SF Scholars Chemistry Website
The SF State Scholars program in Chemistry & Biochemistry provides motivated undergraduate students the opportunity to seamlessly transition from undergraduate to graduate study within the blended Bachelor of Science (BS) to Master of Science (MS) program. Students in this program pursue a bachelor’s and master’s degree simultaneously in their last year(s) of undergraduate study. Highly motivated BS Chemistry & Biochemistry majors may complete the combined BS and MS programs in as little as five years. Students may earn graduate credit in their junior and/or senior year, reducing the number of semesters needed to earn a master’s degree. A key component of the blended BS-MS program is research, which starts soon after a student is accepted into the SF State Scholars program.
A Scholar’s independent research is the defining activity of graduate study in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry and starts in the junior year for SF State Scholars. Research carried out in summer can fast-track a student’s progress in the blended BS-MS program.
Research is a vital component of the intellectual life of faculty and students in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry. Research leads to new knowledge and understanding of (bio)chemical processes. Undergraduate and graduate students who collaborate with faculty members in research are on the front line of scientific discovery. The process of carrying out independent research under faculty guidance is an invaluable and life-changing experience for undergraduate and graduate students. Research experience helps our graduates secure employment and admission to competitive post-graduate M.S. and Ph.D. programs.
Please visit the Department’s M.S. graduate program webpage to learn more about the curriculum.
Advantages of the Blended BS-MS program
- Accelerated path to earning a Master's degree from the BS degree.
- Up to 12 units of graduate coursework may be double counted for the BS and MS degrees. An additional 3 units of coursework may be taken as an undergraduate and counted toward the MS degree.
- Tuition remains at the undergraduate level until the Scholar transitions to graduate student status.
- Compared to BS graduates, students who successfully complete the program gain a competitive edge for employment and are better positioned for acceptance into competitive PhD programs.
- Students may complete all GE lower division requirements before applying for an SF State Scholar program.
- Students must have a 3.0 cumulative GPA or 3.0 in the last 60 semester units.
- Students can apply to the program while enrolled as undergraduates at SF State before completing 90-105 semester units and before enrolling in a senior capstone course in their major. Prospective students should discuss their eligibility with the Department Graduate Coordinator before applying.
- Students must not be declared in another major or second baccalaureate program.
- Transfer students are eligible and encouraged to apply.
- Students pursuing a second bachelor’s degree are not eligible for the SF State Scholar program.
Independent research is the cornerstone of the SF State Scholars and MS graduate programs. SF State Scholars are expected to carry out research starting as undergraduates and continue their project through the MS degree. SF State Scholars are mentored by their faculty sponsor who must be a tenured or tenure-track professor. Scholars receive intensive research training by working on an independent research project with their mentor and in collaboration with their group. Research training adds depth of knowledge, valuable skills in your area of expertise, and broadens your experience. It is through research, often in collaboration with other students in your group, that you learn independence as a scientist.
Expectations of SF State Scholars
- SF state Scholars will make continuous progress toward their B.S. degree in coursework. After their B.S. degree is conferred and the Scholar has graduate student status, the Scholar will make continuous progress toward their M.S. degree.
- Maintain a GPA of at least 3.0 as an undergraduate and graduate student.
- Make continuous progress in research throughout the SF State Scholars program.
- Scholars must enroll in CHEM 699 (undergraduate) and/or CHEM 897 (graduate) units every semester while they are in the SF State Scholars program.
- Scholars are advised to undertake at least 3 units of research and to not exceed a 16-unit course load per semester.
Identify a faculty mentor by researching areas that align with your interests. Review faculty profiles and current research on their web pages or other resources. Then, reach out to schedule a meeting with a faculty member to discuss available research opportunities.
To apply to the Chemistry & Biochemistry Scholars program, complete the following steps.
- Visit the SF State Scholars page on the Graduate Studies website. Find and follow the Application Instructions. There is no application fee. GRE test scores are not required.
- Ask your faculty mentor (faculty sponsor) to write a letter of support.
- Write a response to the following prompt. Email your response to the Graduate (SF State Scholars) Coordinator.
- Please provide a personal statement for the Graduate committee. In this statement, introduce yourself and explain why you are motivated to join the SF State Scholars program and to seek a graduate degree. Discuss the experiences that ignited your passion for chemistry and biochemistry. Reflect on your personal strengths and the areas where you aim to improve. Additionally, consider how others might describe the qualities that distinguish you from your peers. Your statement should be a maximum of 750 words.
After all application materials have been received, the Graduate Committee will review your application. If you were not accepted and your goal is to earn a graduate degree, you can still apply to the M.S. program after completing your B.S. degree. Consult with the Graduate Coordinator before applying.
January 15th for the following Spring semester
August 15th for the following Fall semester
Frequently Asked Questions
The SF State Scholars coordinator is the Graduate Coordinator for the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, Prof. Ichimura (firstname.lastname@example.org).
You may also contact the Associate Director of Enrollment & Curricular Engagement, Khaled Ezzat (email@example.com), who may answer questions about the program.
If you were not accepted and your goal is to earn a graduate degree, you can still apply to the M.S. program after completing your B.S. degree. Consult with the Graduate Coordinator before applying.
Scholars who are undergraduates are expected to make continuous progress in their research. An undergraduate scholar should expect to spend a minimum of 10 hours a week on research and an hour for research meeting with their mentor and group.
Graduate students spend most of their time on research as part of the SF State Scholars and MS programs. Typically, a graduate student dedicates ~20 hours per week to research during the semester. The commitment to research continues throughout the summer and may be up to 40 hours per week depending on the Scholar’s commitments. It is important to clarify the time-commitment that a faculty mentor will have for a Scholar before committing to research.
Students admitted to the SF State Scholar program may double-count 12 units of graduate-level coursework to both their BS and MS degrees. However, only graduate-level elective courses are eligible for this dual credit, not required courses. Additionally, students may complete up to 15 units of graduate-level courses in their senior year while still paying undergraduate tuition and fees.
At the MS level, research units CHEM 897 taken as an undergraduate may not be double counted because research units are required for the master’s degree. The Scholar is encouraged to enroll in 3 units of CHEM 699 as an undergraduate as part of their elective coursework.
Transfer students are encouraged to apply to the SF State Scholar program in Chemistry & Biochemistry. The eligibility requirements are the same. For various reasons, some students have more than the 90-105 units applying as transfer students. You are still welcome to apply provided that you still have most of the upper division coursework (300-level courses or higher) to complete.
Students pursuing a second bachelor’s degree are not eligible for the SF State Scholar program. However, 2nd bachelor’s candidates may find a research mentor, begin research, and then apply to the master’s program in their last semester. Consult with the Graduate Coordinator before applying.
The blended BS-to-MS program may shorten the time to the MS degree for some Scholars particularly those that commit to 8-10 weeks of research during the summer on top of research carried out during the academic year. The blended program includes a significant research component both as an undergraduate and graduate student. If the scholar can devote the entire summer to research between junior and senior years, and every summer thereafter, the MS degree can be earned more quickly. Research takes consistent effort to complete. However, if a scholar has a long commute, family obligations, or outside employment, these commitments take away time from research and slow progress to the MS degree. There is no time limit to finishing the master’s degree.
The 3.0 GPA minimum is the same for admission to the university and department at the graduate level and applies to the SF State Scholar program.
Every faculty member has their own style of mentoring students and this leads to a research environment that is often unique to their group. It is important to clarify expectations that a faculty mentor will have for a Scholar before committing to research.
Research leads to new knowledge and understanding of chemical and biochemical phenomena. Undergraduate and graduate students who collaborate with faculty members in such endeavors are on the front line of scientific discovery. Student collaborators are recognized as co-authors on presentations and publications with their faculty mentor.
A Scholar must meet the expectations listed above. Failure to meet the expectations in two consecutive semesters (e.g., a GPA < 3, no research progress) may be grounds for academic disqualification from the SF State Scholars and M.S. program. If a Scholar does not meet expectations in one semester, the Scholar will be on probation for the next semester until the expectations have been met. Scholars on academic probation have mandatory advising with the Graduate/SF State Scholars coordinator and their mentor to help create a plan for success. If the Scholar does not meet expectations in the next semester, they may be subject to disqualification from the SF State Scholars and master’s program.