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Advisory Chair (PI) Selection and Program of Study

Advisement Committee & Program of Study

During the first semester, students in the graduate program will go through a process of selecting a Faculty Advisory Chair. During the first three weeks of the second semester of the first year, students will form their program of study and committee with their Faculty Advisory Chair.

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.

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 at
  3. If you are in the chemistry program, make appointments and talk to a minimum of four faculty members about their past, current, and future research plans. Obtain each faculty members’ signatures on the Advisory Chair Selection Form. You are encouraged to talk to more than four faculty members.  
  4. If you are in the biochemistry program, you will be enrolled in Chem 689R.  This class will have planned lab rotations.  Biochemistry students will be required to rotate in three labs.  At the end of each rotation, each student will need to obtain the assigned faculty member signature on the Advisory Chair Selection Form
  5. Towards the end of Fall semester, students will need to tentatively select two (1st and 2nd choice) faculty advisory chairs and write a paragraph or two on the back of the Faculty Advisory Chair Selection Form stating their reasons for their preferences.
  6. Meet with the department chair in November/December concerning their preferences for a Faculty Advisory Chair.  The department chair’s administrative assistant will be in contact with each student to set-up an appointment.  
  7. Upon approval by the department chair, you should meet with your assigned Faculty Advisory Chair to establish a full committee and to prepare a finalized Program of Study. Students will need to turn in the final Program of Study the third week of January.  

Advisement Committee

Announcement to beginning students: When students were admitted, they were assigned a temporary Faculty Advisor. This temporary advisor will assist students in the selection of an area of specialization, advise students for the first semester in regards to registration, and continue to advise them until they have finalized the selection of their permanent research Faculty Advisory Chair. The student’s permanent chair and committee members will replace this temporary advisor.

Permanent Faculty Advisor: A single committee serves as the student’s faculty advisory committee, progress reviews committee, and final examination committee. After consulting with the assigned Faculty Advisory Chair, the student reaches out to each potential committee member to see if they would be willing to serve on their committee. Once the student receives approval from the potential committee member, the student will update and obtain the signature of the new committee member on their finalized Program of Study form.

Faculty Advisory Chairs 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:

  • Your Faculty Advisory Chair
  • One department faculty member from the area of your research
  • One faculty member outside the area* of your research

For the Ph.D.

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

  • Your Faculty advisory Chair
  • One or two department faculty members from the area of your research
  • The remaining faculty member(s) outside the area* of your research

*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.

The Faculty Advisory Chair bears the main responsibility for advising and directing the student. Other committee members can 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 throughout each year, outside of the APR.

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 Graduate Program Administrator will give each student a program of study form at New Student Orientation. The student, with the help of their Faculty Advisory Chair, will compile a list of classes, based on required courses and electives. The student will submit the completed program of study (1st and 2nd section of the form) to the Graduate Program Administrator. The Graduate Program Administrator will enter this information into the gradprogress system, which students can access and view at

A note on elective courses: In some instances, a limited number of 300 and 400 level courses can apply to a master’s degree. However, lower-division courses (100 and 200 level), Independent Study (correspondence) courses, 300 and 400 level religion courses, and education courses numbered 514R cannot apply toward a graduate degree. No elective courses below a 500 level may be used on the PhD program of study. No undergraduate courses may apply toward a doctoral degree.

Chemistry & Biochemistry