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Thank you for your interest in the UC San Diego Chemistry & Biochemistry Graduate Program. We have over 300 bright and talented graduate students with diverse backgrounds from all over the world. We offer programs for the Doctoral, Masters, and Joint Doctoral degrees. Below you will find information on the needed application materials and criteria.

Application Deadline

PhD Admissions Deadline for Fall 2024 is December 6, 2023 (to be confirmed)

General Application Information

To begin your online application or to check the status on your application, please visit Information you enter may be saved at any time.

The Admissions & Recruitment Committee recommends submitting your application as soon as you complete it, even if we have not yet received all your letters of recommendation. We also highly recommend that you answer some/all of our additional questions about your educational experiences.

We review PhD files continuously beginning in late November and try to get the good news out to those we are recruiting to our program as soon as possible. If you have yet to hear from us, your file is still pending a final decision.

Please note that submitting your application requires an associated application fee although under many circumstances you may request that this fee be waived. Please read the application fee link above and inquire with if you have any questions or would like more information on the waiver options.


For application review purposes (only), scan and upload copies of unofficial transcripts for all institutions attended after high school. In the online application, you will be prompted to upload a PDF of your scanned documents. Please upload both the front and back sides of the unofficial transcript, even if the back side is blank. Uploaded transcripts should be recent and include the following: your name, the institution name, dates of attendance, grades/marks received, credits earned, and grading legend.  If no unofficial transcript is available, please upload a statement explaining the circumstances. Please do not mail official hard copies until you are provisionally admitted. Visit the Graduate Division Academic Records and Transcripts for more details.

Statement of Purpose

We recommend that you structure your Statement of Purpose to address the following four prompts:

  • Describe your personal and professional motivations for pursuing research in the field of chemistry and/or biochemistry.
  • Describe your previous research experience(s). For at least one project you have been involved with, try to describe
    • the overall context and importance of the work,
    • the specific goal of the work you were doing, (c) the methods by which you worked to achieve those goals
    • what you learned and what your new understanding means for the future of the project. Include a short discussion of how your research experience has shaped your decision to apply to our graduate program.
  • Specify one or more faculty members in our department whose current research aligns with your interests. Provide some insight into why you made the choice(s) you did.
  • Describe any obstacles that you have overcome to achieve your academic and personal achievements as well as any contributions to equity, diversity, and inclusion you have made.

We do not have a word limit, but we do recommend keeping your statement of purpose clear and concise.

Letters of Recommendation

We require three letters of recommendation. Letter writers that are able to provide context and clarity with respect to your ability and potential to excel in a graduate program are the most helpful in evaluating your application (e.g. a research advisor or a professors from a course that knows you well). UC San Diego students applying for the MS program need to submit at least two letters – at least one from a professor in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry.

If your letter writer needs a new link to submit their letter, please follow the instructions below:

  1. Log into online application
  2. Click “Update Application”
  3. Go to “Letters of Recommendation” page
  4. Click “Resend” next to the name of your letter writer

GRE (not required)

The GRE General & GRE Subject are not required and will not be used in the evaluation of your application.

Research Experience

Upload PDF copies of research products such as peer-reviewed publications, posters, presentation slides, etc. Please do not upload thesis documents (Honors, MS, etc.). There are four slots with 4MB of space under the “Upload Poster/Research” section.

Additional Educational Experiences

This section allows us to acknowledge the non-academic/research commitments of applicants. While the application lists this section as “Optional”, we strongly encourage you to provide us with information that provides a holistic view of your prior experiences and activities. You may use sections from your Statement of Purpose as your answers to some of these questions.

Fee Waiver Programs

There are a couple of fee waiver programs offered by the Division of Graduate Education and Postdoctoral Affairs (GEPA) and the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

Please visit the GEPA website ( to see if you are eligible for a fee waiver with them. Follow their steps to request for one of their fee waivers.

If you are not eligible for an application fee waiver through GEPA, then please follow the steps below to be considered for one of our limited number of fee waivers by our department.

  • Please fill out the application as much as you can (
  • Do not submit the application nor enter any payment information
  • Take note of your application's reference number (you'll need that for the next step)
  • Fill out our Fee Waiver Request Form
  • The deadline to be considered for one of the department's application fee waivers is December 4, 2023.
  • If selected for an application fee waiver, we will contact you with further instructions by December 5, 2023.

English Proficiency Exams (International Applicants Only)

Applicants that have recently studied full-time for one uninterrupted academic year at a university-level institution in which English is the language of instruction and in a country in which English is a dominant language, are exempt from language testing requirements.

Demonstrated proficiency in the English language (TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE) is required for all other international applicants whose native language is not English. Requirements for demonstrating proficiency are listed below.

International applicants must include an official report of their TOEFL iBT or TSE scores from ETS. The university-wide minimum TOEFL score for graduate admission is 550 for the paper based test (PBT), and 85 for the internet based test (iBT). The minimum for the IELTS Academic Training exam is a score of 7 and a score of 65 for the PTE Academic.

At minimum, international applicants must also have a TOEFL iBT Speaking subscore of 23, an IELTS Speaking subscore of 7, or a PTE Speaking subscores of 65.

Commitment to Diversity

The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry welcomes all applicants. The university and department have a long-standing commitment to promoting equity, diversity and inclusion within STEM fields from. Our commitment to diversifying the scientific workforce also includes people who self-identify as members of the LGBTQ+ community, people of socio-economic disadvantaged backgrounds, and individuals with disabilities.

Outreach Conferences 2023

National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Engineers (NOBCChE)

September 11 - 14 | New Orleans, LA

American Chemistry Society National Meeting

August 13 - 17 | San Francisco, CA

California Diversity Forum

October 14 | San Francisco, CA

Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS)

October 26 - 28 | Portland, OR

Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS)

November 16 - 18 | Phoenix, AZ