Doctor of Philosophy

President Dunn shaking hands with a doctoral student on stage at graduation

Joseph Kreft reflects on his recent graduation, "Stress and pressure are not always necessary to learn something well, but to never experience failure as a student or afterwards, is to never know where the edge of your potential lies, cheating yourself of growth beyond your limits not yet perceived."

The Doctor of Philosophy in Chemistry at Western Michigan University offers a unique combination of traditional rigorous research experience, breadth of coursework, and training in effective communication of scientific concepts. This program is specifically designed for students who wish to pursue careers in chemistry that require excellence in research. The communication requirement also provides excellent training for careers in academia, government and industry.

The program will enhance your abilities to plan, conduct, analyze and report original research. Required coursework enhances your scientific preparation and supports your research.



  • A Bachelor of Science (B.S.) or a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in chemistry or higher
  • Non-chemistry major students should have at least one year of calculus-based physical chemistry
  • A cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale
  • All international students must provide proof of English proficiency by earning one of the following:
    • Minimum 81 TOEFL IBT score (internet-based version)
    • Minimum 6.5 IELTS score

Application instructions

The Department of Chemistry at Western Michigan University has rolling admissions. As such, students may submit a graduate application at any time. However, it is highly recommended that applicants submit completed applications no later than six weeks before the semester for which they are applying. This allows sufficient time for your required documents to be mailed, received, processed and uploaded to your application; for the committee to review your application and reach an admission decision; for the department and university to process the decision; for you to consult with your graduate advisor and, finally, enroll in courses. All of this must happen ahead of semester deadlines. As such, applications submitted without sufficient time will be considered for the following semester.

IMPORTANT: Applications are due February 1 for fall admission. The committee reviews applications in mid-February. You can expect a decision by March 15. *NOTE: Applications for self-funded students are accepted for ALL admission terms (spring, summer I, and fall). If you are self-funded please email immediately after submitting your application.

Western Michigan University has a new online graduate application system that allows all students (domestic and international) to submit required documentation into one system. General application information for the University, as well as specific requirements for individual programs, are captured into this system. Applicants are asked to include some program-specific information. Applicants are encouraged to bookmark this information for quick reference while working through the graduate application process.

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Course requirements

See the WMU catalog for full list of program requirements.

Financial assistance

There are several opportunities for you to obtain financial assistance to assist with the cost of attendance. Teaching assistantships include tuition awards and are available on a competitive basis for the fall and spring semesters. A limited number of summer session teaching assistantships are also available to outstanding students.

  • Information about additional assistantships and fellowships as well as special assistance for minority graduate students, tuition grants and research funds may be obtained from the Graduate College.
  • Information about student loans and other federal, state and university need-based financial aid programs may be obtained from the Student Financial Aid and Scholarships office.


Prospective and current students who have questions about our program or the application process should contact Ramakrishna Guda, graduate advisor.

Thank you for your interest in applying for this graduate program.

Program goals

The Ph.D. program in the Department of Chemistry at Western Michigan University offers a state of the art research experience with a broad span of coursework that is critical to careers in academia, government and industry.

The educational goals of the program stress:

  • Breadth of knowledge in chemistry – The breadth required to teach college level chemistry successfully and to perform meaningful research in chemical sciences is provided through rigorous coursework and laboratory rotations.
  • Research – Original research under the guidance of a dissertation committee culminating in a doctoral dissertation in a selected area of chemistry. The program is designed to be completed in four to six years and will prepare Ph.D. level chemists with an appreciation of the interdisciplinary and didactic nature of chemistry and an ability to effectively convey the knowledge.

Research specializations

Our doctoral program allows you to specialize in several areas including:

  • Synthetic organic chemistry
  • Medicinal chemistry
  • Supramolecular chemistry
  • Inorganic chemistry
  • Computational chemistry
  • Bioinorganic chemistry
  • Bioorganic chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Analytical chemistry
  • Mass spectrometry
  • Nanoscience
  • Ultrafast laser spectroscopy
  • Environmental chemistry

Student organizations

You may chose to participate in a variety of student organizations to enhance your academic experience and prepare for your professional career, including the Department of Chemistry Graduate Student Association.

Placement exams

Placement examinations covering the fields of analytical, organic, inorganic, biochemistry and physical chemistry are scheduled during the week preceding each semester. If you are a new student, you are required to take all examinations before you start classes. Enrollment in a 6000-level chemistry course is not permitted unless the appropriate placement examination has been passed.