Ph.D. Degree Requirements

Course Requirement

phd-requirementsThe minimum requirement for the Ph.D. degree is four of the following courses: 7110, 7120, 7210 or 7220, 7230 or 7240, 7410, 7460 and 6830-6840 (both courses count as 1). In addition two additional courses at the 7000 level (other than 7870-7900) must be taken.

Up to 24 hours of the 48 hours required for the Ph.D. may be taken in special projects (7830-7840). Special interest courses (6000 or above) offered by related departments may be counted toward the 24 hours of additional work. Students should obtain prior approval of the Graduate Affairs Committee to insure courses taken in other departments will count toward the degree.

Cumulative Exams

Ph.D. candidates are required to pass 6 total cumulative exams, at least two by the end of their fourth semester of residence and all six by the end of the 6th semester. In addition, 3 of the 6 exams must be passes in the candidate's area of concentration.

Students failing to pass two cumes by the end of their fourth semester may be expelled from the program. Students unable to complete 6 cumes in 6 semesters will be automatically placed in the M.S. program and be expected to complete the M.S. thesis by the end of the seventh semester.


All Ph.D. candidates must present a seminar to the department based upon a topic from the current chemical literature. The seminar must be presented before the end of the students' 4th semester in residence. The seminar should be scheduled with the departmental coordinator of the seminar program. Students presenting seminars are required to enlist two faculty to attend their seminar and provide a written review of the quality of the presentation; a faculty review form is appended to this document. Students should remember that faculty will only agree to attend if given sufficient notice (at least three weeks) of the seminar.

Tenure Requirement

The maximum time allowed by the Graduate School 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.

Dissertation Committee

After choosing a research advisor, but no later than the fourth semester of residence, students must obtain agreements from three faculty members (other than the thesis advisor) to participate as members of their thesis committee. At least one member of the committee must be from a division other than that of the research advisor.

Thesis Research Presentation

By the end of the fifth semester students must submit a written statement of their dissertation research project to their committee. In addition, students must make an oral presentation of the research project to their dissertation committee.


The Ph.D. dissertation must indicate the ability to carry on independent investigation, and must embody the results of research forming a contribution to knowledge or an original interpretation of existing knowledge. The student should consult the graduate school office to determine the proper format for the Ph.D. dissertation. Upon completion of all other Ph.D. requirements, the student will stand a final oral defense of his Ph.D. dissertation. This final examination will consist principally of the defense of the dissertation, but may be extended at the discretion of the Ph.D. examining committee to include course material. The satisfactory completion of this final requirement completes the student's doctoral program.

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