Programs of Study

Doctoral Program

The doctoral program in chemistry is designed to provide students with a background in advanced course work and chemical laboratory techniques that will prepare them to carry out, under the guidance of experienced scientists, an original, independent investigation that will lead to an acceptable contribution to the body of contemporary knowledge. Traditional areas of specialization are Analytical Chemistry, Inorganic Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, and Physical Chemistry.

In cooperation with other departments of the University, the Chemistry Department offers the Ph.D. degree in additional areas of specialization. Information about these programs may be obtained by selecting the links below:

Plan of Program

The doctoral degree normally requires four years of study beyond the bachelor's degree or a minimum of two to three years beyond the master's degree. The plan of study pursued by each student is dependent on individual requirements and is developed through a conference with the Advisory Committee (or with his or her temporary advisor).

The initial part of the student's program, normally completed at the end of two years of study, is devoted to formal course work. The first year is usually given to subjects in the major branches of chemistry in preparation for area (candidacy) examinations. The second year is devoted primarily to advanced subjects in a special field of concentration.

The second and final part of the program is devoted principally to research leading to the doctoral thesis. However, the student is encouraged to begin research as early as possible in the program of study. 

Language Requirements

Students in all Ph.D. programs must demonstrate satisfactory reading ability in one foreign language and acquire facility in one additional research tool. The research tool may be a second foreign language, a computer language, a statistics course or other skill acceptable to both the Graduate Coordinator and the research advisor of the student. The language(s) selected may not include the native language of a student's country of origin. Complete information about the Language Requirement may be found in the graduate catalog.

Credit Requirements

Of the 45 minimum credit requirements, a minimum of 27 credits in course work, exclusive of thesis and seminar, is required with at least 18 to be taken in chemistry. The remaining course credits (nine or more, with a student's Advisory Committee having the authority to add six additional credits to the minimum in special situations) may be taken in chemistry or in a related field such as biology, physics, mathematics or engineering. Credit is not normally allowed for undergraduate subjects in chemistry except for those so designated in the catalog. Research credits would then make up the remainder of the 45-credit requirements. Planning the program of courses with the student is the responsibility of a student's Advisory Committee. See graduate catalog for course requirements and descriptions.

Written Area Examinations

Upon admission to the Ph.D. program the student must pass exams in his/her major area of specialization. The method of conducting these area exams is designated by the staff in each field of specialization, as follows: 

Analytical Chemistry

The area examinations for analytical chemistry will consist of a series of six (6) examinations. The first will be a qualifying examination to determine if the student is prepared to take the remaining five area examinations. The student will have two opportunities to pass the qualifying examination, which will be administered at the beginning of the student's second and third semester of residence. The remaining five examinations will be offered annually, commencing in October and administered at monthly intervals. A minimum of 3.0 out of a possible 10.0 points is required for each individual examination and a total of at least 30.0 out of a possible 50.0 points is required for the successful completion of the Written Area Examination. Failure to perform adequately may result in the student being required to complete a master's degree. Continuation towards the Ph.D. degree will be considered on a case by case basis.

Inorganic Chemistry

The area examinations in Inorganic Chemistry will be a series of cumulative examinations. The student is expected to begin the series of exams in the second year of study. The area examinations will consist of a series of five (5) examinations. The examinations are each graded from zero to a maximum of three points. A student must receive a total of eight (8) points to successfully complete the area examinations. Students who do not receive the necessary points may complete a master's degree and with special permission apply for readmission to the Ph.D. program in Inorganic Chemistry. 

Organic Chemistry

Organic students take a series of eight cumulative examinations, given once a month (except December), beginning in September of each year. The examinations are graded pass or fail and a student must pass four of the examinations. The examinations must be taken in consecutive months. Typically, a student will start the examinations in the second year of graduate study and must complete these examinations by the end of the third year of graduate study. 

Physical Chemistry

By the third year of graduate study, a Ph.D. student in physical chemistry must take a comprehensive examination. This is an all-day written examination with questions designed to test the student's physical chemistry background, and ability to set up models and solve them mathematically. The student has two chances to pass the comprehensive examination.

Research Proposal

As part of the area examinations a Ph.D. candidate must present an oral defense of an original research proposal within six months of completing the written area examinations although a specific program may require the proposal to be presented at an earlier date. With the aid and advice of the Advisory Committee the student selects a suitable subject for investigation, completes a literature survey, outlines the method of approach, and suggests possible results and conclusions. The oral defense of this proposal is conducted by the student's Advisory Committee with other faculty members in attendance. The proposal is defended by the end of the semester following completion of area exams. The topic of the proposal can not be closely related to or contained within the thesis project.

Chemistry Seminar

During each year of residence the student is required to attend and participate in 84-601,602, Chemistry Seminar, and 84-603,604 Chemistry Colloquium. Each doctoral student is required to present two seminars.

Course Requirements

Each student in any of the Ph.D. programs in chemistry shall take both an advanced course in Physical Chemistry and Organic Chemistry and two courses from Advanced Inorganic, Advanced Analytical, Biochemistry, or Polymer Chemistry unless such requirements have been met previously.

Since each division (Analytical, Biochemistry, Organic and Physical/Inorganic) has its own specific course requirements, a student intending to specialize in one of these areas is encouraged to meet with the coordinator of the division or consult the handbook of the division.