Ph.D. Degree Requirements

There are many requirements that must be fulfilled to graduate with a Ph.D. degree from Tulane University.  Students are advised to keep their own copy of the CHEMISTRY Ph.D. REQUIREMENTS CHECKLIST to keep track of their progress. 


1.  Course Requirements 

The minimum requirement for the Ph.D. degree is six courses (18 course hours in total) at the 7000 level, four of which must be core courses.  Out of the four core courses, up to three can be taken within one field of chemistry.  The core courses offered, by division, are:  


CHEM 7110: Introductory Quantum Mechanics  

CHEM 7120: Statistical Mechanics  

CHEM 7150: Chemical Physics  


CHEM 7210: Inorganic Structure and Bonding  

CHEM 7220: Inorganic Reaction Mechanisms 

CHEM 7230: Organometallic Chemistry (Transition elements) 

CHEM 7240: Organometallic Chemistry (Main group elements) 


CHEM 7410: Advanced Organic – Physical Organic  

CHEM 7420: Advanced Organic - Spectroscopy 

CHEM 7460: Advanced Organic – Synthetic Applications 

CHEM 6830-40: Introductory Biochemistry and Intermediate Biochemistry (both courses combined count as one graduate class).  


The remaining two elective courses should be selected from 7000 level chemistry courses (other than 7870 - 7900) or 7000 level courses from other SSE departments that meet the approval of the GAC.  In addition, students should register for a total of six hours of seminar over the first six semesters of matriculation.  In all, a total of 48 course hours are required for the Ph.D. students.  Up to 24 course hours of the 48 hours required may be taken in Chem 7890 (Techniques of Research) and special interest courses (6000 or above) offered by the Department of Chemistry or related departments.  Note that students are not allowed to register for non-chemistry classes without first consulting with either their PI or the GAC.  

2.  Cumulative Exams  

Ph.D. candidates are required to pass six total cumulative exams, at least two by the end of their fourth semester of residence and all six by the end of the sixth semester.  In addition, at least three of the six exams must be passed in the candidate’s area of concentration.  Students failing to pass two cumes by the end of their fourth semester may be expelled from the program.  Students unable to complete six cumes in six semesters will be automatically placed in the M.S. program and be expected to complete the M.S. thesis by the end of the seventh semester.  

3.  Seminar  

Registration for, and attendance at, Department seminars is required.  Students are required to register for Division Seminar every semester until they have been admitted to Candidacy (see below).  Six (6.0) hours of credit for seminar courses may be applied to the Ph.D. degree requirements. 

4.  Dissertation Committee  

After choosing a research advisor (no later than the end of the first semester), students must obtain agreements from three faculty members (other than the thesis advisor) to serve as members of their dissertation committee.  Two members must be within the division of the research advisor and one member of the committee must be from a division other than that of the research advisor.  Students must submit to the Chemistry Department a signed and completed THESIS/DISSERTATION COMMITTEE FORM.

5.  Dissertation Prospectus 

To become a Ph.D. candidate, students must pass their Prospectus during their fourth semester.  The Prospectus is a combined written report of their dissertation research project and an oral presentation of their work to be presented to their dissertation committee (see subsection 4, above).  The written report should be approximately two thousand words in length (excluding legends and references).  The cover sheet should state the student’s name, department/program, the title of the proposed dissertation, and the name of the chair and the other members of the committee.  The introduction of the prospectus should contain a summary of earlier work pertinent to the problem under study.  The body should include a structured description of the work accomplished to date and a plan for future investigations.  The conclusion should clearly state the anticipated nature of the investigation results.  Major sources of information should be indicated, and a selective bibliography included. 

For the (closed-door) oral presentation, students should create a 30-minute presentation (approximately 30 slides).  These should cover an introduction to the work, the results obtained to date, a section describing the proposed future work, and a conclusion.  In scheduling their Prospectus, students should anticipate a presentation and defense of their work and ideas lasting between two and three hours.  

The body of work/accomplishments created by the student in their first four semesters, evidence of understanding of the material and the field, and quality of the written and oral presentations, will all be used for evaluation.  All students should ensure that the Department’s PROSPECTUS REPORT FORM  is provided to each committee member.  These will then be completed by the committee and returned to the departmental office.  Students who pass the Prospectus should also submit a copy of the written report and their completed SSE PROSPECTUS APPROVAL FORM to the Dean’s Office.  

If the assessment of the committee is that the candidate overall performance was insufficiently strong, the committee will either recommend a second Prospectus within six calendar months, or that the candidate be transferred to the master’s program. 

6.  Ph.D. Candidacy 

Students who have passed all of their courses, Cumulative Exams, and Prospectus, should apply for Ph.D. candidacy (see SSE CANDIDACY FORM.) 

7.  Annual Report 

After successful completion of the Dissertation Prospectus in their fourth semester, students are required to present written and oral Annual Reports until graduation.  The written component of each report should be no more than 500 words (excluding legends and references), whilst a 15 minute (uninterrupted) oral presentation should be prepared for each.  Proof of submission of a first author publication during the reported period may be provided in lieu of these requirements.  Each Annual Report must include a completed copy of the ANNUAL REPORT FORM, documenting the performance of the student and any feedback provided by the committee. 

8. Oral Presentation Requirement 

By the end of the fourth year, all students must have given one formal oral presentation at a scientific conference, or at a Tulane event such as the Department’s annual Young Investigator Symposium, or Tulane’s Research, Innovation, and Creativity Summit.

9.  Dissertation  

The Ph.D. dissertation must reflect the ability of the student to conduct an independent investigation which results in an original contribution to knowledge or an original interpretation of existing knowledge.  The research is expected to be reported to the scientific community in the form of publications in refereed journals and/or conference presentations.  The student should consult the SSE Dean’s Office to determine the proper format for the Ph.D. dissertation.  Upon completion of all other Ph.D. requirements, the student will give a final oral defense of their Ph.D. dissertation.  A written draft of the thesis should be available to the dissertation committee at least two weeks prior to the oral defense.  This final examination will consist principally of the defense of the dissertation, but may be extended at the discretion of the Ph.D. examining committee to include course material.  The satisfactory completion of this final requirement completes the student's doctoral program.