About the Chemistry Department

The Department of Chemistry at MIT is recognized as one of the top chemistry departments in the world, paving the way in both education and research.  Its illustrious history shares the MIT tradition of excellence.  The department's strong record of achievement is based on its pioneering advances in chemical research and its success in incorporating these advances into our educational mission.  Chemistry is truly the central science and underpins much of the efforts of scientists and engineers to improve life for humankind.  MIT Chemistry is taking a leading role in experimentally and theoretically probing chemistry at its most fundamental level, discovering new chemical syntheses, creating sustainable energy, unraveling the biochemical complexities of natural systems, improving the environment, detecting and curing disease, and developing materials with new properties.  Many fundamental discoveries made in our department have found their way into practical applications ranging from polymer synthesis to medical imaging. 

The department presently has about 30 faculty members, all of whom participate in the undergraduate and graduate educational programs and direct active research programs, and some of who have joint or secondary appointments in our department or other departments.  Our program of teaching and research spans the breadth of chemistry, including biological chemistry, inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, and physical (experimental and theoretical) chemistry.  More specialized areas such as environmental and atmospheric chemistry, materials chemistry and nanoscience are also covered.  We offer an educational and research experience in the chemical sciences that is rich with challenges and opportunities for undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate students.  There are currently over 55 undergraduate chemistry majors, over 235 graduate students, and about 120 post-doctoral associates and visiting fellows.  In a recent year, the graduate population included students from 22 foreign countries and from more than 104 colleges and universities around the United States.  Women comprise approximately 34% of our graduate students and  57% of undergraduate majors while underrepresented minorities comprise 7% of our graduate students and 23% of our undergraduate majors.  This representation of students from widely different backgrounds contributes to the enrichment of student life within the department.  

Some of our research activities are carried out in association with interdisciplinary laboratories such as the MIT Energy Initiative, Center for Materials Science and Engineering, Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, Institute for Medical Engineering and Science, Plasma Fusion Center, Research Laboratory of Electronics, Lincoln Laboratory, the Laser Biomedical Research Center, Broad Institute, Institute for Soldier Nanotechnology, Novartis Center for Continuous Manufacturing, Picower Institute, and the Whitehead Institute.  These interdepartmental research laboratories provide stimulating interaction among the research programs at several MIT departments and give students the opportunity to become familiar with research work in disciplines other than chemistry.  Some of our graduate students are also members of the Biophysics Certificate Program, Biotechnology Training Program, Microbiology Program, and Program in Polymer Science and Engineering.  In addition, there are opportunities for research in cooperation with other departments such as Biology, Chemical Engineering, Physics, and Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences.  

This spectrum of research activity, combined with a variety of challenging graduate subjects and an extensive seminar program, provide our graduate students with the foundation needed for a meaningful professional career and a lifetime of independent learning.  It is this combination that makes the MIT graduate in chemistry capable of adapting both to the changing demands of his or her profession and to the career opportunities encountered.

Thank you for visiting the Department of Chemistry's web site at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology!



Timothy F. Jamison

Department Head, Chemistry