Degree Requirements

Our Ph.D. program offers majors in the more traditional fields of analytical/bioanalytical, inorganic/materials, organic/bioorganic and physical/theoretical chemistry plus a customizable interdisciplinary “chemistry” major in which a course sequence is designed by the student and their major professor. Additionally, we offer specializations in Materials Chemistry, Industrial Chemistry, Biomolecular Science, Chemical Instrumentation, Forensic Chemistry and Chemical Education.

Overview of our Ph.D. program

  • 72 semester hours of graduate (academic/research) credit which may include an optional minor or specialization.
  • 17 credits of 500-level graduate coursework from Chemistry (or a closely related field)
  • Pass courses listed on the Program of Study as determined by you and your Program of Study Committee.
  • Pass the Preliminary Oral exam by the end of your fifth semester in residence.
  • Give a public seminar before the end of the eighth semester in residency.
  • Pass an Final Oral defense of your thesis research.

For specific information about degree requirements, please see the Graduate Manual.

As a student in the Ph.D. program, you will progress through our program by achieving these milestones:

  • Semester 1: Choose your major professor, join a group, and begin your research
  • Semester 2: Set up your Program of Study committee
  • Semester 4: Meet your Program of Study committee to discuss your project and progress
  • Semester 5: Complete your Preliminary Oral Exam
  • Semester 8: Complete your public seminar requirement
  • Semester 9+: Graduate!

Proficiency in chemistry for new students

All new students will take a series of ACS diagnostic exams, one in each of the major disciplines. The results of these exams help to identify student’s academic preparedness and choose the appropriate coursework to complete the Ph.D. Students have three chances to take these exams and pass before we require completion of a course in that area.

Proficiency in English for international students

All International graduate students must have at least an 89 on the TOEFL (570 on paper; 6.5 IELTS) to be eligible to apply to our program and to the University. The English Placement Exam is required for all non-native English speakers who DO NOT have a prior Bachelor’s, Master’s or Ph.D. degree from a U.S. college or university. More information is available here:

All International graduate students will also take the Oral English Certification Test (OECT). The purpose of these oral proficiency tests for new international teaching assistants (ITAs) is to find out how effectively they can communicate in English. See the programs web page for more information:

Course Requirements

All new students are required to take Chem 579, Introduction to Research in Chemistry in the fall and Chem 550, Safety in the Chemical Laboratory, in the spring of their first year.

See the complete list of core courses for each specialization.

There are no core course requirements for the Chemistry major. The courses are decided upon by the student and the committee.

Minor and Specialty Courses

Students may elect to take a minimum of 10 ADDITIONAL credits of courses to earn a specialty in the following areas:

  • Materials Chemistry
  • Industrial Chemistry
  • Biomolecular Science
  • Chemical Instrumentation
  • Forensic Chemistry

Teaching requirements

Teaching is an important component of the student’s professional training as it helps the student to review their knowledge of basic chemistry and also allows them to pass this knowledge along to others. Each student is required to teach half-time (approximately 20 hours laboratory or recitation instruction, preparation, grading, etc.) for at least one semester.

Click here for details about TA opportunities.

Learning Outcomes & Assessment