PhD in Chemistry

The doctoral program in chemistry prepares individuals for teaching and research in academic institutions, and for research in industrial and governmental positions. To be eligible for admission, a student must possess a bachelor’s degree in chemistry or a closely related discipline.

Learning Outcomes

  • Students are required to design, carry out, present, and defend an original work of research at the cutting edge of their discipline.
  • Students must demonstrate mastery of the subject material relevant to their graduate field of study and advance scholarship.
  • Students need to be able to identify areas where ethical issues may arise in their discipline, and articulate strategies for dealing with them.
  • Students are expected to be able to teach and promote their discipline at the undergraduate level.

Course Requirements

A doctoral student must accumulate 64 credits:

  • At least 20 credits of academic coursework (five 4-credit courses).
    • Four of these courses must be at or above the 600-level
    • Two courses acceptable for graduate credit in mathematics or natural sciences other than chemistry may be substituted for chemistry courses
  • The remaining credits should be PhD research courses (CH 901/902 PhD Research in Chemistry)

Courses completed with a grade lower than B– are not degree-eligible. The student’s major advisor or the Graduate Programs Committee may require that specific non-research courses be taken beyond the requirement. Of the non-research courses, appropriate courses will be dependent upon the student’s background and interests and will be determined in consultation with the major advisor. Students may petition to be excused from non-research courses on the basis of equivalent courses taken elsewhere.

Language Requirement

There is no foreign language requirement for this degree.

Qualifying Examinations

A student who wishes to be promoted to PhD candidacy must successfully complete an oral qualifying examination by spring of their second academic year. The oral qualifying examination is intended to test the student’s background knowledge in the subject specialty and the ability to think critically, independently, and creatively. Each student is required to compose a written research proposal describing their dissertation research project, and to defend the proposal in an oral examination administered by members of the student’s Dissertation Advisory Committee. The written proposal should define the background, objectives, significance, and plan of study for the research problem; a bibliography must be included. Recommendations to the department for advancement to PhD candidacy will depend on the results from the oral qualifying examination and on performance in coursework and research.

Dissertation and Final Oral Examination

The candidate shall demonstrate their ability for independent study by composing a dissertation representing original research or creative scholarship. A prospectus for the dissertation must be completed and approved by the Readers, the Director of Graduate Studies, and the department Chair/Program Director. The candidate must undergo a final oral examination in which the original dissertation is defended as a valuable contribution to knowledge in the candidate’s field. In addition, the candidate must demonstrate expertise in their field of specialization in relation to the dissertation research. All portions of the dissertation and final oral examination must be completed as outlined in the GRS General Requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy Degree.

A PhD student who leaves the program with a master’s degree must accumulate 32 credits:

  • At least 20 credits of academic coursework (five 4-credit courses)
  • Four of these courses must be at or above the 600 level
  • Two courses acceptable for graduate credit in mathematics or natural sciences other than chemistry may be substituted for chemistry courses
  • At least 8 of the remaining credits should be research coursework (GRS CH 903/904 MA Research in Chemistry)