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University of Pittsburgh    
2023-2024 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog 
  Jun 24, 2024
2023-2024 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog

Chemistry, PhD

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Requirements for the PhD

PhD candidates are required to earn 72 graduate credits that include 12 credits of core courses (CHEM 2110, CHEM 2120, CHEM 2210, CHEM 2220, CHEM 2230, CHEM 2310, CHEM 2320, CHEM 2430, CHEM 2440, CHEM 2810, CHEM 2820). In consultation with their research advisor or GSAC, students may take additional courses after they complete the required core selections. Candidates are required to participate in teaching activities, for at least one or two terms, during their doctoral program.

Additional Requirements

PhD Preliminary Evaluation: The preliminary exam is a ‘closed door’ meeting that includes the student, the student’s advisor, and two other chemistry department T/TS faculty members.  To pass this exam the student must demonstrate a strong likelihood for passing the comprehensive exam, which occurs in the last part of the student’s second year in the program.  In the preliminary exam, the student must demonstrate i) good progress in meeting the course requirement (i.e., at least 6 credits with an average GPA of 3.0 or better), ii) an understanding of their research project (i.e., an ability to articulate their project’s goals and importance), and iii) basic skills and aptitude for chemistry research (i.e., a basic understanding and experience in theory, literature, and methods that are core to their research).

Comprehensive Examination: The comprehensive examination provides the candidate an opportunity to demonstrate their potential for independent research and scholarship. The student submits a research report on their own work to committee members; the oral exam is a discussion of the student’s research to date. The student must be prepared to answer questions related to the theoretical and practical aspects of the research problem. The student is also expected to show a command of graduate course work related to the field of the student’s research. The department’s comprehensive examination satisfies the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences requirements for an overview examination. Upon satisfactory completion of the Comprehensive Exam, with approval by the department chair and the assistant dean of graduate studies, the student is formally admitted to candidacy for the PhD program.

Seminar: Each student in the doctoral program is required to present at least one seminar, open to the department. The seminar may be given at any time during the student’s career and on any topic approved by the student’s major advisor, including the results of doctoral research.

Dissertation and Final Examination: The PhD dissertation is a report of scientific investigation completed under the supervision of the student’s faculty mentor/research advisor. It must represent an original contribution to knowledge and must relate what is found to what was known before. The candidate must defend his/her dissertation in an oral examination before a doctoral committee consisting of the major advisor, at least two additional departmental graduate faculty members, and one graduate faculty member from another department within the University. With prior approval, a qualified faculty member from another institution may also be appointed. The final examination is open to all members of the University community.

Analytical Chemistry Concentration

Students with a concentration in Analytical Chemistry are required to take at least two out of these three courses: Electrochemistry (Chem 2210), Chemical Separations (Chem 2220), and Analytical Spectroscopy (Chem 2230) for 6 credits toward the 12-credit course requirement.  The other 6 credits may be chosen based on the student’s own interests, the advice of the Graduate Student Advising Committee, or the recommendation of the Major Advisor.

Organic Chemistry Concentration

Organic students are required to take both organic core courses (Chemistry 2310 and 2320) and Chemistry 2380 (Techniques of Organic Research).  Advanced courses in the Division are treated in a two-year cycle of one month, one credit modular units (Minicourses) on Special Topics (Chemistry 3300, 3310, 3320).  This program is designed to give advanced students exposure to new developments outside their area of concentration.  Each doctoral candidate is required to take for credit a total of three credits of advanced-level minicourses during his or her residence but is encouraged to audit others.  No single course can be used to account for all 3 credits, and a GPA of 3.00 or greater is required.  In order to ensure maximum freedom of choice, students are advised to register for all three courses (3300, 3310, 3320) during any term in which he or she plans to take one minicourse for credit; before the final examination in the course, the student informs the instructor whether he or she wishes to take the course for credit or audit.

Physical Chemistry Concentration

Physical Chemistry doctoral students are required to take both Physical Chemistry core courses: CHEM 2430 and CHEM 2440.  The Graduate Student Advising Committee, Preliminary Examination Committee, and/or the Research Advisor will recommend additional courses, from within and outside the Department to meet the 12-credit concentration requirement.

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