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About the Graduate Programs

Welcome to the Department of Chemistry at the University of Tennessee. We offer a long-standing tradition of excellence in chemical research and education, stretching from 1947, when the department granted the University’s first PhD degree, to the present. Our 26 faculty members have research interests that both span the traditional areas of chemistry and encompass new interdisciplinary fields such as materials chemistry, chemistry of the life sciences, and environmental chemistry.

The research achievements of the UT Chemistry faculty have been recognized nationally and internationally. Three members of the department are fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Our faculty also boasts several winners of the NSF CAREER award and its predecessor, the National Young Investigator award. Members of the faculty have been commended for innovative research and teaching by the Dreyfus Foundation, the American Chemical Society, the American Physical Society, and the Department of Energy.

We offer PhD and MS degrees in analytical, inorganic, organic, physical, and polymer chemistry. PhD students may also specialize in theoretical chemistry or may, in cooperation with the Department of Physics, pursue a degree in chemical physics. The University’s graduate catalog outlines the requirements for both PhD and MS degrees.

Fast Facts

  • UT Chemistry has one of the highest compensation packages in the Southeast starting at over $26,000 per year.
  • Close ties with Oak Ridge National Lab
  • Many fellowships for qualified students which raise stipend substantially
  • Assistantship includes fully paid health insurance and a full tuition waiver
  • Cost of living in Knoxville is 9% below the National Average
  • Annual research funding exceeds $4 million
  • 26 full-time faculty with an expertise in a range of traditional chemistry fields, 7 new faculty in the past 5 years!
  • The Department of Chemistry granted the university’s first PhD degree in 1947.
  • State-of-the-art facilities
  • Additional full-time support facilities: Electronic Shop, Machine Shop, Glass Shop, and Chem Stores.
  • University of Tennessee Knoxville chemistry program ranks in Top 100 Chemistry Schools in USA. Also ranked in the top 25 best chemistry programs in the south. 


The following are answers to commonly asked questions. Please click on the question to view the answer. If this does not answer your specific question please contact

I am interested in UT Chemistry – How do I apply for the Graduate Program?

Applying to the Graduate Program in Chemistry is also an application for a Graduate Teaching Assistantship. This is done on our simple online application system. Follow the instructions and upload supporting documents and submit the names of three or more references for your application. More details about the application process can be found here.

Is the GRE required?

The GRE test is recommended, but not required. This score must be less than 3 years old for the date of admission you are requesting. (University Code: 1843) If you do not submit a GRE score, it will not hurt your application. Please feel free to submit your score if you believe it might strengthen your application.

What is the application deadline for your program?

For International Students the application deadline is February 1st, for domestic students or students getting their degree within the U.S. there is no deadline for admissions. With that being said we encourage each student, International or Domestic to begin applying as early as possible. Each year the review process will start in November and continue until all positions are filled.

What test scores am I required to submit?

International students are also required to submit a score for the TOEFL iBT. Each of these tests can be taken through Educational Testing Services.

Are there specific GPAs, GRE, and language scores you look for?

We do not look for specific grade point averages or test scores as they are just pieces of the whole picture of an applicant. The Graduate School holds a requirement that U.S. Degree holders must have earned a 2.7 out of a possible 4.0 GPA or a minimum of 3.0 during the senior year of undergraduate study. Foreign degree holders must have earned a minimum of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale or other equivalent to a ‘B’ average.

For international students, English speaking ability is judged from iBT. The Chemistry Department prefers you to have a minimum total of 98 with a sub-speak score of 22.

What are the benefits I receive as a graduate teaching assistant?

As a graduate teaching assistant, your benefits are many. You will receive a tuition waiver that covers the cost of tuition for the credits you take each semester. In addition, you will receive an annual stipend You will also receive health benefits provided to you through United Healthcare.

When and how are advisers chosen?

Advisers can be chosen prior to your arrival, however, as a part of the selection process, we ask that you speak with several faculty members to find the advisor that offers you the best opportunity to succeed in graduate school. The process of adviser selection begins in September of the first semester of graduate school and has usually concluded by late November of that first semester.

What is my expected course load?

Course loads vary depending on academic concentration within the graduate program and if there are deficiencies that call for courses to be taken. The typical course load for graduate students is 7-9 hours per semester for 3-4 semesters. There are no graduate-level courses offered during the summers but you are required to be registered for Chemistry 500 or 600 (use of facilities) to maintain your graduate student status.

What is my expected teaching load?

Teaching loads also vary by course and schedule. Typically our graduate students are committed to 10-20 hours per week in teaching duties. This includes class time, lab time(s), grading, office hours, and tutorial center hours.