WPI’s research-based chemistry PhD program is designed for students aspiring to professional careers in science.

Addressing challenges in the environment, energy, and health requires augmenting the knowledge acquired in baccalaureate studies with the ability to use the scientific method to solve complex, contemporary problems. With mentorship from one of our exceptional faculty members, you will conduct thesis research at the frontiers of chemistry. Through independent studies in the laboratory, you will develop the skills necessary to succeed in today’s competitive job market.


Why should I pursue a Ph.D. in Chemistry or Biochemistry?

Chemistry is the central science with numerous future career options. Whether synthesizing the next cancer-fighting therapeutic, investigating new ways to generate energy, or trying understand the chemical basis for life processes, expertise in chemistry and biochemistry are essential to solving the most critical problems facing humanity. Ph.D. chemists and biochemists are vital to the pharmaceutical, biotech, and energy economies. Other career possibilities include jobs in intellectual property, business development, higher learning, and scientific communication.


How do I apply to the Ph.D. program?

Overview: an application may be initiated by following this link. Verify your qualification based on the admissions standards, and be prepared to include all of the relevant application information as detailed below.

Deadlines and Start Dates: WPI employs a rolling deadline for graduate student admissions, however we are currently reading applications for admission for the Spring 2017 and for the Fall 2017 terms.

Application Fee: the university does charge a nominal application fee; however, WPI students and alumni are not required to pay the application fee.  Students applying from within the United States or Canada may petition the CBC graduate coordinator for a fee waiver. 

Admission Standards: The university maintains a page detailing the graduate application requirements. In addition to university requirements, the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry includes further guide
  • 3.0 GPA minimum. Unofficial transcripts are acceptable for the application, although official transcripts must be submitted prior to admission (WPI students exempt)
  • Chemistry applicants: undergraduate coursework should include organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, and physical chemistry. Biochemistry applicants: undergraduate coursework should include biochemistry, physical chemistry, and organic chemistry
  • International applicants: University-mandated minimum score of 84 for the Internet-based TOEFL exam. Preference will be given to students with scores of 95 or higher.
  • GRE: The general exam is mandated. The department encourages submission of the "Chemistry" or "Biochemistry, Cell, and Molecular Biology" subject exam. The WPI GRE code is 3969.
  • Recommendations: 3 letters from individuals capable of evaluating your scientific credentials. Current graduate degree holders or students should provide at least 2 letters from individuals at the institution most recently attended


Is there a MS program in Chemistry and Biochemistry at WPI?

The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry does not consider applications for thesis-based M.S. degrees. The department does offer a coursework-based M.S. in Chemistry or in Biochemistry. The coursework M.S. is a part-time degree designed to meet the continuing education needs of industry professionals. Students must complete a minimum of 30 credits of 4000-level and 500-level coursework, of which no more than 9 credits may be laboratory-based research. As a part-time degree, financial support is not available for students seeking an M.S. degree. WPI's office of Graduate Admissions maintains a FAQ regarding Financing Graduate Study.


In what areas can Ph.D. students at WPI execute research to complete a thesis?

Laboratory research provides the foundation for a WPI PhD in chemistry. The research directed by our faculty blends traditional chemistry training – organic, inorganic, physical – with interdisciplinary approaches to solve critical scientific problems. Research groups at WPI are developing environmentally friendly methods to synthesize essential chemical intermediates, devising new routes to access important pharmaceutical agents, preparing organic and inorganic materials for solar energy conversion, and designing functional molecules for a variety of applications. Research programs are funded by major grants from the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health as well as other private and governmental agencies. The scientific advances made by our students and faculty are routinely published in major national and international journals, and have been granted patents. WPI PhD students acquire important skills while making significant contributions to the field of chemical sciences.


Detailed Program Requirements

  • Competency in core chemistry and/or biochemistry coursework
  • 2nd year research presentation
  • Qualifying exam on an original research proposal
  • Written thesis and defense


Graduate student FAQs

  • Graduate students enrolled full-time towards the Ph.D. degree receive generous stipends as a teaching assistant (TA) or a research assistant (RA)
  • Full-time student benefits include a student health insurance plan, a tuition waiver, and modern family leave policies
  • Enrolled students can apply for internal funding that subsidizes travel to national and international conferences to present their research findings.
  • Housing resources