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Application, Admission & Financial Support for Graduate Programs

Application

To be considered for graduate studies in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, a potential student needs to apply to the South Dakota State University (SDSU) Graduate School for admission. Applications are completed and submitted online.

A complete application consists of (1) application form, (2) undergraduate transcripts from accredited institutions the student has attended (formal diplomas are not required), (3) resume or curriculum vitae, (4) a personal goal statement, and (5) at least three letters of recommendation. In addition, SDSU requires proof of immunization when applying.

Applicants use the one- to two-page personal statement to describe their interest in and motivation for graduate study in chemistry or biochemistry, and their career goals. The statement should include a description of undergraduate research, work experience, or other factors demonstrating a propensity toward graduate studies.

Applicants should provide contact information to the Graduate School of persons who will provide recommendation letters on their behalf. The Graduate School will email recommenders detailed instructions for submitting their recommendations using the contact information. Recommendation letters should be written by mentors and colleagues, preferably at least one from faculty at the applicant’s undergraduate institution, who are familiar with the applicant’s academic record and accomplishment. They must address the applicant’s intellectual abilities and may also speak to the applicant’s potential for graduate studies in the discipline. Recommendation letter, as well as the personal recommendation form provided by the Graduate School, are submitted directly to the Graduate School.

Note that GRE (Graduate Record Examination) scores are not required when applying for the Chemistry and Biochemistry graduate program. An applicant may submit GRE scores as part of the application. When evaluating, we take a holistic review of applications, considering all information submitted during the application process.

A professional academic transcript evaluation is required for degrees earned outside the United States. The evaluation usually provides language translation, if the transcripts are not in English. This requirement cannot be waived unless the applicant’s highest degree was earned or will be earned in the U.S. prior to enrollment at SDSU.

For applicants whose native language is not English or the official language of instruction in the undergraduate institution(s) the applicants has attended is not English, the Graduate School requires a minimum IELTS score of 5.5 or a minimum TOEFL score of 527 paper-based, 197 computer-based, or 71 Internet-based.

In the application form, the applicant must select Chemistry or Biochemistry and the degree program (M.S., Ph.D., or Chemical Education online M.S.) as the program he or she wishes to be considered. In addition, the applicant needs to indicate the academic year and semester to begin the graduate program if admitted. New graduate students in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry usually begin in the fall semester (August) of an academic year. In order to be considered for that academic year and semester, the application needs to be submitted by the beginning (usually January 15) of the same calendar year.

The Graduate School forwards an application to the graduate program in a department for consideration only when the application is complete.

Admission

All competed applications are evaluated by the department Graduate Admission and Advisory Committee. The committee evaluates the applicant’s preparation and aptitude for graduate studies by considering such factors as motivation for graduate work, undergraduate coursework, science GPA, interest and experience in chemistry and/or biochemistry research, and assessment by recommendation letter writers. The committee looks for evidence of adequate undergraduate work in chemistry and/or biochemistry courses and related science and math courses. Prior participation in research beyond coursework by an applicant is considered strong evidence of research interest and experience.

After completing a thorough evaluation, the committees makes the decision on admission to the program or not. If the decision is to admit, the Graduate Schools offers admission to the applicant. The offer is usually followed by a letter from the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry regarding financial support (see next). The applicant is usually requested to respond to the offer from the Graduate School following a reasonable period of time.

Each year, only a limited number, typically about ten, of new graduate students may be admitted to the Chemistry and Biochemistry program. Applications completed early in the process, by January of a calendar year, receive full consideration. Applications received after that may be considered for admission only when new graduate student positions are still available.

Financial Support

Graduate students in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry often receive financial support from the department, usually in the form of graduate teaching assistantship (GTA) or graduate research assistantship (GRA). Applicants desiring such financial support should indicate so in their application.

The financial support is consisted of tuition waiver and a stipend. The tuition waiver covers all graduate courses at SDSU. Admitted applicants are guaranteed an annual (12 months) stipend for the first two years in the graduate program, provided the students meet GTA or GRA performance criteria, which are usually specified in the financial support offer letter, during these years. The stipend amount may vary slightly. Currently, the minimum graduate assistantship stipend in the department is approximately $22,300 per year.

Following the first two years, graduate students may continue to receive financial support, if they make adequate progress in the degree programs and meet GTA or GRA performance criteria. Most chemistry and biochemistry graduate students receive financial support at least four years, often over the duration of their graduate studies.

Financial support in the form of scholarship or fellowship from SDSU or the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry is rare. Applicants in search of such support need to contact the department during the application process.

Applicants with personal funds or government fellowship to support their graduate study should indicate so in their application.