Welcome to chemistry at the University of Minnesota.

  • We are committed to excellence in education, research, and public service.
  • We offer
    • world-class teaching in our classrooms and laboratories,
    • research aimed at solving some of society’s most important problems, and
    • an environment where we embrace diversity of communities and ideas to benefit Minnesota, the nation, and the world.

Degree program

We offer doctorate and master degree programs; however, as a research institution, we primarily admit students to the doctorate program.

Research opportunities

Working with some of the top chemists in their fields, you will be actively engaged in research aimed at solving some of society’s most important environmental, health, and energy issues.

Research Specialist Andrew Johnson working in Professor Erin Carlson's laboratory.
Research Specialist Andrew Johnson

Our research is concentrated into several foci: chemical biology, chemical physics, chemical theory and computation, energy and catalysis, and environmental and green, analytical and bioanalytical, experimental physical, inorganic and organometallic, nanoscience and materials, organic, and polymer chemistry.

There are opportunities to participate in nine multi-disciplinary, collaborative research centers that are funded by the National Institutes of Health, Department of Energy, and National Science Foundation: Center for Metals in Biocatalysis, Center for Sustainable Polymers, Inorganometallic Catalyst Design Center, Chemical Theory Center, Nanoporous Materials Genome Center, Scientific Discovery through Advanced Computing (SciDAC) Partnership for Charge Transfer and Charge Transport in Photoactivated Systems, Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology; Materials Research Science and Engineering Center, and Industrial Partnership for Research in Interfacial & Materials Engineering.

As a researcher, you will:

  • conduct medical, pharmaceutical, and materials research in collaboration with Minnesota’s world-class medical school, which is located across the street, and with the university’s top-ranked science and engineering programs. There are opportunities to work with hundreds of Minneapolis-area healthcare organizations and medical device companies, including several Fortune 500 companies.
  • have access to state-of-the-art equipment and technology needed for leading-edge chemistry research: the department’s nuclear magnetic resonance, mass spectrometry and X-ray crystallographic laboratories, the university’s Materials Characterization, Nanofabrication and Polymer Synthesis facilities, and the topnotch Minnesota Supercomputing Institute.


Our students gain experiences that extend beyond the classroom and the laboratory. We empower our students to create an environment where they can prosper and contribute to their own learning, and participate in a variety of leadership and outreach activities, including:

  • Joint Safety Team, a national award-winning group led by graduate students and post-doctoral associates serving as laboratory safety officers, pioneering innovative approaches to improving safety in research laboratories and our culture of safety;
  • Community of Chemistry Graduate Students, fostering graduate students working together to support each other by offering workshops, programs, and social and athletic events;
  • Graduate Student Workshop Committee, organizing workshops on a variety of topics important to graduate students such as preparing for oral exams, writing fellowship proposals, and applying for jobs;
  • Graduate Student Seminar Committee, selecting, inviting and hosting seminar speakers;
  • Chemistry Women in Science & Engineering (WISE), a networking resource for women graduate students and post-doctorate researchers, working to increase the recruitment and retention of women, and improving the climate for all chemists; and
  • Outreach Activities, engaging future chemists via Cool Chemistry, Energy and U, Chemists-in-the Library, Chemists in the Classroom, SciMentors, Science for All, Minnesota State Fair, University on the Prairie, and more.

World-class faculty and researchers

Professor Marc Hillmyer demonstrating sustainable polymers
Professor Marc Hillmyer is a McKnight Presidential Endowed Chair and director of the Center for Sustainable Polymers.

Our faculty members are excellent teachers, mentors, and advisers. A third of them have received some of the university’s top teaching honors. They are leading researchers in their fields, publishing more than 300 articles per year, and serving as editors of scientific journals.

We mentor students interested in teaching through the Mentorship Program for Aspiring Chemistry Teachers, offer experiences as teaching assistants and opportunities to guide undergraduate student researchers, and offer a Preparing for Future Faculty course.Our faculty members are excellent teachers, mentors, and advisers. A third of them have received some of the university’s top teaching honors. They are leading researchers in their fields, publishing more than 300 articles per year, and serving as editors of scientific journals.

Our alumni

Our alumni are productive scientists, scholars, and teachers. They serve:

  • as faculty members at universities and colleges;
  • in leadership positions at national laboratories;
  • as scientists at major chemical, pharmaceutical, and biotechnical industries such as 3M, Medtronic, Boston Scientific, Cargill, Ecolab, General Mills, DuPont, Dow, HB Fuller, Carestream, and others.

By the numbers

  • Research performed by our 229 graduate students as well as some 85 post-doctoral researchers resulted in more than $17.3 million in research expenditures in 2014-15.
  • One-third of our faculty members have received some of the university’s highest teaching honors.
  • We have nine multi-disciplinary, highly collaborative research centers that are funded by the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, and Department of Energy.
  • Our researchers publish more than 300 papers annually. In the past five years, those papers have been cited more than 25,000 times. Most of the papers are co-written by graduate students.
  • We have more editors-in-chief and associate editors of American Chemical Society journals than any other university in the country.

Graduate student video

UMN Department of Chemistry Grad Student Video - HD

Our graduate students talk about the unique aspects of their experiences in the Department of Chemistry, including the quality of the professors leading their coursework and research, their opportunities for leadership, and the collaborative, multi-discipliniary nature of their research. The graduate students featured in this video have all earned their doctorates.


  • Prospective Graduate Students
    Application Information
    (612) 624-8008
    Fax: 1-612-624-5724

    Stephanie Stathopoulous
    Assistant to the Director of Graduate Studies
    135 Smith Hall
    (612) 624-8008

    Current Students
    Nancy Thao
    Assistant to the Director of Graduate Studies
    115 Smith Hall
    (612) 624-0313

    • Director of Graduate Studies in Chemistry
    • Professor Philippe Buhlmann
    • buhlmann@umn.edu
    • Director of Graduate Studies In Chemical Physics
    • Professor Aaron Massari
    • massari@umn.edu