Department of Chemistry Graduate Programs

The Portland State University Department of Chemistry boasts esteemed faculty who model innovative pedagogy in the University’s state-of-the-art teaching labs and classrooms, and access to unparalleled research and support facilities.

The Department offers graduate work leading to the following degrees: Master of Arts or Master of Science in Chemistry; Ph.D. in Chemistry.

Completing the master’s program typically requires two calendar years for those students holding teaching and /or research assistantships. Students with teaching and/or research assistantships normally complete the Ph.D. program within five years.

All graduate students in the Department of Chemistry complete a one-term course in seminar preparation and present a departmental seminar as well as a research seminar that forms the public part of the final oral examination. Ph.D. students must also present their research in a seminar to a multi-departmental audience.

A majority of our graduate students are pursuing the Ph.D. degree, in which original research is performed under the guidance of a faculty member to produce a written thesis. This option has been available to chemistry students at Portland State University since 1969.

The Department of Chemistry offers opportunities to conduct research on topics ranging from biophysics, catalysis, chemical biology, chemistry education, molecular imaging, nanotechnology, renewable energy, sensors, synthesis, therapeutics, and environmental,  green, materials, and systems chemistry. We invite you to visit our department. You will find our students, staff, and faculty to be friendly and accessible. Importantly, you will get a glimpse of what it is like to study at a outstanding university that has all the advantages of being located in a major city, but is surrounded by the beauty and recreational opportunities of the Pacific Northwest.


  • Advanced Knowledge: Graduate students will have and be able to apply advanced knowledge in specialized areas defined by their graduate program.
  • Methods: Graduate students will have and be able to apply skills in appropriate methods of analysis, whether quantitative or qualitative, or both, to collect and integrate information in ways consistent with the highest standards of their discipline.
  • Research: Graduate students will conduct research that results in an original contribution to knowledge, according to the standards of their discipline, including as appropriate both independent and collaborative research, and in conformity with all standards for responsible conduct of research.
  • Pedagogy: Graduate students will participate in training for teaching and apply their skills in the classroom consistent with their disciplinary norms, in undergraduate or other settings in their own or other disciplines.
  • Communication: Graduate students will have and apply skills in scholarly communication, applied in oral, text, and digital formats consistent with the highest standards of their discipline.
  • Professionalism: Graduate students will engage with the structure of their discipline and their intended career placement as professions, including the legal and ethical dimensions


    Admission to the graduate program requires a background equivalent to that of a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry or Biochemistry, although minor deficiencies can be made up during the first year. The Department welcomes applications for fall term (late-September) admission.


    • The deadline for applications to the Master of Science and Ph.D. programs to arrive at the chemistry department is January 15. Applications received after this date may not be considered for admission
    • The deadline for applications to the Master of Arts program to arrive at the chemistry department is April 1. Applications received after this date may not be considered for admission


    Applicants to the masters or doctoral programs should have training equivalent to that of an undergraduate chemistry or biochemistry major, including coursework in the fundamental areas of chemistry (organic, physical, analytical, biological, and inorganic). It is assumed that an applicant will possess a good working knowledge of mathematics and physics. Graduate Record Exams (GRE) are not required for our program. You will also be asked to submit the following:

    • Transcripts for all of your higher education experience
    • Some international students are required to take an English proficiency exam results. Requirements, accepted exams, and required scores are outlined on the Graduate Admissions website
      • If you are required to complete one of these tests, please notify the test center that you are applying to Portland State University; if you did not do so at the time of the test you should contact them with this information prior to submitting your application


    Applications to a graduate program in chemistry at Portland State University are completed via an online application form. Please contact or 503-725-8756 to inquire with any questions. All application fees for the graduate program are waived. 

    The curriculum, faculty, library, and facilities of the Department of Chemistry are accredited by the American Chemical Society (ACS). Graduating chemistry majors are eligible for certification to become members of the ACS after two years of professional service.


    Please refer to the Portland State University Class Schedule website for registration and information and to the Portland State University Bulletin for official information about courses, degree programs, and requirements.

    The following courses are regularly offered at OHSU and may be relevant to a course of study in chemistry. Portland State graduate students may take OHSU coursework for PSU credit (please review the Office of Graduate Studies' website for information on joint campus registration and contact the PSU Department of Chemistry). Please consult the OHSU course schedule for more information.

    • Fall
      • CONJ 661    Protein and nucleic acid structure
      • CONJ 670    Foundations of measurement science
      • CEBS 515    Environmental and biomolecular history of Earth
    • Winter
      • CONJ 663    Biochemistry of gene regulation and expression
      • CONJ 671    Analysis in quantitative bioscience
      • EBS 535    Chemistry of organic contaminants
    • Spring
      • CONJ 669    Chemical biology
      • EBS 516    Metals in environment and human health


    Students are invited to chat with Dean Atkinson, Interim Chair of the Department of Chemistry, via Zoom on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 9:30 - 11 AM. Please join to ask questions, get some advising, and/or provide feedback on how things are going in our classes!