Graduate Program-PhD-Requirements-Fall-2020

Ph.D. Program Requirements


*The new Ph.D. requirements, listed below, will be in effect starting Fall 2020. 

PhD Requirements – Effective for Fall 2020 Class


Year 1Coursework (15 h min)TA Assignment
Year 2Doctoral Qualifying Exam/Research Summary
Year 3
Research Progress SeminarProspectus
Year 4Original Research ProposalCheck-in meeting
Year 5+Defense/DissertationPublications (1 min)

*Annual Review will be conducted by the end of each calendar year by student’s faculty mentor

Requirements in Detail

TA Assignment – A minimum of 1 TA Assignment (one semester) will be required during the PhD degree that includes a laboratory or recitation section. Flexibility with regard to the timing of the assignment will be allowed for students with fellowships/other special circumstances.

Coursework – A minimum of 15 credit hours by the end of the first two semesters is required and can include non-Chemistry courses. All incoming graduate students must take the Introduction to Laboratory Safety course (CHEM 701; 1 credit hour). Students will also enroll for the seminar course of their respective divisions (2 credit hours each semester). CHEM 900+ courses (research credit hours) do not count towards the coursework credit hour requirements. Additional coursework may be required for M.S. or M.A. degrees.

Prior to passing the Doctoral Oral Examination, all students requiring research registration must register for 3 hours of Chem 992. This is most likely in the third or fourth semesters of study. A list of graduate courses can be viewed here.

Candidacy Exam

(a) Pre-examination Requirements

The Doctoral Oral Examination must be taken no earlier than the second semester and no later than the fourth semester of graduate study, prior to the end of the official exam period. No Division or dissertation committee has the authority to postpone the first attempt at the oral examination past the end of the fourth semester of graduate study. The Graduate Studies Committee will consider special cases after receiving a petition from the student and his/her advisor. When the student is ready to take the Doctoral Oral Examination, and at least two weeks prior to the date it is to be given, he/she should submit the Doctoral Oral Examination Form to the Chemistry Student Services Office.

(b) The Format of the Doctoral Oral Examination

The format of the oral examination is determined by the Chairman of the Permanent Committee and will vary from case to case; however, the examination period will not exceed two hours. The student should discuss the format and the content of the oral exam with the Chair of the Permanent Committee at least one month before the doctoral exam takes place. Usually the dissertation project will be presented and discussed. The oral examination will accomplish the following purposes, among others:

  1. determine the candidate’s fitness to continue work toward the doctorate.
  2. discover any weaknesses in the candidate’s knowledge which need to be remedied by additional course work or other forms of instruction.

Students are expected to present a written prospectus that must be given to the committee 2 weeks prior to the oral defense. Typically, the prospectus will be approximately 12-15 pages in length, with relevant references and embedded figures. The report will be submitted to the Chair of the Permanent Committee after the student has received permission to take the oral examination. This report will satisfy the Graduate School’s requirement for a prospectus.

(c) There are four possible outcomes for the oral examination

  1. pass – without restrictions
  2. pass – with special requirements, for example, additional courses to take
  3. pass – but without approval for the thesis project as presented. In this case another presentation of the thesis project may be required at a later time. Approval of the thesis project is not viewed as part of the Doctoral Examination by the Graduate School.
  4. fail – this grade is appropriate for students who reveal inadequate general knowledge and/or who demonstrate that they are not prepared to undertake their thesis research project.

A student who fails the preliminary doctoral oral examination is permitted to retake the examination. He/she must take the second examination no later than four calendar months and no earlier than three calendar months after the first examination is failed.

Research Progress Seminar – Students will give a seminar presentation of at least 30 minutes in length to their respective divisions on their research progress. The seminar should provide an appropriate background for the student’s research area as well as progress made by the student on this topic. This seminar can be given no earlier than the first semester of the third year and no later than the first semester of the fourth year of study.

Original Research Proposal – Independent research proposal generated by the student on a topic that is outside of their immediate research area. This proposal be submitted anytime starting at the 2nd year candidacy exam but by end of year 4. Please consult your Division’s guidelines for this requirement.

4th Year Review – Student meets with their committee and presents an executive summary of research progress, publications in print/in progress and plans beyond graduation. This meeting is to be completed by the end of the spring semester in the student’s 4th year.

Publications – A minimum of 1 first author research publication is required to be submitted before the PhD defense. First author requirements can be fulfilled by co-first author publications.

Defense/Dissertation – Once the student and their advisor agree on a final oral defense the student will notify members of their committee and provide the written dissertation a minimum of two weeks before the oral defense. The dissertation advisor is responsible for determining that the draft is in an appropriate form for committee evaluation. If substantial revisions are necessary, they should be completed before the final oral defense is scheduled. Two committee members, in addition to the advisor, must be identified as “designated readers” and they will report to the entire committee at the completion of the oral examination.

The final oral examination is administered by the student’s Permanent Committee and all committee members are expected to be present at the defense The examination involves a defense of the dissertation; students normally present a description of their dissertation research and discuss its scientific significance. At least two weeks prior to the date the exam is to be given, the student should submit the Doctoral Oral Examination Form to the Chemistry Student Services Office.

Dissertations should be submitted to the Graduate School according to the schedule in the Registrar’s Calendar for a specific commencement. The dissertation must be prepared as directed in the Dissertation and Thesis Guide.

It is the responsibility of the dissertation advisor to verify that the dissertation is in appropriate form. After all alterations and corrections have been made to the dissertation and the final oral examination has been held, the Doctoral Exam Report is submitted and the dissertation is uploaded. A current Curriculum Vita should also be included as an appendix.

Privacy Preferences
When you visit our website, it may store information through your browser from specific services, usually in form of cookies. Here you can change your privacy preferences. Please note that blocking some types of cookies may impact your experience on our website and the services we offer.