First Semester

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

Email 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. You must register 9 credits of graduate courses (ā‰„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 Ph.D. graduation, including core and recommended elective courses.


Area Didactic Course Offered Credits
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 ā€œUā€ 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 a 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).