Jul 22, 2018  
2015-2016 Graduate Catalog 
2015-2016 Graduate Catalog

Chemistry, PhD (Physical/Analytical Chemistry track)

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The Chemistry Department offers a comprehensive doctoral program dedicated to cultivating creative and conscientious scientists. The department offers educational opportunities in five doctoral tracks, with a special emphasis on interdisciplinary research. Students immerse themselves in research labs early in the program and tailor their academic plan in accordance with their research interests. The program prepares students for careers in industry, government, and academia.

For the Physical/Analytical Chemistry track of the PhD in Chemistry program, 60 credits are required from courses, seminars, and dissertation research credit.

Core Courses

Students must select two core courses from the following list.

Electives (16 credits)

All elective courses are subject to the approval of the student’s research advisor. To fulfill elective requirements, graduate students select four courses from the Chemistry Department’s lecture and lab graduate courses. Extra-departmental courses may be included in a student’s program of study with approval from the research advisor and the graduate program director.

Graduate Seminar

Full-time graduate students must enroll in the one-credit graduate seminar in every semester of attendance.

Research Credit (20+ credits)

The doctoral degree requires a minimum of 20 credits.

Research Advisor

Students are required to choose a research advisor within their first semester of enrollment in the Chemistry Graduate Program. In order to make an informed choice, students are required to speak with at least three chemistry faculty members currently conducting research within the department.

Literature Seminar

During the second semester of enrollment, students are expected to fulfill their literature seminar requirement. The literature seminar requires students deliver a talk presenting current research on a topic of interest.

Students work closely with their advisor and the seminar instructor to obtain approval for their topic and to prepare for the presentation.

Dissertation Committee

PhD students must choose three faculty members from the Chemistry Department—including their research advisor as chair of the committee—by the end of their second semester. Students choose a fourth committee member external to the department. He or she may be a faculty member in another department or university or a researcher in industry. Any nonuniversity committee member will be subject to the approval of the student’s advisor, graduate program director, and the dean of graduate studies.

The responsibilities of a dissertation committee member consist of participating in the student’s literature seminar review, oral qualifying exam (OQE), oral defense of the dissertation, and the review of a student’s dissertation.

Written Qualifying Examinations

Students earn candidacy to perform research at the doctoral level by completing the written qualifying exam (WQE) and the oral qualifying exam.

Students successfully complete the WQE requirement by passing a total of four exams, at least two based on the student’s doctoral track. To pass a single exam a candidate must earn 7 points minimum out of 10 total points. Students who fail to pass four exams after sitting for six exams must meet with their dissertation committee to discuss preparations to take, at most, two additional exams. If the student fails to pass four exams out of eight, he or she will not earn candidacy into the doctoral program.

Oral Qualifying Exam

The oral qualifying exam is the second requirement for doctoral candidacy. Students can begin preparing for the OQE after they have passed the WQE and completed coursework requirements, usually sometime in the fourth year of the program. The OQE consists of a written research proposal and oral defense.

Dissertation Defence

After successfully completing the oral qualifying exam, PhD students are expected to focus on completing and writing up their research. Many drafts of the dissertation should be exchanged between the student and research advisor before handing a completed copy of the dissertation to committee members. Once the committee members agree that the thesis is in acceptable form, the student schedules the defense date with the dissertation committee, graduate program director, and graduate program assistant.

Other Requirements


To maintain satisfactory progress in the doctoral program, students must maintain an overall 3.0 GPA.

Teaching or Work Experience

All students must acquire at least one semester of teaching or work experience in chemistry, subject to the approval of the graduate program director.

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