Doctor of Philosophy with a Major in Chemistry

The Ph.D. in Chemistry provides students with in depth knowledge of a focused area of Chemistry or Biochemistry, and requires that students complete an independent, scholarly research project with results worthy of publication in the peer reviewed scientific literature. This degree prepares students for a variety of different career paths, including research and development in industry or government, intellectual property law, technical consulting and also faulty positions at universities and colleges.  Course work is usually completed within the first two years of study. Students typically complete the requirements for candidacy, which consist of a series of examinations in the major area based on a reading assignments from the recent literature and an original research proposal, by the end of their second year. Later years are devoted to the completion of a research project and the publication of the results from the project. Candidates must write and defend a thesis describing their research as the final degree requirement.

All PhD programs must incorporate a standard set of Requirements for the Doctoral Degree

Coursework from areas of Specialization 1,2,36
CHEM 8000Seminar in Chemistry1
CHEM 7001Introduction to Research3
CHEM 8001Faculty Seminar1
CHEM 8002Information Resources for Chemists and Biochemists2
CHEM 8003Student Seminar 22
CHEM 8801Special Topics (Writing Effective Research Proposals and Manuscripts)1
Doctoral Thesis 45
Doctoral Minor 2,39
Qualifying Examinations 5
Candidacy Requirements 6
Total Credit Hours30

In addition, to the 9 hours of courses required for the minor, a further 6 hours of course work must be completed. These 15 hours of course work must encompass at least two areas of specialization and at least two courses must be core courses from traditional specializations (inorganic chemistry, analytical chemistry, organic chemistry, physical chemistry, biochemistry, and polymer chemistry).


Must be completed with a grade of B or higher


All courses must be letter-grade and students must have a 3.0 GPA overall and 3.0 GPA for the courses used towards the minor


Students will typically have far more credit for doctoral thesis than this.


Students must successfully complete a set of literature examinations. This is usually done in their 1st year.


To gain candidacy, students must prepare and defend in front of their doctoral advisory committee an initial thesis proposal and a summary of research progress. This is usually done before the end of their 2nd year.

GPA Requirement

  • Students must have a GPA greater than 2.5 based on two or more classes that count towards the degree after their first semester in order to continue and take literature exams. Students with a GPA less than this must petition the School’s graduate program committee to continue in the program
  • Students must have GPA greater than 2.7 based on four or more classes that count towards the degree after their second semester to continue in the program. Students with GPA less than will need to acquire approval to continue in the program

Other Requirements

  • Annual written progress reports describing the original research
  • Annual meetings with their doctoral advisory committee to review progress
  • A review, six months prior to thesis defense, of the proposed contents for the thesis
  • Defense of a thesis describing original research

Core and elective courses for commonly pursued traditional areas of specialization are listed below. However, alternative course combinations, corresponding to other areas of specialization, are strongly encouraged. Course combination for other areas of specialization should be developed and approved in consultation with the faculty research advisor and the director of graduate studies. Examples of other areas of specialization include Biophysical Chemistry, Chemical Biology, Computational and Theoretical Chemistry, Energy and Catalysis, Metallobiochemistry, Materials Chemistry and Nanoscience.

Inorganic Chemistry Specialization
CHEM 6170Inorganic Chemistry I3
CHEM 6172Physical Methods in Inorganic Chemistry3
CHEM 6171Inorganic Chemistry II3
CHEM 6181Chemical Crystallography3
CHEM 6182Chemistry of the Solid State3
CHEM 6183Organometallic Chemistry3
CHEM 8813Special Topics in Inorganic Chemistry3
Analytical Chemistry Specialization
CHEM 6271Analytical Chemistry I3
CHEM 6281Mass Spectrometry3
CHEM 6272Analytical Chemistry II3
CHEM 6273Analytical techniques for chemistry and biology3
CHEM 6282Chemical Sensors3
CHEM 6283Electroanalytical Chemistry3
CHEM 6284Environmental Analytical Chemistry3
CHEM 6285Analytical Spectroscopy3
CHEM 6287Scanned Probe Techniques3
CHEM 6288Analytical Separations3
CHEM 8823Special Topics in Analytical Chemistry3
Organic Chemistry Specialization
CHEM 6370Organic Reaction Mechanisms3
CHEM 6371Identification of Organic Compounds3
CHEM 6372Physical Organic Chemistry3
CHEM 6373Organic Synthesis3
CHEM 6381Advanced Organic Synthesis3
CHEM 6382Computational Methods in Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry3
CHEM 8833Special Topics in Organic Chemistry3
Physical Chemistry Specialization
CHEM 6481Statistical Mechanics3
or CHEM 6755 Theoretical Chemistry of Polymers
CHEM 6491Quantum Mechanics3
or CHEM 6472 Quantum Chemistry and Molecular Spectroscopy
CHEM 6471Chemical Thermodynamics and Kinetics3
CHEM 6482Chemical Kinetics and Reaction Dynamics3
CHEM 6483Chemistry of Electronic Organic Materials3
CHEM 6484Chemistry of Optical Organic Materials3
CHEM 6485Computational Chemistry3
CHEM 6492Molecular Spectroscopy3
CHEM 8843Special Topics in Physical Chemistry3
Biochemistry Specialization
CHEM 6571Enzymology and Metabolism3
CHEM 6572Macromolecular Structure3
CHEM 6573Molecular Biochemistry3
CHEM 6501Biochemistry I3
CHEM 6502Biochemistry II3
CHEM 6581Protein Crystallography3
CHEM 6582Biophysical Chemistry3
CHEM 6583Drug Design and Discovery3
CHEM 6584Contemporary Biochemistry3
CHEM 6756Discovery of Signaling Molecules3
CHEM 6760Biocatalysis and Metabolic Engineering3
CHEM 8853Special Topics in Biochemistry3
Polymer Chemistry Specialization
CHEM 6750Preparation and Reaction of Polymers3
CHEM 6752Polymer Characterization4
CHEM 6751Physical Chemistry of Polymer Solutions3
CHEM 6757Advanced Polymer Chemistry3
CHEM 8873Special Topics in Polymer Chemistry3