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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.

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 by the Department to obtain an M. S. degree is three years, or one year from entering the M.S. program whichever is greater.

Graduate 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.

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

The SSE Dean's Office website should be consulted to determine the appropriate deadlines for submission of the 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.


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 including Techniques of Research (CHEM 7900) and Division Seminar (CHEM 7880). 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 (CHEM-9980) or Dissertation Research (CHEM-9990). 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

Non research-related employment outside the department is strictly prohibited.  Any off-campus employment for remuneration may disqualify a student from receiving SSE Graduate Program financial aid.  Research-related activities endorsed by the Department, such as paid internships or exchange fellowships programs, are allowed.