University General Course Catalog 2023-2024 
    Jun 19, 2024  
University General Course Catalog 2023-2024

Chemistry, Ph.D.

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The Department of Chemistry offers a Ph.D. degree in Chemistry, and a separate Ph.D. degree in Chemical Physics, administered jointly with the Department of Physics.

The general requirements of the Graduate School must be satisfied by all candidates for the Ph.D. degree with a major in chemistry.

Contact Information

Robert S. Sheridan, Professor
Graduate Director Chemistry
(775) 784-6730

Chemistry Department:
(775) 784-6041

Graduate Handbook *

Program Objectives/Student Learning Outcomes

Outcome 1: Theoretical Knowledge

Students will possess:

  • a broad factual knowledge at the advanced level in all subfields of chemistry (Physical, Inorganic, Organic, and Analytical).
  • a deep factual and theoretical understanding of their area of specialization, including an awareness of modern research methods and technology, and problems of intense current interest.
  • advanced cognitive skills in areas such as mathematics and physics that are necessary to understand and advance chemical theories.

Outcome 2: Research Methods, Planning, and Experiment Design

Students will:

  • independently design experiments to investigate scientific hypotheses.
  • carry out experiments safely, using proper equipment and techniques.
  • independently conduct analysis, along with evaluation of experimental or computational uncertainties and noise.
  • interpret experimental results in the context of their uncertainties.

Outcome 3: Literature Research and Communication Skills

Students will be able to:

  • present their work by effective written communication in the form of scientific papers and reports, and by oral communication in the form of scientific seminars.
  • train others in basic scientific knowledge and techniques and in advanced knowledge and techniques in their field of expertise.
  • use scientific databases and the scientific literature to research a new topic.
  • critically analyze and extract information from papers in the scientific literature.

Outcome 4: Scientific Creativity and Independence

Students will:

  • understand the societal and general scientific significance of their work.
  • possess the ability to identify key issues within their research area and independently propose new research directions and meaningful, testable hypotheses.
  • be able to draw from their general scientific training to synthesize new problem-solving approaches.

Outcome 5: Professional and Career Success

Graduates will:

  • be successful in their professional careers as demonstrated by their abilities to solve important chemistry problems, to solve problems in areas different from their training, and to develop new and valuable ideas.
  • be able to work in a variety of professional environments as demonstrated by the abilities to work both in teams and independently, to provide project leadership, to mentor junior co-workers, and to communicate scientific results effectively to the chemistry community and the public.
  • possess professional character as demonstrated by their ethical behavior, their pursuit of continuing education and involvement in professional associations, and their commitment to safety and protection of the environment.

Admission Requirements

For admission to the Ph.D. program, a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry or in a related field with a minimum GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale is required.  GRE general scores and three letters of recommendation are also required.

I. Program Requirements

A. Chemistry Core (6 units)

Students who demonstrate proficiency on the qualifying exam in an area of chemistry may be exempted from taking the corresponding core course; electives will be substituted.

B. Seminar/Dissertation (29 units)

C. Other Required Courses (15 units)

Required courses are 600 and 700-level formal classroom or laboratory courses approved by the student’s advisory committee.

See “E. Other Required Courses and Electives” below.

D. Electives (22 units)

Electives for the Ph.D. have the following limits: 

  • 12 maximum units of independent studies (CHEM 793),
  • 3 maximum units of CHEM 707,
  • 8 maximum units of CHEM 788, and
  • 6 maximum units of Dissertation (CHEM 799, in addition to the required 24 units). 

Also, because the Graduate School permits a maximum of 9 S/U units, only 6 units of colloquium (CHEM 794) may be applied toward the Ph.D.  However, we recommend that students enroll in 1 unit of colloquium each semester.

See “E. Other Required Courses and Electives” below.

E. Other Required Courses and Electives

The Graduate School requires a minimum of 18 units (exclusive of Dissertation) at the 700 level, and permits a maximum of 9 S/U units to be applied toward the Ph.D. degree.

Required and elective coursework must be approved by the student’s advisory committee.

II. Total Credits (72 units)


* Curriculum requirements in the catalog supersede the Graduate handbook.

Undergraduate Prerequisites

At least one full year of organic chemistry, one full year of physical chemistry, and one semester of inorganic chemistry are recommended.

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