Degree Requirements

Degree Requirements for the M.A. and Ph.D. in Chemistry

Students who have completed course work equivalent to that required for a B.A. or B.S. in Chemistry may apply for admission to the Ph.D. program. Students are not normally admitted to study for an M.A. degree. 

Requirements for the PhD in Chemistry

Research (CHEM 800)
The Ph.D. in Chemistry is awarded for original research in chemistry. During the first semester of residence, students select a research advisor from among the members of the faculty; the Department Chair must approve this choice. In some cases, students may choose research advisors outside of the Department; however, such arrangements must be approved by the Chemistry faculty. The research advisor will guide the student in the choice of an appropriate research topic and in the detailed training required to complete that project. Students must successfully complete CHEM 800 Graduate Research every semester of residence. Candidates earn a Ph.D. after successfully completing at least 90-semester-hours of advanced study in chemistry and related fields, culminating in a thesis that describes an original and significant investigation in chemistry. The thesis must be satisfactorily defended in a public oral examination. The student must pass the thesis defense before the end of the sixteenth semester of residency.

Within the first two years, the student must complete six 3-semester-hour graduate-level lecture courses at Rice University. In order to satisfy this requirement, each of these courses must satisfy the following criteria:

  • They must be approved by the Department’s Graduate Advising Committee.
  • Chemistry courses must be at the 400-level or higher. Certain 300-level courses in other departments may be acceptable with prior approval by the Department’s Graduate Advising Committee. Courses must be in technical subjects in science or engineering. Courses in teaching, presentation, or management will not be counted toward the six-class requirement.
  • Each course must be passed with a grade of B- or higher. It is possible to repeat or replace a course, upon approval of the Department’s Graduate Advising Committee. A maximum of two courses can be repeated/replaced.
  • Students who pursue both the B.S. and the Ph.D. at Rice need not duplicate course work for the two degrees. However, teaching as an undergraduate does not substitute for the teaching requirements in the Ph.D. program.

Responsible Conduct of Research - Each graduate student must successfully complete the ethics course UNIV 594.

Teaching (CHEM 700)
Each graduate student must participate in teaching (CHEM 700) for the equivalent of three semesters. Assignments are determined by Departmental needs.

Graduate Seminar (CHEM 600)
Students must successfully complete CHEM 600 Graduate Seminar every semester of residence. Details on what is expected and how the course is graded can be found in the Graduate Student Handbook.

The CHEM 600 Class Schedule shows all scheduled CHEM 600 speakers.

The Departmental Seminar Calendar shows all scheduled Departmental seminars. 

CHEM 600 boundary dates:

  • Fall semester: The day after the last day of final exams from the previous spring semester (Summer thesis defenses and summer departmental seminars count) until the last day of final exams in current fall semester.
  • Spring semester: The day after the last day of final exams from previous fall semester and until the last day of final exams in current spring semester.

Qualifying Examination
The qualifying exam has written and oral components, and the expectations for these are available in the Department office. The examination committee will be composed of three faculty members, excluding the research advisor. The written document must be submitted to the committee at least one-week before the date of the oral examination. The examination must be taken by the last day of class at the end of the student’s fourth semester in residency. Any follow-up work required by the committee must be completed by the assigned date, and the exam must be passed by the end of the sixth semester.

Advancement to Candidacy for the Ph.D.
After completing the required coursework, teaching, and qualifying examination, a student must petition to be advanced to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree. Upon advancement to candidacy, a student chooses a thesis committee of at least three faculty members with the guidance and approval of the research advisor and Department Chair. The thesis committee must include one faculty member whose primary appointment is outside of the Department of Chemisty.

Satisfactory Performance
To remain in good standing, a student must maintain a GPA of 3.00 (B) or higher in all lecture courses, a GPA of 3.00 (B) or higher in all semesters of CHEM 700, and a grade of B or higher in every semester of CHEM 600 and CHEM 800. Failure to maintain satisfactory grades and sufficient progress in research will result in probation and possible dismissal. The student must be enrolled full time in a Departmentally approved research group beginning the second semester, and every semester thereafter. All graduate students are evaluated annually to ensure that they are making appropriate progress toward the degree. The student, advisor, or Department may request a meeting between the student and a faculty committee at any time to evaluate progress or to determine a course of action. If progress is unsatisfactory, the committee may recommend a semester of probation, which could result in dismissal from the program if progress remains unsatisfactory in the probationary semester.

Requirements for the M.A. in Chemistry
Although students are not normally admitted to study for an M.A., this degree is sometimes awarded to students who do not complete the Ph.D. program. Candidates for the M.A. degree must:

  • Complete six one-semester courses
  • Produce a thesis that presents the results of a program of research approved by the Department
  • Pass a final thesis defense
  • Students who are admitted to Ph.D. candidacy may apply for an automatic Master’s degree.

Students may petition the Chemistry Department Graduate Advising Committee for variances on these academic regulations.

The General Announcements may also provide additional information about degree requirements.