PH.D. Program

The Department administers basic examinations in the fields of inorganic, organic, and physical chemistry in the autumn, winter, and spring quarters. Graduate students are expected to take these examinations upon entering the Department. Deficiencies evidenced by these examinations must be remedied and the examinations passed prior to the end of the third quarter of residence (not counting summer quarter).

In the first year, students must satisfactorily complete nine courses. At least six of these must be 30000-level courses from the offerings of the Department of Chemistry or of related Departments in the Divisions of the Physical and the Biological Sciences, and of these six courses, at least two shall be in different areas of chemistry, e.g., inorganic, organic, or physical chemistry. For this purpose, inorganic chemistry courses are defined as Chemistry 30100-31100; organic chemistry courses as Chemistry 32100-33400; and physical chemistry courses as Chemistry 36100-38700. Grades of C or better are expected. The remaining three courses may include Chemistry 35000 and/or 40000-level chemistry research courses; however, one may not register for these courses during the autumn quarter. An advisor assists students in formulating programs of study that will best satisfy personal needs and Departmental requirements. Courses taken outside the Department to satisfy the first-year requirements must be approved by the advisor.

Students who have completed all courses with grades of C or better (P in research courses) may be recommended for the S.M. degree; these students may, at the discretion of a faculty member, be required to submit a paper on their work in Chemistry 35000 or a 40000-level research course.

At the end of the spring quarter in the first year, the faculty review the student's overall record. Course performance is a major part of this review; a B-average or better in all 30000-level courses (excluding Chemistry 35000) is expected. At this time the Department will advise students whether they are qualified to continue studies and to prepare for the Ph.D. candidacy examination described below. A student seeking admission to Ph.D. candidacy must take the candidacy examination before the end of his or her fifth quarter in residence (normally October-for this purpose summer quarter is counted as a quarter in residence). This examination is based on the student's written research prospectus and on the discussion of scientific papers selected by the examining committee. The student presents the research prospectus to the committee, and must be prepared to discuss the relevant chemical literature, progress to date, plans for future work, and the relationship of the research to other chemical problems. The student is expected to conduct a critical analysis of the scientific papers selected by the committee.

The faculty review the recommendations of the candidacy examining committee and, after consideration of the student's academic record, vote on whether or not to recommend that the student be admitted to candidacy. All candidates for the Ph.D. degree are required to participate in some form of teaching. Normally this involves serving as a teaching assistant for three quarters.

The Ph.D. degree is granted upon satisfactory completion of scholarly research work, presented in a written thesis, discussed in a public seminar, and defended orally before a faculty committee.

Students should especially note the following:

  • It is the responsibility of the individual research sponsor to monitor the progress of a student's research. Unsatisfactory progress may result in termination of financial support and/or dismissal from the Ph.D. program.


  • The Department will recommend formal admission to candidacy as soon as the student has (a) satisfied the basic examination requirement, (b) satisfied the course requirements, (c) passed the candidacy examination, and (d) demonstrated satisfactory progress in research and teaching.


  • Students should consider satisfying any or all course requirements by taking proficiency examinations. Application to take a proficiency examination should be made directly to the person who will be teaching the particular course. The examinations will be administered during the first week of the quarter in which the course is offered. No stigma is attached to failing a proficiency examination.