Frequently Asked Questions About Applying

Please note that the Center for International Education also maintains an FAQ page about the application process in general.

What is the application deadline? When should I apply?

We do not have a fixed deadline, but we start reviewing applications for the fall semester in late January and applications for the spring semester in early September. Having your application complete by that time, including the three letters of recommendation, will give you the best chance of competing for one of the open graduate student slots.

Please note that all applications first need to pass through several review and evaluation steps by the Graduate School and the Center for International Education before they arrive at our department for consideration, which can take a few weeks depending on the time of year. Therefore, we recommend starting your application about one year in advance.

Do I need to contact faculty or secure a research advisor before applying?

No, this is not necessary, but you are welcome to contact our faculty at any time. However, we strongly recommend that you mention in your Reason Statement which faculty member(s) you are most interested in doing research with.

What is considered a competitive cumulative GPA for admission?

The Graduate School requires a minimum cumulative undergraduate grade point average (GPA) of 2.75 on a 4.0 scale for admission to any graduate program. The Center for International Education converts GPAs into the U.S. equivalent for international applicants. Please check their FAQs or email them at isss@uwm.edu for further details.

Graduate students in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry typically have GPAs well above 3.0. That said, we examine all applications holistically based on many measures. Every application is read in its entirety, and extenuating circumstances that might have affected your GPA are considered. High grades in chemistry-related coursework will also help your application.

How many applications do you receive each year?

We typically receive more than 100 applications and make approximately 15-20 admission offers per year.

Is an M.S. degree (or equivalent) required for admission to the Ph.D. program?

Pursuing a Ph.D. in chemistry requires a baccalaureate degree (or equivalent); a master’s degree is not required. Many of our students go directly from a bachelor’s degree to a Ph.D.

My bachelor’s/master’s degree is not in chemistry. Am I eligible to apply to a graduate program in chemistry?

Yes, you can certainly apply to our graduate programs in chemistry with a non-chemistry (but chemistry-related) degree. We had students with backgrounds in pharmacy, chemical engineering, biochemistry, and related disciplines who have successfully completed our program.

However, please note that there are several course requirements for admission: one year each of physical and organic chemistry with laboratories and one course each in analytical and inorganic chemistry. You are eligible for admission if you have no more than two course deficiencies. These deficiencies will need to be addressed within three enrolled semesters.

Is the GRE needed for admission?

No, the GRE is no longer required for admission.

I have taken the GRE test – can I submit my score?

The GRE is no longer required for admission. However, if you have taken the GRE and want to share your scores with us in support of your application, you can certainly do so by uploading it as an additional document to the Document Center.

What financial aid is available to graduate students?

All new graduate students are offered a Teaching Assistantship (TA) for their first year on campus. After that, graduate students are typically supported by a Teaching or Research Assistantship (RA) during the spring and fall semesters as long as they remain in good standing in the program. This support is based on the availability of funds and is generally available for up to five years for Ph.D. students and up to three years for M.S. students. Besides the salary, TAs and RAs cover tuition for up to twelve credits per semester (except for segregated fees) and pay contributions to university-supported health insurance.

Is an official transcript required for admission?

Transcripts are evaluated by the Graduate School and, for international transcripts, by the Center for International Education. Unofficial copies of transcripts are accepted during the initial application process. If you are admitted and enroll at UWM, you must submit an official transcript for your bachelor’s degree with the degree and date awarded.

International applicants should email the Center for International Education at isss@uwm.edu or check their FAQs, while all others should email the Graduate School at gradschool-staff@uwm.edu for further details.

Does your program accept transcripts evaluated by WES?

Transcripts are evaluated by the Graduate School and, for international transcripts, by the Center for International Education. International applicants can email the Center for International Education at isss@uwm.edu or check their FAQs, while all others should email the Graduate School at gradschool-staff@uwm.edu.

I am a native English speaker/my classes were taught in English. Do I need to take an English proficiency test?

The Center for International Education evaluates English proficiency. An English proficiency test is typically required for non-native English speakers unless English was the language of instruction for a baccalaureate or higher degree earned at an accredited institution within two years of coming to UWM, or the degree was earned in the US and you have been living and working in the US since earning that degree. Please email the Center for International Education at isss@uwm.edu or check their FAQs for further details.

What is the minimum English proficiency score required for admission?

Admission to our graduate programs requires English proficiency at the level of “Full Admission” with the (stricter) Speaking score for “Teaching Assistants” because all our new graduate students are supported by a Teaching Assistantship for their first year on campus.  You can find the required scores here by clicking on the “Full” and “Teaching Assistants” tab.

Is my Duolingo score of XX sufficient for admission?

According to the Center for International Education, which evaluates English proficiency, the Duolingo test gives insufficient insight into the speaking abilities required for Teaching Assistants. Therefore, we do not recommend taking this test for admission to our graduate programs. Please email the Center for International Education at isss@uwm.edu or check their FAQs for further details.

Can I get a waiver or reimbursement for the English proficiency test?

Proof of English proficiency is an admission requirement that cannot be waived. Unfortunately, the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry does not have the funds to cover these costs. We understand that this is often a significant financial burden for our international applicants. Please email the Center for International Education at isss@uwm.edu or check their FAQs to see whether an English proficiency test is required in your specific circumstances.

Can I get the application fee waived?

The application fee cannot be waived per State of Wisconsin statute. Unfortunately, the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry does not have the funds to cover these costs. There may be an opportunity to obtain a fee waiver if you attend the Graduate School Open House, which is held annually and will be announced on the Graduate School website.

I have been admitted and would like to prepare for the entrance exams taken on arrival. How can I prepare for them?

Our entrance exams cover all topics of chemistry, namely analytical, inorganic, organic, physical, and biochemistry. For M.S. students, these exams are used for advising only, while Ph.D. students must pass at least four of the five exams at the 50th percentile level or better by the beginning of their fourth semester. The exams are given three times a year, at the beginning of the fall and spring semesters and the summer term, so you will have multiple opportunities to pass them.

To prepare for the exams, we recommend going over what you have learned in your undergraduate courses, reading through your class notes and textbooks, etc. The entrance exams are similar to the GRE Chemistry subject exam. If you follow the link, you will find that you can download a “practice book,” which is essentially a test with practice questions. The only difference to the entrance exams is that the GRE Chemistry subject exam questions are mixed, while they are separated by topic in the entrance exams.