Chemistry and Biochemistry

Advisement Committee & Formulation of a Program of Study

During the first semester in your graduate program you will select your faculty advisory chair and form your program of study.

Selection of Area of Specialization

Selection of Faculty Advisory Chair

An Insider’s Guide to Choosing a Graduate Advisor and Research Projects in Laboratory


Advisement Committee

Formulation of a Program of Study

Selection of Area of Specialization

Applicants are admitted to one of two programs: Chemistry or Biochemistry. This designation is firm and cannot be changed without re-application through the department admissions committee. While Biochemistry students will specialize in the area of Biochemistry, Chemistry students may specialize in Analytical, Inorganic, Organic/Biomolecular, or Physical Chemistry.

We urge all graduate students to select an advisory chair and area of specialization by the end of Fall semester. During the first half of the first fall semester, New Graduate Student Seminars are held at which the graduate faculty members present their research to orient the new students about the research being done in the department. In most cases, the selection of an advisory chair also determines the area of specialization, although a student may choose an area different from that of the faculty advisory chair if the proposed research is deemed acceptable by the selected area faculty.

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Selection of Faculty Advisory Chair

New graduate students should investigate various research areas and discuss possible research projects with several members of the graduate faculty in Chemistry and Biochemistry. We expect our graduate students to be knowledgeable about the department. Well-informed students can select more intelligently a faculty advisory chair and an area of specialization, and they will also be more aware of the expertise and resources available to them in their graduate work. 

The following steps must be completed in order to select a faculty advisory chair:

1.      Attend Graduate Orientation hosted by the graduate coordinator. At this meeting, you will be given more information concerning the selection of a faculty advisory chair.

2.      Review information about each faculty member in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry graduate research program online at

3.      Attend at least 3/4 of the New Graduate Students seminars during the first block of fall semester. (NOTE: Some faculty members who are taking students may not be presenting a seminar.) Students who fail to meet this requirement will be penalized.

4.      Make appointments and talk to a minimum of four faculty members about their past, current, and future research plans. Obtain these faculty members’ signatures on the Advisory Chair Selection Form. You are encouraged to talk to more than four faculty members.

5.      Tentatively select a faculty advisory chair and write a paragraph or two on the back of the Faculty Advisory Chair Selection Form stating your reasons for your preference. Meet with the department chair concerning your preference of a faculty advisory chair. You must have the department chair’s approval before you can proceed.

6.      Upon approval by the department chair, you should meet with your faculty advisory chair to establish a faculty advisory committee and to prepare a formal Program of Study. You should complete this process as soon as possible. Your program of study is due in January.

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An Insider’s Guide to Choosing a Graduate Advisor and Research Projects in Laboratory Sciences

This article from the Journal of Chemical Education, Volume 70, April 1993, gives excellent guidelines to follow when choosing your advisory chair. Click here to read.  

Advisement Committee

Announcement to beginning students: When you were admitted, you were assigned a Temporary Faculty Advisor. Declare your research interest at Orientation. This temporary advisor will assist you in the selection of an area of specialization, advise you for the first semester registration, and continue to advise you until you have finalized the selection of your own permanent research advisory chair. Then your permanent advisory chair and committee members will replace this temporary advisor.

Permanent Faculty Advisor: A single committee serves as your faculty advisory committee, progress reviews committee, and final examination committee. After consulting with you, your faculty advisory chair will select and contact the committee members. The selections must be approved by the graduate coordinator and/or the department chair. Your faculty advisory chair will serve as the chair of the faculty advisory committee. All committee members must be university-approved graduate faculty. All members of your committee must sign your Program of Study.

For the M.S. Degree

The faculty advisory/examination committee shall have a minimum of THREE graduate faculty members including:

For the Ph.D.

The faculty advisory/examination committee shall have a minimum of FOUR graduate faculty members including:

*Generally “outside-of-area” members will be chosen from within the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. However, faculty members from another department may be appointed to provide greater expertise in the area of research.

Although the faculty advisory chair bears the main responsibility for advising and directing the student, other committee members also assist and advise the student concerning course work, degree requirements, the research, and the thesis or dissertation. We would advise all graduate students to keep members of the advisory committee informed of their research progress.

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Formulation of a Program of Study

A program of study is a carefully considered research, writing, and course registration outline that helps the student fulfill all degree requirements. It is essential for organized, well-ordered graduate work. The assistant graduate coordinator enters this information into the university computer system which students can view on their AIM progress report. The program of study form should be completed under the direction of the faculty advisory committee as soon as the faculty advisory chair selection has been finalized. The university requires that the program of study be approved and submitted by the third week of the second semester. Forms are available here or from the assistant graduate coodinator. 

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Last updated 30 August 2019