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Ph.D. in Chemistry

Graduate students John Means (PhD 2007) and Abigail Muchenditsi (PhD 2009) in lab.

John Means '07Ph.D. and Abigail Muchenditsi '09Ph.D.

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Chemistry – PH3311

Program Overview

Candidates for a Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Chemistry must demonstrate the ability to plan, execute, evaluate, and communicate original chemical research. Candidates will develop specialized research skills to carry out this work effectively and will do so in the laboratory of a chosen faculty research adviser. The graduate program spans all five traditional disciplines of chemistry (Analytical, Biochemistry, Inorganic, Organic and Physical). Within these five areas the department boasts particular research strengths in chemometrics, forensic chemistry, mass spectrometry, medicinal chemistry, supramolecular chemistry and host/guest recognition, materials chemistry, nanoscience and nanomedicine, nucleic acid research, protein and glycoprotein engineering, and spectroscopy.

Career Opportunities

Graduates with a Ph.D. in chemistry typically pursue academic careers (typically following post-doctoral appointments) and R & D positions in chemical and pharmaceutical companies.

Graduation Requirements

Brief Overview

The requirements for a Ph.D. in chemistry consist of a combination of coursework, seminars, research proposals, and original research. Each student will be required to pass at least three competency exams (or take remedial classes), and take 8 credit hours of classes within their major area of research. A grade of B or better must be obtained in each course attempted. Courses are selected with the assistance of a faculty adviser and generally are completed by the end of the second year in residence. Ph.D. candidates must submit and orally defend a dissertation research proposal to their dissertation committee within 10 weeks of their fifth semester.

Students select a research adviser at the end of their first semester of study after rotations in several laboratories. Intensive research generally begins in the spring of the first year. The Ph.D. program culminates in the preparation of a research dissertation and a final oral examination.

  1. A minimum of 90 semester hours in chemistry and approved electives.
  2. Attendance at a seminar course each semester.
  3. A qualifying exam must be passed for candidacy. This consists of a written research proposal and an oral defense of the proposal.
  4. A written dissertation describing the results of the student’s research.
  5. Students must present their dissertation orally at a public meeting followed by an oral defense held before the student’s dissertation committee.
  6. The average period of study is four and one-half years.

Competency Examinations

See Chemistry Graduate Requirements for details.

All graduate students new to the Chemistry & Biochemistry Department will be required to take competency examinations in Analytical, Biochemistry, Inorganic, Organic, and Physical Chemistry. The exams will be taken from the current American Chemical Society exam sequence, unless a division decides to generate and grade its own exam. All who score in the 50th percentile or greater on a standardized examination demonstrate competence in that area. Each student must pass a total of three (3) out of five (5) competency exams taken including one in the area chosen as the student’s major during the first year of graduate study. The exams will be offered twice during the year in August and January. Alternately, competency can be demonstrated by passing at a level of B or better one 5000 level course in three of the five areas (Analytical, Biochemistry, Inorganic, Organic, and Physical). One of the three courses can be in the student’s major area but the other two must be outside of the student’s major area and must be in the other areas of Chemistry and Biochemistry. General/review courses will be offered each fall at the 5000 level in each research area of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Students failing to meet the competency requirement during their first year of graduate study may lose their financial support until competency is demonstrated or may be removed from the program at the discretion of the Graduate Committee.

Program Mission

The department’s mission is to provide a quality education to graduate students while they pursue state-of-the-art research in chemistry. The objective of the graduate program is to educate and train students to become highly effective scientists by providing them with the interdisciplinary tools, research skills and ethical and service sensibilities needed to succeed in their future careers. This includes offering a variety of rigorous graduate level courses, maintaining cutting-edge research programs within individual laboratories, and compliance with the Code for Professional Ethical Conduct espoused by the American Chemical Society.

Program Learning Objectives

  1. To demonstrate a broad understanding of chemical concepts and an in-depth understanding of a selected topic in chemistry.
  2. To demonstrate competence in identifying a significant scientific problem and solving that problem through creative scientific experimentation, data analysis, and evaluation.
  3. To effectively communicate, both verbally and in writing, scientific concepts and outcomes.
  4. To work effectively both as an individual and as a collaborative team member.

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