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University Bulletin
Graduate Degree Programs

Chemistry (CHEM)

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Tom Mallouk, Head of the Department
101 Chemistry Research Building
814-865-6553

 

Degrees Conferred:

Ph.D., M.S.

 

The Graduate Faculty

 

The Program

The Ph.D. program in Chemistry provides students with a broad background in chemistry and intensive research experience culminating in the preparation of a formal thesis. The goal of the program is to prepare students for a variety of careers in academia, government, or industry. The exceptionally high quality of our laboratory and computer facilities enables us to provide students with outstanding research opportunities. Distinguished visiting scholars conduct informal discussions each week at a departmental colloquium.

The Chemical Biology option introduces graduate students to training with more active, multidisciplinary, and group learning experience. Students in the option will have the opportunity to participate in the Life Sciences Consortium seminars and will have dual mentorship.

Admission Requirements

Scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) are required for admission. In extenuating circumstances, a student may be admitted provisionally for graduate study in the program without these scores. Requirements listed here are in addition to general Graduate School requirements stated in the GENERAL INFORMATION section of the Graduate Bulletin.

For admission, at least integral calculus plus one year's work in general physics, organic chemistry, physical chemistry, and either analytical or inorganic chemistry are normally required. Students who have appropriate course backgrounds and who present a 2.50 average (on a 4.00 scale) in all undergraduate courses in chemistry, physics, and mathematics will be considered for admission. The best-qualified applicants will be accepted up to the number of spaces that are available for new students. Exceptions to the minimum 2.50 grade-point average may be made for students with special backgrounds, abilities, and interests.

Master's Degree Requirements

The program of the M.S. candidate must include a total of at least 30 graduate-level course credits (CHEM 431W, CHEM 450, CHEM 452, CHEM 457, CHEM 494, and CHEM 500 may not be included in this credit count.)

Additional requirements of the M.S. program are that the candidate must write a thesis and must defend this thesis at an oral examination. The thesis will be accomplished under the sponsorship of a faculty member, and the candidate must schedule at least 6 credits of CHEM 600 (for a thesis) or CHEM 589 (for a research report) to fulfill this requirement. The candidate's attainments under a thesis must be approved by a committee of at least three faculty members, one of whom will be the candidate's sponsor.

Qualifying examinations in analytical, biological, inorganic, organic, and physical chemistry will be given to all new students upon entrance in the fall semester. These exams cover subject matter at the level of the basic courses offered for the B.S. degree in chemistry at Penn State. For certification as an M.S. candidate, proficiency in two areas is required. These must include physical chemistry. Such proficiency may be demonstrated either by (1) passing the area examination upon entrance, or (2) obtaining a grade-point equivalent of 3.0 in at least 3 credits of graduate-level course work in the area. The courses to be used to fulfill this latter option will be designated by the graduate counseling committee. This course work must be completed successfully during the student's first two semesters of residence.

A final oral examination will be administered by a committee consisting of the student's research preceptor and two other faculty members. This examination is scheduled after the M.S. thesis has been completed.

Doctoral Degree Requirements

Candidates for the Ph.D. degree in Chemistry must meet the following requirements established by the department faculty.

A Ph.D. candidate shall be required to take a minimum of five 3-credit courses in chemistry at the 400­500 level (only CHEM 408, CHEM 430, and CHEM 448 can be used). The candidate's doctoral committee may require additional specific courses.

Qualifying examinations in analytical, biological, inorganic, organic, and physical chemistry will be given to all new students upon entrance in the fall semester. These exams cover subject matter at the level of the basic courses offered for the B.S. degree in chemistry at Penn State. As a part of the requirements for certification as a Ph.D. candidate, each student will be expected to demonstrate proficiency in three areas of chemistry, including physical chemistry. Such proficiency may be demonstrated either by (a) passing the area examination upon entrance, or (b) obtaining a grade-point equivalent of 3.0 in at least 3 credits of graduate-level course work in the area. The courses to be used to fulfill this latter option will be designated by the graduate counseling committee. This course work must be completed successfully during the student's first two semesters of residence.

In order to qualify for the oral comprehensive examination, a Ph.D. candidate must first obtain a grade of 3.0 or better on 3 credits of CHEM 500 (by writing the requisite number of seminar reports, proposals, and presenting in an area seminar).

A Ph.D. candidate shall take the oral comprehensive examination during his or her first two and one-half years of residency.

Every Ph.D. candidate shall present at least one area or department seminar during the course of residency.

 

A final oral examination based on a defense of the doctoral thesis is required of all candidates. This exam is given as a formal public seminar with a subsequent closed meeting with the doctoral committee.

Biogeochemistry Dual-Title Degree Program

 

Graduate students with research and educational interests in biogeochemistry may apply to the Biogeochemistry Dual-Title Degree Program. Students in the Biogeochemistry Dual Title program are required to have two advisers from separate disciplines: one individual serving as a primary adviser in their major degree program and a secondary adviser in an area within a field covered by the dual-title program and a member of the Biogeochemistry faculty. Additional coursework from an approved list of courses is required. All students must pass a candidacy examination that includes an assessment of their potential in the field of biogeochemistry. Chemistry's existing candidacy procedure is to be augmented by a biogeochemistry examination, the structure and timing of this exam will be determined jointly by the dual-title and major program. A single candidacy result is to be reported to the graduate school once this process is complete. The student's doctoral committee should include faculty from the major program of study and also faculty with expertise in biogeochemistry. The field of biogeochemistry should be integrated into the comprehensive examination. A Ph.D. dissertation that contributes fundamentally to the field of biogeochemistry is required.

Candidacy exams must incorporate a biogeochemistry component; for Chemistry students, an oral exam in biogeochemistry will be administered. See the Biogeochemistry Dual Title listing in the Graduate Degree Programs Bulletin for further details regarding program requirements.

Other Relevant Information

 

All candidates for advanced degrees must schedule CHEM 602, Supervised Experience in College Teaching, for 1 to 2 credits for at least one semester. This requirement may be waived or modified for students who have attained satisfactory competence in teaching as a result of prior experience.

Student Aid

 

Graduate assistantships available to students in this program and other forms of student aid are described in the STUDENT AID section of the Graduate Bulletin. It is important to note that department policy limits financial support from department funds to the first two years of graduate study of an M.S. candidate and to the first five years of graduate study of a Ph.D. candidate. Financial support beyond these periods is permitted from other than department funds, e.g., a research assistantship funded from an individual faculty member's research grant(s).

Courses

Graduate courses carry numbers from 500 to 599 and 800 to 899. Advanced undergraduate courses numbered between 400 and 499 may be used to meet some graduate degree requirements when taken by graduate students. Courses below the 400 level may not. A graduate student may register for or audit these courses in order to make up deficiencies or to fill in gaps in previous education but not to meet requirements for an advanced degree.

CHEMISTRY (CHEM) course list

 

 

 

DATE LAST REVIEWED BY GRADUATE SCHOOL: 5/25/04

Last Revised by the Department: Fall Semester 2008

Blue Sheet Item #: 36-06-185A

Review Date: 4/15/08

UCA Revision#1: 11/8/06

Faculty linked: 6/5/14

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