How to Apply

Considering pursuing your Chemistry PhD at Duke? We hope you are! We also understand and appreciate the challenges imposed by COVID-19. When you put together your graduate school application to Duke Chemistry's PhD program next Fall or in future years, rest assured your SPRING 2020 transcript will not define you. Your resilience and fortitude to complete your undergraduate degree in the face of COVID-19 will! Duke Chemistry will look forward to reviewing your application and learning how COVID-19 impacted your studies and research plans and what you did to persevere. As you navigate the best way forward to complete your undergraduate degree in these extraordinary times, know that Duke Chemistry understands the challenges you face. 

The Admission Process

Fall 2024 Application Deadline
Midnight, December 4

Applying to Duke Chemistry Ph.D. Program. The Department of Chemistry Ph.D. Program considers applications for admission to the fall semester only. Chemistry Ph.D. applications are completed and submitted to the Graduate School in the fall of the year preceding the applicant's expected year of entry into the program. The Department considers all applications from individuals with an undergraduate degree in chemistry or closely related field. 

Application materials include the Graduate School online application form (paper applications are no longer available), letters of recommendation, transcripts, official GRE scores (optional for the Fall 2024 application cycle), statement of purpose, and for foreign students, the TOEFL/IELTS score. All application materials and supporting documents must be submitted electronically.

Holistic Review. The Duke Chemistry Ph.D. program evaluates applicants using a holistic approach in which all parts of the application are used determine an applicant's likelihood for success in the program. Criteria considered when reviewing individual applications for admission into Duke Chemistry's Ph.D. include:

  • Problem Solving. Applicant demonstrates the ability to identify and solve problems with creativity and innovation. Long-term goals and commitment. Applicant demonstrates ability and willingness to work hard and steadily towards long-term goals.
  • Contributions to community. Applicant has the potential to contribute to a community built on collaboration, innovation, creativity, and belonging.  Applicant is committed to promoting a culture of mutual respect that inspires creativity, relishes scientific inquiry, fosters intellectual curiosity, and rewards collaborative engagement.
  • Academic preparedness. Applicant is academically prepared for advanced coursework in Chemistry
  • Resilience and adaptability. Applicant demonstrates ability to overcome obstacles and/or to take in new information/events and adjust accordingly.
  • Research experience. Applicant has taken advantage of relevant research opportunities available to them. Applicant has a realistic perspective on how to conduct and/or complete research projects with a strong ability to work independently and problem solve.
  • Leadership and work experience. Applicant demonstrates maturity through clear communication and has the ability to work both independently and collaboratively.  Applicant has strong organizational skills, and/or ability to juggle multiple tasks at once.

Statement of Purpose. This is one of the most important components of your application and is the key to helping the admissions committee determine if Duke Chemistry is a good fit for your Ph.D. studies. Your statement should be well-organized and concise. It should provide clear evidence of your maturity, persistence, resilience, and motivation for pursuing a chemistry Ph.D. It should also provide evidence of how you will contribute to a diverse and inclusive community of scholars. Most of all it should clearly articulate your research interests and explain how they overlap with faculty in the department.

Letters of Recommendation. Writers of recommendation letters may reflect a mix of backgrounds (academic or employment). Three letters of recommendation are required, and at least two should be from individuals who are qualified to evaluate the quality of your scholastic achievements, academic training, and/or your ability to carry out independent research. The latter is especially important if you have previous research experience. Your references should point to specific attributes that make you a good fit for Duke Chemistry's Ph.D. program (e.g., attributes that are in line with the traits that are considered in our holistic review).

Ph.D. Advisor Selection. Students are admitted into the Chemistry Ph.D. program and not directly into specific research groups. Applicants are encouraged to convey their research interests in their application and indicate specific faculty members with which they would like to perform their dissertation research. Ph.D. advisors are typically assigned at the end of the first semester of the program.

GRE Scores. The general GRE and Chemistry GRE subject tests will be optional for the FALL 2024 application cycle. 

English Language Exam Scores. All international students not having English as a first language, or who have not studied at an institution where English is the language of instruction, must submit an official TOEFL or IELTS score. The minimum acceptable TOEFL score is 577 (paper-based test) or 90 (internet-based test). The minimum acceptable IELTS score is 7.0. If admitted, an international student may also be required by the university to complete an English proficiency examination upon arrival at the university and, depending upon the result of this exam, may be required to take English language courses.

Support. All students admitted to the Ph.D. program are guaranteed funding for five years, usually through a combination of teaching and research assistantships. Competitive fellowships are typically announced in March; acceptance of an earlier offer of a teaching assistantship does not preclude later acceptance of fellowship.

For more information about Duke Chemistry's Ph.D. Admissions and Enrollment Statistics, Time to Degree Statistics, Completion Rate Statistics, and Career Outcomes, click here.