Ph.D. Program

Expected Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the PhD graduates should be able to:

  1. Demonstrate in-depth knowledge of one or more subareas of chemistry.
  2. Formulate a research hypothesis based on relevant literature and use appropriate research methods to reach conclusions.
  3. Describe their research findings clearly in publications and presentations for both professional and lay audiences.
  4. Be competitive for appropriate positions in industry and academia (e.g., research scientist and post-doctoral fellows).
  5. Teach courses effectively in the field at the college level.


There is no total credits requirement for the Ph.D. degree. First-year courses provide the student with a breadth of knowledge in the fields of organic and organometallic chemistry; chemical biology and biochemistry; inorganic; and physical and analytical chemistry. After the first year, each student will pursue a program of studies, with the approval of their advisor, that is consistent with individual educational goals. Every student must attain a grade point average of at least 3.0 at the end of his or her second semester in the department and maintain it thereafter.

Selection of a Research Advisor and an Original Research Project

During the first semester of graduate studies, students meet with faculty members and senior graduate students to explore the dissertation research opportunities available in different groups. The Graduate Research Symposium, held in October, showcases the research of our graduate students in a day-long event that consists of oral and poster presentations. The symposium is an excellent opportunity for new graduate students to learn more about research activities in the department. By the end of the first semester, most students have selected a research advisor and identified a potential dissertation project that they will begin investigating in the second semester.

Teaching 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 their overall program of studies. Waivers of teaching requirements may be granted under special circumstances with the approval of the Chemistry Department.

Ph.D. Candidacy and Comprehensive Examinations

At the end of the second year, Ph.D. candidates must pass an oral exam that covers fundamental concepts in chemistry as well as advanced areas of chemistry critical to his/her research project. Members of the student’s dissertation committee comprise the exam committee. After passing the exam, and other minimum requirements, the student is recommended as a candidate for the Ph.D. degree.

Ph.D. Dissertation and Defense

The Ph.D. degree requires a dissertation based upon original research, either experimental or theoretical. For the Ph.D. candidate, a research project requiring three to four years of sustained effort will begin usually after the first year of study. An oral defense of the dissertation before a faculty thesis committee completes the degree requirements. A public presentation of the thesis is also required.