Frequently Asked Questions
To apply to our program, please select "Natural Sciences & Mathematics" for Area of Study and "Chemistry" for Program.
When is the application deadline for Fall admission?
The Department of Chemistry application deadline is January 1st. We encourage you to apply as early as possible; applications open on August 1st. The admissions committee will meet regularly throughout the fall and we sometimes make early offers of admission soon after an application is complete. If you have completed all parts, please encourage your recommenders to upload their supporting letters as early as possible.
What qualifications are most important when evaluating candidates?
We use a holistic review process and take into account your grades (particularly in STEM coursework), GRE scores, letters of recommendation, and your statement of purpose. Our aim is to determine how you and your goals fit into our research environment. A Ph.D. in Chemistry is a research degree. As such, meaningful research experiences are particularly important to the review committee. This can be in the form of undergraduate research at your home institution, summer research experiences (such as NSF REUs), or internships. Recommendation letters from your research mentors are very valuable.
What information should I be prepared to submit for my application?
- Transcripts (unofficial is fine)
- Contact information for recommenders
- Statement of Purpose (include previous research experience, current interests, and career goals)
- GRE Scores* (Note: ETS offers a limited number of GRE Fee Reduction Vouchers)
- Language Test Scores (international applicants who completed their pre-doctoral training outside of the US)
*The Department of Chemistry Graduate Program has historically required scores from the General GRE Exam for applicants as part of a holistic review process. The Chemistry GRE Exam has been encouraged, but optional. For admissions to our program in Fall 2021, due January 1, 2021, applications will be fully considered without scores from the GRE Exams.
How can I write an effective Statement of Purpose?
You should provide a mature synopsis of your academic journey and previous research experiences that highlights your contributions to the project. The Statement of Purpose also gives you an opportunity to tell us about your inspiration and expectations for graduate education (at Vanderbilt in particular), and your future career aspirations. You can also highlight your individual strengths, leadership skills, and independence.
We also look for applicants to discuss their current research interests; this is an opportunity for you to mention specific research groups that attract you to Vanderbilt. We realize that research interests can evolve and such statements do not commit you to any particular research group.
If needed, the statement of purpose is also an opportunity to briefly explain any irregularities in your transcript or employment/education history, which might influence how we view your application.
For more ideas, please see the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program’s prompts for their Personal, Relevant Background and Future Goals Statement
Does Vanderbilt have an application fee?
Yes, the application fee is $95. You may be eligible for a fee waiver. A list of qualifying circumstances is available on the Graduate School Application Information Page.
Is the GRE Subject test required?
We do not require the GRE Chemistry Subject Test, but it is encouraged.
What are the minimum required GRE scores?
We do not use minimum scores for any section of the GRE test. Scores are evaluated in combination with all other aspects of a candidate's application. Similarly, we do not have a GPA minimum.
Will I be able to visit Vanderbilt if I am accepted?
Due to COVID-19, we will be unable to host prospective students. Our virtual Graduate Recruiting Weekend will take place March 12-13, 2021 for students accepted into our program.
I am considering graduate programs but have not yet applied. I will be in Nashville for other reasons. Can I visit your department?
Due to COVID-19 concerns, we are unable to host visiting prospective students at this time.
How are graduate students in the Chemistry PhD program funded?
All Chemistry graduate students (domestic and international) at Vanderbilt University receive a yearly stipend of $30,000, full tuition scholarship, and health insurance coverage. Financial support is normally in the form of a graduate teaching assistantship (TA). TA responsibilities include supervision of undergraduate laboratories and grading. Senior TAs also lead recitation sections and advanced laboratories. Most of our senior graduate students are supported as research assistants by their research advisor, or through competitive traineeships or fellowships.
We encourage all students to apply for fellowships and scholarships, such as the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. Students can apply for the NSF GRF once as an undergraduate and once as a graduate student. We provide our first-year students with training in grant writing through our Professional Development course. A number of our graduate students have successfully competed for NSF GRF awards.
Other agencies and foundations that provide graduate fellowship in STEM areas include the National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship, the Soros Fellowship for New Americans, the Xerox Technical Minority Scholarship, the Ford Foundation, and others.
Do you accept students for the spring semester?
Our first-year curriculum is largely based on Fall entry and the majority of admissions are for the Fall semester. However, we will consider students for Spring admissions on a case-by-case basis.
I am interested in other graduate programs at Vanderbilt. Can I apply to both?
Yes. You may apply to more than one graduate program through Slate, our online application portal. You only pay one application fee, but each program will review your application independently to determine admission to that specific program.
Some Chemistry Faculty are members of complementary graduate programs such as the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences (IGP), Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Materials Science (IGPMS), Biological Sciences, and Quantitative and Chemical Biology (QCB). As such, they can take students into their labs through these others graduate programs. The degree requirements and/or course progression of these other programs differ from those of Chemistry. The application review process for each of these programs is completely independent from that of the Chemistry program.
What if I have other questions?
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for program-related questions.
The American Chemical Society’s Committee on Professional Training is an outstanding resource for students considering graduate work in chemistry.