May 20, 2024  
2023-2024 Graduate Bulletin 
2023-2024 Graduate Bulletin

Chemistry, Ph.D.

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The Ph.D. in chemistry has multiple areas of chemical specialization, including Organic, Inorganic, Analytical, Physical, and Biological Chemistry.  The program is designed for students interested in careers in either industry or university teaching. Each area has specific required core courses. In addition to these core courses, further specialization in various areas of chemistry must be chosen as prescribed below. The required hours for the Ph.D. are a minimum of 72 credit hours beyond the bachelor’s degree, a minimum of 42 credit hours beyond the master’s degree, and a minimum of 21 credit hours of CHEM 9981-9 Research and Dissertation

Students may be required to complete prerequisite undergraduate courses and remove deficiencies without graduate credit, resulting in a program of more than 72 credit hours. If approved by the advisory committee, as many as 30 credit hours of coursework and research completed in a master’s degree program at an accredited institution may be distributed, as outlined above, among the 72 hours of graduate credit. The departmental Graduate Committee will determine what coursework can be applied to the Ph.D. degree. A G.P.A. of at least a 3.0 must be maintained. These requirements are not variable except under special circumstances and with permission of the student’s advisor and the Dean of the Graduate School.

Learning Outcomes

Students who complete the Ph.D. degree program in chemistry will

  • Complete coursework and cumulative exams to demonstrate proficiency in fundamental and advanced topics in chemistry;
  • Successfully present to their thesis committee preliminary independent research results obtained under the direction of their research advisor;
  • Have the ability to independently assess chemical problems in their field and devise solutions; and
  • Gain a large breadth of laboratory, writing, critical thinking, and presentation skills.


To be admitted to graduate programs an applicant must have a bachelor’s degree and an adequate background in chemistry or biochemistry. An undergraduate grade point average of at least 3.0 is required; however, students with industrial experience in chemistry and averages below 3.0 may be admitted on probation at the discretion of the graduate advisor and with permission of the Graduate School.

Applicants must achieve acceptable scores on the Graduate Record Examination.

Applicants from non-English speaking countries who have not received a degree from a United States university must satisfy English proficiency requirements, including a minimum TOEFL score of 80 or a minimum score of 6.0 on the IELTS exam, or a minimum score of 105 on the Duolingo exam, or a minimum score of 56 on the Pearson English International Test. 

Curriculum Requirements

Minimum total credit hours                   72
Minimum credit hours in chemistry, excluding dissertation                       12
Minimum credit hours of graduate seminar: CHEM 7973   12
Minimum credit hours of dissertation: CHEM 9981-9    21
Minimum credit hours of chemistry 6000-level courses 12
Maximum credit hours of approved 6000-level courses 28

Additional Courses

In addition to courses from the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, students may consider the following courses from outside the department towards degree requirements, following consultation with the graduate program advisor. 

Residence Requirements

At least two consecutive semesters in residence as a full-time student at The University of Tulsa are required. 

Advisory Committee

A student in the Ph.D. program will be advised initially by a graduate faculty member recommended by the graduate program advisor and approved by the Dean of the Graduate School. The student should select a general research area and a research advisor or co-advisors for the dissertation by the end of the second semester after enrollment in the program. The advisor or co-advisors, after consultation with the student, recommend the other members of the advisory committee to the Dean of the Graduate School. The advisory committee must have at least four members, three of whom must be from the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. One member must be a faculty member from a department other than Chemistry and Biochemistry or may be a qualified expert in the research area from outside the University. The advisory committee assists with the student’s program of coursework, approves the dissertation topic, and administers the final dissertation oral examination. 

Qualifying Examinations

By the end of their second year, students will be expected to pass five of fourteen possible qualifying exams which will demonstrate proficiency in the core courses. Three exams will be offered per semester and one exam will be offered in the summer. Two faculty members, on a rotating basis, will be responsible for each qualifying exam. Each faculty member will be responsible for proctoring exams on a rotating basis. Faculty will announce the exam topics two weeks prior to the scheduled exam. Exams will be given on a Saturday and students will have three hours to complete the exams. A 70% or higher score qualifies as passing. Qualifying exams will be made available for all faculty members to examine after they are graded by placing a copy in the student’s departmental file.  Student who have not passed five exams by the end of their second year will be dismissed from the Ph.D. program. Students who have been dismissed may be immediately admitted to the appropriate master’s program (chemistry or biochemistry) upon petition to, and approval by, the faculty and the Dean of the Graduate School. 

Yearly Progress Monitoring

From the beginning of year two, students will present their academic progress to the advisory committee. Students who have not made adequate progress will be given one month to correct some of these deficiencies. At the end of the month, the committee will reevaluate students’ progress. Students who have not made the requisite progress will be dismissed from the Ph.D. program. Students who have been dismissed may be immediately admitted to the appropriate master’s program (chemistry or biochemistry) upon petition to, and approval by, the faculty and the Dean of the Graduate School. 

Dissertation Proposal Examination

By the end of their second year, students that have successfully completed their qualifying examinations will be eligible to take the Ph.D. dissertation proposal examination. The examination, which is given by the graduate advisory committee, consists of a written and oral defense of students’ preliminary dissertation research accomplishments and plans. 

Admission to Candidacy

A student in the Ph.D. program cannot apply for candidacy until 36 credit hours of required graduate program work have been completed. Admission to candidacy is recommended by the research advisor upon successful completion of the qualifying examination and acceptance of the dissertation research proposal. 

Dissertation and Defense

The final requirement for the Ph.D. degree is the completion of a satisfactory written dissertation of a student’s research, along with successful presentation and defense of the dissertation to the student’s advisory committee which is open to the public. Dissertations must be presented to the committee at least two weeks prior to the defense date, and public disclosure of the defense date must be given at least one week prior to the defense. 

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