Chemistry PhD

Doctoral Degree Requirements

Within one year of initial enrollment, incoming doctoral students must demonstrate proficiency in four of the following five areas:  biochemistry, organic, inorganic, physical, and analytical chemistry. A minimum of 60 credit hours is required, including research hours.

Comprehensive Exam Committee

Before the end of the second regular semester of study, the doctoral student and his/her research advisor will select a comprehensive exam committee. The student should prepare Graduate School form D-1, which should be signed by the research advisor and the Director of Graduate Studies, and filed with the graduate school.

In the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, the comprehensive exam committee also serves as a mentoring committee for the student. The committee will meet with the student at the end of each spring semester to review progress in coursework and research. A written report summarizing their assessment and recommendations will be provided to the student and the Director of Graduate Studies. 

Comprehensive Examinations

Each student seeking the Ph.D. degree must successfully complete a comprehensive  examination prior to advancement to candidacy.
The comprehensive exam is typically taken when formal coursework has been completed, but it must be completed before the start of the fifth regular semester.

The comprehensive exam consists of writing an original research proposal and an oral defense that will be evaluated by the student’s committee. The student will select a topic that is not directly related to the expected research area. The research advisor must approve the topic. The specific format for the proposal is described in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry Handbook of Graduate Studies.

Dissertation Proposal

Doctoral students must prepare and defend a Dissertation Proposal before the student has completed the equivalent of 6 regular semesters of full-time study. The proposal should be defended within six months following successful completion of the Comprehensive Examination.

The Dissertation Proposal includes both a written and oral component. Both components will be evaluated by the student’s Comprehensive Examination committee. The written proposal will be submitted to the Comprehensive Examination committee and will be presented as a seminar to the Department. After the seminar, the student will defend the proposal before the Comprehensive Examination committee.

Advancement to Candidacy

In addition to general Graduate School requirements for advancement to candidacy, students must complete the following:

1. 18 hours of non-dissertation work.
 This may not include:

CHEM 4212Instrumental Analysis2
CHEM 4233Laboratory in Instrumental Analysis2
CHEM 4302Survey of Physical Chemistry with Applications to the Life Sciences3
CHEM 4343Physical Chemistry Laboratory II2
CHEM 4412Advanced Inorganic Chemistry3
CHEM 4433Inorganic Chemistry Laboratory2
CHEM 4712Biochemistry3
CHEM 4733Biochemistry Laboratory2
CHEM 61961
CHEM 6487Problem Seminar in Inorganic Chemistry1
CHEM 6687Problem Seminar in Organic Chemistry1-3
CHEM 6787Problem Seminar in Biochemistry1
CHEM 6812Introduction to Graduate Study in Chemistry1
CHEM 6822Introduction to Graduate Research in Chemistry1
CHEM 6897Chemistry Colloquium1

At least 9 of the 18 credits of non-dissertation coursework must be at the 5000 level. Courses in areas other than chemistry may be included with prior departmental approval.

2. Successfully pass a Comprehensive Examination.

3. Successfully present and defend a dissertation proposal.

4. Submit the proposal for approval to the Graduate School.

5. Be in good standing.

Seminar Requirement

Students must enroll in CHEM 6897, Chemistry Colloquium, each semester they are in residence. In their final semester in the program, each student will present an “exit seminar” to the
Department describing the results of their dissertation research.


One copy of the dissertation must be submitted upon completion of the graduate research problem.

Probation and Dismissal

Students are dismissed from the Ph.D. program if they fail to pass their Comprehensive Examination or otherwise fail to meet the academic and professional standards set forth by the Graduate School and the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.