Ph.D. Degree Requirements

Two graduate students in a lab

Full, detailed degree requirements are available from the Office of Graduate Studies.

Ph.D. Timeline

Year 1

  • Take and pass four ACS Entrance Exams at the 50th percentile or better or any prescribed undergraduate courses with a grade of "B" or better.
  • Meet with faculty and join a research group by the end of the Fall quarter.
  • Take up to six graduate courses (one to three per quarter) based on your chosen research area.

Year 2

  • Take any remaining required graduate courses.
  • Take your Qualifying Examination (QE) either in Winter or Spring quarter, after all coursework is completed (international students are required to take their QE in Winter quarter for tuition purposes).
  • Nominate your dissertation committee and "Advance to Candidacy" with the Office of Graduate Studies.

Year 3

  • Present your research project to your dissertation committee and peers in a seminar, either in Winter or Spring quarter.

Year 4+

  • Continue with research, write your dissertation and file to graduate.

Selecting a Research Adviser

New graduate students are introduced to our faculty and their research in a twice-a-week seminar (CHE 293) for the first half of the Fall quarter. During and after which, you are asked to meet individually with at least five faculty members. You are also encouraged to sit in on group meetings and talk to current graduate students in the labs you are interested in.

By the end of the quarter, you will rank your top choices for a research adviser. While the majority of students will get his or her first choice, it does happen on occassion that someone does not, so it is important to identify two or three other potential advisers.

Guidelines for Selecting an Adviser

The following are things you should consider when you talk to faculty about joining their lab. Some basic statistical data (number of students graduated, etc.) is available from the Graduate Affairs Officer.

  • Both recent research history and future prospects. If the past research history is different from what is currently being investigated, how reasonable is it to expect change?
  • What is the record for graduating Ph.D. students in the lab? This will vary significantly among the faculty.
  • How long does it typically take to complete the Ph.D. degree in the research group? The normative time to degree is four to six years.
  • Effective research requires financial support for salary, chemicals, access to sophisticated instrumentation, attendance at scientific meetings, etc. What financial support is available?
  • The prospects for a good postdoctoral or industry position are greater for students whose research results have been published in scientific journals. What are recent publications from students in the group?

Graduate Coursework

The following are the courses (excluding seminars) required for the Ph.D. in Chemistry listed by research area. Descriptions of these courses are available in the General Catalog.

Analytical Chemistry

  • Two Core Courses: CHE 205, CHE 240
  • Two "Special Topics" Course: CHE 241A-E
  • Two Elective Courses in areas outside of analytical chemistry

Biological Chemistry (2 tracks)

  • Bioorganic
    • Three Core Courses: CHE 219 and 219L, CHE 233, CHE 238 or BCB 211
    • Three Elective Courses
  • Biophysical
    • Three Core Courses: CHE 205, CHE 210A, BCB 211
    • Three Elective Courses

Inorganic Chemistry

  • Two Core Courses: CHE 205, CHE 226
  • Two "Special Topics" Courses: CHE 228A-D
  • Two Elective Courses in areas outside of inorganic chemistry

Organic Chemistry

  • Three Core Courses: CHE 219 and 219L, CHE 231A, CHE 233
  • Three Elective Courses

Physical Chemistry

  • Three Core Courses: CHE 211A, CHE 210A, CHE 210B
  • Three Elective Courses

Chemical Physics
Students in the Chemical Physics emphasis follow the same course track as either Analytical Chemistry or Physical Chemistry. Chemical Physics students are also only required to take and pass ACS exams in Physical and Analytical Chemistry.