Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Harvard University

Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Harvard University

Cambridge, MA
student ratio
total students
Not Reported
average amount to complete degree
December 1
fall application deadline
acceptance rate
4 Degrees Offered
degrees offered


The Harvard Chemistry and Chemical Biology Department Fosters Success through Its Programs

In keeping with Harvard's tradition of excellence, the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology strives to offer the most effective programs that will result in the greatest success for its graduates. Recognizing the importance of diversity as well, the department offers a program of study that leads to the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Chemistry in the special fields of biological, inorganic, organic, and physical chemistry. Considering the special relationship between chemistry and physics, an interdepartmental Ph.D. program in chemical physics is also available.

Plan of Study Strategically Combines Individual Aspirations with School Expectations

Upon entering the program, students first formulate a plan of study that best relates to their desires and interests in consultation with a Curriculum Advising Committee. Students must obtain honor grades in four advanced half courses (five for chemical physics). The course work is usually expected to be completed by the end of the second term of residence.

Although the curriculum for Harvard's chemistry Ph.D. degree includes the course, research proposal, and oral defense requirements, the majority of the graduate student's time and energy is devoted to their original investigations in their chosen field of research, again highlighting the interests and aspirations of each individual. Students are expected to join a research group in their second term of residence, but no later than the third.

The Ph.D. dissertation is based on independent, scholarly research, which, upon conclusion, is defended in an oral examination before a Ph.D. committee. The preparation of a satisfactory thesis normally requires at least four years of full-time research. A very interactive and supportive social structure within the department promotes a high quality of life for graduate students while achieving a high level of success.

At Harvard University, Student Education Is Strengthened through Diversity, Exposure, and Opportunity

Students are exposed to the unique science and environment of different laboratories through the laboratory rotation system, allowing a student's perspective to be broadened. To achieve such, first-year graduate students must participate in at least two rotations, which they may request from within the department or in one of the affiliated department laboratories.

The rotations require a total of 12 weeks, divided as three 4-week rotations in three different labs or one 8-week and one 4-week rotation in two different labs. To achieve maximum familiarity with varied research areas, students are encouraged to pursue at least three different rotations prior to selecting their research adviser.

For further experience, students are expected to participate as Teaching Fellows in either sections or laboratories for two terms. This teaching generally takes place in the spring term of the first year and the fall term of the second year.

Also, for the purpose of expanding the base knowledge of each student and helping to select research projects that are productive and interesting, graduate students are expected to present and defend an independent research proposal. This usually takes place anytime between the first term of the second year and the end of the fourth year. Topics for the research proposal are required to be different from students' Ph.D. research problems and will be chosen in collaboration with their adviser.

Students Find Interaction and Support through Graduate Advising Committee

Harvard's Graduate Advising Committee (GAC) offers much support and social interaction to help students achieve success. The three objectives of the committee are to bring clarity and aid in the timely completion of the degree requirements, to encourage non-adviser faculty-staff interactions, and to provide career counseling. The GAC is comprised of two faculty members in addition to the student's adviser. The GAC generally forms the Dissertation Defense Committee, although that is not required.

State-of-the-Art Research and Laboratory Facilities and Extensive Library Collection Promote Success

The Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology offers over 265,000 square feet of state-of-the-art laboratories, which are a major part of the Cabot Sciences Complex. Housed in five buildings -- Edward Mallinckrodt Chemical Laboratory, James Bryant Conant Laboratory, Converse Memorial Laboratory, Bauer Laboratory, and the new Naito Laboratory -- the laboratories are located conveniently in a group with the Fairchild Laboratory of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and with the Hoffman Geological Laboratories.

The department offers many sophisticated and powerful research instruments, such as nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometers, mass spectrometers optimized for analysis of biomolecules or small molecules, chromatography and sequencing equipment, and single crystal X-ray diffractometers.

In addition, students will discover why the Chemistry and Chemical Biology Library has been recognized as one of the country's best. Located in the Converse Memorial Laboratory, the extensive library collection includes primary literature published in journals; graduate textbooks; monographs and serials in the areas of inorganic and bioinorganic chemistry, medicinal chemistry, biochemistry, and chemical biology; and some material in the fields of molecular biology, physics, and surface science.

Location & Contact

Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
Harvard University

Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Carol Gonzaga

Assistant Director of Administration

Phone: 617-495-5696

Graduate Admissions Office

Phone: 617-496-3208

Request More Info

Degrees & Award

  • Degrees Offered
    • Major Degree Levels Offered
    • Biochemical Chemistry Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
    • Physical Chemistry Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
    • Inorganic Chemistry Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
    • Organic Chemistry Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
  • Degrees Awarded
    • Master's Degrees 20
    • Doctoral Degrees 33
    • First Professional Degrees Not reported
    • Other Advanced Degrees Not reported
    • * Shows the number of degrees awarded for the last academic year that data was reported.
  • Earning Your Degree
    • Part-time study available? No
    • Evening/weekend programs available? No
    • Distance learning programs available? Not reported
    • Terminal master's degree available? Not reported
  • Degree Requirements
    • Master's Degrees Not reported
    • Doctoral Degrees
    • First Professional Degrees Not reported
    • Other Advanced Degrees Not reported


23% of applicants are admitted.
  • Acceptance Rate
    • Applied 346
    • Accepted 83
    • Acceptance Rate 23
    • Enrolled Not Reported
  • Applying
    • Application Fee - Domestic $105
    • Application Fee - International $105
    • Electronic applications accepted? No
    • Applications processed on a rolling basis? Not Reported
  • Application Deadlines
    • Type Domestic International Priority Date
    • Fall deadline December 1st Not Reported Not Reported
    • Winter deadline Not Reported Not Reported Not Reported
    • Spring deadline Not Reported Not Reported Not Reported
  • Entrance Requirements
    • Master's DegreesGRE General Test
    • Doctoral's DegreesGRE General Test, GRE Subject Test
    • First-Professional's DegreesNot Reported
    • Other Advanced DegreesNot Reported
    • International DegreesTOEFL required

Tuition & Fees

  • Tuition & Fees *
    • Tuition & FeesNot Reported
    • *Average dollar amount (tuition & fees) required to complete the degree
  • Financial Support
    • Financial award applicants must submitNot Reported
    • Application deadlines for financial awardsDecember 30
    • Types of financial support availableCareer or Field-Related Internships, Federal Work-Study, Institutionally-sponsored Loans

Student Body

  • Gender
    • Total Graduate Students188
    • Female Percentage19%
    • Male Percentage81%
  • Participation
    • Total Graduate Students188
    • Part-time Percentage0%
    • Full-time Percentage100%
  • Ethnicity
    • Hispanic / LatinoNot Reported
    • Black / African AmericanNot Reported
    • White / CaucasianNot Reported
    • American Indian / Alaskan NativeNot Reported
    • AsianNot Reported
    • Native Hawaiian / Other Pacific IslanderNot Reported
    • Two or more racesNot Reported
    • UnknownNot Reported