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Graduate Program Requirements

Entering Students

Students entering with a bachelor's degree in chemistry with normal preparation in chemistry should anticipate completion of doctoral degree requirements in about five years of full-time work (including summer). Placement examinations will grad-requirements be administered to all entering graduate students in order that students can begin course work at the most appropriate level. Students performing significantly below national norms on the placement exams will require some remedial course work at the undergraduate level. The placement exams cover inorganic, organic and physical chemistry.

In their first year of study students should work to complete their course work, begin taking cumulative exams and choose a research advisor. Requirements for course work and guidelines for selection of a research advisor are stated under Requirements.

A Master’s degree is offered for those students who are unable to complete the PhD requirements as long as they meet the minimal requirements for the Master’s degree (see Appendix B).

View Graduate Requirements Handbook


General Requirements for all Chemistry Students


Specific Requirements for the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees are given in Appendix B and C. Students are encouraged to complete their course requirement as quickly as possible after entering the program, preferably within their first four semesters. An ordinary load in the program is 9 to 12 hours (at least three 3 lecture courses). Students must meet the Continuous Registration Requirement of the Chemistry Department (as defined in Appendix A). In addition, the Department requires that students must successfully complete 6 hours of course work (not including independent study or thesis research) each semester during the first two semesters of graduate study. Students unable to satisfy this requirement may be subject to academic probation. Failure to comply with this requirement in two consecutive semesters is adequate justification for expulsion from the program.

Selection of Research Advisor

All first year graduate students are required to interview at least five faculty members to discuss possible research projects. Students should attend presentations given by faculty describing their research as one means of interviewing faculty member. Students beginning in the fall semester must select a research advisor prior to the end of their first semester in the graduate program. Students that begin in January are strongly encouraged to join a research group before the first summer. Students should be aware that faculty/advisor relationship is by mutual agreement. Both the student and the advisor must sign a Research Advisor Selection Form (available on the department’s website, as well as appended in the back of this book. The Research Advisor Selection Form must be complete and submitted to the Chemistry Department office before the end of the first semester.

Cumulative Exams

The written requirements for both the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees are fulfilled by passing Cumulative exams; PhD requires the passing of 6 cumulative exams and M.S. requires the passing of 2 cumulative exams. Exams are given 10 times a year, with separate examinations being given in the areas of inorganic, organic and physical chemistry. Students may attempt one or more individual exams each exam period

Full time Residence Status

A student must be registered for at least three hours of graduate credit per semester. A student must be registered in full-time residence status in order to hold a fellowship, a scholarship, or any of the various kinds of assistantship.

Tenure for Degree Students

Tenure is the maximum period of time normally permitted for the completion of all requirements for a degree and it is determined on the basis of consecutive academic years from the date of registration for Graduate Study at Tulane or another institution. Tenure is not affected by residence status. Under certain circumstances the Dean may extend tenure, but a student whose period of graduate study is unduly prolonged or interrupted may be required to perform additional work. Specific tenure requirements are given for each degree, below.

Ph.D Degree - 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.

Master’s Degree - The maximum time allowed to obtain an M. S. degree is two years from entering the M.S. track.

Graduate Prospectus

Before being recommended by the department for Ph.D. candidacy, the student must submit to the SSE Graduate Program a satisfactory formal prospectus describing his/her proposed dissertation. Three double spaced typewritten pages is the preferred length of the prospectus, which should include background on the significance of the proposed research, the approaches to the problem, and the anticipated results. The formal prospectus should be submitted, normally, after completion of all course work and cumulative exam requirements. The prospectus must be approved by the research advisor, and be reviewed by the Department Chairman. The formal prospectus is then submitted for approval by the SSE Graduate Program.

Grade Point Evaluation

Graduate students are expected to maintain a cumulative B average (3.0 on the system outlined below) in formal course work.

The B average is determined by this scale:

  • A = 4.0 points per credit hours
  • A- = 3.67 points per credit hours
  • B+ = 3.33 points per credit hours
  • B = 3.0 points per credit hours
  • B- = 2.67 points per credit hours

No grades below B- count towards graduate credits. Written approval of the Graduate Affairs Committee is required prior to dropping a course.

A student who does not possess a cumulative average of 3.0 will be placed on probation for one or more semesters or dismissed. During the semester(s) on probation, the student must regain a 3.0 average while taking a full load of courses. Failure to regain a 3.0 average during the probationary semester will result in either dismissal, provisional status for one semester, or limitation to a Master of Science degree, depending on faculty decision. A student on provisional status must remove him/herself from provisional status within one semester or face automatic dismissal.

In addition to the departmental requirement of a 3.0 cumulative average, the SSE Graduate Program requires that any student receiving a grade of B- (irrespective of his/her GPA) be considered for probation. Receipt of two grades of B- or one grade below B- results in automatic probation and consideration for dismissal by the Graduate Dean in consultation with the department.

Graduate School Deadlines

A current issue of the graduate bulletin should be consulted to determine the appropriate deadlines for submission of the SSE Graduate Program prospectus and for submission of dissertation/thesis in order to be awarded a diploma for a Ph.D. Degrees earned in the School of Engineering (SSE) are awarded three times a year-December, May and August. There is only one commencement program and that is held in May. A candidate must be present to receive the degree unless the candidate has been excused by the associate dean. A request to receive a degree in absentia must be filed in the dean’s office at the time the diploma form is submitted. Candidates for degrees are required to complete an application for degree form on or before the deadline dates.

Important Deadlines
(Fall) October (no ceremony)  Last day to submit Application for Degree Form
(Fall) November (no ceremony)  Last day to submit dissertations or theses in final form
(Fall) December (no ceremony)  Degrees Conferred
(Spring)  May Unified Ceremony

(**Check online with the SSE Graduate Program)


The Registrar's Office distributes diplomas. Diplomas are not available until after the degree is conferred. Because there is no commencement in August or December, graduates complete a diploma/in absentia form to obtain their diploma. Students may opt to pick up their diploma, have the diploma mailed, or request that the diploma be held by the Registrar's Office until commencement.

Continuous Registration Requirements

A student admitted to the Department of Chemistry Graduate Program must maintain a continuous registration in a degree-granting division of the University (exclusive of Summer Session) until the awarding of the degree. A student who is not registered for course work in a degree-granting division of the University must be registered in Master's Research or Dissertation Research in order to remain in continuous registration, including the summer semesters.

The continuous registration requirement applies both to resident and non-resident students.

Students who have not completed the minimum course work requirement of the department must enroll for a minimum of 3 hours course work per semester or register for Master's Research (CHEM-9980) or Dissertation Research (CHEM-9990). All students who have completed their minimum course work requirements, passed all required cumes, and successfully completed their dissertation prospectus, are required to register for Master's Research (three credit hours) or Dissertation Research (three credit hours). This entitles students to full student privileges. The Department will assume that students failing to maintain continuous registration have withdrawn from the University. The Department reserves the right not to readmit. If a student is readmitted, he/she is obligated to pay the applicable fee required to maintain continuous registration. Students who have completed minimum course work requirements may register for additional courses in lieu of Master's Research or Dissertation Research. Tuition and fees will be assessed according to the usual schedule.

Compensation and Employment Outside the University

Graduate student compensation from all sources including scholarship, research assistantship, and teaching assistantship shall not exceed 125% of the current year’s Board of Regents Scholarship level. Exceptions may be made for certain prestigious scholarships by the Graduate Affairs committee on a case by case basis. Employment outside the department is strictly prohibited. Any off-campus employment for remuneration may disqualify a student from receiving SSE Graduate Program financial aid.