any one of the following for the maximum credits offered:
Physical Methods for Structure Determination
Organic Analysis
Methods and Technologies for Protein Characterization
Selected Topics in Analytical Chemistry
Biophysical Chemistry
Biophysical Spectroscopy
Instrumental Analysis

Chemistry Education Research Track

CHEM 758 Chemistry Education Research2
CURRIC/​COUN PSY/​ED POL/​ED PSYCH/​ELPA/​RP & SE  719 Introduction to Qualitative Research3
ED PSYCH/​ELPA  822 Introduction to Quantitative Inquiry in Education3
The following 3 courses are recommended for the minor:
Two chemistry courses relevant to the research project.
One advanced methods course selected from the following:
Statistical Methods Applied to Education I
Statistical Methods Applied to Education II
Regression Models in Education
Statistical Analysis and Design in Educational Research
Hierarchical Linear Modeling
Qualitative Research Methods in Education: Field Methods I
Qualitative Research Methods in Education: Field Methods II

Inorganic Chemistry Track

CHEM 608 Symmetry, Bonding, and Molecular Shapes1-3
CHEM 713 Inorganic and Organometallic Chemistry of the Main Group Elements1-3
CHEM 900 Seminar-Inorganic Chemistry0
Two of the following courses are recommended for the minor requirement:
Physical Methods for Structure Determination
Chemical Crystallography
Organometallic Chemistry of the Transition Elements
Selected Topics in Inorganic Chemistry

Materials Chemistry Track

CHEM 920 Seminar-Analytical Chemistry0
Select two of the following:
Chemical Crystallography
Selected Topics in Analytical Chemistry
Chemistry of Inorganic Materials
Chemistry of Nanoscale Materials
Materials Chemistry of Polymers
Physical Chemistry of Macromolecules
Advanced Organic Chemistry
Special Topics in Chemical Engineering
Advanced Polymeric Materials

Organic Chemistry Track

CHEM 641 Advanced Organic Chemistry3
CHEM 841 Advanced Organic Chemistry3
CHEM 940 Seminar-Organic Chemistry0

Recommended courses, which may be taken as part of the minor:

CHEM 843 Advanced Organic Chemistry1-3
CHEM 605 Spectrochemical Measurements3
CHEM 636 Topics in Chemical Instrumentation: Introduction to NMR2

Physical Chemistry Track

CHEM 661 Chemical and Statistical Thermodynamics3
CHEM 675 Introductory Quantum Chemistry3
CHEM 960 Seminar-Physical Chemistry2
Complete at least 1 course from the following:
Physical Chemistry of Macromolecules
Biophysical Chemistry
Biophysical Spectroscopy
Molecular Reaction Dynamics
Introduction to Molecular Spectroscopy
Electronic Structure of Molecules
Physical Chemistry of Surfaces
Selected Topics in Physical Chemistry
Statistical Mechanics
Selected Topics in Macromolecular and Biophysical Chemistry

Graduate School Policies

The Graduate School’s Academic Policies and Procedures provide essential information regarding general university policies. Program authority to set degree policies beyond the minimum required by the Graduate School lies with the degree program faculty. Policies set by the academic degree program can be found below.

Major-Specific Policies

Prior Coursework

Graduate Work from Other Institutions

With program approval, students are allowed to count no more than 12 credits of graduate coursework from other institutions. Coursework earned ten years or more prior to admission to a doctoral degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

UW–Madison Undergraduate

Up to 7 credits numbered 300 or above from a UW–Madison undergraduate career are allowed to count toward the minimum graduate degree credit requirement; if those 7 credits are numbered 600 or above from a UW–Madison undergraduate career, they are allowed to count toward the minimum graduate coursework requirement. All credits so counted must be over and above the minimum credits that were required by the original undergraduate degree. Coursework earned ten years or more prior to admission to a doctoral degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

UW–Madison University Special

With program approval, students are allowed to count no more than 15 credits of coursework numbered 300 or above taken as a UW–Madison special student toward the residence and degree credit requirements; if those 15 credits of coursework taken as a UW–Madison Special student are numbered 600 or above, they are allowed to count toward the minimum graduate coursework requirement. Coursework earned ten or more years prior to admission to a doctoral degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.


The Graduate School regularly reviews the record of any student who earned grades of BC, C, D, F, or Incomplete in a graduate course (300 or above), or grade of U in research credits. This review could result in academic probation with a hold on future enrollment or in being suspended from the Graduate School.


Every graduate student is required to have an advisor. An advisor is a faculty member, or sometimes a committee, from the major department responsible for providing advice regarding graduate studies. An advisor generally serves as the thesis advisor. In many cases, an advisor is assigned to incoming students. Students can be suspended from the Graduate School if they do not have an advisor.

To ensure that students are making satisfactory progress toward a degree, the Graduate School expects them to meet with their advisor on a regular basis.

A committee often accomplishes advising for the students in the early stages of their studies.


15 credits

Time Constraints

Doctoral degree students who have been absent for ten or more consecutive years lose all credits that they have earned before their absence. Individual programs may count the coursework students completed prior to their absence for meeting program requirements; that coursework may not count toward Graduate School credit requirements.

A candidate for a doctoral degree who fails to take the final oral examination and deposit the dissertation within five years after passing the preliminary examination may by require to take another preliminary examination and to be admitted to candidacy a second time.

Grievances and Appeals

These resources may be helpful in addressing your concerns:

Students should contact the department chair or program director with questions about grievances. They may also contact the L&S Academic Divisional Associate Deans, the L&S Associate Dean for Teaching and Learning Administration, or the L&S Director of Human Resources.


All admitted Ph.D. graduate students receive tuition remission and a stipend, guaranteed for 10 semesters, as long as progress to the degree is made.

Graduate School Resources

Take advantage of the Graduate School's professional development resources to build skills, thrive academically, and launch your career. 

  1. Articulates research problems, potentials, and limits with respect to theory, knowledge, and practice within an area of chemistry.
  2. Formulates ideas, concepts, designs, and techniques beyond the current boundaries of knowledge within an area of chemistry.
  3. Creates research and scholarship that makes a substantive contribution to an area of chemistry.
  4. Demonstrates breadth within their learning experiences.
  5. Advances the beneficial societal impacts of research in chemistry.
  6. Communicates complex scientific ideas in a clear and understandable manner.
  7. Fosters safe, ethical, and professional conduct.


Berry, John
Bertram, Timothy
Blackwell, Helen
Boydston, AJ
Brunold, Thomas
Burstyn, Judith (Chair)
Cavagnero, Silvia
Choi, Kyoung-Shin
Coon, Joshua
Ediger, Mark
Fredrickson, Daniel
Gellman, Samuel
Hamers, Robert
Hermans, Ive
Jin, Song
Landis, Clark
McMahon, Robert
Moore, John
Nathanson, Gilbert
Record, Thomas
Schmidt, Jordan
Schomaker, Jennifer
Schwartz, David
Shakhashiri, Bassam
Sibert, Edwin (Associate Chair)
Smith, Lloyd
Stahl, Shannon
Weaver, Susanna Widicus
Weix, Daniel
Woods, Claude
Yethiraj, Arun
Yoon, Tehshik
Zanni, Martin


Boydston, Andrew
Garand, Etienne
Goldsmith, Randall


Buller, Andrew
Martell, Jeffrey
Pazicni, Sam
Stowe, Ryan
Wang, Tina
Wickens, Zachary
Yang, Yang


Feng, Dawei (Assistant Professor in Materials Science and Engineering)
Forest, Katrina (Professor of Bacteriology)
Ge, Ying (Professor of Cell and Regenerative Biology)
Gilbert, Pupa (Professor of Physics)
Golden, Jennifer (Assistant Professor of Pharmacy)
Gong, Shaoqin Sarah (Professor of Biomedical Engineering)
Gopalan, Padma (Professor of Materials Science and Engineering)
Hoskins, Aaron (Associate Professor of Biochemistry)
Kuech, Thomas (Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering)
Li, Lingjun (Professor of Pharmacy)
Lynn, David (Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering)
Mecozzi, Sandro (Professor of Pharmacy)
Middlecamp, Catherine (Professor, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies)
Pedersen, Joel (Professor of Soil Science)
Schreier, Marcel (Assistant Professor in Chemical and Biological Engineering)
Tang, Weiping (Professor of Pharmacy)
Yu, Lian (Professor of Pharmacy)


Thompson, Blaise (Instrument Tech)


Martin, Mathew (Instrument Maker–Advanced)
Mullarkey, James (Instrument Maker–Advanced)
Myers, Steven (Machine Shop Supervisor)
Schneider, Kendall (Instrument Maker–Advanced)


Clewett, Cathy (Senior Instrument Technologist)
Fry, Charles (Director of the NMR Laboratory)
Guzei, Ilia (Director of the X-Ray Laboratory)
Hofstetter, Heike (Associate Director of the NMR Laboratory)
Shanks, Robert (Senior Instrument Technologist)
Vestling, Martha (Director of the Mass Spectrometry Laboratory)


Bates, Desiree (Computational Chemistry Leader)
Drier, Tracy (Master Glassblower)
McGuire, Paul (High Performance Computing Systems Administrator)
Silver, Alan (Computer Systems Administrator)