The graduate program in chemistry is tailored to satisfy individual student aspirations and is designed to provide knowledge, skills, and discovery within the chemical sciences. The program prepares candidates for professional employment in chemistry careers including industry, consulting, local, state and federal government, and for teaching at the community college or secondary level. Employed workers with a bachelor’s degree may also seek additional training in the chemical sciences to enhance or expand their career prospects. Additionally, the program provides a foundation for further graduate studies beyond the MS level in chemistry and related fields.
Graduate students in chemistry can focus their studies in any of the major areas of chemistry, including biochemistry, organic, physical, analytical and inorganic chemistry, and chemistry education. Emphasis in a specific area through appropriate courses and seminars is enhanced by requisite graduate research. Practical and collaborative internship experiences through industrial, governmental, academic research, or community college teaching partnerships are possible. The department utilizes state-of-the-art and fully equipped laboratory facilities with an array of modern instrumentation and computational capabilities. Furthermore, it operates a state-certified environmental testing laboratory.
The chemistry graduate program at Central Washington University (CWU) has three different options for obtaining a MS in chemistry: traditional thesis option, project option, and a BS/MS degree option. The traditional thesis option allows students to take advanced classes from the traditional areas of chemistry and to engage in intensive research in a very specific area related to chemistry. Most students finish this degree track within two years of starting the program. Students who choose the thesis option are given priority over other students in the program for teaching assistantships. The project-based option requires more course work than the thesis option, but allows students to submit a project rather than a traditional thesis. The option also allows for some flexibility if students are already employed in areas related to chemistry. Projects they may be engaged in as part of their employment might be used towards the project MS degree in chemistry with approval from the department. The chair of the student’s project committee must be a member of the department’s graduate faculty. The final option is a BS/MS degree and is only open to students who obtain their BS from Central Washington University. The degree track allows students to obtain an MS in chemistry within one year after obtaining the BS degree and has a project component associated with the degree rather than a thesis. Students in this program would need to follow the course requirements for the project MS degree in Chemistry. Since the BS/MS program requires students to complete work in a very regimented fashion, students who are interested in this option are advised to discuss the option with their advisor and the graduate program coordinator by the quarter of their junior year.
Admission to CWU requires a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. In addition, applicants must earn a minimum of a 3.0 grade point average (GPA) in all course work attempted in at least the last 90 quarter (60 semester) hours of recognized academic work. Admission decisions are based on a combination of factors: GPA, letters of recommendation from professors and others able to critically assess success in a graduate program, statement of purpose, academic preparation for work in the proposed field, and areas of research interests. Admission to the Chemistry Graduate Program requires an earned undergraduate degree in chemistry or a related field (equivalent to those offered at CWU; see requirements for the BS and BA degrees in chemistry), and demonstrate a potential for superior scholarship. If a chemistry background deficiency exists at the time of student admission, appropriate courses must be taken to fill these gaps during the first year of graduate study. International students for whom English is a second language must provide TOEFL or IELTS scores to demonstrate English proficiency.
Program Requirements - Thesis option: The MS degree (thesis option) requires a minimum of 45 credits of graduate coursework and research study culminating with a thesis. Eighteen to 24 of these credits are research and thesis related (CHEM 595, CHEM 700). The remaining 21-27 credits are earned from coursework (a minimum of 18 at the 500 level or above). Of the 21-27 credits, students are required to take at least six core credits in chemistry, enroll in CHEM 503, Introduction to Research, during their first year, and take at least one credit of CHEM 505, Current Topics in Chemistry. Four credits of seminar (CHEM 589 taken twice) are also required. SCED 542 may also be counted toward the chemistry core credits. This leaves 9 credits for elective courses. The first 2 credits of CHEM 589 consist of a research proposal written by the student and a one hour professional seminar based on this document. The research proposal should be a maximum of 10 pages in length (12 point, double spaced) and be composed of an introduction (including a brief survey of related work), objectives of proposed research, description of experimental approach, expected outcomes, a projected time line, and a safety appendix with standard operating procedures (SOPs) relating to their completed and proposed laboratory work (this appendix does not count toward the 10-page limit). The document is to be submitted to committee members at least two weeks before the scheduled seminar and must be approved by the committee as a condition of receiving credit. The student must successfully complete these credits by the end of their third quarter in the graduate program. If the student has a situation that does not allow them to complete these credits by the end of their third quarter in the program, they must meet with their graduate advisor and committee to work out an appropriate course of action. The second 2 credits of CHEM 589 are the final oral examination on the student’s thesis project and are taken in the quarter the student defends. A written thesis has to be prepared and submitted to the committee members following procedures specified by the Office of Graduate Studies and Research. Candidates must also pass a final oral examination on their thesis project and coursework that is administered by the candidate’s graduate thesis committee. Completion of the MS in Chemistry typically requires two academic years and an intervening summer of study.
Program Requirements - Non-thesis MS option: The MS degree (non-thesis option) also requires a minimum of 45 credits of graduate coursework and a comprehensive project or cooperative study in place of a research thesis. Sixteen to 19 of these credits are related to the project (CHEM 590/595, CHEM 700). The remaining 26 to 29 credits are earned from coursework. Of the 26 to 29 credits, students are required to take at least nine core credits in chemistry, enroll in CHEM 503, Introduction to Research, during their first year, and take at least one credit of CHEM 505, Current Topics in Chemistry. Four credits of seminar (CHEM 589 taken twice) are also required. This leaves 11 credits for elective courses. The first 2 credits of CHEM 589 consist of a project proposal or literature-based project written by the student and a one hour professional seminar based on this document. The literature-based proposal will be mostly reserved for those students who are in industry and cannot give a public presentation due to intellectual property concerns. The project proposal should be a maximum of 10 pages in length (12 point font, double spaced) and be composed of an introduction (including a brief survey of related work), objectives of the project, a comprehensive survey of the project, and a safety appendix with standard operating procedures (SOPs) relating to their completed and proposed laboratory work (this appendix does not count toward the 10-page limit). The document is to be submitted to committee at least two weeks before the scheduled seminar and must be approved by the committee as a condition of receiving credit. Students must submit their proposal and present their seminar before completion of their third quarter as a graduate student. The second 2 credits of CHEM 589 are the final oral examination on the written project or cooperative study. Candidates must also pass a final oral examination on their project and coursework that is administrated by the candidate’s graduate thesis committee. Completion of the MS in Chemistry typically requires two academic years and an intervening summer of study.
Core Courses: Six to 12 credits of chemistry courses at the 500-level are required for the thesis MS degree in chemistry, and nine to 12 credits for the non-thesis MS degree. Courses offered by the chemistry department include advanced biochemistry, biochemical toxicology, advanced analytical chemistry, organic reaction mechanisms, organic spectroscopy, advanced organic synthesis, medicinal chemistry, atmospheric chemistry, solid-state chemistry, quantum and computational chemistry, and advanced physical chemistry.
Electives: Nine credits of elective coursework at the 400 or 500 level are required for the MS thesis degree, or eleven for the non-thesis degree. Elective courses from chemistry and other departments (biology, geology, mathematics, physics, science education, business, and psychology, among others) are selected with advising from the thesis committee. These courses are selected to provide expertise in the fields of the individual student’s academic interests and research focus and complement professional goals.
Graduate Committee: Before the end of the candidate’s second quarter in the program and after consultation with members of the chemistry graduate faculty, the student will select a thesis advisor, to act as chair of the candidate’s graduate committee. The candidate, in consultation with the selected thesis advisor will assemble a three-member thesis graduate committee. Two members of the committee must be from the chemistry faculty.
Examination (thesis MS): Each candidate must prepare a written thesis that documents the methods, analysis, and results of the research they carried out during their graduate study. In addition, each candidate must pass a final oral examination. The review covering the student’s thesis and coursework consists of a seminar open to the public followed by queries from the thesis committee.
Examination (non-thesis MS): Each candidate must prepare a final written report that documents the research project or cooperative work they carried out during their graduate study. In addition, each candidate must pass a final oral examination on all phases of the student’s program. The review covering the student’s written project and coursework consists of a seminar open to the public followed by queries from the thesis committee. The written documentation for the project is less thorough than for the thesis but the student is still expected to produce a significant research document with proper referencing and is expected to defend their research and methodology.
NOTE: Work for all MS in Chemistry options must be finished within six years of the student’s start date in the program otherwise all credits are considered null and void by the university and the student must start their course of study over again.
Program Learner Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this program, students will be able to:
- Master and apply technical information from graduate level courses, and independently perform advanced experimental techniques and data analysis.
- Write and speak clearly in the language and style of the discipline.
- Demonstrate critical thinking skills that utilize qualitative and quantitative problem solving.
- Retrieve and critically analyze chemical literature.
- Practice health and safety protocols that are integral to the discipline.