Get Access to the Blackboard Link where the Seminar and Cumulative Exam Schedules are Posted

E-mail the Graduate Administrative Assistant and Graduate Director with your VCU email account so you can be included in the Graduate Student list on Blackboard for accessing the seminar and cumulative exam schedules.


Take Proficiency Exams

Every student entering the graduate program in chemistry must take the proficiency exams to determine course placement and remedy undergraduate deficiencies. These standardized tests from the American Chemical Society assess your undergraduate knowledge in the traditional core areas of chemistry; organic, inorganic, physical and analytical. Depending on performance, a score of 0, 1 or 2 is assigned to establish the courses you will take.


Register Courses According to Performance in Proficiency Exams

The Graduate and Evaluation Committee (GEAC) will meet with you before classes begin, to give you a plan that includes didactic and non-didactic courses. Your priority for the first year is to take undergraduate course(s) (≤400) in any area(s) with a zero-proficiency score. Additionally, you must register 9 credits of graduate courses (≥500) distributed in three of the core areas of chemistry (3 credits each), which must include any area(s) with proficiency scores of 1. To prevent overload, avoid taking more than 9 credits of didactic courses per semester (graduate or undergraduate). Depending on your performance in physical chemistry, GEAC may ask you to take both CHEM 510 and 511. A minimum of 18 didactic credits of graduate courses is required for PhD graduation, including core and recommended elective courses.


Area                   Didactic Course                                                           Offered                                                Credits


Organic                CHEM 302 Organic Chemistry                             Fall & Spring                                         3.0

Inorganic            CHEM 320 Inorganic Chemistry                           Fall & Spring                                        3.0

Physical              CHEM 303 Physical Chemistry I                            Fall & Spring                                        3.0

Physical              CHEM 304 Physical Chemistry II                           Fall & Spring                                       3.0

Analytical           CHEM 409 Instrumental Analysis                        Fall & Spring                                         3.0


Organic                CHEM 504 Advanced Organic Chemistry               Fall                                                    3.0

Inorganic            CHEM 620 Advanced Inorganic Chemistry             Fall                                                    3.0

Physical              CHEM 510 Atomic and Molecular Structure           Fall                                                     3.0

Physical              CHEM 511 Chemical Thermodynamics and Kinetics     Spring                                        3.0

Analytical           CHEM 633 Mass Spectrometry                                   Fall                                                     1.5

Analytical           CHEM 635 Spectrochemical Analysis                       Fall                                                     1.5

Analytical           CHEM 691 Biosensors                                                  Fall                                                      1.5

Analytical           CHEM 633 Separations                                                Spring                                                1.5

Analytical           CHEM 630 Electroanalytical Chemistry                  Spring                                                 1.5


Add the non-didactic courses below including enough credits of CHEM 697 to complete a total of 12 graduate credits. A minimum of 30 credits of CHEM 697 is required for completing the PhD.

If you enter the program in the spring semester, register CHEM 693 in your first fall semester when is offered.


Non-didactic Course                                                     Offered                                                                Credits

CHEM 690 Research Seminar in Chemistry           Fall & Spring                                                         1.0

CHEM 697 Directed Research                                Fall, Spring & Summer                                      1.0 to 11

CHEM 693 Chemistry Perspectives and Ethics         Fall                                                                       1.0

Select Research Advisor

Select and notify advisor choice to Department Chair and Graduate Administrative Assistant by December 1 if starting in Fall, and by May 1 if starting in Spring. Failure to fulfill this deadline will get you an unsatisfactory “U” grade in CHEM 697 for the first semester. Keep in mind that two U grades in CHEM 697 will lead to immediate review by GEAC for dismissal from the program.

Start your Research Project

Once you have selected advisor, you are expected to start getting acquainted with your research project right away. This includes reading pertinent literature, familiarizing yourself with project techniques in the lab and in general advancing your project in coordination with your advisor.

Be Aware of your Teaching Responsibilities

Satisfactory performance of assigned teaching duties as teaching assistant (TA) or doctoral assistant (DA), is a requirement to maintain acceptable status in the program. Your TA or DA appointment could be revoked if your teaching performance is inadequate (i.e. being late, unprepared or missing recitations or labs).