B.S./Accelerated M.S. Program
The accelerated Master’s program (or BS/MS program) is designed for talented and motivated students who wish to earn both their Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees within a 5-year period. Not all students who are accepted into this program manage to complete the requirements for both degrees within the 5-year period, but a significant fraction do and most of the others finish before the end of six years (a typical time-frame for both degrees). We generally try to get students into the BS/MS program either during the semester they reach 90 credits or in the semester right after. That way they have two more semesters in which to finish their undergraduate requirements and begin taking their graduate classes.
The primary advantage of this program is that it allows a student to apply up to six credits of graduate classes to both their graduate course of study and to their undergraduate general elective requirements. All undergraduates are required to successfully complete 120 credits in order to graduate. Completion of the general education requirements and the chemistry program requirements results in 108 credits; thus there are 12 credits of general electives left for each student. A maximum of six graduate credits can be applied to these general elective credits. A second advantage of the program is that it allows students who will be completing their undergraduate degree in less than four years (possibly because they transferred in credits from high school or took classes during the summer) to begin taking graduate classes during their last year of undergraduate work. These students get an early start to their MS degree and can often finish it in an extra year or 18 months.
Students should apply to the BS/MS program during the semester in which they will complete their 90th credit, or in the semester directly afterward. Applications can be obtained from the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department office or from the graduate coordinator. As part of this application the student is required to list up to two classes that will count for both the undergraduate and graduate degrees. Please note that the classes which will be applied to both degrees can only be used to satisfy general electives. They cannot be used to substitute for required chemistry classes or chemistry electives.
Once a student has been accepted into the program and received credit for their 90th hour, they will be allowed to register for graduate classes. The student’s status should be listed as senior plus at this point under the student information menu in Banner. During the time the student is in the process of completing their 90th credit, but has not finished, they will not be able to register for graduate classes and will need to wait until the semester finishes before going through the registration process.
Students in the BS/MS program are allowed to register for a maximum of 12 graduate credits before they have finished their undergraduate degree, and as long as they have senior plus standing there should be no problems registering for graduate classes. If a student attempts to register for more than 12 graduate credits before receiving their Bachelor’s degree they will encounter problems.
During the undergraduate degree evaluation process, the undergraduate coordinator will fill out a Bachelor’s/Accelerated Master’s transition form. On this form s/he will designate which graduate classes are applied to both the undergraduate and graduate degree. S/he will also list any additional graduate classes which have been taken that apply only to the graduate degree. The student may want to consult with the undergraduate coordinator as s/he during this process to make sure that the correct classes are applied to both degrees.
Once the undergraduate degree has been obtained, the final 18+ credits required to complete the graduate degree will need to be completed, ideally in one additional year. These will include 6 credits of CHEM 799 (Master’s thesis) which should be taken in the last two terms at 3 credits per term. Please be aware that once you sign up for CHEM 799 you must continue to sign up for this class in every subsequent semester until you finish your MS degree. Once you have reached 6 credits of 799 you only need to register for 1 credit of 799 in each additional semester.
You will also need to take 3 credits of CHEM 790 (graduate seminar). Since the BS/MS program is intended to be a 5-year program, you will need to begin signing up for CHEM 790 during your senior year in order to complete three semesters of this class by the end of your 5th year. Some students may run into a problem if they register for four graduate classes during their senior year (12 credits), since addition of CHEM 790 will result in a 13th graduate credit as an undergraduate. There are ways to deal with this situation, but they require that you faithfully attend seminar (and sign in) during at least one semester in your senior year and that you contact the graduate coordinator about this problem as soon as possible.
Students are encouraged to talk to faculty about possible research projects as soon as they decide to apply to the BS/MS program. Completion of a Master’s-quality research project is often the slowest step in the MS program, so the sooner you identify a faculty mentor and begin working on your project, the more likely you are to finish within 5 years. At a minimum, you should expect to begin working on your project during your senior year, continue working throughout the following summer, and finish the project during your 5th year. Getting started in the lab during the summer between your Junior and Senior years is an even better idea if you want to assure finishing the program within 5 years.
Time line for BS/MS students
- Contact the graduate coordinator about applying to the Accelerated Master’s program. Fill out application and submit to the graduate coordinator.
- Start thinking about a research group to join and make initial contacts with the professor. If possible, get started working in the lab.
Senior Year (90+ credits)
- Begin taking graduate classes after you have been accepted into the program.
- Attend graduate seminar (CHEM 790) and formally register for the class if it will not push you above the 12 graduate credit limit as an undergraduate.
- Begin working on your thesis research project, write up and submit a thesis proposal to the graduate coordinator.
- Contact the undergraduate coordinator to make sure that the correct classes are applied to both the undergraduate and graduate degree.
- In consultation with your thesis advisor, assemble your three person thesis committee.
Senior Plus year (post-undergraduate degree)
- Sign up for CHEM 799 during your final two semesters (3 credits each semester).
- Finish the laboratory part of your research project.
- Write up your Master’s thesis.
- Schedule a date with the seminar coordinator to give your thesis seminar.
- File your intent to graduate and complete the requirements or this process.