Frequently Asked Questions

What does ChemGSO do and how can I get more involved?

The Chemistry Graduate Student Organization is a very important part of the Chemistry department at KU and we encourage students to get involved. The GSO has many roles including planning graduate student events and fund raising efforts to benefit chemistry graduate students. The GSO also works closely with the graduate academic advisor to make graduate students aware of opportunities and resources for them on campus.

Their website can be found here and their Facebook can be found here.

The following description comes from their 'About' section on Facebook and gives further insight:

'As of 2017 [the GSO] was an organization in the department, made up of a few grad students who worked very hard to plan and carry out events for Chemistry graduate students. Even with all their hard work, it was still very hard to get GSO to thrive. Enter 2018. The year GSO became ChemGSO. By the will of those extra eager grad students, GSO is being revamped into a fully recognizedd organization at KU and a part of that revamp is some rebranding. Now known as ChemGSO, we are working to bring together graduate students in the chemistry and related departments to act more as a resource than a bothersome email phantom. Our goal is to bring together grad students to help other, younger grad students by hosting talks and other events that may shed some light onto what is to come during their time at KU as well as be a guiding light for incoming grad students who may feel overwhelmed with work and choosing groups. We also strive to bridge the communication gap between grad students and faculty during situations students don't normally face. Everyone is invited to our public ChemGSO meetings, our schedule will be posted here and on our future website. Please join us if you would like to offer insight or even bring up concerns amongst the department.'

This is a list of the current GSO officers:

Kelci Schilly - President

Zeke Piskulich - Vice-President

Galina Bulgakova - Treasurer

Chelsea Comadoll - Secretary

Joshua Sanders - Event/Program Coordinator

How often should we meet with our Research Advisory Committee?

The purpose of the RAC is to give additional support and resources to our students both for their research and professional goals. RACs are required to meet a minimum of once an academic year to discuss the student’s progress, but you are welcome (and encouraged) to schedule more than one meeting throughout the year. We have specifically kept the guidelines for these meetings vague because we hope that each person can tailor their RAC to their needs. However, you can find a guideline for discussions that may be useful in providing a structured and productive meeting here. This will help to give you an idea of possible meeting formats and questions to discuss with your commitee.

If you have any additional questions about your Research Advisory Committee you can contact the Director of Graduate Studies, Jon Tunge, or the Graduate Academic Advisor, Megan Belaire.


How many credits should I enroll in each semester?

You are expected to be enrolled full time each semester, but the definition of full time varies depending on your appointments. Most, if not all, chemistry graduate students will have a GTA or GRA position.

Students with a GTA or GRA appointment must be enrolled in 6 credits hours for fall and spring and 3 credit hours in the summer. 

Students that have passed their oral comprehensive exam must complete 18 post-comp hours after which time they can petition to reduce to 1 hour a semester.

If you're still unsure how many credits to enroll in, please email the graduate academic advisor, Megan Belaire to set up an appointment.

For more information on full time enrollment please see the university policy

What is the orals process/timeline for my division?

It is expected that you will sit for your oral comps sometime during your third year of study at KU. At the beginning of your third year you should meet with your research advisor to discuss when you will be ready to take the exam and what you are expected to do beforehand. The following is the general process for all divisions besides Analytical.

You should work with your advisor to come up with a research proposal and possible committee members and then you should contact the graduate academic advisor, Megan Belaire, as soon as possible with a list of your committee members and a 1-2 window in which you would like to take the exam. The graduate academic advisor will ensure that your committee members comply with the graduate studies policy and then send out a scheduling poll to find the date and time of the exam. Once the date and time have been agreed upon the graduate academic advisor will reserve a room for the exam. Megan will also be in charge of submitting the necessary paperwork to ensure that your exam is official in the eyes of the university so it is especially important that she be given advance notice of your exam and that she should be involved in the scheduling process.All of the above must be completed no later than 2 weeks in advance of the exam date in order to assure approval.

For the Analytical Division you are expected to give a seminar talk on your research before you can schedule your exam. Contact Cady Bush for exam scheduling and she will work to provide you with your committee members and a room reservation.

Which parking passes am I eligible for?

Graduate students are eligible for Yellow student permits, but they can apply for a waitlist for the Yellow Allen Fieldhouse Garage Permit. It typically takes 1 year of being on the waitlist before you are granted a garage permit.

If you have any yellow pass you can also park in Park and Ride, if you work on both campuses and purchase a main campus pass, KU parking has agreed to add west campus parking to your permit.

What is the general process for defending and applying for graduation?

It is expected that you will defend your dissertation during your 5th year of study at KU. If you do not feel you are ready after discussing with your research advisor you will need to submit a petition to extend departmental support.

You should speak with your research advisor about any division requirements that may be necessary before you can defend. Once you know your committee members, the title of your dissertation, and a general timeline of when you would like to defend, please provide this information to Megan Belaire, the graduate academic advisor. She will follow up to ensure that your committee adheres to graduate policy and the schedule the date and time of the exam. Once the date and time have been confirmed she will reserve a room for the defense. You should plan on having your dissertation to the committee AT LEAST 3 weeks in advance of the exam date because it is required that at least 3 of your committee members must email the graduate academic advisor confirming that the dissertation is in "final defensible form" no later that 2 weeks before the exam date. This would give your committee one week to read through the dissertation, although some committee members may prefer more time.

It is best that you apply for graduation in Enroll & Pay once the exam has been scheduled. If you do not pass you can always rescind the application, but it is much harder to apply for graduation after the deadline.

The following links have checklists of everything that must be completed before the doctoral degree can be awarded, but as always you may contact the graduate academic advisor if you have any further questions.

The deadline for all of your materials varies each year, but it is always towards the very end of the semester.

What are the requirements for Oral Exam/Final Defense committees?

The following are requirements for both oral exam and final defense committees:

- There must be at least 5 members on the committee.

- The majority of these members must be tenured/tenure track.

- One member must be from outside of the chemistry department. This person will serve as the Graduate Studies Representative to "assure the appropriate standard of fairness, professionalism, judgment, and skill are applied throughout the examination process for the benefit of the institution and in the best interest of the student". The GSR must have no previous collaboration with the student nor their research advisor.

- At least 3 of the 5 members must be from the chemistry department.

What is the pay schedule and where can I find more information about it?

KU employees are paid on a bi-monthly basis. More information about payroll and tax information can be found here.

Click on the button that says 'Calendar' to see the current year's pay schedule. There will be gaps in pay for GTA positions based on when you finish spring semester and start in summer. The last day of GTA appointments is always noted on this calendar for the academic year, and you should be able to figure out when your first summer pay check will arrive, based on the dates given and when classes start. The graduate academic advisor will also be sending emails about pay gaps as a reminder.

Who can I talk to if....

... I have a question about my paycheck?

Bev Johnson ( is in charge of KU Chemistry Deparment Payroll and can answer most questions. Your PI is another good resources. You can always reach out to KU HR directly for questions regarding payroll.

.. I have a question about travel expenses?

Jan Akers ( is responsible for handling most student travel to and from locations. Jan is in charge of most travel arrangements and reimbursements. You will need to fill out a travel form and have your plans approved by your PI before you start the process.

... I have a question about being a graduate student in the department?

You have a number of options. ChemGSO is happy to answer any questions you might have. Megan Belaire ( is the graduate academic advisor and can answer questions about deadlines, graduation requirements and graduate policy in general. She's also good at connecting you with other resources if she doesn't know the answer herself. Your PI can oftern point you towards an appropriate resource as well. ChemGSO also can put you in contact with proper KU or Chemistry staff member to give you an answer to your question.

... I need to make a room reservation?

If you need to reserve a classroom you should contact Elizabeth Coleman ( If you need to reserve a conference room you can contact Megan Belaire (

When you make a reservation you will need to know an approximate number of people that will attend, the room you are thinking of, and any technology requirements you might have. Please try to make reservations a week in advance if possible to avoid any last minute conflicts.

... if I need to print a poster?

The Chemistry Department prints posters for all Chemistry faculty, postdocs, and students with Chemistry funding sources.  The cost for a poster printed on glossy photo paper is $20. Any student or lab group wishing to print a poster should use our online webform to make the request. Please be sure to have approval from your PI before submitting the request, since you will need to get the grant number from your PI for the form.

The poster printing request form can be found here.

Chemistry department receives more than $8.5 million in research grants annually
14 chemistry faculty members have NSF CAREER Awards
Longest-running chemistry Research Experience for Undergraduates in the nation
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