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Chemistry & Biochemistry Ph.D. program- FAQs

  1. Do I need an undergraduate degree in chemistry to be accepted in your program?
    - No. Although an undergraduate degree in chemistry is recommended we accept students who have obtained degrees in other disciplines. If you do not have an undergraduate degree in chemistry we require that applicants have taken several core undergraduate chemistry courses prior to applying to our program. These courses include General Chemistry and lab (2 semesters), Organic Chemistry and lab (2 semesters), Quantitative Analysis and lab (other analytical chemistry courses may also be acceptable), and Physical Chemistry and lab (at least one semester). These courses should prepare a non-major for our 1st year graduate level work.
  2. I work full time; can I enter the M.S. or Ph.D. program as a part-time student?
    - No. Our training program assumes that students will have the ability to be on campus at least 40 hours per week between the hours of 9 AM to 5 PM . There are several reasons for this requirement. First, most of the courses required for our MS and PhD degrees are not offered at night or on the weekend. Second, we strongly encourage our students to teach undergraduate lab courses as part of their TA assignment (generally during business hours) for a semester or two. We believe that this experience is a useful part of their graduate training. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, our graduate degree programs are heavily research-oriented and require full time effort to complete in a timely manner (2 years for MS and 5 years for PhD).
  3. Is it possible to be admitted in the Spring?
    - Yes . We admit in the spring as well as the fall. The deadline for spring admission for international students is July 15 and for domestic students November 1.
  4. How do I apply to the Chemistry and Biochemistry graduate degree programs and what do I need to submit?
    - Please visit our Application Information webpage for detailed information.
  5. What are the most important factors that influence admission to the graduate program?
    - At least 3 major factors are taken into consideration. 1) We take into account the candidate’s undergraduate GPA and, to a lesser extent, the GPA of any graduate degrees. The applicant’s performance in chemistry related coursework over the years is carefully evaluated. Good grades in upper level courses such as organic, analytical and physical chemistry are considered as positive indicators of future success in our graduate program. The applicant's GRE score (also TOEFL for international students) plays a role in the decision process. A strong performance (over 147) in the quantitative part of the GRE is considered essential. 2) We look for applicants with a strong grasp of the English language and good verbal reasoning skills (GRE score of 148) and 3) finally, since our graduate degree programs are primarily designed to teach modern research skills and experimental design, we look for evidence of research aptitude and ability in the applicant. We consider as positive indicators application portfolios that describe significant research experience at the undergraduate and Masters level, industrial experience involving chemical R&D, and scholarly publications.
  6. I was not admitted into your graduate program this year. Can I enroll for graduate courses as a "non-degree-seeking" (NDS) student?
    - Yes. Some applicants enroll in graduate courses in the hopes of increasing their chances of acceptance in subsequent years. In a minority of the cases, this approach has been successful if the NDS coursework corrected earlier educational deficiencies of the applicant. However, there is no guarantee that NDS students will be accepted into the program. Also, bear in mind that, according to FAU policy, only 10 hours of upper level coursework taken by a NDS student may be applied to the graduate degree (if admitted).
  7. I am interested in obtaining some additional information concerning the areas of interest of the faculty. How can I obtain this information?
    - We strongly encourage you to view our faculty research websites. These pages will provide detailed information on their background and research interests. Also, do not hesitate to contact individual faculty members with questions about their research programs.
  8. Does the Department of Chemistry require the GRE subject area test scores in addition to the other Q/V GRE scores?
    - We do not require the GRE Chemistry subject test score. However, we encourage you to take this subject test and submit your score as part of your application. A strong performance on this sub-test would be considered a very positive indicator of the applicant’s potential for success as a graduate student.
  9. I've taken graduate-level courses elsewhere. If I am admitted into your program will these course credits transfer to your graduate program?
    - Yes, a maximum of six credits are transferable. This will depend on the coursework and its applicability to your thesis research at FAU. All course work used for either a MS or PhD degree must be approved by the student's thesis committee which is usually established at the end of the first year of graduate study. Therefore, the student must wait until accepted into our program to request that previous graduate course credit be applied to their program of study. The Research Advisory Committee will then make a determination on the courses taken elsewhere. The program of study is the formal list of courses that will be used to partially satisfy the requirements of the graduate degree.
  10. What financial support is available to graduate students?
    - All PhD. students accepted into our graduate program will receive a stipend. For fall 2011, the doctoral stipend is $20,000 per year. PhD students are guaranteed a Teaching Assistantship (TA) for a period of five years. In addition, individual faculty advisors may support doctoral or masters students as Research Assistants from research grant funds. All PhD. graduate students will receive waivers covering the cost of most of their tuition (approximately 80%). Various fellowships up to $5,000 per year in addition to the regular stipend are also available to qualified applicants.
  11. If I am an international student, how can I get help in obtaining a visa as well as other immigration issues when moving to the United States ?
    - FAU’s Office of International Student & Scholar Services (ISSS) provides immigration and support services to international students (see www.fau.edu/isss/). Here you will find important information for your move to the Unites States, including the attainment of a social security number, insurance coverage, accommodation, and obtaining a visa. As a graduate student you will need to obtain an F-1 visa. If you are accepted into one of our programs the department of Chemistry and Biochemistry will send you an official offer letter. The Office of Graduate Admissions will also send you an offer letter as well as an I-20 form. You will need to take these three things along with any other required documents to the local U.S. Consulate in your country of residence to obtain the visa. For further information please see the ISSS website.
  12. If I am admitted to the M.S. degree program, can I transfer to the Ph.D. program before I complete my M.S. degree?
    - Generally, the answer is no. The selection criteria for entry into the Ph.D. degree program are more rigorous than for the M.S. degree. Therefore, if you applied to the Ph.D. program and instead were offered a place in the M.S. degree program, it means that your credentials were assessed as not strong enough for direct entry into the Ph.D. In this case you are required to complete the M.S. degree before reapplying to the Ph.D. program. A strong performance in the M.S. degree, particularly the completion of research work that results in one or more peer-reviewed publications, will be viewed favorably, and may be enough to offset any deficiencies perceived by the Admissions Committee the first time you applied to the Ph.D. program. An exception to the above may be made if you originally applied to the M.S. program, even though your credentials were strong enough for direct entry into the Ph.D. program at the time of application. For example, you may have originally wanted to pursue a shorter, M.S.-level research project and then changed your mind, deciding that you would like to pursue a more extensive research project as part of a Ph.D. So long as your credentials at the time of your original application meet the necessary Ph.D. criteria, you may be allowed to transfer.
  13. Can I transfer my Master’s credits into the Ph.D. program?
    - Yes . Doctoral programs may accept a maximum of 36 credits earned elsewhere in an approved graduateprogram. A maximum of 6 graduate credits earned from another institution in a non degree-seeking status may be transferred. Your Research Advisory Committee must agree. The core courses and seminar course must be still taken. See FAU academic policies and graduation procedure for details.
  14. Who is responsible for advising on my course requirements?
    - Your research advisor is ultimately responsible. The advisor and your Research Advisory committee must be consulted. If you do not have an advisor identified, consult with the Chair of the Program or Chair of the admissions Committee.
  15. What are the course requirements?
    -There are two core courses to choose (Advanced Biochemistry, Instrumentation, Synthesis & Characterization and Kinetics & Energetics) for 6 credits. There are three electives plus a one credit Introduction to Chemical research and a one credit non thesis seminar. Your advisor/supervisory committee may recommend you to take additional courses.
  16. Who decides on electives?
    - Your research advisor along with your Research Advisory Committee.
  17. Can I take Directed Independent Study (DIS) credit?
    - No. You can take advanced research credit (CHEM 7978) instead.
  18. My Research Advisory Committee is asking me to take more courses than what is listed above. What should I do?
    - Your committee is in the best position to advice on your needs to take the additional course. Their recommendations are final.
  19. The electives and the core courses are not offered in all semesters. How can I plan for my coursework?
    - Consult with your Advisor or with the Chair of the Program. You may able to take electives from other departments.
  20. Two of the courses I want to take are offered at the same time. What can I do?
    - Consult your advisor to clarify the order in which you should take courses.
  21. Can I skip some of the courses and go for the candidacy exam?
    - No . You must complete all the core courses and the electives before advancing to candidacy.
  22. Does this mean no exceptions can be made?
    - Under special circumstances exceptions are possible. Apply in writing to the Program Chair.
  23. Is Research proposal submission a requirement for admissions to candidacy?
    - No. You can submit the proposal within six months of Admissions to candidacy.
  24. Can I take electives from other Departments/Colleges?
    - Yes. However, consult your advisor first.
  25. When should I form my Research Advisory Committee?
    - The Research Advisory Committee must be in place before the end of first year (or at the most by the forth semester) because you need the committee’s input on your course selection. Those who are on rotation or whose major advisor is not yet identified, should plan to do it within two months of advisor choice. The Research Advisory Committee must be in place one year before the candidacy exam.
  26. Who should be on the Research Advisory Committee ?
    - The Research Advisory Committee shall consist of four members, including the chair at least three of whom are members of the “Graduate Faculty” of the Chemistry Ph.D. program ( see web page for complete listing), whose responsibility is to advise on the initial course of study.
    • The Research Advisory Committee is chosen by the major advisor in consultation with the student.
    • One committee member must be a faculty member from outside the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and must be an approved graduate faculty in the University.
    • The Research Advisory Committee should be in place by the end of the second semester.
    • All Research Advisory Committee members must be approved by the Chair of the Dept. of Chemistry and Biochemistry and the Chair of the Graduate Program Committee.
    • If the major advisor is a non tenured faculty, at least one member of the Committee MUST be at the rank of a tenured Associate or full Professor.
    • If the major advisor is from outside the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, the rest of the three members MUST be from the Department.
    • If a committee member or the Chair of the Research Advisory Committee resigns from the institution, the Chair of the Program MAY appoint a new member.
  27. Who is responsible for selecting members of my Committee? Can I have an input?
    - Your advisor is primarily responsible. However, you can recommend members to your advisor.
  28. I want to change members of my Research Advisory Committee. Can I do this?
    - Yes, only if your advisor and the Chair of the Program agrees.
  29. I want to change my advisor. Is it possible?
    - Yes. First start discussions with the Chair of the Program. Then identify a new advisor and clarify whether he/she has interest and research support. Keep in mind that once you have moved to a new advisor, a new Research Advisory Committee has to be constituted. You may have to take additional courses if your new advisor recommends. In addition be prepared for some loss of time when you start a new project.
  30. My advisor wants me to do research and I don’t have time to take the courses in the beginning. What should I do?
    - Completion of course work is a requirement before advancing to candidacy. Your research can not take place at the expense of the coursework. Plan accordingly. If necessary, consult the Chair of the Program.
  31. Who should I contact for my continued TA support?
    - Once you are admitted your TA support is guaranteed for five years. Contact the Program Chair.
  32. Can I move from RA to TA and vice versa?
    - Yes. But your advisor must so indicate to the Program Chair one semester in advance. Otherwise you may not be able to do so.
  33. What are the main paperwork requirements for me to complete?
    • The Program Office in the Department requires annually a milestone progress report (Due Sep 1) and a research progress report (due Nov 1). You are responsible for updating the milestone form which is kept in your folder. You can update more than once a year. Both you and your advisor are responsible for the research progress report, which starts from the end of second year. Original signatures are necessary for these two forms.
    • New students must sign a plagiarism form at the time of orientation.
    • The Graduate College requires a plan of study form to be submitted in year 2 (or at least one semester in advance of graduation).
  34. What are the admissions to candidacy requirements?
    - See the Polices and procedures manual.
  35. What are the paperwork requirements for Admissions to candidacy?
    The chair of the student’s Research Advisory Committee must inform the Program Chair by E-Mail.
    • The milestone check list must be updated.
    • The FAU Admission to Candidacy form must be completed.
    • Admissions to Candidacy Compliance verification form must be completed.
    • The memorandum to the College of Science , Associate Dean, student services must be completed.
    • The students must schedule a meeting with the Chair of the program to present the forms listed in # 2-5.
    • Once these steps are completed the student is admitted to Candidacy and register for Dissertation credits.
  36. How do I plan for my Dissertation research and defense of the dissertation?
    - See the Polices and procedures manual.
  37. I am going to be out of town/country when these deadlines fall. What should I do?
    - You are responsible for meeting the deadline. Plan in advance.
  38. I am admitted to the program, but do not have an advisor yet. Who will advise me of my courses? How will I identify an advisor?
    - Dr. J.E. Haky (Interim Chair of the Program) or Dr. A.C. Terentis (Chair of the Admissions Committee) will temporarily be your advisor. They can help you start your first semester courses. Look at the faculty listing and identify a potential advisor. Make sure that the laboratory has funds to support your research. You advisor must agree to take you and provide a letter to that effect to the program Chair.
  39. Can I do a rotation before choosing a lab?
    - Yes, First semester rotation is mandatory for all incoming students. Consult the Program Chair by email: hakyj@fau.edu.
  40. How flexible is the program going to be to meet my needs?
    -The program will make every attempt to be flexible. However, certain guidelines must be followed.
  41. I want to take a break for few months and then come back to the program. Is it possible?
    - Yes for a maximum of one semester, but only if your advisor and the Research Advisory Committee agree. A specific plan must be provided by your Advisor to the program Chair and must be included in your milestones report. Keep in mind, in order to maintain continuous enrollment, you must register for at least one credit during at least two out of the three semesters during an academic year (fall, spring, summer).
  42. I am ready to graduate. What are the formalities?
    - Contact the program Chair.
  43. After a few years into the program, I realize that I may not be able to complete the Ph.D. degree. What can I do?
    - If you meet the requirements for Master’s Program you may qualify for a Masters Degree. Consult the Masters Program guidelines and requirements.
  44. I am located off-site. I have very limited contact with the Boca campus. What should I do?
    - The program is aware of this issue. Various events are being planned. Check the E-Mail from the program Chair frequently. Consider attending seminars/journal clubs/symposiums offered at the main campus.
  45. My work may involve intellectual property. Does FAU have a patent policy?
    - Yes. See Florida Atlantic University Technology Transfer for details on policy.
  46. I don't seem to be getting some of the E-Mails from the program. Why?
    - The FAU server considers some E-Mail systems as SPAM. Use FAU E-Mail address only. Make sure that you have not exceeded the E-Mail quota.
  47. Where can I get additional information on graduate admissions and policy guidelines?
    - See http://www.fau.edu/graduate/
  48. Does FAU have a graduate student association?
    - Yes. Contact Graduate Student Association (GSA), or Email gsa@fau.edu.
  49. How can I get funding to present research at conferences and/or professional meetings?
    - Consult your Advisor. Also see Division of Research.
  50. Where can I get help on housing needs?
    - See http://www.fauoffcampus.com/ or http://www.fau.edu/housing/.
  51. Who should I contact in the program for my questions?
    - Direct all your queries through E-Mail only to the program Chair (Dr. J.E. Haky)