ACS Releases Report on Graduate Education in the Chemical Sciences

The American Chemical Society (ACS) recently announced the findings of its Presidential Commission on Graduate Education in the Chemical Sciences.

Bassam Shakhashiri, professor of chemistry at UW-Madison and 2012 ACS president, charged the commission to address two primary questions:

  1. What are the purposes of graduate education in the chemical sciences?
  2. What steps should be taken to ensure that graduate education addresses important societal issues as well as the needs and aspirations of graduate students?

The report includes five conclusions:

  1. Current educational opportunities for graduate students, viewed on balance as a system, do not provide sufficient preparation for their careers after graduate school.
  1. The system for the financial support of graduate students, as currently operated by private, institutional, state, and federal funds, is no longer optimal for national needs.
  1. Academic chemical laboratories must adopt best safety practices. Such practices have led to a remarkably good record of safety in the chemical industry and should be leveraged.
  1. Departments should give thoughtful attention to maintaining a sustainable relationship between the availability of new graduates at all degree levels and genuine opportunities for them. Replication in excess is wasteful of resources and does injustice to the investment made by students and society.
  1. Postdoctoral training and education is an extension of graduate education that is important for success in a variety of career paths, particularly for faculty appointments. Postdoctoral associates should be treated as the professional scientists and engineers they are. A postdoctoral appointment should be a period of accelerated professional growth that, by design, enhances scientific independence and future career opportunities.

Read more about the detailed recommendations (pdf) the commission recommends for helping to address these five topics.

If you have questions or comments about the report, please contact