Chemistry

Admission Requirements

Applicants apply for admission to the program via the Graduate School application for admission. Requirements listed here are in addition to Graduate Council policies listed under GCAC-300 Admissions Policies.

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. GRE scores are not required and will not be used in the admissions decision process.

Degree Requirements

Master of Science (M.S.)

Requirements listed here are in addition to Graduate Council policies listed under GCAC-600 Research Degree Policies.

A minimum of 30 credits at the 400, 500, or 800 level is required, with at least 18 credits at the 500 and 600 level, combined. CHEM 431W, CHEM 450, CHEM 452, CHEM 457, CHEM 494, and CHEM 500 cannot be applied towards the M.S. degree requirements. Students who choose to complete a scholarly paper as the culminating experience must complete 18 credits at the 500 level. All candidates for advanced degrees must schedule CHEM 602, Supervised Experience in College Teaching, for at least 1 credit for at least one semester; however, this 1 credit cannot be counted towards the minimum credits required for the degree.

M.S. students must complete either a thesis or a scholarly paper as the culminating experience for the degree. Students who choose to write a thesis must defend the thesis at an oral examination. The thesis will be accomplished under the sponsorship of a faculty member, and the candidate must take 12 credits of CHEM 600 in conjunction with the thesis. A maximum of 6 credits of CHEM 600 may be awarded a quality grade. The thesis must be approved by a committee of at least three faculty members, one of whom will be the candidate's sponsor. The thesis must also be accepted by the head of the graduate program and the Graduate School, and the student must pass the thesis defense. 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. Students who choose to complete a scholarly paper enroll in CHEM 589 (12 credits).

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. student, proficiency in two areas is required. 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 500-level course work in the area. The courses 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.

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Requirements listed here are in addition to Graduate Council policies listed under GCAC-600 Research Degree Policies.

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

A Ph.D. student must take a minimum of five 3-credit courses in chemistry at the 400 or 500 level. The student's Ph.D. committee may require additional specific courses.

All candidates for advanced degrees must schedule CHEM 602, Supervised Experience in College Teaching, for at least 1 credit for at least one semester; however, this 1 credit cannot be counted towards the minimum credits required for the degree.

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. student, each student will be expected to demonstrate proficiency in three areas of 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 500-level course work in the area. The courses 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. student must first obtain a grade of 3.0 or better on 4 credits of CHEM 500 (by writing the requisite number of seminar reports, proposals, and presenting in an area seminar).

A Ph.D. student must pass the oral comprehensive examination during his or her first two and one-half years of residency.

Every Ph.D. student 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 dissertation is required of all candidates. This exam is given as a formal public seminar with a subsequent closed meeting with the Ph.D. committee. To earn the Ph.D. degree, doctoral students must write a dissertation that is accepted by the Ph.D. committee, the head of the graduate program, and the Graduate School, and the student must pass the final oral examination (the dissertation defense).

Dual-Titles

Dual-Title Ph.D. in Chemistry and Biogeochemistry

Requirements listed here are in addition to requirements listed in GCAC-208 Dual-Title Graduate Degree Programs.

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.

Students must apply and be admitted to the graduate program in Chemistry and The Graduate School before they can apply for admission to the dual-title degree program. After admission to their primary program, students must apply for admission to and meet the admissions requirements of the Biogeochemistry dual-title program. Refer to the Admission Requirements section of the Biogeochemistry Bulletin page. Doctoral students must be admitted into the dual-title degree program in Biogeochemistry prior to taking the qualifying  examination in their primary graduate program.

The qualifying examination committee for the dual-title Ph.D. degree will be composed of Graduate Faculty from Chemistry and must include at least one Graduate Faculty member from the Biogeochemistry program. Faculty members who hold appointments in both programs’ Graduate Faculty may serve in a combined role. There will be a single qualifying examination, containing elements of both Chemistry and Biogeochemistry. Dual-title graduate degree students may require an additional semester to fulfill requirements for both areas of study and, therefore, the qualifying examination may be delayed one semester beyond the normal period allowable.

In addition to the general Graduate Council requirements for Ph.D. committees, the Ph.D. committee of a Chemistry and Biogeochemistry dual-title Ph.D. student must include at least one member of the Biogeochemistry Graduate Faculty. Faculty members who hold appointments in both programs’ Graduate Faculty may serve in a combined role. If the chair of the Ph.D. committee is not also a member of the Graduate Faculty in Biogeochemistry, the member of the committee representing Biogeochemistry must be appointed as co-chair. The Biogeochemistry representative on the student’s Ph.D. committee will develop questions for and participate in the evaluation of the comprehensive examination.

Students in the dual-title program are required to write and orally defend a dissertation on a topic that is approved in advance by their Ph.D. committee and reflects their original research and education in Chemistry and Biogeochemistry. Upon completion of the doctoral dissertation, the candidate must pass a final oral examination (the dissertation defense) to earn the Ph.D. degree. The dissertation must be accepted by the Ph.D. committee, the head of the graduate program, and the Graduate School.

Student Aid

Graduate assistantships available to students in this program and other forms of student aid are described in the Tuition & Funding section of The Graduate School’s website. Students on graduate assistantships must adhere to the course load limits set by The Graduate School.

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 699 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

Learning Outcomes

  1. Know: Graduates will exhibit appropriate depth and breadth of chemistry knowledge, both of core principles as well as theories and methods in their chosen sub-discipline(s).
  2. Apply/Create: Graduates will use chemistry-based methods and techniques to create new knowledge, and to apply that knowledge to problem solving tasks.
  3. Communicate: Graduates will be able to convey their chemical knowledge via effective written and verbal communication skills.
  4. Think: Graduates will employ satisfactory analytical and critical thinking, and creativity, within Chemistry.
  5. Professional Practice- ethical and professional behavior: Graduates will demonstrate ethical best practices for chemistry research, interact collegially with peers, and seek to promote productive collaborations as part of their graduate and professional work..

Contact

Campus University Park
Graduate Program Head Philip C Bevilacqua
Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) or Professor-in-Charge (PIC) John B Asbury
Program Contact

Crista Spratt
104 Chemistry Building
University Park PA 16802
cus1246@psu.edu
(814) 865-1383

Program Website View