PhD in Chemistry

The Ph.D. program emphasizes the Environmental and Biomedical Aspects of Chemistry. Recent investigations have focused on various projects in these two areas. Environmental projects include examining biogeochemistry of environmentally and biomedically important trace elements, such as mercury and arsenic; hydrocarbon speciation in ancient sediments studied by SFC extraction; studies of molecules and airborne particulates of importance to the atmosphere; photocatalytic decomposition of organophosphates; and utilizing spin trapping agents to probe for the presence of free radicals in specimens subjected to adverse conditions. Biomedical research includes synthesis of biologically important molecules in order to probe enzyme mechanism, theoretical studies of active site of protease enzymes, and dietary influence on the makeup of the macular pigment.

Degree Requirements

  • A minimum of 81 credits of course work.
  • A grade of ‘C’ or higher in all courses
  • A maintained cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or higher

The course work must include:

  • At least nine credits of chemistry in at least two of the five major areas of chemistry (Analytical, Biochemistry, Inorganic, Organic, and Physical) from the core listed below:

Core Courses (three credits each)


  • CHM 5138 Advanced Mass Spectrometry
  • CHM 5156 Advanced Chromatography
  • CHM 5165 Chemometrics and Sampling
  • CHM 6157 Advanced Analytical Chemistry


  • CHM 5325 Physical Chemistry of Proteins
  • CHM 5503 Physical Chemistry of Nucleic Acids
  • CHM 5506 Physical Biochemistry
  • CHM 6036 Advanced Biochemistry I
  • CHM 6037 Advanced Biochemistry II
  • BCH 6108 Biochemical Techniques


  • CHM 5251 Organometallic Chemistry
  • CHM 5440 Kinetics and Catalysis
  • CHM 5540 Group Theory in Chemistry
  • CHM 5650 Physical Inorganic Chemistry


  • CHM 5236 Spectroscopic Techniques and Structure Elucidation
  • CHM 5250 Organic Synthesis
  • CHM 5260 Physical Organic Chemistry


  • CHM 5423 Atmospheric Chemistry
  • CHM 5490 Physical Spectroscopy
  • CHM 5540 Group Theory in Chemistry
  • CHM 5586 Computational Chemistry
  • CHM 6430 Advanced Thermodynamics
  • CHM 6461 Statistical Thermodynamics
  • CHM 6480 Quantum Mechanics

Courses not listed above may be counted as core courses with prior departmental approval.

  • At least nine credits of additional graduate-level chemistry courses approved by the dissertation committee in consultation with the Graduate Program Director.
  • Full-time graduate students are required to register for one credit of CHM 6940 (Supervised Teaching) each semester they serve as teaching assistants.
  • Full-time graduate students are required to register for one credit of CHM 6935 (Graduate Seminar) or one credit of CHM 6936 (Chemistry Colloquium) each fall and spring semester.
  • At least one credit of CHM 6936 (Chemistry Colloquium) is required. Each student must present a seminar on their proposed research at the colloquium for a letter grade by the end of their third semester of graduate study.
  • At least eight credits of CHM 7910 (Dissertation Research) involving independent dissertation research under the direction of a faculty member in the Department is required.
  • At least 20 credits of CHM 7980 (Ph.D. Dissertation) to be taken after the student has advanced to candidacy.

As well as

  • Satisfactory completion cumulative examinations. The student will begin taking the cumulative examinations after completing the proficiency requirements but no later than the beginning of the student’s second semester. Six examinations, each lasting three hours, will be given per year. The student must pass four out of ten consecutively-offered exams for admission to candidacy.
  • Satisfactory presentation and defense of an original research proposal (on a topic not related to the student’s specific doctoral research project) and a satisfactory completion of a Preliminary Oral examination. The presentation and examination occur consectively in a single session and must be completed before the end of the fifth semester (excluding summers). The examination will be conducted by the Dissertation Committee, be based on the student’s dissertation research, and include questions from the student’s major field and cognate fields. After fulfilling their requirement, passing the comprehensive examinations, and completing all required course work, the student advances to candidacy.
  • Satisfactory public presentation and defense of a research dissertation, evaluated by the Dissertation Committee. The student’s Dissertation Committe will consist of the research advisor, a member from outside the Department, a randomly-assigned member appointed by the Graduate Program Director from the Department’s graduate faculty, and at least two additional committee members with expretise in the student’s research area. At least three members of the Dissertation Committee, including the major research advisor, must be from the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and at least two of these three members must be tenured. The Committee may include additional members, but they will be non-voting.

For more information see the Admission and Degree Requirements section, or contact Dr. Watson Lees at, office: CP 314, (305) 348-3993, FAX: (305)348-3772.