Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Applying to the MS Chemistry Program

The following are answers to frequently asked questions from prospective students interested in applying to the  MS Chemistry program at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU). 

(1). Where do I go to apply to the Master of Science Chemistry Program at MTSU?
To apply to the MS Chemistry program, go to this website, and follow the instructions therein.

(2). What are good scores to get on the Graduate Record Exam?
To be competitive, you should aim to achieve 50th percentile scores or higher on the Quantitative (which measures mathematical ability) and Verbal sections (which measures reading/critical thinking ability) and an Analytical Writing score of 3.0 or higher (click here to find out what this number means). 

The Chemistry MS committee, which reviews applicants will consider these scores along with other credentials you provide to make admissions decisions.  Note that these standards change from year to year for Verbal and Quantitative scores. To get an idea of "how good" your scores are, check the ETS web site.

(3). Is it required to have an undergraduate Chemistry degree to qualify for admission?  
No. A minor in Chemistry with additional coursework in Quantitative Chemical Analysis (CHEM 2300 at MTSU) will suffice.

(3). As an applicant, am I automatically considered for a graduate teaching assistantship (GTA)? 
No. Assistantships are considered separately; apply here to be considered for GTA. Admission into the program does not guarantee financial support. There are a limited number of spots, and applications for these positions are competitive. If you don't immediately get a GTA position (and if you qualify) you will be ranked based on your credentials and waiting listed.
The MS committee meets to discuss rankings for GTAs. It is possible to be accepted without support. It would be wise to include favorable, non-required items (e.g., letter of recommendation, etc.) in your application to maximize your ranking if a GTA is important to you.

(4). As an international student (where English is not the official language) I am interested in obtaining a graduate teaching assistantship.  What credentials should I have to qualify for this support?  Is there a minimum TOEFL or IELTS score required?
If you are from any of the following non-US countries, an English proficiency exam is not requiredAustralia, Barbados, Botswana, Bermuda, Bahamas, Canada, Ireland, Ghana, Grenada, Guam, Jamaica, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria, New Zealand, South Africa, Trinidad and Zimbabwe.

For those of you who are not in this category, the minimum requirement for TOEFL is a score of 21 on the speaking section or 6.5 on the IELTS speaking section.  These scores are required by the state for GTA. In the field of Chemistry where there are laboratory practicums involved, laboratory safety is paramount. Relevant to spoken English proficiency, we in the Chemistry department want to prevent accidents that may result from a misunderstanding of instructions given to students by the GTA. Furthermore, it is recommended that you have a total score of at least 39 on the TOEFL and a 12.5 on the IELTS.

One more important detail: do not forget to include the WES evaluation that converts your grades from your undergraduate university to U.S. grading standards.

(5). What documents do the MS committee look for in considering an applicant for admission? 
The Chemistry MS committee examines your academic transcripts.  Did you take the correct courses to be considered? Do you have the appropriate undergraduate preparation in these subjects: general chemistry, organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, physical chemistry, biochemistry and analytical chemistry? Your grade point average will be examined as well as your GRE exams. If you are an international student, your English proficiency exams will be considered in the case mentioned in point #4 above. 

(6). What other materials can I submit to make my application more competitive? How do I get these items to be considered? 
Other documents that the MS committee may review include: statement of research interests, letters of recommendation from faculty, statement of purpose, resume or vita, published, refereed journal articles authored/co-authored by you. If you have a letter of recommendation from a current MTSU Chemistry faculty member expressing support, this can be especially helpfulTo ensure that these documents be considered in the application process, these should be emailed to: graduate at mtsu dot edu [email address disguised to circumvent spamming by robots].  

(7). Are there particularly good times to apply to the program?
The Chemistry department evaluates applicants on a rolling basis. Note that the MS committee also ranks applicants according to credentials for GTA spots. Preference is given for spring consideration from applications received by October 1st, and summer/fall consideration given for those applications received by March 1st.  

Although it is not required that you apply by these dates, the advantage of doing so is that there would be ample time for you to be considered for GTA positions for ranking purposes. An early application would permit more consultation time to improve your application.

(8). What is an "M number"? Is there a preferred venue for checking my admission status?  
When you apply and become a part of the MTSU community, you will be assigned a personal identification number known as the "M number", which will consist of the letter "M" followed by 8 digits.  You should also obtain an MTSU email account and begin using to communicate with various parties.  In some cases, there may be issues related to privacy of your personal records. To ensure that this information is protected, use your MTSU email address. I know personally of a case in which the email sender of a supposed student was not the student who I thought I was communicating with.

(9). Do you offer the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree in "Chemistry"? A non-thesis master's degree?
At this time, no, for either of these options, but...

i) The Chemistry Department participates in various Science PhD programs, namely, in Molecular BiosciencesMath and Science Education, and Computational Sciences (see hotlinks herein).

ii) There has been discussion regarding a coursework-only option (e.g., a Master of Arts in Chemistry), but there are no concrete details at this time.  We are still researching the 'market interest' for it.  If there is an interest, please 'Post a Comment' below and let us know your thoughts.

(10). What research areas are available to me as I navigate through the MS program?
Check out the various faculty pages within the MS Chemistry program web site.  You may contact them regarding possible research opportunities.

Additional questions may be directed to the MS coordinator: chusuei (at) mtsu (dot) edu.

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