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Graduate Program Profiles: Chemistry

The Master of Science in Chemistry program at Boise State University provides students with advanced training in modern chemistry or biochemistry research methods. The program is designed for students needing further education and research experience prior to seeking a Ph.D. in chemistry, biochemistry, or other graduate degree programs, or for students seeking advancement in their current career.

Students in the program will enjoy a unique experience that supports professional, personal and academic growth. They will learn to become engaged scholars, critical thinkers and experienced researchers.

The graduate coursework provides a comprehensive foundation in chemistry while allowing students to focus on their individual interests and hone their expertise in a particular area of chemistry. The M.S. in Chemistry program is formatted so students may select from a variety of core and elective courses, including math and engineering courses. The two-year program culminates in the form of a thesis that students defend to a supervisory committee.

Learn more by visiting the Master of Science in Chemistry website, or contact the Graduate Program Director at


Each student will complete at least 9 credits of CHEM 593 (Thesis Research) under the direction of a thesis advisor and a supervisory committee. The thesis advisor is selected following short lab rotations conducted at the very beginning of the student’s first semester. The supervisory committee will consist of at least three members: the student’s major professor (a Boise State University Dept. of Chemistry & Biochemistry faculty member) and two other members from the Boise State University faculty or other institutions. The Boise State University Dept. of Chemistry provides information about Biochemistry research advisors on their site.

Our faculty members have research projects that span the chemistry disciplines, and have opportunities available to students in the following areas:

  • Antimicrobial Drug Discovery
  • Archaeometry
  • Astrobiology
  • Bacterial Quorum Sensing
  • Buckminster Fullerenes
  • Cancer Treatment Research
  • Carbon Nanotubes
  • Chemical Biology
  • Cosmochemistry and Meteorites
  • DNA Nanotechnology
  • Enzymology
  • Infectious Disease Research
  • Nanostructured Materials
  • Natural Products
  • Supramolecular Assembly
  • West Nile Virus Vaccines

Teaching Assistantships

A limited number of competitive teaching assistantships that include a stipend, tuition and fee waiver, and student health insurance are available to M.S. students on a competitive basis. The current annual stipend for a TA is typically $20,000 ($15,600 for academic year and $4,400 for summer). TA positions require a 20 hour per week time commitment that is usually fulfilled by teaching two labs per week, holding office hours in the chemistry instructional center, and grading.

Additional M.S. student support may be available from faculty members in the form of research assistantships. Other forms of financial aid (loans, work-study, etc.) are available to graduate students and can be explored at the following link:

Course Offerings

BIOCHEM – Biochemistry

BIOCHEM 510 ADVANCED PROTEIN CHEMISTRY (3-0-3)(S)(Alternate years).
An in-depth study of proteins that focuses on amino acid chemistry, protein structure, protein folding, and protein function. This course will discuss modern methods of protein characterization and the use of bioinformatics in understanding the chemistry/function of proteins. Given the recent developments in the proteomics, several of the high-throughput approaches to identifying proteins assessing function will also be investigated. Students will make extensive use of primary literature. PREREQ: CHEM 322 and CHEM 432 or PERM/INST.

BIOCHEM 511 NUCLEIC ACID METABOLISM (3-0-3)(S)(Alternate years).
An in-depth study of the metabolism of both DNA and RNA at the molecular/mechanistic level. This course will cover the mechanisms DNA replication, transcription, translation, transposition and repair, as well as those for RNA splicing, catalysis, silencing and interference RNA. Bioinformatics approaches and modern techniques for studying DNA/RNA and their interactions with proteins will be discussed. Students will make extensive use of primary literature. PREREQ: CHEM 432 or PERM/INST.

BIOCHEM 512 INTERMEDIARY METABOLISM (3-0-3)(S)(Alternate years).
An investigation into several anabolic, catabolic, and signaling processes in the cell. Special attention will be given to molecular mechanisms and regulation. Students will make extensive use of primary literature. PREREQ: CHEM 432 or PERM/INST.

BIOCHEM 513 ADVANCED ENZYMOLOGY (3-0-3)(S)(Alternate years).
A deeper look into the catalytic and kinetic mechanisms of enzymes. Modern methods for studying enzymes will be included as well as learning strategies for studying steady state and transient enzyme kinetics. Students will make extensive use of primary literature. PREREQ: CHEM 322 and CHEM 433 or PERM/INST.

CHEM – Chemistry

An introduction to project planning, literature assessment, report writing, and data management. PREREQ: Admission to chemistry graduate program.

Atomic structure, molecular structure using valence bond and molecular orbital theories, elementary group theory, transition metal coordination chemistry, acids and bases, descriptive transition and nontransition metal chemistry. PREREQ: CHEM 322 or PERM/INST.

CHEM 507 PHYSICAL ORGANIC CHEMISTRY (3-0-3)(S)(Alternate years).
Mechanisms of organic chemical reactions, stereochemistry, and conformational analysis. The important types of organic reactions are discussed. Basic principles are emphasized; relatively little attention is paid to the scope and synthetic applications of the reactions. PREREQ: CHEM 309 and CHEM 322 or PERM/INST.

CHEM 508 SYNTHETIC ORGANIC CHEMISTRY (3-0-3)(F)(Alternate years).
The scope and limitations of the more important synthetic reactions are discussed within the framework of multistep organic synthesis. PREREQ: CHEM 309 or PERM/INST.

An introduction to the concepts of polymer synthesis, characterization, structure, properties, and basic fabrication processes. Emphasis is on practical polymer preparation, on the fundamental kinetics and mechanisms of polymerization, and on structure-property relationship. PREREQ: CHEM 309 or PERM/INST.

CHEM 510 ORGANIC POLYMER SYNTHESIS (3-0-3)(S)(Alternate years).
A study of the synthesis and reactions of polymers. Emphasis is on practical polymer preparation and on the fundamental kinetics and mechanisms of polymerization reactions. Topics include relationship of synthesis and structure, characterization of polymer structure, step-growth polymerization, chain-growth polymerization via radical, ionic and coordination intermediates, copolymerization. PREREQ: CHEM 309 or PERM/INST.

CHEM 511 ADVANCED ANALYTICAL CHEMISTRY (3-0-3)(F). Stoichiometry involved in separations and instrumental methods of analysis. The course will be flexible in nature to adapt to the varied background of the students. PREREQ: CHEM 322 or PERM/INST.

CHEM 521 QUANTUM CHEMISTRY (3-0-3)(F)(Alternate years).
Formal introduction to quantum mechanics, Dirac notation, angular momentum and operator algebra. Emphasis will be placed on electronic structure theory, reaction mechanisms and the use of modern quantum chemistry theoretical packages. PREREQ: CHEM 322, or PHYS 309 and PHYS 432, or PERM/INST.

CHEM 522 SPECTROSCOPY (3-0-3)(F)(Alternate years).
Concepts and practical usage of modern chemical spectroscopic techniques, including electronic absorption, infrared/Raman, X-Ray/EXAFS, magnetic resonance and magnetic circular dichroism. Emphasis will be placed on the application of these techniques to the structure/function characterization of chemical and biochemical systems. PREREQ: CHEM 521 or PERM/INST.

CHEM 523 CHEMICAL KINETICS (3-0-3)(F)(Alternate years).
A comprehensive study of the role of quantum chemistry and thermodynamics in chemical reactions. Emphasis will be placed on determining reaction coordinates and transition states. Extensive use will be made of modern computational chemical computer programs for calculating potential energy surfaces and transition states. PREREQ: CHEM 322, or PHYS 309 and PHYS 432, or PERM/INST.

Identification of compounds using modern spectrometric techniques. PREREQ: CHEM 309 and CHEM 321.

CHEM 551 BIOINORGANIC CHEMISTRY (3-0-3)(S)(Alternate years).
Exploration of the vital roles that metals play in biochemical systems. Emphasis is on transition metals in biology. Course will focus on structural, regulatory, catalytic, transport and redox functions of bioinorganic systems. PREREQ: CHEM 322 or PERM/INST.

CHEM 552 ORGANOMETALLIC CHEMISTRY (3-0-3)(S)(Alternate years).
An examination of the organometallic chemistry of the main group and transition elements. Topics to include structure and bonding of complexes having pi ligands; transition metal mediated organic synthesis; homogeneous catalysis. PREREQ: CHEM 401 or 501 or PERM/INST.

This course will instruct students on the theory and practice of one- and two-dimensional NMR spectroscopy. Emphasis will be placed on using the NMR spectrometer to solve a variety of chemical and biological problems. PREREQ: CHEM 322, or PHYS 309 and PHYS 432, or PERM/INST.

CHEM 561 INTRODUCTION TO MOLECULAR MODELING AND COMPUTATIONAL CHEMISTRY (1-3-2)(On demand). Overview of modern computational chemistry. Use of computational chemistry tools and their application to problems of chemical and biological interest. PREREQ: CHEM 322, or PHYS 309 and PHYS 432, or PERM/INST.

Program Testimonials

What influenced you to pursue an M.S. in Chemistry at Boise State?

“Well, having graduated from Boise State, I had the pleasure of getting to know several faculty members during my undergraduate years. The faculty and staff here in the Chemistry Department truly want to see you succeed, they care about each student, and they go above and beyond to help their students; all the while, they are deeply immersed in their own research projects that have large impacts. Overall, I chose this program because of the support from the faculty, as well as the actual research they are pursuing.”

– Savannah Irving, program year two

What Is Something About Your Graduate Experience In Our Program That You Will Remember Most?

“I really enjoyed my experience teaching undergraduate labs. I didn’t have the same opportunity as an undergraduate, but my TA assistantship in the MS program gave me the opportunity to find out just how much I liked teaching. I enjoyed getting to know undergraduate students and helping them through their struggles with learning chemistry, which led me to discover that teaching is a rewarding experience. Without this opportunity in the MS program I never would have been exposed to teaching; it’s an experience I won’t forget.”

– Phil Moon, expected graduation: Summer 2017

See more of our current graduate students!