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Academic Program

A comprehensive overview of the chemistry program can be found on the Graduate School website.

In addition, the Department of Chemistry Graduate Student Handbook provides an overview of the academic program and resources available to students.

Coursework Requirements

Students are required to complete six graduate level courses achieving an average of 3.0 or better. Courses will be chosen in consultation with the student’s adviser to best reflect their specific academic needs and research interests. Students may enroll in courses outside the Department and may continue to take additional courses throughout their enrollment.

Course offerings are available through the Office of the Registrar.

Adviser Selection

Incoming students may participate in the optional summer research program with the support of a faculty member. They may contact faculty directly to arrange for early arrival in their lab. That faculty member will serve as the student’s temporary adviser through the summer and fall.

The poster session at our annual departmental retreat kicks off a semester of informal discussions, group meetings and exploration of research in the Department. Students will select a research adviser by the end of the first semester of study. Students also have the option to pursue interdisciplinary research and work with an adviser from another department provided their research project relates to chemistry.

Teaching Requirement

Graduate students are required to teach for at least two semesters at half time or one semester full time. This requirement is usually satisfied during the second academic year. International students must successfully complete the English proficiency exam before teaching.

The General Examination

The General Examination or doctoral candidacy exam is taken during the second year of study. The evaluation consists of four parts:

  • Completion of required coursework
  • Satisfactory research progress as evaluated by the research adviser
  • Thesis research proposal and oral defense
  • Independent research proposal and oral defense

The research proposals are delivered in a seminar-like fashion to the Generals Committee consisting of a three member advisory committee, which includes the student’s adviser and is appointed by the DGS.

Upon successful completion of the Generals Exam the student may apply for an incidental Master’s degree and move forward in their doctoral studies.

Third Year Seminar

In the third year of study, students present a thirty-minute seminar on their research progress to the department.

Original Research Proposal

The student will present and defend a second original research proposal to their Thesis Advisory Committee prior to the defense of their dissertation, usually sometime in the fourth or fifth year of study.


Most of the program requirements are completed in the first two years of study allowing the remainder of the program to be devoted to independent research work culminating in a written dissertation. This work, showing technical mastery of the research and its contribution to the field, is reviewed and approved by two principal readers before being submitted for acceptance to the Graduate School.

Information regarding the advanced degree application process.