The PhD program is a research intensive degree. A total of 72 credit
hours are required. In addition, the student must perform a significant
body of research that will be summarized in a dissertation. Students
in the PhD program will receive financial support for up to their first
5 years in the program, provided that they continue to make satisfactory
progress in the program. For a complete description of the degree requirements,
see the Graduate Handbook.
- The PhD Program requires a minimum of 72 credit hours, which is broken
down into 48 hours of coursework and 24 hours of Dissertation Research
(CH 699). Click
here for a sample plan of study for the PhD degree. Students must
maintain a grade point average of at least 3.0 (B) to remain in the
- A total of 6 lecture courses (18 hours)
are required for the PhD degree. Of these courses, 4 must be in the
students major area of study, while the remaining two must be outside
the students major area. Normally these courses will be completed during
the students first two years in the program. If entrance exams show
that the student is deficient in one or more areas, they will be advised
to take introductory courses in these areas. These courses will not
count toward the 6 course requirement.
- The remaining 30 hours of coursework will be comprised of seminar
courses (CH 585/586), research techniques courses (CH 570), and advanced
research techniques (CH 660) in the students major area. Students
will generally take 17 hours of research techniques courses. Advanced
research technique courses are taken if students need additional graded
- Each semester in residence, students will register for research seminar
(CH 585 or CH 586). As part of these courses, attendance is required
at the two departmental seminar series. The graduate seminar series
is given by students in the program discussing their own results or
research from the current literature. The departmental seminar series
provides students with the opportunity to hear talks by academic and
- During their second academic year, PhD candidates will give a seminar
on a literature topic. The topic for the literature seminar will be
chosen by the student from topics suggested by the faculty. The chosen
topic cannot be related to the students current research.
- Prior to the final defense of their dissertation, students will present
a research seminar to the department. This talk will allow the student
to present an overview of the research that will make up their dissertation.
- PhD candidates are normally expected to serve as teaching assistants
(TAs) for at least one academic year during their time in the program.
Most students will serve as TAs during their first year in the program
before becoming research assistants.
- International students must gain accreditation by the International
Teaching Assistants Program (ITAP) within their first year of support
to qualify for additional TA support.
Additional Academic Requirements
- PhD students must present an Initial Research Review (IRR) to their
dissertation committee prior to the end of the first month of their
second year (January for students starting in the fall semester). The
student will outline the initial progress that has been made on their
research project. The committee will provide comments about the students
progress at this point in their career. If the amount of progress has
been insufficient, or the presentation is not acceptable, the student
may be asked to repeat the IRR.
- PhD candidates must pass 4 cumulative
exams prior to the end of their second year in residence. Cumulative
exams are offered 10 times a year in the 5 disciplines (analytical,
biochemistry, inorganic, physical, and organic). Although students normally
take exams in their major area, they are free to take any exam. Students
begin taking exams during their first semester in the program, thus
they have 20 opportunities to obtain 4 passing grades.
- PhD candidates must prepare and defend and Original Research Proposal
(ORP) prior to the end of their fifth semester in the program. The topic
of the ORP is chosen by the student, but may not be related to any project
in his or her research group. The topic must be approved by the students
dissertation committee. The student will write a 7-10 page outline of
the proposed research will be defended orally in front of the dissertation
committee. In addition, the student may be asked to discuss their research
progress during this meeting.
Research and Dissertation
- The quantity of research required for the dissertation will normally
be determined by the research advisor, although the entire dissertation
committee will determine whether sufficient work has been done to award
the PhD degree. Typically the PhD program will take at least 4 years,
the bulk of which will be spent working on a research project. The research
for the PhD degree should encompass a significant body of work. It is
expected that this work will have resulted in at least one publication
in a peer-reviewed journal.
- The dissertation should be prepared once the student and advisor,
with advice from the dissertation committee, have agreed that a sufficient
amount of work has been completed. The dissertation should be prepared
according to the guidelines of the Graduate
School. The dissertation should be distributed to the committee
two weeks before the final defense is scheduled.
- In the oral defense, the student should present a short overview of
their dissertation research, unless the defense is held immediately
following the student's research seminar. After a period of questions,
the committee will meet to determine if the student has passed the oral
defense. The committee will also make a recommendation regarding whether
the dissertation is acceptable or requires additional corrections. Once
the committee members are satisfied, they will sign the dissertation