Degree Requirements

General Information

The Department of Chemistry offers programs of study and research leading to thesis based M.S. and Ph.D. degrees.  A wide range of research projects are available in analytical, inorganic, materials, organic, physical, polymer, and sustainable materials chemistry.  In addition, many of our faculty are actively engaged in interdisciplinary research projects.  Check out our FAQ page for answers to specific questions.

The general requirements for admission to programs leading to advanced degrees are described in the general section of the Graduate Catalog (  Candidates for advanced degrees in the Department of Chemistry typically are expected to have completed the minimum undergraduate program established by the American Chemical Society Committee on Professional Training.

The graduate program in Chemistry has graduate courses that include advanced analytical techniques, synthesis, and reaction mechanisms in organic chemistry, molecular modeling and computer simulation methods, physical inorganic and inorganic reaction mechanisms, organometallics, quantum mechanics, molecular spectroscopy and statistical thermodynamics, sustainable materials chemistry, and polymer science.  Special topics courses and seminar courses are also offered.  Thesis-based research is an integral part of the student’s training.  Research comprises the majority of the work in both the master’s and doctoral programs where students are strongly encouraged to publish their research in peer reviewed journals and present at professional conferences.

Entrance Examinations

Every entering graduate student must take qualifying examinations during the week prior to the first semester of classes. Examinations measure the students’ undergraduate preparation in analytical, inorganic, organic, and physical chemistry, and are used to guide placement of students in the proper courses. Each student must demonstrate undergraduate level competency in three of these four areas by achieving scores in the 40th percentile. If a student does not earn a satisfactory score in three of the four areas, the student’s advisory committee will decide how the student will demonstrate competency.


Each student must complete sufficient research to write a thesis (M.S.) or dissertation (Ph.D.) of publishable quality. The dissertation particularly should give evidence of an exhaustive study of a specialized field and should be an authoritative statement of knowledge on the subject, as well as an original contribution to modern chemistry. In the work leading to, and in the preparation of, the thesis or dissertation, each student is advised by a committee consisting of the individual faculty member directing the work (and possible co-advisor) and additional faculty to have at least a total of three (M.S.) or five (Ph.D.) faculty on the student’s advisory committee. This committee is selected by the student in consultation with his or her research advisor and is subject to approval by the faculty of the Department and the Dean of the Graduate School. All students must select a research advisor and advisory committee by the end of the first semester of graduate study, and thereafter meet with the committee at least once each year.


Coursework requirements for both M.S. and Ph.D. programs are designed to satisfy the modern, interdisciplinary nature of chemistry. Students can select from appropriate science, math, and engineering courses University-wide as approved by the student’s advisory committee. Students are required to take 21 and 16 classroom hours, including seminars, for the Ph.D. and M.S. programs, respectively. The Graduate School also requires course work in Responsible Conduct of Research and thesis credits (CHY 699), see the Graduate Rules for more specifics. The M.S. program requires a minimum of 30 credits to graduate (coursework and thesis) while no credit hour total exists for the Ph.D. program.

Advancement to Candidacy
Ph.D. students must successfully complete 3 out of 5 comprehensive examinations by the end of two and a half years of the student’s entry to the program.  The student’s advisory committee approves the exams prior to the student taking them and helps the student schedule them.  After passing the comprehensive examinations, the student prepares an original research proposal, which is not closely related to his or her research and approved by the student’s advisory committee.  The proposal should be written in the format of those for the National Science Foundation and is defended in an oral presentation before the advisory committee within three years of entry to the program.