Requirements & Deadlines

Ph.D. in Chemistry
M.A. in Chemistry
Graduate School Requirements

The requirements for the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Chemistry are established by the Chemistry Department and the Graduate School at Boston University. The steps toward earning a graduate degree in Chemistry are described in this section. For more detailed information, the Graduate School Bulletin and Chemistry Graduate Student Handbook should be consulted.

Ph.D. in Chemistry

The requirements for a Ph.D. in Chemistry consist of a combination of coursework, examinations, and original research, as outlined below.

Additionally, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GRS) and the Chemistry Department guarantee five full years (12 months each) of financial support for students who maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress. This support will be in the form of Teaching Fellowships, Research Assistantships, or Graduate Fellowships.  Funding beyond five years is generally provided (but not guaranteed) to students who are working productively toward the PhD degree.  The time limit for completion of the PhD is seven years (exceptions require petition to GRS).  A leave of absence of up to two semesters is permitted for appropriate cause, but the leave period counts towards the seven-year time limit.  The following achievements are required to maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress.

  • Course requirements. At least five four-credit courses relevant to the candidate’s area of study must be successfully completed, with a minimum grade of B-, by May of the candidate’s second year of study. One of these courses may be at the 500 level.  At least four must be at the 600 level or higher.  Students may not accumulate more than one grade below B- in any class (including CH 699, CH 801/802, CH 901/902, CH 903/904).

General Requirements for All Students for each semester:

  • Registration each semester (Fall, Spring, Summer). All updated forms can be found on the GRS Forms, Policies & Procedures webpage.
    • If a PhD student plans to enroll for less than 12 credits, and is receiving a full stipend, then the student is automatically considered to have full-time status, and must turn in ONLY the Registration Form.
    • All other students (MA & PhD) should fill out BOTH the Continuing Study and Certified Full-Time Status Form AND the Registration Form.
  • Maintain satisfactory academic progress, taking note of the additional requirements in each year of the program, as described below.
  • Check Student Link to be in Compliance (BU Alert #, MVL, Immunizations)

Requirements and Deadlines for First-Year Students:

  • Research Nights. Research nights take place in September of a candidate’s first year. Attendance at all three is mandatory. Each research night features one or two Chemistry disciplines and a one-hour poster session.
  • CH 801/802 Graduate Research Methods and Scholarly Writing. A two-semester sequence designed to introduce students to the fundamental methods of research and scholarship necessary for a successful career as a graduate student, teacher, and independent research scientists.
  • Colloquia. The Department sponsors formal weekly colloquia, given by respected leaders in chemical research and education from academia, industry, and government.
  • Advisor Selection Form. Students are required to select a research advisor by the end of their first semester of study.

Requirements and Deadlines for Second-Year Students:

  • Colloquia. The Department sponsors formal weekly colloquia, given by respected leaders in chemical research and education from academia, industry, and government.  Continuing in Year 2 of the PhD, attendance of colloquia is required.
  • Selection of Dissertation Advisory Committee. In the fall of the second year, students select three to five faculty members to serve on their Dissertation Advisory Committees (DACs). The purpose of a DAC is to: evaluate student research progress annually, provide the student with expertise, serve as members of the second-year oral exam committee, and participate as dissertation readers and members of the dissertation exam committee.
  • Oral Qualifying Exam Proposal Abstract. Abstracts are reviewed by the Graduate Program Committee and must be approved before exam scheduling can be finalized.  These abstracts are due to the DGS and the GAA by the 15th of January (or the first business day after if the 15th falls on a weekend).
  • Oral Qualifying Exam Proposal. Students are required to write a proposal describing their dissertation research projects. Proposals are reviewed and approved by the committee chairs.
  • Oral Qualifying Exam. Students are required to give a 20-minute presentation on their dissertation research projects and satisfactorily respond to questions about both the presentation and the proposal posed by their dissertation advisory committee members.  The exam must be scheduled by February 1st and take place by March 15th, unless there are extenuating circumstances.  Students are encouraged to discuss exam scheduling with their advisor well in advance.

Students who have completed their course requirements, passed their oral qualifying exams, and demonstrated substantial progress in their doctoral research will be recommended for advancement to candidacy for the doctoral degree.

Requirements and Deadlines for Advanced Students:

  • DAC Updates. Students who are in their third-year or higher must complete an Annual Dissertation Advisory Committee Meeting form, unless:
    • (i) an exemption to this meeting is granted by the student’s advisor and DAC Committee Chair (please see the Annual DAC Meeting form), or
    • (ii) the student has a peer-reviewed paper in print (not in review).

Students will arrange to update the members of their Dissertation Advisory Committee annually to discuss their research progress and future plans.  It is expected that prior to the meeting, students submit a written research summary (encapsulating progress since their last DAC meeting), which will then serve as the basis of the DAC meeting.  Such meetings typically take place in January or February.  Please note: Both students and committee members may request to hold a DAC meeting at any time.

  • Advanced Year Public Presentations. Students must participate in one of the following no later than May of their 4th year:
    • 1) in a student-only seminar series,
    • 2) PChem series,
    • 3) other approved meeting or conference.
  • Submitting a Prospectus. Students must submit the prospectus and prospectus paperwork to Laura no later than six months before the dissertation defense, or as soon as it has been approved by their DAC.  For more information, please visit the GRS PhD Dissertation and Graduation Procedures webpage.
  • Dissertation and Defense. Ph.D. candidates must complete a research program acceptable to the major professor and present a dissertation approved by the major professor and a second reader. In their final oral examination, candidates must defend their dissertations as worthwhile contributions to scientific knowledge and must demonstrate mastery of the field of specialization as it relates to the dissertation. The examining committee consists of at least five faculty members (including the major professor).  For more information, please visit the GRS PhD Dissertation and Graduation Procedures webpage.

M.A. in Chemistry

The requirements for a M.A. in Chemistry consist of a combination of coursework and research, as outlined below:

  • Course Requirements. Masters students are required to successfully complete eight graduate courses, of which at least five are non-research courses. Of the five, one may be at the 500 level and four must be at the 600-level or above.
  • Research. Students must complete at least two semesters of research under the supervision of a research advisor.
  • Students must receive no more than two grades, in any class (including CH 699, CH 801/802, CH 901/902, CH 903/904) below a B-.

Graduate School Requirements

As a component of the Graduate School, the department necessarily conforms to the Graduate School’s policies and procedures. These general regulations can be found explained in detail in the Graduate School Bulletin. You are strongly advised to read over these regulations in the most recent Bulletin carefully.