Your  Account:
CSTEM College of Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics

Prospective Students

Dear Prospective Graduate Student,

Thank you for your interest in our graduate program in Chemistry. Our faculty have designed a program that will provide students advanced knowledge and training in chemistry.  Graduates with an M.S. in Chemistry will be prepared to continue study at the Ph.D. level, to pursue careers in private industry or government affiliated labs, and/or to teach at the community college level.  In addition to course work, the student will participate in original research culminating in a written thesis, its defense, and a public presentation.

We are very excited about our program and are pleased that you are interested in joining us.  Some of the special features of this program include:   

  • Research-based MS degree that includes a written thesis and oral presentation,
  • Close, individual guidance by highly trained faculty.
  • Incorporation of science pedagogy and teaching experience, and
  • Well-equipped, modern laboratory facilities.

Because our degree is research based, each student is paired with a faculty advisor in the area of their interests.  Prospective students are highly encouraged to contact faculty members directly before applying to the program to discuss research opportunities.  The ability of a faculty member to take on new graduate students changes frequently, and space may be limited in the program.  In order to pursue the Master of Science Degree in Chemistry, you must make separate applications to, and be accepted by, both the University and the Department. Applications to the University and information on admission requirements may be requested from the Office of Admissions, (760) 750-4848. The University application and fee pay system is online and can be found on the main school website.

Applicants must meet the following qualifications to be considered for program admission:

  1. Applicants must meet the general requirements for admission to graduate studies at California State University San Marcos. These are described in this catalog under Graduate Studies in the section titled “Admission Requirements for Graduates and Post-Baccalaureate Students.”
  2. The applicant must have earned a bachelor's degree with a major in chemistry, biochemistry, biology, biotechnology, or related field. Students with majors in other areas may also be accepted contingent upon their satisfactory demonstration of competence in either chemistry or biochemistry depending on which option they intend to pursue (see below).
  3. The applicant must have maintained a minimum overall GPA of 2.8, and a minimum major GPA of 3.0. Conditional admission may be granted to applicants who do not meet this requirement.
  4. The applicant must have completed the following prerequisite courses (or their equivalent): one year of Calculus, CHEM 202L, CHEM 275, CHEM 401. In addition, applicants who wish to pursue the chemistry option should have completed CHEM 402, 404, and CHEM 416, and those who wish to pursue the biochemistry option should have completed BIOL 210 and CHEM 351 (or CHEM 341). Applicants who either received their bachelor’s degrees two or more years prior to their expected entry into the program, or who received a grade of less than B in any of the prerequisite courses listed above, may be accepted to the program contingent upon their demonstration of competence within each sub-field by passing the appropriate ACS placement exams, or GRE subject tests either before or during their first semester in the program. Students failing to show competence in this manner will be required to take and pass (with a minimum grade of B) an appropriate undergraduate-level course.  
  5. All  applicants, regardless of citizenship, who do not possess a bachelor’s degree from a post-secondary institution where English is the principal language of instruction, must satisfy the English language proficiency requirement as described in this catalog under Graduate Studies in the section titled “English Language Admission Requirements for Graduate and  Post-Baccalaureate Applicants.”
  6. All applicants are required to complete the general test of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). GRE subject tests in either Biochemistry, Cell & Molecular Biology, or Chemistry are recommended but not required. 

Applicants must submit the following items:

  1. A university application (available online through CalStateApply,
  2. The application fee (~$55).
  3. One set of official transcripts from all colleges/universities attended with indication of graduation (if not in English, certified English translations must be included).  Transcripts from CSUSM can be unofficial.
  4. Official GRE scores and, if applicable, TOEFL results. Note: GRE scores are no longer required, but if the score represents academic success and potential, please report.
  5. Three (3) letters of recommendation acknowledging the applicant’s academic capabilities. Two of these letters should come from individuals capable of commenting on the applicant’s potential for graduate-level research in chemistry/biochemistry. The last letter can be from an individual outside the applicant’s chosen field of study. Be sure to click on the ‘send invitation’ link next to each recommender’s contact info so they receive your request.
  6. Statement of research interests: It is encouraged to connect with Chemistry and Biochemistry faculty before you apply to establish a research plan.

Application Deadline 

Complete applications, including test scores, and recommendation letters, should be received in the program office by May 31 for admission into the Fall semester. However, applications will be accepted as long as space allows until June 30.  There is no Spring admission.     

Review and Acceptance  

All files received by the May 31 deadline will be reviewed by the Graduate Studies Committee for potential acceptance. Applicants who meet all CSUSM and prerequisites set by the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry (see above) will be admitted as classified graduate students. In addition, promising applicants who have deficiencies in specific admission criteria (i.e. missing one or more preparatory courses or minor GPA deficiencies) that can be remedied by additional preparation or coursework (see above), may be considered for admittance with conditional classification status. The procedure for removing the acceptance conditions will be detailed by the review committee in the acceptance letter. 

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. For a list of answers to frequently asked questions, please visit the Admissions website.

Afra Panahi, Ph.D.
Graduate Program Coordinator
Phone: (760) 750-8246