Admissions FAQ

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What are the requirements for our Chemistry graduate degree?

You must have a bachelor's degree in chemistry or closely-related field.  We are primarily a Ph.D. granting graduate program and we prioritize admissions decisions and departmental resources for those interested in obtaining their Ph.D.

How do I apply?

You apply to our Chemistry or Chemical Physics graduate programs through the University of Minnesota Graduate School website. That comprehensive site walks you through the application process.

There is a supplemental application for our Chemistry or Chemical Physics programs. Applicants should apply to either the Chemistry or the Chemical Physics program but not both. Applying to both does not increase an applicant’s likelihood to get accepted.

Resource information for graduate students is also available through the College of Science & Engineering.

What does the application include?

Items that need to be completed in the application process are outlined in the chart below. The entire application and all materials must be submitted online.  We cannot review your application until all of the required materials are submitted successfully. The deadline is December 1st.

We will not consider the general or subject GRE scores in making admission decisions; do not submit them.


How to submit

ApplicationPersonal Information, Application Information, Educational Background, Languages, Awards & Activities, Employment/Residence Information, Financial Support, Applicant Statements (Personal Statement, Description of Research, and Diversity Statement), and Recommendations. 
Application feeA separate application fee must accompany each program application for admission. Pay the application fee by using a valid credit card.
TranscriptsUnofficial transcripts or academic records should be uploaded directly to the online application. Do not mail paper copies of your transcripts: there is no need for official transcripts or academic records for initial review. If you are admitted, the University will then request official copies of these materials.
Letters of recommendationAcceptable recommendations can come from current or former professors and employers who can assess your potential for graduate work. Paper copies are not accepted.
English language test scoresThe TOEFL, MELAB, or IELTS is generally required of all applicants whose first language is not English, regardless of U.S. citizenship status.  This includes U.S. territories (Puerto Rico, Guam, etc) and non-U.S. countries where undergraduate instruction is preformed in English.  More information for international students is available here.
Program applicationComplete the Chemistry/Chemical Physics program application.  You will be asked your area of interest and which faculty you are interested in. You will need to write a brief statement (50 words or less) about your future research interests. 
Other Materials
  1. Personal Statement
    • Explain your personal motivations and goals to attend graduate school.
    • 0.5 to 1 page preferred
  2. Diversity Statement
    • Tell us how you would diversify our community because of who you are (past life experience) and/or what you will do (future contributions).
    • 0.5 to 1 page preferred
  3. Resume/CV
    • Include in your resume any scientific presentations and publications that you have authored as well as any awards, honors, and scholastic distinctions that you have received.
    • 1 to 2 pages preferred
  4. Research Description
    • Describe your past research experiences and accomplishments. If you have had multiple research experiences, consider mentioning them all, but expanding on those most relevant to your future research interests.  You are welcome to include figures, chemical structures and helpful diagrams.
    • 1 to 2 pages preferred
  5. (Optional) Extenuating Circumstances Statement
    • If you would like to provide an explanation of circumstances that contributed to your test scores or GPA, please do so.

When is the application deadline?

December 1

When will I know that I have been admitted?

Your application will be reviewed in November or early December as soon as all the application information is received. You will be notified when the decision is made. Typically, we admit graduate students for fall semester only.  Notification of admission and offer letters are typically sent in late December or January.

I am admitted, now what?

Once admitted, you need to accept or decline the offer of admissions. With your offer letter, we will also invite you to visit our department and the Twin Cities in Minnesota. However, if airfare is needed, we only pay for flights within the United States.  We do not pay for international flights. If you would like to arrange a non-paid visit or tour prior to your offer, please contact us at

A list of questions to ask and things to observe has been compiled from graduate student feedback over the years, and offers a starting point for you as you prepare for your visit.

Is financial support available?

All students in good academic standing receive complete financial support throughout their graduate career, including tuition, health and dental insurance (health insurance is a minimal fee). Support can include the following:

  • Graduate assistantships: stipend is about $29,000 a year for 12 months;
  • Department fellowships: we award additional support to a select number of students
  • Other fellowship opportunities available from the Graduate School, Federal agencies (National Science Foundation, DOE, etc), and private sector sources.

Application Fee Waivers

The department is glad to provide need-based application fee waivers to U.S. citizens and permanent residents who are competitive for admission, but cannot afford the application fee.

Fee waivers are also given to McNair Scholars, past participants of the Lando–REU program at the University of Minnesota, and to applicants who have presented at National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE), Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS), or Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCAMS) conferences or are student members of those organizations. McNair Scholars, please directly contact the University of Minnesota Graduate School at McNair Scholar Resources.

We also encourage applicants to seek external sources of support to cover application fees. For example, the Big Ten Academic Alliance (BTAA) FreeApp program offers fee waivers for selected individuals. To receive the BTAA fee grant, a student must have participated in one of these programs: McNair Scholars, Maximizing Access to Research Careers (MARC), Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Minority Biomedical Research Support Program (MBRS)-Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement Program (RISE)(MBRS/RISE), Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP), Meyerhoff Scholars Program, North Star STEM Alliance, or Career Opportunities in Research (COR).

Eligible applicants may also find fee waivers and other benefits through programs such as the GEM Consortium.

All other requests for an application fee waiver should be sent by email to with a brief statement explaining your situation. Attach to that email a transcript (an unofficial one suffices) and, if applicable, copies of recent financial aid awards or similar evidence for financial need. Any questions about fee waivers are welcome.  We do not make fee waiver decisions until Fall semester (September - November). 

Can I defer payment of the application fee until the department makes a decision?

No, the application fee cannot be deferred. All offers of financial support are pending completion of the application. To be eligible for a Graduate School Fellowship, you must submit the application and pay the fee by December 1.

Can I have a friend or relative in the United States pay the application fee for me?

Yes. The payment must be made by credit card.

English Language Tests

The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), Michigan English Language Assessment Battery (MELAB), or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) are required of all international applicants whose native language is not English, except those who will have completed 48 quarter credits/32 semester credits (within the past 48 months) in residence as a full-time student at a recognized institution of higher learning in the United States before entering the University of Minnesota.  Students at U.S. territory universities (Puerto Rico, Guam, etc.) are required to submit these test scores.

Minimum scores for admission include at least 90 on the Internet-based TOEFL with section scores of 21 on writing and 19 on reading (550 on the paper based TOEFL) and 23 on speaking; 6.5 on the IELTS writing, reading, and total scores, and a 7.0 on the speaking section; or 80 on the MELAB examinations..

Graduate Record Examination (GRE)

Our department no longer considers the general or subject GRE scores in admission decisions.

Is there a minimum GPA required for admission?

No, the complete application is taken into consideration.  However, as a point of reference, the average GPA of our admitted applicants is typically 3.7 on a 4.0 scale.

Education Testing Service (ETS) codes

TOEFL: The Institution Code is 6874, and the Department Code is 62.

Letters of Recommendation

When you apply, you will list your references and their electronic contact information. Letters will be solicited from your references by the UMN Graduate School and submitted electronically. Do not send hard copies; this creates confusion with duplicate submissions.

Do the letters of recommendation need to be from faculty in my undergraduate institution? What if I am currently enrolled in another graduate program?

Yes, letters should be from your faculty at your undergraduate institution, or a combination of both undergraduate and graduate faculty, if you are enrolled in a graduate program. You may also include additional letters from previous employers. If enrolled in a graduate program, one letter must be from your research adviser.

Do I need to have a Faculty research advisor before applying to the program?

Students in our graduate program do not join research groups until the middle of their first year in the program.  In fact, you are not allowed to join a research group before you are admitted to the program.  So we do not recommend that you reach out to faculty to ask them if you can join their group; they cannot and will not accept you into their group until you are admitted and matriculate into the program in your first year.

Whom do I contact if I have questions?

Graduate School

Application Information
(612) 624-8008
Fax: 1-612-624-5724

Stephanie Stathopoulos
Assistant to the Director of Graduate Studies
135 Smith Hall
(612) 624-8008

Director of Graduate Studies in Chemistry

Professor Aaron Massari
245 Smith Hall
612) 626-8416

Director of Graduate Studies In Chemical Physics

Professor Renee Frontiera
233 Smith Hall
(612) 624-2501