Skip to main content

Current Student FAQs

Choosing a Research Advisor (PI) and Advisory 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.
  • New graduate students should investigate various graduate faculty within their discipline and discuss possible research projects in chemistry or biochemistry. We expect our graduate students to be knowledgeable about the department. Well-informed students can select more intelligently a Faculty Advisory Chair (PI) and they will 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 New Student 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. Shadow one of their graduate students. Attend a few of each professors lab meetings. After a few weeks with each professor, obtain the faculty members’ signatures on the Advisory Chair Selection Form also known as the "Yellow 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 graduate program administrator will be in contact with each student to set-up an appointment. 

  • You will formulate that decision during your first semester. It is strongly recommended you officially submit your request for your advisor before the end of your first semester. The deadline for your program of study is the third week of your second semester.
  • It is not impossible, but highly discouraged. If you feel the need to do this, please discuss it with either the area chair or assistant graduate coordinator.
  • 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 and inform the graduate program administrator who will serve on the committee. The graduate program administrator will 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
    • 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.
  • A Ph.D. committee should consist of four members; 3 should be within your area, and 1 should be outside your area.

    An M.S. committee should consist of three members; 2 should be within your area and 1 should be outside your area.
  • Yes, if they are BYU graduate faculty members and approved by your research advisor and department chair.
  • Yes. To do so, notify the graduate program administrator that you would like to change your program of study. Indicate the reason for the change, and which class or classes you are adding and/or deleting. The graduate program administrator will obtain the signatures of your committee for the change.

    Please note: If you are changing your committee, the same form is applied for this kind of change. The faculty member(s) who will no longer be on your committee should be informed of this change. Once they have been informed, let the graduate program administrator know of the changes and he/she will obtain signatures of the committee members.

Program of Study

  • Upon approval by the department chair of your Faculty Advisory 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.

    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 1st and 2nd section of the program of study form to the Graduate Program Administrator. The Graduate Program Administrator will obtain signatures of the new committee and will enter the program of study 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 master's degree.

    No elective courses below a 500 level may be used on the PhD program of study.

Other Questions