PhD in Chemistry
Candidates who enter with a bachelor’s degree must complete 64 credits in chemistry, 20 of which must be academic course credits. 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, two must be outside the candidate’s major area of specialization, and at least four must be at the 600 level or above. Students may petition to be excused from non-research courses on the basis of equivalent courses taken elsewhere. Two courses acceptable for graduate credit in mathematics or natural sciences other than chemistry may be substituted for chemistry courses. All remaining required credits must be in research. In addition, candidates must satisfy the qualifying examination requirements and present a dissertation, which must be approved by a first and second reader and defended at an oral examination.
The requirements for candidates who enter with a master’s degree are as described above, except that the total number of credits required is 32.
Dissertation Advisory Committee
By the beginning of the second year, each PhD candidate, in consultation with his or her major advisor, will select a Dissertation Advisory Committee (DAC), consisting of five faculty members, including the major advisor. This committee will serve as the candidate’s qualifying examination (minimum four members present) and final dissertation (all required to be present) committees. The student is required to meet with his/her committee at least once a year to give a written and oral report and to discuss the student’s progress toward completing research and other program requirements.
Candidates for the PhD in chemistry are required to take two qualifying examinations that are intended to test background in subject specialty and ability to think critically, independently, and creatively. Successful completion of these examinations is required for promotion to PhD candidacy.
The first part of the qualifying examination consists of a series of cumulative exams. These are one-hour exams, given at the rate of two per month. Students may begin taking them at any time during their first academic year, but no later than February. Exams are given monthly, continuing through June of the second academic year. Students may take exams for up to 16 consecutive months (32 exams), by which time they must have passed a total of four exams. The exam schedule includes approximately eight exams each in the areas of biochemistry, inorganic, organic, physical chemistry, and theoretical chemistry. The topics covered in each month’s exams are announced a week in advance and may be taken from coursework, recent literature, and work presented at departmental colloquia.
The second part of the qualifying examination, to be taken during the spring of the second academic year, requires each student to write a proposal describing his or her dissertation research project, and to defend it in an oral examination administered by members of the DAC. 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 two qualifying examinations and on performance in coursework and research.
Candidates must complete a research program acceptable to the major professor and must present a dissertation approved by the major advisor (first reader) and a second reader. The format for the dissertation is specified by the Graduate School (http://www.bu.edu/cas/students/graduate/forms-policies-procedures/).
Final Oral Examination
Candidates for the PhD degree must defend their dissertation as a worthwhile contribution to knowledge and demonstrate mastery of the field of specialization as it relates to the dissertation at an oral examination.