Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Program
The mission of the Chemistry Department Graduate Program is to provide education designed to equip students with a strong foundation for a career in chemistry, areas allied with chemistry, and chemical management. To accomplish this mission the Department offers courses, colloquia, and, most importantly, research programs guided by a preceptor in the fields of organic, biological, analytical, physical, and inorganic chemistry. Emphasis is given to biological research and energy and materials science research.
The doctoral program in chemistry prepares students for faculty and research positions at colleges and universities and for employment in the biotechnology, pharmaceutical, polymer, and energy-related industries. Among recent graduates, about 15% have tenure-track faculty positions, 35% have postdoctoral research positions, and 30% work in industry. Educational institutions and the biotechnology, polymer, and energy-related industries are major employers in Ohio and the Cleveland area.
All PhD students participate in the departmental teaching program, an important component of the student's professional training. The two semester requirement as teaching assistant is usually satisfied during the first year.
Students choose a curriculum of course work from among a large array of offerings in chemistry and related science departments. There is a six-course requirement, which can be satisfied completely during the student's first year if desired, and includes a one-course requirement in each of the three major chemistry disciplines (organic, inorganic, and physical). Placement examinations in each of these three areas are given to all entering students in order to assess undergraduate competency and help the department advise the student as to the most prudent selection of first-year work.
Graduate students become affiliated with a research adviser normally at the end of their first semester. An orientation program helps students select their advisers by acquainting them with the department faculty and their current and projected research activities. Every effort is made to match students with their first choice for adviser, although balance among research groups and funding circumstances are also taken into account. The research adviser becomes the student's principal mentor regarding course selection, preparation for examinations, conduct of research, composition of the thesis, and professional placement. The student's major activity toward the PhD degree is his or her original research under the supervision of the research adviser, culminating in the presentation and defense of the doctoral dissertation (thesis).
The progress of each PhD student toward the fulfillment of degree requirements is followed by a review committee, as well as by the student's research adviser. A review committee of three faculty members is first appointed, in consultation with the research adviser, to conduct the oral examination leading to candidacy. The research adviser is not a member of this committee but is normally present at the oral examination. The review committee maintains informal contact with the student during the course of the thesis research in order to help the student ensure that satisfactory progress is being made. Upon successful completion of the thesis and other graduate requirements, the student presents and defends the thesis research before a final examination committee made up of the review committee plus the research adviser and a faculty member from outside the Department of Chemistry.
Other Academic Activities
In order to help the student learn to read the chemical literature with a critical eye, a series of examinations are offered 10 times a year on selected topics of current research interest in each of the three major areas of chemistry. Students elect to take these examinations at their own discretion, but are required to earn 10 points (grades of 0,1, and 2 points are given) during the course of their PhD training.
Graphical timeline for a PhD in Chemistry
An application checklist and other requirements can be found on our graduate programs admission page.