PhD Program Milestones

Department Forms

*Please note that this milestone checklist is based on a regular Fall Semester entry schedule.

First Semester (Fall, Year 1)
  • Orientation
    • Diagnostic Exams
    • English Language Proficiency
      • English Placement Test (EPT)
      • Oral English Certification Test (OECT)
  • Take CHEM 579
  • Choose Major Professor
  • Register for Spring
Second Semester (Spring, Year 1)
  • Diagnostic Exams
  • CHEM 550
  • Establish POS Committee
Summer, Year 1
  • Finalize POS Committee
  • Start working on POSC Form
Third Semester (Fall, Year 2)
  • Last Chance for Diagnostic Exams
  • Submit POSC form
Fourth Semester (Spring, Year 2)
  • POSC Meeting
Fifth Semester (Fall, Year 3)
  • Preliminary Oral Examination
Sixth Semester (Spring, Year 3)
  • No immediate deadlines
Seventh Semester (Fall, Year 4)
  • POSC Meeting
Eighth Semester (Spring, Year 4)
  • Complete public seminar requirement
Ninth Semester (Fall, Year 5)
  • POSC Meeting
Tenth Semester (Spring, Year 5)
  • No immediate deadlines
Eleventh Semester (Fall, Year 6)
  • Request for Support Form

First Semester (Fall, Year 1):

New students attend orientation at the beginning of August. During Orientation, every new student will take ACS Diagnostic exams on four subjects: analytical, inorganic, organic, and physical chemistry. International students must take two English Language Proficiency tests: the English Placement Test (EPT) and the Oral English Certification Test (OECT).

The EPT is given by the Department of English. Students who received a degree from a U.S. college or university, or those students who scored 600 or above on the TOEFL (paper-based), 100 on the TOEFL (Internet-based), or 7.5 or above on the IELTS, are exempt and do not have to take the EPT.

The OECT is mandatory for all international students, regardless of their level of English. The exam is given by the Graduate College.

New students will be given a temporary major professor until mid/late November of their first semester. All students will take CHEM 579 this semester, which provides an introduction to the PhD program and the research interest areas and projects for each professor. Over the course of the semester, students will meet individually with professors and determine which professors they are interested in working with as a permanent major professor. Students will complete the "Major Professor Preference" form (see the Department Forms page linked above).

***New students who enter in spring are assigned to a temporary major professor and work as RAs during the spring and summer. During the spring semester, they will meet with individual professors and obtain at least 3 signatures from the professors they would like work with as their permanent major professor. They will join the next incoming class in the subsequent fall. They do not need to attend all sessions of 579 that fall, but they must attend all of the research ethics classes.

Students will complete the "Registration Worksheet" form to register for spring classes (see the Department Forms page linked above). This will remove the hold on their AccessPlus account. This form is for first year, first semester students only! More senior students can register for classes without the form.

Second Semester (Spring, Year 1):

Before the start of classes, a second round of diagnostic exams will be given. The exact dates for the spring diagnostic exams will be announced in advance. This is the students' second chance to pass the diagnostic exams.

Students are required to take CHEM 550 in the spring of their first year.

Students will start talking with their major professor to determine which professors would be best for their Program of Study committee (POS committee/POSC). They should talk with the professors and gather signatures on the "Committee Appointment Agreement" form. This form is available on the Department Forms page (linked above).

Summer (Year 1):

During the summer, students will finalize their POS committee and start working on their POSC form on AccessPlus. They should not submit their POSC form to the Graduate College until it is reviewed by the Graduate Student Services Specialist.

Third Semester (Fall, Year 2):

During their third semester, students will have their third and final chance to pass their diagnostic exams. If they do not pass, they will be required to take a class to satisfy the diagnostic requirement.

Students will work with the Graduate Student Services Specialist to finish their POSC form on AccessPlus. It is due to the Graduate College during this semester.

Fourth Semester (Spring, Year 2):

Students will have their first POSC meeting with their committee. Once they have their meeting, they will complete the "Annual POSC Meeting" form (see the Department Forms page linked above).

Fifth Semester (Fall, Year 3):

Students will schedule and complete their Preliminary Oral Examination (prelim) during this semester. 

Sixth Semester (Spring, Year 3):

The Preliminary Oral Examination satisfies the POSC meeting requirement for this year. There is no need for a POSC meeting this semester.

Students should start working towards satisfying the Public Seminar requirement. Seminars can be given at any regional, state, or national/international conference. Other options are also available (see the Graduate Manual for details). Once students have satisfied the requirement, they will complete the "Seminar Record" form (see the Department Forms page linked above). Department travel awards and PAG funds can be used to travel to conferences.

Seventh Semester (Fall, Year 4):

Students will schedule their annual POSC meeting this semester. After the Preliminary Oral Examination is complete, POSC meetings are then held annually each fall (instead of annually in the spring).

Students should work towards satisfying the Public Seminar requirement.

Eighth Semester (Spring, Year 4):

Students must satisfy the Public Seminar requirement by this semester. Once they have satisfied the requirement, they will complete the "Seminar Record" form (see the Department Forms page linked above).

Extensions may sometimes be given. If no extensions are appropriate, then the student must give a seminar to the department the following semester.

Ninth Semester (Fall, Year 5):

Students will schedule their annual POSC meeting this semester. If they are defending their thesis this semester, they do not need to have a POS meeting, as the final defense satisfies the POSC meeting requirement.

Students who did not satisfy the Public Seminar requirement will give a seminar to the department this semester.

Tenth Semester (Spring, Year 5):

No immediate deadlines.

Eleventh Semester (Fall, Year 6):

Students who do not plan on graduating this semester must complete the "Request for Support" form. The same form is used to request support for 7th or 8th years.