About Our Program

Welcome to the Department of Chemistry at the University of Kentucky. We take pride in our tradition of excellence in education, which started in 1886 when the first chemistry classes were taught at UK to the establishment of our Ph.D. program in 1946. Our department offers M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in analytical, biological, inorganic, nuclear, organic and physical chemistry. Our 30 faculty, approximately 100 students, and 15 postdoctoral researchers work on a diverse array of research projects that include emphasis in computational & theoretical chemistry; spectroscopy & spectrometry; nuclear chemistry; environmental chemistry; energy storage; organic electronics; health & disease; and biological, inorganic, & organic materials & processes. Faculty are intimately involved in the training of graduate students, a unique feature of our program. We encourage you to browse the faculty research pages to learn more about the exciting projects that you could join as a graduate student.

The achievements of our students and faculty have been recognized by professional organizations and funding agencies on the national and international level, some of which you can read about in our Features page. Our faculty are funded from numerous sources including the National Science Foundation,  Department of Defense, National Aeronautics and Space Agency, Office of Naval Research, National Institutes of Health, American Cancer Society, Kentucky Science and Engineering Foundation, American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund, Human Frontiers Science Program, and others.   


Contact Information:

Prof. Mark Lovell
Director of Graduate Studies

Prof. Chris Richards
Chair of the Graduate Recruiting Committee

Graduate Program Office
phone: (859) 257-4930
toll free: (800) 944-2436
fax: (859) 323-9985

PhD Program Overview:

Entering students take standardized proficiency exams in analytical, biological, inorganic, organic, and physical chemistry. The scores on these exams are used by the Graduate Program Committee to help new students accelerate the course-work component of their Ph.D. program. Entering students demonstrating proficiency in these areas are only required to complete 18 credit hours of graded coursework, which may be completed in the first year. During this time, Ph.D. candidates also take cumulative exams, of which the student must pass four of 16 exams administered during the first 2 years of study. Having completed the course work and cumulative exam requirements, the candidate undergoes an oral qualifying exam in which he or she answers questions posed by his or her special advisory committee usually relating to the student's initial research plan. After that, the path is clear to the Ph.D. degree, and additional time in graduate school is simply a function of research success.
Our department offers a variety of courses including two core courses in each of the five divisions.  Additionally, we offer several advanced courses including Chemical Crystallography, Neurochemistry, Proteomics and Mass Spectrometry, Environmental Chemistry, Spectroscopy and Photophysics, and Inorganic Chemistry of Non-Metals. Also offered are Special Topics (CHE 580) courses. Examples of recent Special Topics courses include Materials Chemistry, Organometallic Chemistry, and Polymer Chemistry. Students typically take 6 courses in their first year, and generally complete two remaining requirements in the first semester of their second year.  It is possible to complete courses sooner by passing entrance exams and earning course exemptions or by transferring credit from approved M.S. programs.
At least one out-of-department course or one out-of-area course is required for graduation. Some examples of courses taken by our students include Electrochemical Energy Storage (MSE 599) and Scientific Communications (BCH 780). Students considering a career in teaching may participate in the Preparing Future Faculty program. Seminars and courses are aimed to help those with academic ambitions.
Financial Aid:
Assistantships are provided to each student accepted to the PhD program. Tuition and benefits are covered by your assistantship.  Most entering graduate students are supported by Teaching Assistantships. Being a TA is a requirement for graduation and requires a commitment of up to 20 hours of work per week, which includes classroom time, office hours, and grading. Teaching assistantships in the Department of Chemistry are competitive, particularly considering the very low cost of living in Lexington, Kentucky (for a comparison of cost-of-living in various cities, visit this site). The stipend for a graduate student in their first year is at least $23,097 and can be larger if students are supported by research groups in the summers. Additionally, numerous fellowships can increase the level of support received by graduate students, and qualified students are automatically considered for these fellowships and scholarships upon submitting an application.  After the first year, students may be supported by Research Assistantships. About half of our students are supported as Research Assistants.


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