MS Degree Requirements

Below is a breakdown of the how many different units and courses are required. We have two different programs for students to earn the Masters degree, the Masters Thesis (research based) and Comprehensive Exam (coursework based) programs. For more information regarding these programs, please refer to the information below.

Contents

General Quarterly Deadlines

The 2nd Friday of each quarter is the deadline to submit:

  • Half-time Study requests
  • Leave of Absence requests
  • In Absentia requests
  • Applications to Candidacy for the Master’s degree (in order to receive the Master’s in the same quarter)

The 4th Friday of each quarter is the deadline to submit:

  • Add/Drop/Change cards to change a grading option, change number of units, drop a course without a W

The 9th Friday of each quarter is the deadline to submit:

  • Add/Drop cards to drop a course

The 10th Friday of each quarter is the deadline to submit:

  • Add cards to add a course

The 11th Friday of each quarter (finals week) is the deadline to submit:

  • Final Paperwork for degree completion
  • Fully completed forms must be received in the Graduate Division by the deadline date; department approval alone does not constitute meeting a deadline.

*Please note: For a Spring degree the deadline to submit all final paperwork and have your name listed in the commencement booklet is the Friday of 10th week. The final deadline for a Spring degree is the last Friday of Spring quarter but your name will not be included in the commencement booklet.

The Summer degree deadline is the last Friday of summer session II (usually in early September).

Masters Thesis

Typically, all students entering the MS program are considered Coursework MS students. If interested in switching to the Thesis MS, students must join a lab. Before students will be approved for the Thesis MS track, they must successfully complete a CHEM 297  (Experimental Methods in Chemistry), and then submit an MS Thesis Agreement Form signed by the selected Faculty Advisor, which must be reviewed/approved by our Vice Chair.

Purpose

This program prepares students for research careers in industry, for doctoral studies, or for professional school. Students complete a minimum of 36 units of courses and research, with the emphasis on research. Students write, present and defend their thesis to a committee of their Thesis Adviser and two other faculty.

Choosing a Research Advisor

You can refer to the list of Faculty members for their contact and research information. Once you find your research advisor, please have him/her fill out the MS Thesis Agreement Form and submit it to Jeanine Sun the MS Coordinator.

Advancement to Candidacy

The deadline to file the paperwork to Advance to Candidacy is the end of the second week of the quarter the MS degree will be conferred.  The final units needed to advance may be in-progress the quarter the paperwork is filed.  At the time the paperwork is filed, the Thesis Committee must be named (see below). These are the unit and grade requirements for advancing to candidacy:

1. Complete a minimum of 36 units. Note the following stipulations.
  • Lower-division courses may not be applied to the degree.
  • A maximum of 4 units upper-division courses may be applied. Requires pre-approval from MS Advisor and/or Vice Chair.
  • A maximum of 4 units of non-thesis research (CHEM 297 or 298) may be applied.
  • CHEM 251 (group meeting) may not be applied. However, students are strongly encouraged to enroll as well.

2. Achieve a minimum overall grade point average of 3.0

  • All courses must be taken for a letter grade unless offered satisfactory/unsatisfactory only.
  • Minimum of 8 units letter-graded courses, of which 6 or more must be graduate level.

3. Complete a minimum of 14 units of graduate level chemistry courses that are not seminar or research. Usually fulfilled with at least 8 units of lecture courses, CHEM 500, and CHEM 509.

4. Complete a minimum of 18 units of Thesis Research (CHEM 299). A maximum of 24 units of Thesis Research may count toward the 36 unit total.

5. Up to 4 units of Teaching Apprenticeship (CHEM 500) and 2 units of the Teaching Training Seminar (CHEM 509) may be applied if you are assigned a TA position during your time in the program. Students must enroll into CHEM 500 every quarter they are assigned a Teaching Assistantship. A maximum of 4 CHEM 500 units may be applied toward their degree.

Conferral

 Your Masters of Science Degree will be conferred upon a successful oral thesis defense and written thesis accepted by the Department and University.

Thesis

Information covering thesis preparation is contained in the publication Instructions for the Preparation and Submission of Doctoral Dissertations and Masters' Theses, provided by the Graduate Division.

 

A thesis committee is nominated by the Thesis Adviser and approved by the Department and the Graduate Division.  It consists of at least three faculty: (1) the Thesis Adviser, (2) a faculty from the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry familiar with the student's research area, and (3) a faculty member from either this or another department whose research is in an area different from that of the thesis.  The committee is named at the same time the student files the Advancement to Candidacy for M.S. paperwork (see previous page).  Students present and defend their thesis to this committee.  Students should distribute a draft of their thesis to committee members at least two weeks prior to the defense.  At that time, they should also make an appointment with the Graduate Division for a preliminary review of the thesis.  A student graduates after the thesis has been defended, signed off by their committee, Department, and the Graduate Division, and filed with the University Archivist.

Preparing for your Thesis Defense

Filing Deadlines

The Graduate Division sets the dates by which a student must turn in a thesis each quarter, including filing between quarters  (e.g., in Summer or during the Fall/Winter or Winter/Spring breaks).  These are posted on the Graduate Division Web site (see above).  See Commencement (below) for degree deadlines and Commencement information.

The quarter you graduate: Registration and Support

Graduating between quarters (Winter break, Spring break, or Summer)

  1. You must have filed an “Application to Candidacy” form by end of second week of the previous quarter (e.g., by end of 2nd week of Spring quarter to get a Summer degree).
  2. Students who were registered in the previous quarter do not pay any additional fees if they file for the degree by the Graduate Division deadlines.  If the deadline is missed but students file for graduation in the immediate next quarter, the situation is the same as for leave of absence (see below).
  3. If you want to confer your degree in a specific quarter, then you must defend and submit your final degree form by the 11th Friday of said quarter (Finals Week). This form will need to be signed by our Vice- Chair as well, so we suggest you submit the form to us by Wednesday of Finals Week, to give us time to get the Vice Chair's signature.
  4. See below if you were on leave the quarter prior to graduation.

To remain eligible for UCSD support (e.g. TAship, research assistantships, fellowships)

  1. Register for at least 12 units
  2. Do not to turn in the thesis to graduate until fifth week or later
  3. Be on support until at least fifth week (minimum support equivalent to 25% for a full quarter)
  4. You may not withdraw mid-quarter from any TA assignment!

If you will be on leave of absence the quarter you plan to graduate, remember:

  • Contact our office to file the needed paperwork before the first day of classes of the quarter of leave.
  • You are eligible to remain in graduate student housing, but contact their main office for details.
  • You will not be eligible for any UCSD-affiliated support (e.g., TA, research assistantships, fellowship).
  • You will not be allowed to use any campus facilities and do not have Student ID card privileges (e.g. no working in the lab, bus passes, library privileges, rec facilities).
  • You will not have Graduate Student Health Insurance coverage.  Contact Student Health Insurance, 534-0903, for assistance with securing health insurance.
  • A General Petition to waive registration and pay a filing fee is submitted to the Graduate Division at the time you turn in your graduation paperwork and thesis.  You pay the $179 filing fee to the Bursar before going to the Graduate Division.

Three Weeks Before Your Defense

Confirm your Thesis Committee Membership

If your official committee is not changing, you need to do nothing for this step!  If your M.S. Committee is changing, contact our office.  A form will need to be filled in, signed by your Thesis Adviser, signed by Dr. Kim, and sent to the Graduate Division two weeks prior to the exam.

Schedule the Exam

Confirm the date and time of your exam with ALL your Thesis Committee members, and give them a draft of your thesis.

Reserve a Room and Equipment

AFTER you confirm the exam time with your committee, visit our Conference Rooms website to look for available and suitable rooms, and then contact Jeff Rances (jrances@ucds.edu) to schedule a room.  He will schedule it a half hour before the exam time, so you have time to make sure all equipment is working and to settle in.

Schedule Appointments with the Graduate Division

Please visit https://gd-calendar.ucsd.edu/ and schedule a Preliminary Thesis appointment.  The purpose of this appointment is for the Graduate Division to review the formatting of your thesis.  The rules on thesis formatting are very strict -- see the Web link above for instructions.  A preliminary appointment can save you lots of work and headaches later! Rules for thesis formatting are available on the graduate division web site.

Two Weeks or More Before Your Defense

Email Jeff Rances (jrances@ucsd.edu ) the title of your thesis. He will send official email notification of the defense to your committee.

Defense, Paperwork, and Graduation

On the day of your defense, we will have all the needed paperwork (see below) in your file. Instructions on who signs what will be attached to it.  Your adviser will pick up your file before the defense, will give you the forms you need, and then will return your file to us afterwards.

After you have finished your dissertation presentation, your committee will likely ask you to leave the room so that they may have a private conversation.  You will then come back in the room, and the committee will tell you whether you passed the defense and what (if any) additional experimentation or revisions to the written dissertation are required.  After the exam, your adviser will return the file to us.  We will have Dr. Kim, as Vice Chair for Graduate Education, sign the Final Report and General Petition (if applicable) forms (see below).  We will then email you that they are ready for pick-up.

Paperwork

  1. Alumni Information Form (please fill out online form): Please complete before picking up final paperwork. It tells us your post-graduation plans (we have to know this for reporting purposes to the Dean's Office) and post-graduation address.
  2. Degree and Diploma Application (to the Graduate Division at final appointment): Adviser gives you this form at time of defense. Only your signature is needed. Used by campus to generate and mail your diploma. The address on it must match the address on the Final Report Form (see below).  You give this form to the Graduate Division when you turn in your other paperwork and thesis.
  3. Final Report Form (to the Graduate Division at final appointment): In your file at time of defense. After they approve your thesis, your committee signs off on the Final Report form. The form is returned to our office in your student file after the exam or perhaps by your adviser at a later time. Once we have it, Dr. Kim signs it. We will notify you when it is signed.
  4. General Petition (to the Graduate Division at final appointment): Needed only if you were on leave of absence or withdrawal status the quarter you graduate *OR* if you are graduating between quarters (e.g., Winter break, Spring break, or Summer). Signed by Dr. Judy Kim and you. We will give it to you when you  pick up the Final Report form. You may need to take it to the Cashier and pay the $162 filing fee in lieu of registration prior to your final appointment at the Graduate Division (see “Graduating Between Quarters and Leave of Absence above).
  5. The Thesis! This is turned in to the University librarian after your final appointment with the Graduate Division.

Defined Contribution Plan and W-2 Form

Be sure to talk with the Graduate Program Manager, Jeanine Sun (858-822-6014). We need the address for mailing your W-2 form. Those who paid into the Defined Contribution Plan should get information about collecting or rolling over that money.

Commencement

The Graduate Division organizes this event, which is held once a year. This year commencement is on June 17th, 2017. The event is optional, and it is for students that have conferred their degree in either Summer Session II, Fall, Winter, or Spring of the 2016-2017 academic year. You may walk in commencement for both the MS and the PhD. The deadline to sign-up for commencement and order your cap and gown is May 17th, 2017. You can find more information by visiting Graduate Division Commencement 2017

Congratulations!

Masters Coursework (Comprehensive Exam)

Typically, all students entering the MS program are considered Coursework MS students. If interested in switching to the Thesis MS, students must join a lab. Before students will be approved for the Thesis MS track, they must successfully complete a CHEM 297  (Experimental Methods in Chemistry), and then submit an MS Thesis Agreement Form signed by the selected Faculty Advisor, which must be reviewed/approved by our Vice Chair.

Purpose

This program prepares students for doctoral or professional studies and for careers in teaching; the emphasis is on coursework. Students complete 36 units of courses, and may opt to rotate in a research laboratory as well. To graduate, they must pass three of five comprehensive written exams in biochemistry, inorganic, organic, physical, and analytical/instrumental chemistry.

Advancement to Candidacy

The deadline to file the paperwork to Advance to Candidacy is the end of the second week of the quarter the MS degree will be conferred.  The final units needed to advance may be in-progress the quarter the paperwork is filed.  These are the unit and grade requirements for advancing:

1. Complete a minimum of 36 units.  Note the following stipulations.

  • Lower-division courses may not be applied towards the degree.
  • A maximum of 12 units upper-division coursework may be applied. Requires pre-approval from MS Advisor and/or Vice Chair.

2. Achieve a minimum overall GPA of 3.0.

  • All courses must be taken for a letter grade unless offered S/U only.
  • Complete a minimum of 16 units of letter-graded (A, B, etc.) courses.

3. Complete a minimum of 24 units of graduate-level coursework.  Note the following stipulations.

  • A minimum of 14 units of Chemistry graduate level courses required.  Courses taken outside of the department must be approved by the MS Advisor and/or Vice Chair.
  • A maximum of 4 units of non-thesis research (CHEM 297 or 298) may be applied.
  • Students are strongly encouraged to enroll in seminars in their field, but seminars will not count towards the MS coursework requirements.
  • CHEM 251 and CHEM 299 may not be applied.
  • CHEM 500 and 509 (see below) may be applied.

4. Up to 4 units of Teaching Assistantship Seminar (CHEM 500) and 2 units of Teaching Training Seminar (CHEM 509) may be applied if you are assigned a TA position during your time in the program.  Students may enroll in more units of Chem 500, but a maximum 4 units may be applied toward the degree.

Conferral

Upon completion of three comprehensive chemical knowledge examinations.

Comprehensive Chemical Knowledge Examination

The purpose of this requirement is to confirm that students have achieved an advanced understanding of, and a comprehensive training in, the chemical sciences.  The tests cover a wide range of material, so that students will have a chance to show what they have learned. The department administers the standardized American Chemical Society exams in biochemistry and in inorganic, organic, physical and analytical/instrumental chemistry.  Students must pass three of the five exams in order to graduate. Students do not have to take all 5 available exams. If students do not pass the first 3 exams, they must take the exams in the remaining 2 subject areas. Students must first attempt the exam for each subject before retaking any exam. Students are only permitted to re-take ONE exam.

Only the three highest scoring exams are considered.  Therefore, students are free to choose to take three, four or five of the exams. Students may take one of the exams in any quarter prior to their graduating quarter. (Students who choose to do this and do not pass the exam may take all exams in their graduating quarter.) The other two to four exams must be taken the quarter a student intends to graduate.  Each exam is 50-70 multiple-choice questions, and students have approximately two hours to complete each exam.  Exam booklets contain a periodic table, if needed. Students may use a basic calculator.  Scratch paper is provided.  Exams are ONLY given during Orientation, and week 8 or 9 (of Fall, Winter, and Spring Quarters), and Summer.  Please contact the M.S. Coordinator at least 2 weeks before the exams are given to give notice as to which exam(s) will be taken.

There is a minimum cut-off score for each exam.  A sum total of points must be earned that is higher than the sum of the three minimum scores.   The number of points needed to hit the minimum varies by test as well as by version of the test.  For this reason, we assign results of “Fail”, “Marginal”, and “Pass” for each exam.   If a student scores below the minimum cut-off for the test taken, the result is a “Fail”.  A score at or within a couple points above the minimum cut-off is considered “Marginal”.  A “Pass” is given for higher scores. To successfully complete the Comprehensive Examination requirement, the minimum result needed is one Marginal and two Passes.  Of course, we hope all students would aim for three Passes. When students do not pass the Comprehensive Examination requirement the first round, they are allowed to re-take one exam in which a “Marginal” or “Fail” was earned.  However, students must wait until the following quarter to re-take an exam, as testing dates are only offered once a quarter.  Students may also take exams not previously taken at this time.

For students who choose to take an exam in a quarter prior to their graduating quarter, the best strategy is to take it in the area that they are most likely to pass (e.g., the area in which they had the most training as an undergraduate). We urge students to include appropriate coursework in their M.S. studies as preparation for the exams. Review what was once known well before trying to learn anything new.  Questions on the exams may seem tricky if one is not exactly sure of how concepts are used.

The Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry also has several copies of the ACS study guides in general chemistry, physical chemistry, and organic chemistry which can be checked out from the Student Affairs office (York 4010). To ensure fairness, students will only be permitted to check out one guide at a time for one week so that all students who wish to utilize these resources will also have access. Extensions to the reservations can easily be made.

We also suggest a review of undergraduate class notes and the following books, or their equivalents:

  • Biochemistry by Lehninger or by Stryer
  • Inorganic Chemistry by Huheey or by Douglas, McDaniel, & Alexander
  • Organic Chemistry by Brown & Foote or by Vollhardt & Schore
  • Physical Chemistry by Levine or by Atkins
  • Fundamental of Analytical Chemistry by Skoog, West and Holler

Good preparation for parts of the inorganic and physical Chemistry exams may also be found in reviewing a strong general chemistry text.  One example is “Chemistry” by Jones and Atkins.

Preparing for the Comprehensive Exams

For students who choose to take an exam in a quarter prior to their graduating quarter, the best strategy is to take it in the area that they are most likely to pass (e.g., the area in which they had the most training as an undergraduate). We urge students to include appropriate coursework in their M.S. studies as preparation for the exams. Review what was once known well before trying to learn anything new.  Questions on the exams may seem tricky if one is not exactly sure of how concepts are used.

The Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry also has several copies of the ACS study guides in general chemistry, physical chemistry, and organic chemistry which can be checked out from the Student Affairs office (York 4010). To ensure fairness, students will only be permitted to check out one guide at a time for one week so that all students who wish to utilize these resources will also have access. Extensions to the reservations can easily be made.

We also suggest a review of undergraduate class notes and the following books, or their equivalents:

  • Biochemistry by Lehninger or by Stryer
  • Inorganic Chemistry by Huheey or by Douglas, McDaniel, & Alexander
  • Organic Chemistry by Brown & Foote or by Vollhardt & Schore
  • Physical Chemistry by Levine or by Atkins
  • Fundamental of Analytical Chemistry by Skoog, West and Holler

Good preparation for parts of the inorganic and physical Chemistry exams may also be found in reviewing a strong general chemistry text.  One example is “Chemistry” by Jones and Atkins.

Paperwork

  1. Alumni Information Form (please fill out online form): Please complete before picking up final paperwork. It tells us your post-graduation plans (we have to know this for reporting purposes to the Dean's Office) and post-graduation address.
  2. Degree and Diploma Application: MS Coordinator prepares this form for you. Only your signature is needed. Used by campus to generate and mail your diploma. The address on it must match the address on the Final Report Form (see below).  This form is submitted to the Graduate Division on your behalf upon successful completion of degree requirements.
  3. Final Report Form: Completed by the MS Coordinator. Once you pass your exams, Dr. Kim approves your scores and signs it. We will notify you when it is signed and mail it to the Graduate Division on your behalf.

Commencement

The Graduate Division organizes this event, which is held once a year. This year commencement is on June 17th, 2017. The event is optional, and it is for students that have conferred their degree in either Summer Session II, Fall, Winter, or Spring of the 2016-2017 academic year. You may walk in commencement for both the MS and the PhD. The deadline to sign-up for commencement and order your cap and gown is May 17th, 2017. You can find more information by visiting Graduate Division Commencement 2017

Congratulations!

Teaching Assistantships

Teaching apprenticeships can be a valuable part of graduate student training. M.S. students may apply to TA as a means of financial support. Assignments for MS students will be based on availability of slots each quarter. Past TA performance will also be factored in to the TA assignments. Excellence in teaching is emphasized, and the department provides a thorough training program covering both fundamentals and special techniques for effective instruction (via enrollment in CHEM 509). Further training is provided by the UCSD Center for Teaching Development. Performance is evaluated each quarter, and awards are bestowed quarterly for outstanding teaching performance.

Masters Program

Questions?
Jeff Rances
Phone: (858) 534-9728
Fax: (858) 534-7687

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