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About Us

The Department of Chemistry


The Department of Chemistry is proud to be the leading producer in the nation of chemists and biochemists at the undergraduate level, and a major center for state-of-the-art graduate education and research. We have 40 nationally and internationally recognized faculty, with 200 graduate students and 50 postdoctoral fellows, whose research and educational efforts are supported by 65 staff members. The Department of Chemistry provides an outstanding and highly supportive environment in which to pursue a graduate degree. Our outstanding faculty conduct exciting, cutting-edge research programs in the traditional areas of chemistry (e.g., analytical, inorganic, organic, physical), as well as in interdisciplinary areas such as nanoscience, materials and polymer chemistry, chemical biology, synthesis and catalysis, theoretical and computational chemistry, and chemical physics.


Graduate Program: The Doctor of Philosophy Degree


Graduate students earn a Ph.D. through independent research in collaboration with one or more faculty members. A modest amount of graded coursework ensures a thorough grounding in the fundamentals of the chosen field, as well as breadth of knowledge in the chemical sciences. The Ph.D. prepares students for positions in industrial laboratories, research institutes, and governmental agencies, or for teaching, research, and administration in colleges and universities. The median time to complete all requirements for the Ph.D. is about five years. Students are required to pass oral examinations in their area of specialization. There are no pre-entrance or qualifying exams.


Graduate Program Admission Requirements


Applicants should have training equivalent to that of a Bachelor of Arts or Science degree in one of the natural sciences or engineering. There is no application fee for the Department of Chemistry, but applicants must first apply to the UW Graduate School and pay their fee. 


Applicants are required to take the Graduate Record Examination aptitude test; the subject test in Chemistry is optional. The results of these examinations, the undergraduate transcript, and three letters of recommendation are the basis for evaluation. The application deadline for Autumn Quarter of the following year is December 1 of the preceding year (it will be December 3, 2018, as December 1 is on a weekend).


For full details on the application process and requirements, we encourage you to visit our Graduate Admissions and Application page. You may also email our Graduate Program Coordinator at


Student Financial Support


Graduate students in good academic standing are supported throughout the year (including summer) by either a teaching assistantship (TA) or a research assistantship (RA). TAs and RAs receive a competitive salary, a tuition waiver, and a comprehensive medical/dental/vision plan (free to the student; 50% premium for dependents). The starting annual salary for new graduate students in 2018-19 is $31,056.


Teaching Assistantships: New graduate students are awarded teaching assistantships. These offer the student an opportunity to gain teaching experience at the college level, to sharpen understanding of fundamental chemical concepts, and to practice presenting technical material to a group.


Research Assistantships: Funds for RAs come from grants, which provide support for research in defined areas. Graduate students are appointed to a RA after joining a research group. 


Awards, Fellowships, and Scholarships: Incoming and continuing graduate students are eligible for special awards, fellowships, and scholarships offered on a competitive basis. Awards to incoming students are granted by the Chemistry Graduate Admissions Committee based on their outstanding scholarship. There is no separate application process for incoming student awards, as all graduate program applications are considered for these awards by the Admissions Committee.


The University


Founded in 1861, the University of Washington is an internationally-renowned center of higher education and research, with world-class programs in science and engineering that favorably impact the Chemistry Graduate Program. The University's flagship campus is located in Seattle, three miles north of downtown, on nearly 700 beautiful acres on the shores of Lake Washington and Portage Bay. Spectacular views of Mt. Rainier are among its many attractions. For a virtual tour of the campus (including historical photos) we invite you to visit Campus Tours Central.


For a comprehensive overview of student life at the UW, please see the UW Student Guide. The Intramural Activities (IMA) Building and the Waterfront Activities Center (WAC) offer a wide variety of exercise equipment and recreational sports. All registered students have access to these facilities.


Graduate student health insurance is provided without charge to Teaching and Research Assistants (50% for dependents). For full details, please visit the UWHR Graduate Appointee Insurance Plan (GAIP) website.


The Department of Chemistry coordinates campus interviews for graduates seeking permanent employment with local and national companies. Seminars and assistance in grant and proposal preparation, résumé writing, interviewing techniques, and job market research are also available.


Interdisciplinary Research Opportunities


A number of exciting opportunities exist for interdisciplinary research involving chemistry graduate students:




In addition, many Department of Chemistry graduate students collaborate with other departments, including: Physics, Geophysics, Geology, Oceanography, Atmospheric Sciences, Chemical Engineering, Materials Science & Engineering, Physiology & Biophysics, Genome Sciences, Biochemistry, Bioengineering, Medicinal Chemistry, and other departments in our top-ranked UW School of Medicine. Many chemistry graduate students also have had valuable research experiences at off-campus locations including such as:



Seattle and the Puget Sound Region


The city of Seattle is situated between Lake Washington and Puget Sound, an extensive arm of the Pacific Ocean. Our lakes and the Sound are perfect for canoeing, sailing, and kayaking. Recent national surveys have listed Seattle as one of the most livable cities in the country. Seattle offers many cultural activities, including repertory stages, opera, ballet, symphony orchestra, and an international film festival. Seattle is also home to major sports teams, including baseball (Mariners), football (Seahawks), basketball (Storm), and soccer (Sounders, Reign). The strong Seattle-area economy provides excellent opportunities for spouses or partners seeking employment, including the rapidly growing high-tech industry (e.g., biotech, software, telecommunications, aerospace). UW Human Resources has a full listing of UW employment opportunities.


The variety of outdoor activities convenient to the city is unsurpassed. Hiking, fishing, skiing, and mountain or rock climbing are popular, with miles of trails and hundreds of peaks found in the nearby Olympic and Cascade mountain ranges. Temperatures are moderate, seldom falling below freezing or rising above 90°F. Snowfall is infrequent and light in the city, but the mountains receive heavy snowfall which provides for great skiing at any of the eight major ski areas within easy driving distance from Seattle.


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