Doctoral Degree: First Year of Study

Selecting Courses, Housing, and New Student Orientation

Over the summer prior to beginning their studies, students are given assistance in choosing the Autumn Quarter courses most relevant to their field of study, and also with other aspects, such as a housing network to help them find a place to live or a roommate. The new graduate student orientation in September primarily consists of training in how to be an effective Teaching Assistant (TA) and in lab safety procedures, with some social events mixed into the schedule.

Selecting Research Advisors

Fall Poster Sessions – During autumn quarter, the department organizes 2-3 informal poster sessions for incoming first-year students where Chemistry faculty and research group members discuss their current and future research projects. 

RotationsFirst-year students will have the opportunity to do a minimum of two 4-week rotations in research groups during autumn quarter. The purpose of these rotations is for students to identify a suitable research group and advisor. Rotations will be assigned at the beginning of autumn quarter, taking into account student preferences. Students are encouraged to reach out to potential faculty advisors prior to or at the start of the autumn quarter. The expectations for rotations are specific to each research group but can include activities such as attending and participating in group meetings, shadowing and talking with current lab members, reading literature and project brainstorming, and meeting with the faculty advisor. 

Advisor SelectionsIncoming graduate students are expected to select and be accepted into a research group by the middle of the winter quarter (i.e., mid-February). Students will submit a form to the Graduate Program Coordinator indicating their first and second choices for research advisors; students frequently get their first choice. The wide range of research in the Department of Chemistry provides most students with multiple options for faculty advisors that match their interests. However, if this is not the case, it is possible for a student to choose a research advisor outside of the Department of Chemistry, subject to the approval of the Department Chair. 

Teaching and Research Appointments

Students in their first year of study usually serve as TAs for the three academic quarters. After the first year, most students will be TAs for some quarters and Research Assistants (RAs) in other quarters, depending on the funding situation of their group.

Deadlines and Satisfactory Progress

Students are expected to make satisfactory progress throughout their graduate studies. Certain deadlines have been set for the major milestones, such as required exams, and there are basic expectations established for other aspects of graduate student life, such as maintaining a GPA of at least 3.0 (please see Elements of Good Academic Standing for complete details). The Graduate Good Standing Committee meets on a regular basis to review the progress of each student, in an effort to maintain good communication and to help students stay on track for a timely graduation. It is extremely important that students who experience any kind of difficulty, especially if it leads to missing one of the deadlines, communicate early on with the Committee to ensure that extenuating circumstances will be discussed and a mutually satisfactory decision made.

Advising & Support

Please contact our Graduate Program Coordinator for advising and support. The Graduate Program Coordinator will work with Professors Alshakim Nelson and Xiaosong Li, the Co-associate Chairs for Ph.D. Studies to fulfill requests. They will help answer questions, sort out difficulties, and listen to problems.