The Department of Chemistry offers programs leading to: (1) the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree in chemistry and to (2) the Master of Science in Teaching (M.S.T.) degree in education. The latter is in conjunction with the Lynch School of Education.
Ph.D. Degree Requirements
There is no total credit requirement for the Ph.D. degree. All entering graduate students are required to take the core graduate courses that are designed to provide a reasonable and broad level of proficiency in the various chemistry disciplines, in addition to at least two advanced courses in the student’s chosen focus of research. Core courses may include Mechanistic Organic Chemistry, CHEM5537; Principles of Chemical Biology, CHEM5560; and Physical Chemistry: Principles and Applications, CHEM6676. First year students are required to take a one-semester course, Scientific Communication in Chemistry during the spring term. Advanced course selection will depend on the student’s research areas and are chosen in consultation with their research advisor. Every student is expected to attain a GPA of at least 3.0 at the end of his or her second semester in the Graduate School and to maintain it thereafter. If this standard is not met, the student may be required to withdraw from the graduate program.
At the end of the second year, Ph.D. candidates must pass an oral exam that stresses material from their own research specialty and other related areas. Members of the student’s thesis committee comprise the exam committee. Students who do not pass this exam will be asked to do one of the following: repeat the oral exam (for a final time), complete the requirements for a Master of Science (M.S.) degree, or withdraw from the program. Students choosing to complete the requirements for an M.S. degree must complete a minimum of 18 graduate credits of coursework and a thesis. Students typically accumulate 12 to 18 credits of coursework during the first year of study. The Comprehensive Examination for the M.S. degree is a private, oral defense of the student’s research thesis.
The curriculum is designed to stimulate intellectual exchange among students as well as faculty members and to train graduate students in communication skills. First-year course requirements provide students with a breadth of knowledge in the traditional fields: organic, chemical biology, physical chemistry, and inorganic chemistry. While a specific number of credits is not required for the Ph.D., students are encouraged to pursue a program of studies—with the approval of their advisor—that is consistent with their individual educational goals. An outline of the curriculum follows:
- Year 1: Coursework
- Year 2: Qualifying Exam
- Year 3/4: Student Department Seminar*
- Year 3/4: Original Proposal*
*Students are expected to complete these two requirements (Department Seminar and Original Proposal) before the end of Year 4, and complete at least one in Year 3.
The M.S. and Ph.D. degrees require a thesis based upon original research, either experimental or theoretical. For the Ph.D. candidate, a thesis project involving a sustained research effort (typically requiring 4–6 years) will begin usually during the second semester of study. An oral defense of the dissertation before a faculty thesis committee and a public presentation complete the degree requirements. Some teaching or equivalent educational experience is required. This requirement may be satisfied by at least one year of service as a teaching assistant or by suitable teaching duties. Arrangements are made with each student for a teaching program best suited to his/her overall program of studies. Waivers of teaching requirements may be granted under special circumstances with the approval of the Director of Graduate Studies or Department Chairperson.
The Master of Science in Teaching degree program is administered through the Lynch School of Education in cooperation with the Department of Chemistry and requires admission to graduate programs in both the Lynch School of Education and the Department of Chemistry. Although course requirements may vary depending upon the candidate’s prior teaching experience, all master’s programs leading to certification in secondary education include practical experiences in addition to course work. Students seeking certification in Massachusetts are required to pass the Massachusetts Educators Certification Test. For further information on the M.S.T. degree, please refer to the Lynch School of Education Graduate Programs section, Master’s Programs in Secondary Teaching, or call the Office of Graduate Admissions, Lynch School, at 617-552-4214.