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Research-Based Study

The MS in Chemistry will prepare you for a doctoral program or for a number of careers in research, development, education, and administration. You will learn the skills you need to conduct specialized laboratory research in the highly competitive chemical and biological industries.

Our department cultivates a collegial and congenial environment where you can pursue a flexible program with three specialized tracks of study: applied chemistryclinical biochemistry, or chemistry and society.

Our program emphasizes student research and individual mentorship: You will learn to write grant proposals for research funding, while designing, conducting, and analyzing research in advanced laboratory courses. Our modern teaching and research laboratories are fully equipped with chemical instrumentation, including spectrometers and chromatographic equipment, and we have specialized laboratories for work requiring an inert atmosphere, biochemistry, polymer chemistry, nanomaterials chemistry, electrochemistry, and computational chemistry. 

Washington, DC

Build Expertise through Specialization

Our 30-credit MS program offers two tracks of specialization. The Clinical Biochemistry Track will prepare you for careers in clinical laboratories, the pharmaceutical industry, and biodefense. Throughout the program, you will get hands-on experience in a clinical lab setting. Upon completion of the program, you will be able to operate analytical instrumentation used in clinical settings, safely handle clinical samples, and effectively explain your results to a wide audience. The course content includes regulatory and toxicological topics, which are growing areas of interest in the clinical laboratory setting.

The Applied Chemistry Track is more flexible with a broader selection of courses for customizing your program of study—focusing on analytical and inorganic chemistry, biochemistry, or organic chemistry—to prepare for a variety of careers or further graduate study.

Molecule superimposed on people arrayed in the shapes of the Earth's continents.Our new Chemistry & Society Track offers more electives to delve more deeply into subdisciplines of your choice: expand your horizons with a broad range of social research issues and tie advanced chemistry concepts to issues of broad societal interest with an internship or an independent study.

All tracks help you  build a solid foundation in methods, statistics, and research design in your core courses and then engage in your own original research to produce a master’s thesis of publishable quality. Students can take a for-credit internship as part of the capstone experience.

See Admissions & Course Requirements for full-time and part-time options. This program is designated as a STEM degree program.

Expert Scientists Dedicated To Your Success

Our professors are respected, cutting-edge scientists with connections to a number of research facilities in the DC area. They conduct research in a variety of fields, including analytical chemistry, biochemistry, computational chemistry, inorganic chemistry, biotechnology, organic synthesis, electrochemical energy conversion, nanomaterials chemistry, environmental chemistry, forensic chemistry, physical biochemistry, and green chemistry. With our faculty’s broad range of research interests, you are sure to find a faculty expert in your area of specialization.

This City Has Chemistry

Consistently ranked as one of the best cities for job-seekers, Washington, DC, is a hub of scientific research in public and private institutions. Home to numerous laboratories and policy organizations, the area offers a wealth of intellectual and professional opportunities. 

Thanks to AU’s location and well-connected faculty, our students enjoy special research opportunities through internships, work-study programs, special arrangements, and cooperative programs at a number of top-ranked government laboratories, including the Center for Advanced Research in Biotechnology, Food and Drug Administration, National Institute of Standards and Technology, National Institutes of Health, Naval Medical Research Institute, Naval Research Laboratory, Naval Surface Weapons Laboratory, Mid-Atlantic Laboratory of the Drug Enforcement Agency, US Army Mobility Equipment Research and Development Command at Fort Belvoir, the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, and NASA. By participating in these programs, you will obtain experience with specialized equipment, work with research scientists outside the university, and get a head start on your career.

Outstanding Opportunities For Chemists

The laboratory and computational skills learned in the MS program are highly valuable in doctoral study, and many of our students go into respected PhD and MD programs such as Princeton University, Thomas Jefferson University, the University of Delaware, and the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.   

Our graduates are also extremely competitive in the job market. Biochemistry plays a vital role in medicine, the pharmaceutical industry, the food industry, and biodefense. Employment of biochemists is projected to grow eight percent over the next ten years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The BLS also reports Maryland as the state with the third highest number of jobs for biochemists in the country, most of them in the DC metropolitan area, which is home to numerous biotechnology, pharmaceutical, forensics, and clinical laboratories that are constantly looking for qualified workers to serve in their labs. We have alumni working at private chemical companies like Solenis and PolyLC and in government laboratories for agencies including NIST, the Department of State, the DEA, and the Prince George’s County Police Department. With your MS in Chemistry and a head start on your career from a local internship, you will be well equipped to start your career in the DC research hub.


of graduates employed, in grad school, or both

Results are for May 2019, 2020, and 2021 graduates whose status was confirmed as of six months after graduation.

News & Notes

Stefano Costanzi published Strengthening Controls on Novichoks: a Family-Based Approach to Covering A-Series Agents and Precursors under the Chemical-Weapons Nonproliferation Regime in Non-Proliferation Review.

Hanning Chen was awarded a $59,259 grant for “Partnership: Development of Single- and Double-Atom Catalysts for Treating Agricultural Wastewater.”

Alexander Zestos received grants for $50,000 for"Assessments of potential impacts of cognitive deficits on drug use and their implications for HIV intravenous drug users" and  $55,000 from the American Chemical Society for his project "Fundamental Reactions of Phenols on Heterogeneous Polymer-Modified Microelectrode Surfaces.”

Stefano Costanzi received a $429,000 NIH grant for "Virtual screening for the identification of ligands of GPR101, an orphan GPCR involved in X-linked acrogigantism (X-LAG)."

Douglas Fox was awarded a $40,000 grant for "Nanocellulose Fluorescence Labeling."


Alex Lutz MS, Chemistry

Alex LutzMS, Chemistry

Alex Lutz has loved chemistry since eighth grade. Now he is an MS in Chemistry candidate at American University, and he’s received an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant to pursue exciting research on the next generation of antibiotics. 

In Associate Professor of Chemistry Monika Konaklieva’s lab, Alex is synthesizing and purifying novel antibiotic compounds to test their effectiveness against antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Some of the compounds have also demonstrated effectiveness in treating Alzheimer’s and other viral diseases.

Alex says he first became interested in American University because of its post-baccalaureate program. While he was studying in that program, he took a class on organic chemistry, which rekindled his love for chemistry and narrowed it down more to organic synthesis. He is planning on applying to PhD programs to continue his education in chemistry and hopes to focus on organic synthesis. He is also hoping to directly use the skills and techniques that he uses in the lab now in his future research.

“I would like to recognize and thank Dr. Monika Konaklieva for her constant support and guidance during my time as a graduate student,” Alex says. “Her constant patience and support during my research have been invaluable to me. Her guidance not only helped my selection of work, but has been vital in keeping me on track.”