The Doctor of Philosophy Degree
The Ph.D. program is an individualized program worked out between the students and advisor within the framework of the Department and the Graduate College. The Graduate College requires 96 hours of course work, including thesis research, beyond the baccalaureate for the Ph.D. It is possible for students entering with an accredited master's degree to transfer up to 32 hours.
Entering students take a series of placement examinations, based on undergraduate material typical of programs approved by the American Chemical Society, in analytical, biochemistry, inorganic, organic, and physical. Students are required to show proficiency in three of the five areas by achieving a score of 50 percentile. Scores less than 50 percentile indicate a deficiency that must be remedied by taking a 400- or 500-level course. Students are required to remedy deficiencies in their first year. Such an approach is designed to assure a good background for taking specialized courses and successful accomplishment of thesis research. The Graduate Advising Committee directs the candidate's course work in the period before a thesis advisor has been selected.
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Departmental guidelines for the Ph.D. require a minimum of 9 credit hours in lecture courses at the 500-level in the area of specialization and 3 credit hours in different fields of chemistry outside this area. Chemistry graduate students usually take additional courses, particularly special topics courses, during their time in the Department. A description of graduate chemistry course offerings in all areas of study can be found in the link Graduate Course Work.
Four departmental exams on advanced specialized topics, the cumulative exams, must be passed during the first two years. Eight such exams are offered each year. One exam must be passed before the end of the first year of the program and the remaining exams must be passed by the end of the second year. Candidates are encouraged to take the examinations regularly upon entering the program and are required to do so after two semesters in residence.
Individual research is the major component of Ph.D. training. All students select an advisor after meeting with the faculty in their area of interest as well as attending presentations by the faculty. When the research work is well underway, the candidate chooses a research committee that will review the progress toward the Ph.D. This committee will advise the student through the completion of research and thesis composition, and will then act as the examination committee as required by the Graduate College. The results of the research are presented in a seminar to the examination committee as well as members of the Department and the public. Finally the examination committee questions the candidate in a closed session before approving the thesis.