Current students can find useful information related to their studies below.
For any further inquiries please email Graduate Studies - Chemistry.
Graduate Handbook & Scholarship Information
Explore our Guide to Graduate Studies in Chemistry and discover the exciting opportunities our Department can provide.Download the Chemistry Graduate Studies Handbook
Most of our graduate courses are offered on a two-year rotation. To see which courses are offered in a particular year and learn other details, consult the Current Graduate Course Timetables - Fall 2021 and Winter 2022 (TBD). Please refer to the current Graduate Calendar or Mosaic for the most complete information.
- Courses available for graduate credit are numbered 700 or 600 level (eg, CHEM 771 or CHEM 6113)
- Courses at the 700 level are normally restricted in enrollment to graduate students
- Courses at the 600 level are senior undergraduate courses that are available to graduate students
- Only one 600-level course may be taken for credit; graduate students taking 600-level courses are typically required to do extra course work, as determined by the course instructor
- 700 level courses are modules, which are 6 weeks in duration, typically with 3 hours of lectures per week
- 600 level courses are 1 term (approximately 12 weeks) in duration, typically with 3 hours of lectures per week
- Both 700 and 600 level courses count as 1 module credit
Brief descriptions of all graduate modules are available below. Note that not all graduate courses are offered in a given year. Students are free to include Education *750 (Principles and Practice of University Teaching) in their program, but this cannot be counted towards their course requirements for the degree.
Approximately 15 different 6-week graduate modules are offered every year in three time slots: the 2nd half of the Fall term, and both halves of the Winter term. The detailed course requirements for the MSc and PhD degrees are described in the Guide to Graduate Studies in Chemistry and Graduate Calendar (for Chemistry M.Sc. or Ph.D. students). Modules marked with a (+) sign may be taken more than once for credit, so long as the topic is substantially different.
- *6OA3 / Natural Products
- *6OB3 / Polymers and Organic Materials
- *6IC3 / Solid State Chemistry
- *6II3 / Transition Metal Organometallic Chemistry and Catalysis
- *6AA3 / Recent Advances in Analytical Chemistry
- *6PB3 / Computational Models for Electronic Structure and Chemical Bonding
Required Course for all New Graduate Students
Prescribed Courses in Analytical Chemistry
- #708 / Analytical Separation Science
- #711 / Chemometrics
- #757 / Application of Lab-on-a-Chip Devices
Prescribed Courses in Inorganic Chemistry
- #715 / Organometallic Chemistry of the Transition Metals, Lanthanides and Actinides
- #717 / Main Group Chemistry
- #725 / Group Theory
- #727 / Symmetry & Properties of Solids
- #743 / Inorganic Problems
Prescribed Courses in Organic Chemistry
- #753 / Organic Photochemistry
- #754 / Physical Organic Chemistry
- #758 / Bio-Organic Chemistry
- #760 / Principles of Organic Synthesis
- #765 / Advanced Polymer Chemistry
Prescribed Courses in Physical Chemistry
- #703 / Numerical Methods and Computational Chemistry
- #725 / Group Theory
- #727 / Symmetry and Properties of Solids
- #749 / Introduction to Biomolecular NMR
- #770 / Molecular Electronic Structure Theory
- #776 / Spectroscopy
- #778 / Solid State Surface Science
- #784 / Physical Chemistry of Materials
Other Available Courses
- #730 / X-Ray Theory
- #736 / X-Ray Structure Determination
- #737 / Mass Spectrometry
- #740 / Basic Theory of 1D & 2D NMR Spectroscopy
- #799 / Special Topics
Required for All New Graduate Students
Chem 700 – Tools for the Chemical Profession
Chemistry is a discipline that involves creativity, imagination and fundamental knowledge of the properties of matter, and the how and why matter undergoes certain changes. A degree in chemistry provides a foundation of knowledge and skills with which to pursue a career in this area. Nevertheless, the modern chemist requires an expanded set of skills to work effectively in industry, government, biomedical and clinical labs, academia and other workplaces. These are often called “soft skills”, “student skills”, or “professional skills”, and they are the skills that take chemistry graduates beyond knowledge acquired in the classroom and research laboratory and turn them into chemistry professionals.
The main objective of the course is to provide an introduction to a range of professional skills that will be useful to students not only throughout their graduate degree, but also in their future careers. The course will focus on the topics of Graduate School, Safety, Ethics in Science, Equity Diversity and Inclusion in Science, Scientific Literacy, and Effective Written and Oral Science Communication. The course will be delivered in the form of presentations, panel discussions, and interactive activities, and will also involve the discussion of recent cases and publications.
Chem 708 – Analytical Separation Science
The principles and applications of modern chromatographic separations, including the interfacing of separations techniques with spectroscopic and mass spectrometric detectors. This course will focus primarily on gas chromatography and liquid chromatography, recognizing that these methods are still the principal separation techniques used today. The course will also discuss recent developments in chromatographic methods. Since the majority of the students who will take this course are non-specialists in this area, the course will focus on practical applications with a lesser emphasis on detailed theoretical aspects of chromatographic processes.
Chem 711 – Chemometrics
The aim of this module is to introduce some modern statistical methods in chemistry. In many cases, we have masses of data, but the main problem is analysing and understanding it. With spreadsheet programs and other accessible software, it is now possible to do this routinely. Topics to be covered will include data acquisition, experimental design, filtering and fitting data to mathematical models. The approach will be fairly simple and open to students without a lot of sophisticated mathematical background.
Chem 757 – Applications of Lab-on-a-Chip Devices
Lab-on-a-chip (LOC) devices are miniaturized systems that provide the ability to synthesize, process, separate, detect and quantify compounds (eg, small molecules, biomolecules or cells) of interest using small volumes. These devices typically convey the advantages that small amounts of reagents are consumed and can lead to high sensitivity, selectivity and fast response times in analytical applications. Thus, LOC devices have garnered significant attention for analytical separations, sensors and point of care diagnotics. The main objective of the course is to provide an overview of LOC technology, from the design and fabrication of microfluidic devices to elements used for processing samples within the LOC devices and integrated detectors that enable the quantitative measurement of analyte levels in the sample. The course will focus on current applications and innovative techniques arising from LOC technology. The course will also involve the review of current literature and the discussion of scientific papers in a discussion-panel format, where the discussion leader will introduce the manuscript, guide the discussion and critique of the scientific content and LOC technology.
Chem 715 – Organometallic Chemistry of the Transition Metals, Lanthanides and Actinides
This course is focused on the organometallic chemistry of d- and f-elements. Content will include organometallic ligands and metal-ligand bonding, organometallic reactions and mechanisms, applications of organometallic chemistry in catalysis, and recent advances in the field. This course is not expected to be a first course in the subject (i.e. students taking this course are expected to have reasonable prior knowledge of transition metal and organometallic chemistry; for students who are interested in taking an introductory course in organometallic chemistry, a 600-level course on the subject, CHEM 6II3, is offered, typically every 2 years).
Chem 717 – Main Group Chemistry
The course content varies from year to year and is meant to reflect current developments in the field. Among the topics considered are main-group clusters species, hetero- and homo-polyatomic chalcogenide cations and anions of groups 3 - 5, sulfur-nitrogen rings and cages, multiple bonding among the main-group elements, weakly coordinating anions of the main-group and noble-gas chemistry.
Chem 725 – Group Theory
The principles of group theory and its application to atomic and molecular electronic structure. Basic Aspects: symmetry elements and operations; matrix representations; great orthogonality theorem; character tables; special groups. Techniques: reduction of representations; symmetry aspects of wave functions and quantum mechanical integrals; direct sum and direct product representations; projection operators; SALCs. Applications to Electronic Structure: atomic symmetry; angular momentum coupling; irreducible tensor methods; Wigner-Eckart theorem; p-MO theory; s- & p-treatments of small organic molecules; M.O. theory of organometallic compounds. The different instructors place emphasis on different applications of group theory in chemistry, such as molecular orbital theory of inorganic compounds, electronic spectroscopy, or vibrational spectroscopy.
Chem 727 – Symmetry, Physical Properties and Electronic Structure of Solids
This module will focus on advanced aspects of symmetry and electronic structure and their relationship to the physical properties. Topics to be covered will include electronic instabilities and the associated symmetry-breaking phenomena. The module is primarily aimed at Chemistry students but may also be of interest to students in Physics or Materials Science. Basic knowledge of solid-state chemistry is expected but not a pre-requisite.
Chem 743 – Inorganic Problems
The NMR spectroscopy of the less common nuclides (excluding 1H, 2H, 13C, 31P, 19F) is treated. The factors influencing chemical shifts and coupling constants among heavy nuclides are discussed and illustrated. Special consideration is given to factors influencing the observation of quadrupolar nuclides and their couplings and to the interpretation of first and second order spectra arising from isotopomeric distributions in which spin-spin coupling is observed.
Chem 753 – Organic Photochemistry
Prerequisite: Chem 780 - Molecular Photophysics.
Techniques and Methods in Experimental Organic Photochemistry; cis,trans-Photoisomerization of Alkenes and Dienes; Inter- and Intramolecular Photoreactions of Aromatic Ketones; Photopericyclic Reactions; Photochemical Cycloaddition Reactions; The Di-pi-Methane Rearrangement; Photoinduced Electron Transfer Reactions.
Chem 754 – Physical Organic Chemistry
An introduction to basic concepts in physical organic chemistry and the study of organic reaction mechanisms: kinetics and thermodynamics; thermochemistry; isotope effects; acid/base catalysis; linear free energy relationships.
Chem 758 – Bio-organic Chemistry
The Chemistry of Natural Products is described with particular emphasis on the biosynthetic pathways used by cells to assemble this large group of organic compounds. The course is offered in two parts, either of which may be taken individually. Students should be aware, however, that both parts should be taken in order to cover the field comprehensively. Students taking a second credit in this course may be evaluated by a modified method from those who take the course for the first credit. The two parts will normally be offered in alternating years. Part A covers an introduction to natural products and their biosynthesis, as well as the techniques used to determine biosynthetic pathways experimentally. Metabolites derived from acetate are then examined. These include the fatty acids, prostaglandins and the arachidonic acid cascade, the polyketides and the terpenoids and steroids. Part B covers the same introductory material and techniques section as for Part A. Metabolites from the shikimic acid pathway, those derived from amino acids including penicillins, the alkaloids, and porphyrins including vitamin B-12 will then be examined.
Chem 760 – Principles of Organic Synthesis
Introduction to synthesis; definitions, typical reagents, functional group interconversions; simple examples. Carbon-carbon bond forming processes; retrosynthesis and acceptor-donor approach. Examples of syntheses employing different strategies for molecules of medium complexity.
Chem 765 – Polymer
This course focuses on living polymerizations, including ionic polymerizations as well as living radical polymerizations such as Atom Transfer Radical Polymerization (ATRP) and Stable Free Radical Polymerization (SFRP). It also includes aspects of polymerizations in suspended phases and in interfacial systems.
Chem 703 – Numerical Methods and Computational Chemistry
This course introduces problems of computational chemistry and their solution via numerical methods. Simple programming is used to implement these solutions. Simulation of molecular dynamics, optimization of molecular geometries, and Hamiltonian diagonalization are treated.
Chem 749 – Introduction to Biomolecular NMR
The goal of this module is to provide the basic conceptual tools necessary to read critically the current literature in biomolecular NMR. A basic understanding of one and two-dimensional NMR is assumed. This module will focus on the product operator formalism analysis of the most common multinuclear 2D and 3D NMR pulse sequences used for investigating biomolecules in solution, particularly proteins. After this course, students will be able to implement published experiments and/or to design pulse sequences for their own research. The focus is on macromolecules in solution, but it will also include experiments useful for small ligands.
Chem 770 – Molecular Electronic Structure Theory
Modern theoretical and computational approaches to the electronic structure problem will be presented. Topics will include wave-functional based methods (Hartree Fock, Configuration Interaction, Coupled Cluster, Many-Body (a.k.a. Moller-Plesset) Perburbation Theory), denisity-functional theory, and density-matrix based approaches. At the end of this course, students should be able to understand journal articles in quantum chemistry.
Chem 776 – Spectroscopy
Experimental methods to probe the kinetics of surface reactions, including adsorption/desorption, and the theoretical interpretation of these results.
Chem 778 – Solid State Surface Science
This module deals with the theoretical and experimental aspects of modern techniques for the characterization of the goa-solid interface. Several long range crystallographic and short range spectroscopic techniques will be discussed, selected from a list that includes LEED, AES, XPS, E:S, XAS, ion scattering and Rutherford backscattering.
Chem 784 – Physical Chemistry of Materials
This course includes topics such as: Physical chemistry of materials, Forces governing molecular organisation and interactions in materials, Differences between molecular and colloidal systems, Consequences of molecular to submicron-scale organisation on the electronic and optical properties of materials ranging from crystals, colloidal crystals to polymers, Phase transitions of bulk and nanoscale systems, and Bandstructure of ordered materials: from electronic to photonic bandgaps.
Other Graduate Courses
Chem 730 – X-ray Theory
The study of single crystals, how they diffract X-rays, and how the diffraction patterns can be analyzed to provide the molecular and crystal structures of organic, organometallic, and inorganic solids.
Chem 736 – X-ray Structure Determination
Pre-requisite: Chem 730
This module will show the student how to determine the structure of an unknown compound (preferably from the student's own research) using single crystal X-ray diffraction methods, how to prepare a report for publication, and how to critically examine published structures.
Chem 737 – Mass spectrometry Instrumentation and Applications
This module covers the basic theory, operation and performance of mass spectrometry instrumentation, as well as brief discussions of selected applications. Both ionization (EI, CI, API, MALDI) and mass analysis (sector, quadrupole, ion trap, time-of-flight, FTICR) techniques are discussed. This module aims to provide the specialist and non-specialist student with the tools to choose the most appropriate mass spectrometric approach for their problems, understand the experiments and interpret the results.
Chem 740 – Basic Theory of NMR
An introduction to the concepts and applications of pulsed Fourier transform nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy. The module begins with a review of the basic NMR experiment and then proceeds to a description of the pulsed NMR technique and the use of Fourier transformation to generate the spectrum. The next section deals with a general description of the pulse NMR spectrometer and the parameters used in data acquisition and processing. The final section covers more traditional topics dealing with 1H and 13C chemical shifts, coupling constants and relaxation times with the emphasis on the structural information these parameters provide. This section will also illustrate some of the essential one-dimensional techniques used in analyzing NMR spectra (T1 measurements, spin decoupling, NOE difference spectra and 13C spectral editing).
Chem 799 – Special Topics
Various special topics courses are offered based on demand and instructor availability. Topics in recent years include: Synthesis, Characterization and Applications of Bioconjugates (Wylie), Organometallic Chemistry (Emslie), Computational Methods (Vargas-Baca), Conformational Analysis (McNulty), Special Topics in Polymer Chemistry (Stover), Silicon Chemistry (Brook), X-ray and Electron Spectroscopies (Hitchcock), 2 Dimensional Materials (Kruse), Elementary Python Programming for Scientists (Ayers), Numerical Optimization in Computational Chemistry using Python (Ayers), and Optics in Soft Materials (Saravanamuttu).
In this tab we've collected the forms mostly commonly used by our current graduate students. Other forms used by McMaster graduate students are available from the School of Graduate Studies Forms and Policies Website. Please note, for information about how to have a committee meeting, expand the next tab below.
Transfer Directly from the MSc to the PhD - The Transfer Exam
The two transfer forms below are to be completed by the examining committee: one for the departmental records, the other to be submitted to the School of Graduate Studies (SGS). Many students also complete a MSc supervisory committee report at the time of their transfer exam (expand the tab below for details on holding a commitee meeting). Submit the completed forms to the Grad Admin (email@example.com).
- Department Report on Transfer Examination (for the Chemistry Department)
- Request for Change in a Graduate Student's Status (for SGS)
Defend your Master's Thesis - The MSc Defence
The defence report form is to be completed by the examining committe at the end of the oral defence. The committee chair will have other paperwork for you to complete after you have uploaded the final (corrected, if necessary) copy of your thesis to MacSphere including the final thesis submission sheet and the McMaster University license. Submit the completed forms to the Grad Admin (firstname.lastname@example.org). You may also wish to review the Guide for the Preparation of Master's and Doctoral Theses and review the helpful guidance on the Completing your Masters Degree – Thesis site.
Take your Comprehensive Exam
This form is to be completed by the examining committee at the end of the oral defence. Submit the completed form to the Grad Admin (email@example.com).
Defend your Doctoral Thesis - The PhD Defence
The PhD defence process has many parts (including selecting an external examiner and giving them enough time to read your thesis before the defence) and you should discuss plans and timing with your supervisor. When you have both agreed to initiate the defence process, you can do so by logging into Mosaic: navigate to your Student Centre and click the “My Academics” link. Then click “Defend My Thesis.”
Once you have successfully passed your defence, completed any necessary corrections and uploaded the final version of your thesis to MacSphere, the committee chair will have other paperwork for you to complete a including the final thesis submission sheet and the McMaster University license. Submit the completed forms to the Grad Admin (firstname.lastname@example.org). You may also wish to review the Guide for the Preparation of Master's and Doctoral Theses and review the helpful guidance on the SGS Doctoral Degree site.
Make In-Program Course Adjustments
Use the form below to transfer credits, transfer to another program, have a course from outside the department count toward your degree, change the status of a course (e.g. from required to elective), and add/drop a course late. Submit the completed form to the Grad Admin (email@example.com).
Audit a Course
Note that you need to fill in the first part of the form below before the course begins and complete the rest of it after the course is finished. Submit the completed form to the Grad Admin (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Take a Course at Another Ontario or Canadian University
Use this form to apply to take a graduate course at another university in Ontario and receive credit at McMaster. Submit the completed form to the Grad Admin (email@example.com).
Use this form to apply to take a graduate course at another university elsewhere in Canada and receive credit at McMaster. Submit the completed form to the Grad Admin (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Request Additional Time To Complete Components of your Degree
Use this form if you need permission to, for example, delay a committee meeting or comprehensive exam beyond the deadline set out in the School of Graduate Studies (SGS) Academic Calendar. Submit the completed form to the Grad Admin (email@example.com).
Change your Degree Status
Use the form below to switch from full-time to part-time, transfer directly to the PhD program without first obtainin a MSc (see "Transfer Exam" above), not proceed with PhD studies and complete a MSc instead, or withdraw from McMaster. Submit the completed form to the Grad Admin (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Take a Leave of Absence
Submit the completed form to the Grad Admin (email@example.com).
Take a Parental Leave
Submit the completed form to the Grad Admin (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Leave the Department
To be completed when leaving the Chemistry of Chemical Biology graduate program either becuase you are withdrawing (see "Change your Degree Status" above) or because you are graduating. Submit the completed form to the Grad Admin (email@example.com).
Process for Committee Meetings
How to have a supervisory committee meeting – MSc
Note: this is a form-based process and will require signatures from everyone involved.
- Confirm the date and time of your committee meeting with your advisory committee members.
- Obtain a copy of the Supervisory Committee Meeting Report form.
- Complete the first two pages and submit the form to your supervisor before the meeting.
- Your supervisor and committee members fill out the remaining two pages after the meeting has taken place.
- They pass the form back to you; you review their comments and sign the form.
- You send the signed form to the graduate chair who reviews and signs it.
- The graduate chair returns return the completely signed form to the grad admin (firstname.lastname@example.org).
- Once the grad admin receives this form, the process is complete - you have had a committee meeting!
How to have a supervisory committee meeting – PhD
Note: this is an email-based process; there are no paper/pdf forms or signatures required.
- Confirm the date and time of your committee meeting with your advisory committee members.
- Email the grad admin (email@example.com) to let them know that you want to have a committee meeting at least one week before your scheduled meeting.
- You will receive an email link for an online committee report – fill in the top portion of this form and submit.
- Your supervisor and committee members will all receive an email link in order to access this form during the committee meeting.
- Once your supervisor and committee members submit their portion of the form, you will receive an email link asking you to review the report.
- Once you approve it, the system will send it to the graduate chair for approval.
- Once they submit their approval, the process is complete – you have had a committee meeting!
Important: Your PhD supervisory committee must meet once per year before November 30 no matter when you started your PhD (September, January, May).
Applying for External Scholarships
Most importantly, keep an eye on email. The Grad Admin will forward messages from SGS Scholarships and the Department throughout the year as applications open and deadlines approach.
In order to find out which awards you are eligible for, you should complete the AwardSpring common application (a tile available to you in Mosaic) every year. This application usually opens sometime in August. Make sure to specify your area of study since some awards are earmarked for specific kinds of research.
If you are eligible, the department strongly encourages you to apply for NSERC funding each year. Note that, if you win one of these awards, the department assigns you less TA work and gives you a “top up” to acknowledge your achievement (in other words, you work fewer hours and earn more money than the basic funding package).
CGS-M (Canadians and Permanent Residents)
- For MSc students
- Apply directly to the Tri-Agency portal - the deadline is December 1st
- If you apply for the CGS-M, you are automatically considered for the OGS
- For more information see: CGS-M Information
CGS-D / PGS-D (Canadians and Permanent Residents)
- For PhD students
- Apply to McMaster for a preliminary internal competition - the internal deadline is usually October 1st
- PhD students are not considered for OGS awards at this stage
- For more information see: CGS-D Information
Additional OGS Opportunities (Canadians and Permanent Residents)
- Once the OGS recipients from the fall competition have been announced (Winter Term), there is a second OGS competition administered directly by the Chemistry & Chemical Biology Department.
- Fall scholarship applications (CGS-M, CGS-D/PGS-D) are automatically considered
- You may send updated application materials if you wish - these are typically due in the Spring
International OGS Awards (Visa Students)
- The department holds a spring competition in the Spring for international students; the highest ranked application will be entered into the International Faculty of Science OGS competition.
- The department will also use the rankings from this competition to determine the winners of the departmental International Excellence Awards.
Vanier (Canadians/Permanent Residents/Visa Students)
- Open to all PhD students
- The application is more intensive than the CGS-D and the deadline to apply is typically earlier – usually early September
- For more information see: Vanier Information
Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship(Canadians/Permanent Residents/Visa Students)
- You apply for Banting at the school where you will do your postdoc (typically not McMaster), which will have its own internal application procedures and deadlines (often in July)
- For more information see: Banting Information
Summary of Deadlines
- AwardSpring – August/September
- Vanier – September
- CGS-D / PGS-D – October
- CGS-M – December
- Department-Level OGS - Spring
- Banting – July
Booking Your PhD Seminar
Booking your PhD Seminar
PhD students must present their research in a departmental seminar (50 min. including questions) during their final year of study before defending their thesis. The timing of this seminar is up to you and your supervisor, whether that's weeks or months before you defend.
The department seminar slot is currently Thursdays 1:30-2:30. When you know which date you would like to present, contact the Grad Admin (firstname.lastname@example.org) to reserve your slot. This slot is also used for seminars presented by department faculty and external speakers, so be sure to book a date well in advance to ensure you get the one you want. You can see which dates are available by checking the calendar linked below.
Note: if you are signed into your McMaster email account when you click on the calendar link, your browser will automatically take you to your own Outlook calendar, not the seminar calendar. To avoid this problem you can a) sign out of your account b) open the link in a different browser or c) open the link in private or incognito mode.