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Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Degree

The Ph.D. degree is the highest academic degree offered by our program, and is entirely focused on innovative research in the chemical sciences.

Study for the Ph.D. should ideally be completed within five years beyond the baccalaureate degree, and all courses and degree requirements must be finished within seven years. These requirements include the following:

Demonstration of Proficiency in Undergraduate Chemistry: Students must pass at least three diagnostic examinations in undergraduate chemistry areas, including Organic Chemistry, Inorganic Chemistry, Physical Chemistry, Analytical Chemistry, and Biochemistry.

Department Seminars: Students must complete 7 credit hours of Department Seminar. These seminars broaden our students’ exposure to the wide breadth of research in industry and academia.

Coursework: The Ph.D. degree requires at least 72 credit hours beyond the baccalaureate degree (42 credit hours beyond the Master’s degree). Students must maintain at least a 3.0 grade point average in these courses throughout their studies. In our program, the student’s research advisor and Supervisory Committee will make recommendations about coursework to be taken.

Selection of a Research Advisor and Supervisory Committee: This is one of the most important decisions a student will make during the graduate career. The research advisor will provide mentorship and serve as chair of the student’s Supervisory Committee that will assist the student in selection of coursework and evaluate progress in research. Ph.D. students are required to choose a research advisor by the beginning of the second semester. The Supervisory Committee must have at least four members all holding the Ph.D. degree. Three members, including the research advisor, must have a tenured or tenure-track faculty appointment in the Chemistry department. The fourth member is required to be from outside of the Chemistry Department.

Supervisory Committee Meetings: These meetings are required at least once each year, for the student to update the committee on progress in coursework, research, teaching duties, and other related activities.

Promotion to Candidacy: Once completing the proficiency requirements for undergraduate chemistry (in at least three areas), each graduate student should present to the Supervisory Committee a written document outlining the student’s research progress and future plans. This research summary is also to be presented orally to the committee, and a successful defense results in the student being promoted to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree. This should be completed before the end of the third academic semester (excluding summers). At the discretion of the committee, the student not promoted to candidacy within this timeframe may elect to complete an M.A. or M.S. degree, or be terminated from the program.

Original Research Proposal (ORP) Examination: After being promoted to candidacy, the student must prepare and defend an original research proposal to his or her Supervisory Committee. This should be completed by the end of the fifth semester (excluding summers). At the discretion of the committee, the student not passing the ORP examination within this timeframe may elect to complete an M.A. or M.S. degree, or be terminated from the program.

Research Data Presentation: At least one semester prior to the final defense for the Ph.D. degree, each student must give an oral presentation on his or her completed research to his or her Dissertation Committee. This should be done preferably by the end of the fourth year (eight semesters, excluding summers). The Dissertation Committee will advise the student on the specific research milestones to be met before the student can “write up” the final dissertation.

Publication and Presentation Requirements: To receive the Ph.D. degree in Chemistry, the student must publish at least one peer-reviewed manuscript on his or her doctoral research, and give at least two presentations at a scientific meeting.

Oral Defense of the Ph.D. Dissertation: Upon completing all the research and other program requirements, the student will schedule a final oral defense of the written Ph.D. dissertation. This presentation is open to the public and is the final requirement for the doctoral degree.


Steps to the Doctoral (Ph.D.) Degree in Chemistry