Department of Chemistry Biochemistry

Degree Requirements

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Requirements for Ph. D.Programs in Chemistry and Biochemistry

Course Requirements: Ph.D. students must complete eighty-four (84) semester hours of graduate credit to fulfill ASU's graduation requirements. Students supported by research or teaching assistantship must register for a minimum of 6 hours per semester. Also, students on TA or RA can NOT register for more than 12 hours per semester. Approximately 20-30 hours of the 84 necessary for graduation will consist of coursework as follows:

  • Students take 6 courses (500 level courses are recommended, although 400 level courses can be included after approval from the student's faculty advisor). Two of the 6 courses can be from departments outside chemistry and biochemistry. The students must complete four 500 level courses before their oral exam.
  • Additionally, each semester students will enroll in a seminar course (BCH501 or CHM501) in an area appropriate to their research interests.
  • All graduate courses, including the 501 seminar courses, are graded in the A-E system.
  • The students must receive a "B" average in their graduate courses.

Research Advisor

Students must choose a research advisor no later than the end of the first semester of the first year in residence. A research advisor can be selected by meeting with faculty members to discuss research interests, participating in lab rotations in the first semester of the Ph.D. program, and/or by attending the CHM 501 seminar for new students, where students listen to faculty presentations.

Ph.D. Research and Dissertation
The basic requirement for the Ph.D. degree is that the candidate demonstrate the capacity for independent, original research. The major research effort of the candidate will be embodied in the dissertation presented for the Ph.D. degree. In order for the dissertation to be acceptable, it must contain new and unique contributions to knowledge that are publishable in one of the principal research journals. The student must have at least one (1) major published paper in a refereed journal prior to graduation.

Students must register for a combined minimum of twenty-four (24) semester hours of research (CHM 792) and dissertation (CHM 799) over the course of their 4-5 years. They must have 1 to 12 dissertation hours listed on their Program of Study form in order to graduate. Additional hours of research may be taken to fulfill the total graduation requirements of 84 hours.

Program of Study

Each student is required to submit a Program of Study form to the Graduation Office for approval by the end of the 4th semester. This form is written documentation of the student's academic plan for completing the Ph.D. program. It lists the student's coursework, research hours and dissertation hours. It must also be signed by the student's research advisor and committee, and the Department Chair, prior to submission to the Graduation Office.

Oral Examination:
The purpose of the Oral Examination is to question and probe students in several areas relevant to their development as professional scientists. The successful candidate must clearly demonstrate:
(1) Mastery of basic concepts of chemistry or biochemistry
(2) Proficiency in the laboratory, as evidenced by the progress and productivity level achieved in research; including the ability to interpret data, draw conclusions and relate them to what has been established in the literature.
(3) An ability to read and comprehend the chemical literature concerning areas not directly related to the studentís own research.

The oral exam must be taken before the end of the 4th semester.
It consists of :

  • a formal research report and
  • an original research proposal.

The oral examination committee is comprised of four tenured or tenure-track faculty members from the School of Molecular Sciences. The research advisor is not a member of the committee. The oral examination chairperson is appointed by the Graduate Programs Committee. Students are notified of this person prior to the oral exam and they should meet with the oral exam chair to schedule the date.

Technical review

A review of student progress will be made before the students' dissertation defense. The student is responsible for scheduling the Technical Review with his or her committee. For this review, Ph.D. students will meet with their committee (including their research advisor)2-6 months prior to their dissertation defense. The committee will question and advise the student to guide him/her in the completion of his/her dissertation.

Administrative Requirements for Graduation

The student must complete all other requirements as stated in the Graduate Catalog, to include:

  • Submission of a Program of Study, with the aid of his/her advisor and committee, outlining the planned coursework for the degree.
  • Submission of an application for graduation. This should be done the semester of intended graduation before the posted deadlines (see the Graduate College's webpage).

A copy of the dissertation must be submitted to each member of the Supervisory Committee at least (1)two weeks prior to the final oral defense. The final oral defense will be announced formally in ASU Insight at least one (1) week prior to the final oral examination. The final copy of the dissertation must be submitted to the Dean of the Graduate College for format review at least ten (10) working days before the oral defense. After revisions required by the committee are made, five copies of the bound thesis are required: 2 go to the University Library, 1 goes to the Research Advisor, 1 goes to the Department, and 1 goes to the student.

Final Oral Defense
Successful completion of the final oral defense must be completed at least two (2) weeks prior to graduation. This defense consists of a formal presentation and examination of the student's dissertation before a general audience, followed by a session to evaluate the student's research with only the Supervisory Committee present. The department allows students to invite external referees for the Ph.D. defense. This is an option and is not mandatory for all defenses. .