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Why study chemistry at OU? 

The major goal of a graduate education in chemistry is to master a significant segment of the existing knowledge, including theories and techniques, and to demonstrate the creative capability to discover new understandings and techniques through research. Accordingly, requirements include an established minimum of classroom course work and studies and completion of original research work presented in a written dissertation.

The Ph.D. degree program in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Oklahoma is now one of the most innovative and well-structured programs in the nation. Building on several years of development and evolution we now offer a unique first year graduate student experience coupled with modular course offerings. This structure enables students to complete their coursework efficiently and commence their productive research work earlier. The result should be more effective training of students with a targeted average time to degree of 4.5 years.


Our department offers an excellent environment for professional training in the cutting-edge areas of chemistry and biochemistry. Our faculty conduct vibrant research ranging from fundamental mechanistic studies to applied biomedical and materials sciences, which takes advantage of several advanced core facilities and research centers located on site. Our department offers financial assistantships to our graduate students, and additional fellowships are available to incoming graduate students.

Application Materials Required: 

  • Statement of Purpose
  • CV
  • Official copies of your transcripts
  • Three letters of recommendation 
  • GRE scores (no longer required; optional if you have them)

We encourage you to submit any additional documents that will help us better evaluate your application. Some examples include writing samples, description of prior research experience, posters, and publications.

If you have taken the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and would like your scores to be included with your application, please use the following codes to ensure your test results are submitted to Chemistry & Biochemistry: 

  • OU School Code: 6879
  • Department Code: 0301

If you would like to have a direct dialogue with the Recruiting & Admissions Committee before submitting the online application, please fill out this PRELIMINARY INQUIRY FORM. The Committee will contact you for additional information if you are a potential candidate for our program. Note that completing the preliminary inquiry form is optional and those applicants who are contacted by the committee in this manner will still have to submit an online application through the graduate college to be formally evaluated for admissions.

Ready to apply? 

Fall semester application evaluation window is January 15 - March 31 or until positions are filled. 

Applicants must complete the appropriate general OU Graduate Application using the links below: 


Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry
101 Stephenson Parkway
SLSRC, Rm 1000
Norman, OK 73019

Phone: (405) 325-4811


Degrees & Courses

The graduate program at OU is a balance between required and elective coursework and research. Divisions within the areas of chemistry and biochemistry are used at OU to organize teaching assignments, course requirements and degree candidacy requirements. There are six divisions at OU: Analytical, Biochemistry, Chemical Education, Inorganic, Organic, Physical Chemistry, and Structural Biology. Students elect one of these divisions as their major and must fulfill the requirements of that division to earn a degree. Given the increasingly interdisciplinary nature of modern chemistry, students will often fulfill the degree requirements of one division while carrying out research in an overlapping research area. Minimum course requirements are 16 credit hours of graduate level lecture courses. These must include at least four credit hours in two divisions outside the student's major division. Depending on the division, candidacy exams for the Ph.D. degree are given in the second or at the beginning of the third year of graduate studies.

Areas of Specialization

Students may specialize in one of the following major areas of chemistry (analytical, biological, inorganic, organic, physical and chemical education) or in any combination.  

Prerequisites for Full Graduate Standing

Students who have satisfied the basic chemistry course requirements for the Bachelor of Science in Chemistry degree at the University of Oklahoma will have met the requirements for full graduate standing. Undergraduate majors from other institutions should meet departmental requirements as follows:

  • Organic Chemistry: CHEM 3053, 3152, 3153 
  • Analytical Chemistry: CHEM 4023, 4033
  • Physical Chemistry: CHEM 3421, 3423, 3521, 3523
  • Inorganic Chemistry: CHEM 4333

Deficiencies in these requirements may necessitate additional coursework, and may increase the number of course credit hours required for an advanced degree.

Special Requirements for Graduate Studies

Prior to the start of courses, instructors of introductory courses will administer Proficiency Examinations (or other instruments) to assess whether first-semester graduate students are prepared for the introductory course that the student is interested in taking and/or which may have been recommended by the Graduate Committee during advising. The nature of the Proficiency Instruments are described in the syllabi of the introductory courses and, depending on the individual student's background, may require self-instruction in order to demonstrate readiness to take the course. In the event a student does not exhibit proficiency and he/she still wishes to enroll in the course, the Instructor of Record will advise the student what can be done to prepare for it prior to the start of the course

Minimum course requirements for graduate degree candidates include the completion of a minimum of sixteen credit hours in letter-graded lecture courses at the 5000 or 6000 level. At least four credit hours must be taken in courses at the 5000 or 6000 level which are offered in two other divisions or departments outside of the student's major division. If more than three credit hours of these general lecture course requirements are to be taken outside the Department of Chemistry, approval must be given by both the Advisory Committee and the Graduate Committee.

A minimum grade point average of 3.00 (on a 4.00 scale) must be achieved for the first sixteen credit hours taken which qualify as general lecture courses with no more than two grades below B allowed. Failure to meet these requirements will result in the student being terminated from the graduate program in chemistry. Students must also complete the specific courses required by their particular division.

Financial Assistance

Graduate students in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry are offered competitive stipends that include a tuition-waiver and student health insurance. In addition, several competitive renewable graduate fellowships and scholarships are available.

Teaching Assistantships

Although serving as a teaching assistant is not a graduate degree requirement, most graduate students in our department will serve as teaching assistants in lab and recitation sections in their first two years in the program. Incoming graduate students are given special TA training upon entering the program to enable them to be effective teachers. International students must pass a series of written and spoken English language tests before they are eligible to teach.

Most incoming graduate students will in their first semester instruct two laboratory sections of general chemistry (three hours each) and a one hour recitation for each laboratory section. Graduate students specializing in organic or biochemistry will often teach an organic laboratory section which meets twice a week for a total of six hours.

Research Assistantships

Our department offers Research Assistantships (RAs) through the major research advisor(s) of the student. The RA stipends are roughly the same as those offered from Teaching Assistantships.

Please contact your major advisor for more information on RAs.

Kenneth M. Nicholas Graduate Fellowship

The Kenneth M. Nicholas Graduate Fellowship is a $3,000 fellowship stipend awarded to an incoming first-year graduate student.  This award can be used to provide a stipend for the student’s research in a laboratory during the summer preceding the start of the Ph. D. program.

The eligibility requirements of the fellowship recipient are:

  • Must be an incoming first year graduate student in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
  • Must hold at B.A. or B.S. in chemistry or biochemistry, with a preference for a GPA of 3.5 or higher
  • Must show evidence of interest in synthesis and/or catalysis

The fellowship recipient will be selected by the Chemistry/Biochemistry Graduate Admissions Committee from among the applicants to the graduate program and be approved by the Department Chair based on the student's expressed interest in synthesis/catalysis. 

All recipients must give an oral and/or poster presentation after completion of this fellowship either at OU or a regional/national scientific meeting.

To apply, please visit the OU Scholarship website.

Center for Antibiotic Discovery and Resistance (CADR) Fellowship

The Center for Antibiotic Discovery and Resistance is engaged in the discovery and development of therapeutic treatments against multidrug resistant bacteria. The Center offers fellowships to graduate students engaged in research in priority areas. More information about the fellowship is available at the CADR Training page.

International Students

The information listed under Apply applies to international applicants as well.

In addition, all applicants to the graduate program in Chemistry & Biochemistry who did not complete their high school and undergraduate (B.S. or equivalent) work in an English speaking country (U.S., U.K., Canada or Australia) must take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). A score of 550 for written or 79 for internet based or better is required to be considered for admission. An alternative test is International English Language Testing System (IELTS) with a minimum recommended score of 6.5. Upon arrival you will be required to take both an oral and a written English Proficiency Exam administered by the University. Failure to pass these exams during the first semester is grounds for withdrawal of financial support.

Required Materials for International Applicants

  • TOEFL (minimum 550 for written or 79 for internet based, no older than 2 years) or IELTS (minimum score 6.5)
  • Official transcripts from undergraduate (and graduate, if applicable) institutions 
  • Three letters of recommendation 
  • General GRE scores (no longer required; optional if you have them)
  • Application fee


Lab Rotations

Incoming students are required to rotate through two research laboratories in the first year. These rotations provide broad exposure to the area of research, methods, techniques, rules and regulations of each lab as well as the general lab organization and personnel. Each rotation will be approximately five weeks long, and will occupy minimum of 10-15 hours/week. 

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First year students are typically guaranteed for the first 11 months, so long as students are in good standing. For students beyond the first year, each semester a request form is distributed for the next semester and must be submitted to the graduate program assistant on or before the due date listed on the form. GTA assignments are determined by the Assistant Chair.

The department has a limited number of laboratory sections offered in the summer, and this severely limits the number of GTA positions available.

There is a time between semesters that GTA services are not needed. It can be anywhere between May and August but is typically the last two weeks of May and the first two weeks of August. During this time, pay is not administered.

The maximum number of CHEM 5990 Independent Study hours is 9 and the maximum number of CHEM 5960 Directed Reading is 6. 

Many areas and sub-disciplines of chemistry and biochemistry overlap each other and other fields outside of chemistry and biochemistry as well. Multiple examples of such overlaps can be found in the department of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Oklahoma. Nonetheless, primary sub-discipline labels are still attached to many of the faculty in consideration of their broadly identified "current primary region of interest" and/or their primary area of didactic concentration during their graduate and/or postdoctoral studies.


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