Graduate Studies

Chemistry Profile

“The Chemistry Department at Western Illinois University provided me with the challenges and confidence to achieve the most difficult of goals and helped me land a position in a very competitive career field.” – Mike Bowsher, MS, 2007, Research Scientist, Bristol Myers-Squibb

Program Overview

The Department of Chemistry offers work leading to the Master of Science (MS) degree through either a Thesis Plan or an Applied Chemistry Plan. The program is designed to prepare graduate students for continuation to the PhD level or other professional training, or for immediate employment in advanced positions in government, industry, or education. The program accommodates individual career objectives for those with degrees in chemistry and allied fields, and allows those with minors in chemistry to pursue advanced work and placement in the field. The department also provides inservice training to chemists and chemical educators who are not candidates for the MS degree. The Department of Chemistry has seen enormous growth in the past 30 years with many new applications in biotechnology, materials, medicine, nanotechnology, environmental health, alternative fuels, and forensic science. New information is rapidly transferred from research laboratories to practical applications.

The Integrated Baccalaureate and Master’s degree program (IBMP) in Chemistry provides an opportunity for outstanding undergraduate Chemistry/Biochemistry/Forensic Chemistry majors to complete both a Bachelor of Science degree in Forensic Chemistry and a Master of Science degree in Chemistry in five years. In addition to earning both degrees a year early, the integrated programs may include additional opportunities to participate in a variety of experiential educational activities such as a Master’s project or thesis.

Why Chemistry at WIU?

Chemistry students get frequent one-on-one training and advisement through informal interactions with our faculty in the research labs. Each of our faculty, on average, mentor two or three graduate students every year. The faculty gets to know the students, including their goals and aspirations, on a personal level.

Most of our faculty either presently hold or have recently held research grants funded by the National Science Foundation, National Cancer Institute as well agencies within the National Institutes of Health, Research Corporation, Department of Defense, Department of Energy, NASA, EPA, and/or research contracts from pharmaceutical companies or biotech industries. All of these research grants and contracts involve students as “doers and thinkers” in novel, cutting edge research. Present projects involve development of new anti-cancer agents; development of new vaccines; development of new drug delivery systems; forensic analysis and toxicological studies of explosive residues; novel, new nanotechnology-encapsulation delivery systems; development of new food preservation methods; green chemistry methodologies; environmental impact of agricultural chemicals in drinking water; examination of herbal materials; the development of new methods of instrumental analysis; and many more projects.

Our Faculty

The Department of Chemistry currently consists of 11 faculty holding doctoral degrees from distinguished universities around the world. All faculty are dedicated educators, skilled in fostering active student participation. They are also active researchers and have, to their credit, many research publications and presentations in the areas of their specialty. Graduate students in Chemistry will have an opportunity to work with faculty on research projects involving analytical chemistry, biochemistry, environmental chemistry, food chemistry, forensic chemistry, green chemistry, inorganic chemistry, material science, nanotechnology, organic chemistry, medicinal chemistry, physical chemistry, polymer chemistry, or toxicological chemistry.

Extracurricular Opportunities

Our students travel to state, regional, national, and international conferences. These trips are funded by research grants. The students present their research data and mix and meet chemists from across the U.S. and around the world. Our students have made 47 research presentations in the past few years at the national American Chemical Society and the national American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology meetings in Boston; Atlanta; Chicago; New Orleans; San Diego; Washington, DC; and San Francisco. Our students have been listed as coauthors with the chemistry faculty in over 100 refereed journal articles during the past four years alone. Most of these have been in nationally or internationally known journals such as the Journal of Organic Chemistry, the Journal of Inorganic Chemistry, the Journal of the American Chemical Society, Organic Letters, Applications in Biotechnology and Microbiology, Experimental Biology, the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, and many more.

Quick View

Degrees Available:

  • M.S.
  • Integrated Bachelor's/Master's


  • Macomb

Required GPA:

  • Cumulative: 2.75 or
  • Last 2 years: 3.0

Admission Requirements:

  • Transcripts
  • Three Letters of Recommendation

Interesting Facts: Fall 2023

  • Currently enrolled: 19
  • International: 14
  • Minority: 0
  • Students with Assistantships: 14

Department Contact Information:

Currens Hall 214