Skip to main content


The Chemistry graduate program

The Chemistry Graduate Program at Northwestern University  offers innovative chemistry, with unique strengths at the interfaces of materials science, catalysis, environmental sciences, molecular and cell biology, nanotechnology, and biomedical research. Our program is designed with the goal of providing our students with a firm foundation of chemical knowledge and exposure to cutting edge research projects with societal importance.


Our approximately 40 faculty include joint appointees from Physics, Molecular Biosciences, Chemical Engineering, and Materials Science.


The outstanding accomplishments of our doctoral students and alumni reflect the department's selective admission standards. All Ph.D. students receive broad training that prepares them equally well for careers in industry or academia.


In addition to the traditional divisions of Inorganic, Organic, and Physical, we also offer integrated programs in Environmental Chemistry, Chemistry of Life Processes, and Chemistry of Materials.


Recent discoveries in our department include:

  • Shunzhi Wang discovered that particles, below a critical size, in colloidal crystals behave like electrons as opposed to atoms and migrate through the lattice the way electrons do in metals.
  • Matt Ross showed that the enzyme bacteria used to selectively convert methane to methanol performs this difficult reaction using a single copper ion.
  • Samantha Clarke used diamond anvil cells as tiny transparent chemical reactors to create and understand the first copper bismuth binary compound.


The Graduate Program Office serves to assist graduate students navigate the Chemistry Graduate Program from start to finish.

  • Assist Admissions Committee with application reviews.
  • Communicate and assist new admits prior to starting the program.
  • Plan and execute visit weekend and orientation.
  • Assist scheduling QE's.
  • Help student navigate issues/concerns.
  • Serve as liaison for student groups.
  • Assist students preparing to defend.