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Ph.D. Degree Requirements

Course Requirement

The minimum requirement for the PhD 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:

  • Physical Chemistry: 7110, 7120, 7150;
  • Inorganic Chemistry: 7210 or 7220, 7230 or 7240;
  • Organic and Biological Chemistry: 7410, 7420, 7460, 6830-40 (both courses combined count as one).

The remaining two elective courses should be selected from 7000 level chemistry courses (other than 7890 & 7900) or 7000 level courses from other SSE departments that meet the approval of the Graduate Affairs Committee. 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 7890-7900 (Techniques of Research) and special interest courses (6000 or above) offered by the Department of Chemistry or related departments.  Students should obtain prior approval of the Graduate Affairs Committee to ensure that the courses taken in other departments will count toward the degree.

Core-course description:
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 Organics
CHEM 7420 – Advanced Organic – Spectroscopy
CHEM 7460 – Advanced Organic – Synthetic Applications
CHEM 6830-40 – Introductory Biochemistry and Intermediate Biochemistry

Cumulative Exams

Ph.D. candidates are required to pass 6 total cumulative exams, at least two by the end of their fourth semester of residence and all six by the end of the 6th semester.    In addition, at least 3 of the 6 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 6 cumes in 6 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.


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.  Six (6.0) hours of credit for seminar courses may be applied to the Ph.D. degree requirements.  All Ph.D. candidates must present a seminar to the Department based upon a topic from the current chemical literature.  The seminar must be presented before the end of the students' 4th semester in residence. The seminar should be scheduled with the Chemistry Department coordinator for seminar programs.  Students presenting seminars are required to enlist two faculty to attend their seminar and provide the faculty with a Seminar Review Form for a written review of the quality of the presentation; the  Seminar Review Form can be obtained from the department website and also appended in the  back of this book. Students should remember that faculty will only agree to attend if given sufficient notice (one month minimum) before the seminar.

Seminar Review Form

Tenure Requirement

The maximum time allowed by the SSE Graduate Program for completion of the Ph.D. degree is seven years. The Department, however, strongly encourages students to attempt to complete requirements in no more than five years.

Dissertation Committee

After choosing a research advisor (no later than the fourth semester of residence), students must obtain agreements from three faculty members (other than the thesis advisor) to participate as members of their thesis 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. The form can be obtained on the department’s website, and also appended in the  back of this book.      

Dissertation Prospectus

By the end of their fifth semester, students must submit a written proposal of their dissertation research project and make an oral presentation of it to their dissertation committee.  The prospectus 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 on the problem in question.  The body should include an orderly 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.  The prospectus should be submitted to the SSE Dean’s Office along with a signed copy of the prospectus approval form.


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 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.