Ph.D. Program Details and Requirements
Before You Start
Complete at least the B.A. or B.S. degree (or their international equivalents) in chemistry or a closely allied science.
When students first arrive at Dartmouth, diagnostic exams in Organic, Inorganic, Physical Chemistry, and Biochemistry are given to help determine the introductory curriculum. All students must demonstrate a basic knowledge of three of these areas either on these initial exams or via course work during the first four terms in residence.
Additional Course Work
A wide range of graduate courses is available, including several either in other departments or cross-listed with them. Students are expected to complete at least two graduate level courses in their primary research area, chosen in consultation with his or her research advisor, during the first nine terms in residence.
- To see a list of graduate courses in chemistry, click here.
- For the complete online course catalog, click here. Graduate courses are numbered 100 and above.
Choosing Your Research Advisor
Typically, by November of the first year, students should meet with at least three faculty members to discuss possible research projects. Students rank them in order of preference, and the entire faculty reviews these rankings and assigns students to research groups according to not only the students' wishes but also any particular departmental or faculty needs that may influence placements. Most students get their first choice and begin research by January, although earlier and later starts are possible.
For a complete copy of our current Graduate Student Handbook in pdf format - a 140 kB file - click here. This handbook covers these requirements in detail and is considered our official source for them. The handbook is updated annually.
- Progress Reports: Yearly reports describe research progress and are followed by a meeting with the student's Research Advisory Committee (the main research advisor plus at least two other faculty members).
- Cumulative Exams: These are tests on contemporary research topics announced two weeks in advance of the exams. Four exams are offered at each of four offerings per academic year (one in fall term, two in winter term, and one in spring term), and a student is required to pass two by the end of the second year and five by the end of the third year.
- Second Year Seminar: Students present to the department a one-hour talk on a topic of the student's choice but different from the thesis topic.
- Research Proposal: Students present and successfully defend to his or her research committee a novel research proposal on a topic unrelated to the thesis research.
- Teaching: All students are required to serve as teaching assistants for a total of at least four terms, typically over the first two years. All students take a graduate course on teaching (Chemistry 256) as preparation for this assignment. Students who are supported on stipend funds made available to the department at large (as opposed to funds from a research grant to an individual faculty member) and who are beyond their second year in the program will be expected to serve as a teaching assistant for one additional term per two terms of such support.
- Thesis: The completed thesis is presented in a talk to the department and defended in an oral exam before the student's Research Advisory Committee augmented by one outside examiner (often from another university).
The Graduate Program: Master's Degree (M.S.)
We don't admit students for a terminal master's degree program.
However, you can get a M.S. degree by two different paths:
- You're not able to complete the Ph.D. requirements above successfully.
- You decide partway through the program that you don't want to get a Ph.D.
For a more formal statement of Ph.D. and M.S. degree requirements, look here.
back to the main 'apply' page
forward: what to send