University of California, Berkeley

About the Program

The Chemistry PhD program is designed towards developing the ability to do creative scientific research. Accordingly, the single most important facet of the curriculum for an individual is his or her own research project. In keeping with the goal of fostering an atmosphere of scholarly, independent study, formal course requirements are minimal and vary among disciplines. Advisers tailor course requirements to best prepare the student for the chosen research field.

The doctoral program includes the following concentrations, each of which has specific degree requirements:

  1. Physical Chemistry: In general, the Physical Chemistry Graduate Program encompasses experimental physical, analytical, nuclear, biophysical, and theoretical chemistry.
  2. Synthetic Chemistry: The Synthetic Chemistry Graduate Program includes emphases in preparation of organic or inorganic compounds, development of methods for their synthesis, and their characterization and use.
  3. Chemical Biology: The Chemical Biology Graduate Program covers research areas at the interface of chemistry and biology, ranging from the synthesis of bioactive materials to the characterization of living systems.

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Admission to the University

Applying for Graduate Admission

Thank you for considering UC Berkeley for graduate study! UC Berkeley offers more than 120 graduate programs representing the breadth and depth of interdisciplinary scholarship. The Graduate Division hosts a complete list of graduate academic programs, departments, degrees offered, and application deadlines can be found on the Graduate Division website.

Prospective students must submit an online application to be considered for admission, in addition to any supplemental materials specific to the program for which they are applying. The online application and steps to take to apply can be found on the Graduate Division website.

Admission Requirements

The minimum graduate admission requirements are:

  1. A bachelor’s degree or recognized equivalent from an accredited institution;

  2. A satisfactory scholastic average, usually a minimum grade-point average (GPA) of 3.0 (B) on a 4.0 scale; and

  3. Enough undergraduate training to do graduate work in your chosen field.

For a list of requirements to complete your graduate application, please see the Graduate Division’s Admissions Requirements page. It is also important to check with the program or department of interest, as they may have additional requirements specific to their program of study and degree. Department contact information can be found here.

Where to apply?

Visit the Berkeley Graduate Division application page.

Doctoral Degree Requirements

The Requirements for a PhD Degree in Chemistry

  • Coursework: There is no formal coursework requirement, however, the equivalent of four semester-long courses is normally taken. Courses you will take will depend on your background and research interests.

  • Graduate student instructor service: A total of three semesters of graduate student instructor service is required with a fourth semester as optional. Graduate Student Instruction is usually fulfilled in the first semester and one semester in each of the next two years.

  • Research:

First-year report (synthetic and chemical biology division): An original, journal-quality research proposal no more than 10 pages read by two chemistry faculty.

Second-year seminar (all divisions): A 25-minute presentation to the department on your research progress.

  • Qualifying examination (all divisions): An oral examination with a committee of three chemistry faculty and one outside department faculty member on your research and defense of an original research proposal (synthetic) or critical analysis of a recent outside paper (non-synthetic).

  • Dissertation (all divisions): Submission of your dissertation approved by a committee of your research adviser, a second chemistry faculty member, and one outside department faculty member. No dissertation defense.



Contact Information

Department of Chemistry

419 Latimer Hall

Phone: 510-642-5882

Fax: 510-642-9675

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Department Chair

Dean Toste

724 Latimer Hall

Phone: 510-643-9915

Sr. Vice Chair of Synthetic Graduate Program

Thomas Maimone

826 Latimer Hall

Phone: 510-642-4488

Vice Chair of Physical Graduate Program

David Limmer

210 Gilman Hall

Vice Chair of Synthetic Graduate Program

Felix Fischer

699 Tan Hall

Student Affairs Officer

Joel Adlen

419 Latimer Hall

Phone: 510-642-5884

Student Affairs Officer

Ellen Levitan

419 Latimer Hall

Phone: 510-642-5883

Student Affairs Officer

Deborah Gray

419 Latimer Hall

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