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Frequently Asked Questions about the Graduate Program

The following 15 questions seem to be the ones most asked by students considering advanced stuies in Chemistry at YSU.  Hopefully they help you make a good decision. 

Fifteen Questions:  Click on the question to see the responses. 

INFORMATION ABOUT CAREERS

1. Why is the Graduate Program in Chemistry at YSU necessary for professional and personal success and how do you view the demands of Chemistry in the context of today’s changing marketplace?

2. What is the goal of the Chemistry Program at YSU in preparing graduate students for the demands that will be placed upon them after graduation?

3. How does YSU’s Graduate Chemistry Program prepare students to enter further advanced graduate studies, professional programs, or the workforce?

4. What career options are enhanced by an M.S. degree in Chemistry?

5. Describe the reputation of the Chemistry Department Graduate Program at YSU.

INFORMATION ON THE DEGREE AND COURSE OFFERINGS

6. What is the name of the degree offered by the Chemistry program? 

7. What areas of specialization within chemistry are available for study?

8. Briefly, what course selections available in the Chemistry program.

9. What is the class format in the Chemistry program?

10. How flexible are the class offerings in the Chemistry program?

11. What is the role of technology in the Chemistry program?

INFORMATION ABOUT THE FACULTY

12. How are the Chemistry Department faculty members accessible to students and describe some ways that they interact with students. Also, how does the relatively high level of personal attention available in the Chemistry Program benefit graduate students?

OTHER IMPORTANT INFORMATION

13. What areas of studies are available, what demands are placed upon students, and what is unique about the YSU Chemistry graduate program?

14. How does the Chemistry graduate program make students competitive while they are enrolled in graduate school and after they graduate?

15. Why should prospective graduate students choose the Chemistry program at Youngstown State University for their graduate degrees?


INFORMATION ABOUT CAREERS 


1. Why is the Graduate Program in Chemistry at YSU necessary for professional and personal success and how do you view the demands of Chemistry in the context of today’s changing marketplace? 

The M.S. program in chemistry is important for professional and personal success in several ways. Chemistry is among the most marketable of all degrees in higher education, but while some of the reasons for this may seem obvious, not all of them may be immediately obvious. The obvious marketability comes from the sheer usefulness of chemistry. Many manufacturers utilize chemists to make things. The not so obvious comes from the fact that along with perceived marketability within a particular discipline comes what can be termed “learning skills”. 

Most people view college as preparation for a particular job, much like technical school. This is simply not a true statement. A degree in chemistry, especially an advanced degree, gives a person much more than technical training. It gives one a wide range of problem solving skills and, most important of all, the ability and discipline to learn anything effectively. Many of the demands of the workplace are focused not on knowing a particular piece of body of information, but on knowing how to obtain that particular information and then synthesize new knowledge with that information. We give those skills with our degree. In addition, since chemistry is a discipline that gives not only knowledge, but also gives learning skills, one finds that as the marketplace changes, these skills help individuals change with it and adapt themselves appropriately. 

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2. What is the goal of the Chemistry Program at YSU in preparing graduate students for the demands that will be placed upon them after graduation?

Our goal is to give students a broad-based advanced education in the chemical sciences that prepares them for “real-world” situations. We try to do this from two perspectives. An increase in their general knowledge from advanced coursework along with an increase in problem solving skills from individual research projects. Mostly, we try to teach independence and self-reliability. 

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3. How does YSU’s Graduate Chemistry Program prepare students to enter further advanced graduate studies, professional programs, or the workforce?

Our program is very appropriate for preparation for advanced graduate study in chemistry, for professional school, and for the workplace. One of the missions of our program is to take students who might be “late-bloomers” and make them marketable to professional and graduate schools. Our philosophy is that students who perform poorly or are deemed unsuccessful as undergraduate students for whatever reasons occasionally wake-up after receiving their bachelors degrees and perform quite well in graduate school. Our track record in this regard is excellent. We have also had excellent success in our graduate program in taking B.S. students who have majored in disciplines other than chemistry (e.g., medical technology, biology, combined science, etc.) and after successfully completing the M.S. degree in chemistry, go on to excellence in professional schools and graduate schools, and as practicing M.S. chemists in the workplace. 

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4. What career options are enhanced by an M.S. degree in Chemistry?

With a M.S. degree in chemistry, students find that they become more competitive in their careers and obtain the key to a broader choice of job positions. For example, upon graduation with a B.S. degree in chemistry, students are generally suited for jobs at the entrance level primarily for technical work. Most times they begin working for a supervisor who tells them what to do, and many times how to do it. There is thus little job independence. Generally, only after years of experience does this situation change for B.S. degree chemists and only with time and effort do they “climb the ladder”. 

An advanced degree in chemistry gives individuals more latitude in the workplace earlier in their careers. During graduate education in chemistry, students learn to approach research problems, which are often problems from the real world, from a better perspective and considerably more independently than they were able before they began their advanced education. In the workplace those types of skills translate into opportunities: to be independent, to perform and direct research, to act in supervisory roles, and to be more promotable. Advanced degree chemists have much more opportunity to be “where the action is”. Many times these types of opportunities are available at the entry level for advanced degree chemists. Also, a good chemistry background enhances not only a career in chemistry, but also in chemical and science related careers such as technical writing, technical sales, technical advising and consulting, etc. 

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5. Describe the reputation of the Chemistry Department Graduate Program at YSU.

Our graduate program has an excellent reputation. Our excellent reputation is the result of several factors. 

  • Many of our faculty are known nationally and several are known internationally for their work. 
  • Our graduate students place well and succeed in graduate and professional schools, as well as in the workplace. 
  • Faculty-student interaction within the department is significant. Students learn first-hand from faculty and faculty freely give their time to teach graduate students both inside of and outside of the classroom. 
  • Our program offers a terminal M.S. degree. We do not offer a Ph.D. degree, so the perception that students graduating with M.S. degrees have received them as “consolation prizes” is not present. Our graduates come to us with the full intention of getting a M.S. degree only. 

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INFORMATION ON THE DEGREE AND COURSE OFFERINGS 


6. What is the name of the degree offered by the Chemistry program? 

Master of Science degree in Chemistry. 

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7. What areas of specialization within chemistry are available for study?

Coursework and faculty research interests within the department cover the five traditional areas of chemistry (Analytical, Biochemistry, Inorganic, Organic, and Physical), as well as interdisciplinary areas of chemistry such as Environmental, Materials, Medicinal, Polymer, and Theoretical Chemistry.  Of particular interest to secondary level science teachers is the new area of Chemistry Education.

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8. Briefly, what course selections available in the Chemistry program.

We offer courses that cover fundamental aspects of the four traditional areas of chemistry: Analytical, Inorganic, Organic, and Physical. We also offer fundamental courses in Biochemistry and Chemistry Education. The range of course offerings beyond the fundamental core courses cover specialization’s within each area. In addition, we offer coursework in current topics of interest in the field of chemistry (our Special Topics courses within each division of chemistry) that may be within the five traditional areas, but may also cross disciplinary boundaries. We continually update all courses to reflect the state-of-the-art in chemistry. 

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9. What is the class format in the Chemistry program?

The most typical format for classes is a formal lecture. Some classes offer laboratories or are laboratory classes themselves. These tend to be much less formal and more hands on, with group interaction. There has been a trend in the department to move class formats to less formal settings, however. Research is taught on a one-to-one basis, with strong interaction between students and faculty members. Through teaching interactions in research students learn the most important skills in graduate school: problem solving and application of knowledge. 

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10. How flexible are the class offerings in the Chemistry program?

A portion of our curriculum is inflexible, but most of it is extremely flexible. We require 35 semester hours (s.h.) of coursework for a M.S. degree in chemistry. The inflexible portion of the curriculum involves required courses. Each student in the program must take 6 s.h. of courses in laboratory orientation, introduction to chemical research, and seminar. Also a research thesis (6 s.h.) is required. Teaching assistants must register for a teaching practicum course, but this is not part of the 35 s.h. total. The more flexible portion of the curriculum is the 15 s.h. of content courses in any chemistry disciplines the student chooses, usually in consultation with a faculty advisor. To further broaden the program, up to 8 s.h. of electives may be in or outside of chemistry. 

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11. What is the role of technology in the Chemistry program?

Technology is central to the success of our program. Chemistry is a technically driven discipline. We rely upon measurements to perform experimentation and calculations for results of experimentation and for theoretical explorations. Measurements require state-of-the-art instrumentation. Calculations require state-of-the-art computers. We have been very successful in maintaining state-of-the-art instrumentation and computerization for graduate student use. All graduate students have accessible to them the wide range of instrumentation and computer facilities within the department. 

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INFORMATION ABOUT THE FACULTY 


12. How are the Chemistry Department faculty members accessible to students and describe some ways that they interact with students. Also, how does the relatively high level of personal attention available in the Chemistry Program benefit graduate students?

Each faculty member within the Chemistry Department maintains regular weekly office hours. However, the accessibility of graduate students to faculty far exceeds any time that may be spent in formal office hours. Most of our students are Graduate Teaching Assistants who have responsibilities for teaching laboratory sections of lower division chemistry classes. These students interact on a weekly basis with faculty course coordinators who instruct them on how to teach their classes, how to safely conduct their classes, how to cover the material that they will present during those classes, and how to grade. Graduate students receive regular advisement on coursework and progress through the program either from the Graduate Program Director during their first couple of quarters or from their faculty mentors in subsequent quarters. Additionally, faculty members within the Chemistry Department generally try to make themselves available as much as possible for general consultation with graduate students. This interaction is not limited only to those students enrolled in graduate level classes. Most of the faculty/student interaction in graduate school is between faculty member mentors and their student mentees. This strong interaction between faculty mentors and their students results from the fact the in chemistry, student research and faculty research are so strongly intertwined as to be inseparable. The result of this inseparability of student and faculty research is that faculty have a very strong interest in their student’s research and thus spend large amounts of time with them on their projects. However, significant time is spent consulting with students about other matters as well. Faculty are keenly aware of the fact that students need advice and guidance on choosing careers after graduate school. Most faculty consult with and advise their students about things such as writing resumes, the ins and outs of job searching, interviewing, presentation of papers at meetings, writing papers for journals, etc. 

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OTHER IMPORTANT INFORMATION 


13. What areas of studies are available, what demands are placed upon students, and what is unique about the YSU Chemistry graduate program?

Some of the unique aspects of our program: 

  • Intense interaction with faculty. The Chemistry Department faculty members take their role as mentors very seriously. Students can expect to have access to faculty when they need it, not only in direct regard to coursework, but also for advice and guidance. 
  • Availability of instrumentation. Unlike many Chemistry Departments around the country, we make fully available for student use ALL instrumentation within the department. From the most sophisticated to the mundane, students can use what they need and when they need it. 
  • Availability of a full range of fields. The research and teaching interests of the Chemistry Department faculty cover all of the major disciplines of chemistry, and many major interdisciplinary areas, such as environmental, theoretical, and materials chemistry, are available for study as well. 

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14. How does the Chemistry graduate program make students competitive while they are enrolled in graduate school and after they graduate?

Competitiveness while enrolled in graduate school, as well as in the workplace, is fostered by independence, creative thinking, and a demonstrated ability in problem solving. Our graduate program allows students to develop these important traits within themselves. Development of such skills requires a good knowledge base to build upon. We require students to take a range of core courses that covers the major aspects of their discipline. Further knowledge within the various concentration areas of chemistry is then gained by more specialized courses. After development of a knowledge base, students are then challenged to apply themselves by working on a research thesis. It is during the thesis phase of their tenure as a graduate student that independent working occurs, and creative thinking and problem solving skills are developed. These skills apply to every aspect of a students career and to their everyday lives. 

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15. Why should prospective graduate students choose the Chemistry program at Youngstown State University for their graduate degrees?

Students should choose the Graduate Program in Chemistry at YSU because of several situations that exist here that are unique, both within the state of Ohio and nationally. 

  • We can offer students an extremely marketable degree. There are several reasons that this is true. Contrary to popular belief, chemical manufacturing is not the only employer of chemists. Chemists find jobs in every sector of manufacturing, from home products to pharmaceuticals. Chemists also find employment in such diverse fields as medicine, forensic science, biotechnology, and environmental science. A Master of Science degree in chemistry is increasingly being seen by all industries to be an attractive starting level for new hires. This is true primarily because M.S. degreed chemists have many of the same problem solving and research skills of Ph.D. chemists, but at a lesser cost to industry, because of their fewer years of schooling. Additionally, many positions in chemistry and chemically related industries are becoming increasingly technical and some study beyond the B.S. level makes an individual more attractive for these types of positions. 
  • Because the YSU Chemistry Department offers a terminal M.S. degree, the stigma of being a “wash-out” from a Ph.D. program does not exist. We do not offer the Ph.D. degree, so students who come here, come with the intention of an M.S. only. The result is that marketing yourself as a M.S. chemist from YSU is considerably easier than trying to market from other, larger schools, where Ph.D. programs coexist with M.S. programs. 
  • Because YSU Chemistry Department offers a terminal M.S. degree, facilities for research are readily available for M.S. student research. At schools with Ph.D. programs in Chemistry, research dollars, laboratory equipment and laboratory space are intended primarily for students in the Ph.D. program. M.S. students in many instances are afterthoughts. That is not true at YSU. M.S. Students are our graduate program. 
  • The student to faculty ratio within the YSU Chemistry Department is extremely favorable for students. Students can expect much time and attention from their faculty mentors, both in the laboratory for performing research and outside of the laboratory for guidance and advice. 

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