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College of Arts and Sciences Department of Chemistry

Master’s Degree

General Information

We rarely admit students to the M.S. program and often an M.S. degree is awarded if a student decided not to pursue a Ph.D. While the Washington State University Department of Chemistry graduate program emphasizes the Ph.D. degree, we appreciate that there are circumstances which favor awarding of the M.S. degree.  The degree of Master of Science is awarded in recognition of scholarship and contributions to knowledge in the field of chemistry. The master’s degree is based on research carried out in the laboratories of the department and allows students to gain experience in modern experimental techniques and to familiarize themselves with the daily workings of a laboratory.

At the University, earning your Ph.D. is separate from earning an M.S. degree and it is not necessary to complete an M.S. before pursuing your Ph.D. In some cases, however, the department will require a student to complete an M.S. before entering candidacy for the Ph.D.

Master’s degree students (on either the thesis or non-thesis track) must carry out a research project under the supervision of a member of the chemistry department faculty. Master’s students are expected to participate fully in the scientific life of the department and to attend the various meetings and seminars that take place.

Research Advisor

Normally you will spend the first semester talking with research faculty and graduate students about the research being conducted within the chemistry department. By the end of the first semester you should have selected a research advisor to guide you throughout the M.S. program. Please discuss your research interests with at least three members of the chemistry faculty before formally selecting your research advisor. This interview process will serve as an important criterion in determining the composition of your committee. During the second semester of your first year, you should begin working in your advisor’s laboratory.


With the aid of the research advisor, a student’s M.S. committee should be selected during the second semester of graduate study. This committee must consist of at least three WSU faculty members, two of whom must be members of the chemistry faculty.

Formal Course Program and Other Requirements

With the aid of the M.S. committee, a formal course program must be selected and filed with the Graduate School by the end of the first summer of graduate study. This formal program must include at least 30 semester hours of approved graduate-level courses including a minimum of 21 hours of graded course work for the thesis option or 26 graded credit hours for the non-thesis option. Up to six hours of non-graduate (300- or 400-1evel) courses may be included if they are approved by your M.S. advisory committee. A minimum of four hours of CHEM 700 (thesis) or CHEM 702 (non-thesis) must be included on your program in the semester in which you graduate.

Specific requirements for the formal course program are:

  • Nine hours of departmental core courses
  • 17 hours of other coursework selected on the advice of the student’s committee (Note: departmental courses are revised periodically, but the 17-hour requirement will remain in effect). Please note that credits taken during summer session cannot be used on your MS program of study, approval required.

Communication of Research Results

Each student will write either a thesis or a project report to summarize and communicate the results of his or her research. The chemistry department requires that your research work be written up in the form of a Master’s Thesis or a Project Report and that the candidate give a public presentation that is judged by a committee.

  • Thesis – please see the University Graduate School homepage for information on thesis guidelines.
  • Project Report . The style, content and format of the research project report should conform to current scientific guidelines and is subject to approval by the student’s committee. The length of the report should be at least 20 pages. The research report should include a review of the scientific literature relevant to the project, a presentation of results obtained by the student, a discussion of the research problem and its significance.


It is strongly advised that the application for degree be submitted at least one semester before the final examination is scheduled so that the student can be notified of graduate requirements (“To-Do List”) before enrolling for the last semester. Submit completed scheduling form (including approved examination date, time and location) and a copy of the thesis to the Graduate School Office at least 10 working days prior to examination date.

It is required that a copy of the thesis be cleared by the Graduate School for compliance of format at the time of scheduling the final examination. A copy of the thesis must be available for public inspection at least 5 working days prior to the final examination in the department office or location designated by the department. The student must provide a copy of the thesis to each member of the master’s committee at least 5 working days before the final examination. Thesis should be turned in within five working days of successful completion of final oral examination.