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Doctorate (PhD) in Chemistry

Drexel’s PhD in Chemistry is awarded in any of eight main areas of chemistry: analytical, atmospheric, inorganic, organic, materials, physical, educational or polymer chemistry. The chemistry PhD curriculum prepares students for the research and practical application of chemistry necessary to address the challenges facing mankind in the modern world. Faculty members are active participants in the environmental engineering and biomedical science programs; others are working with physicists and biologists in areas such as atmospheric science, biochemistry, and biophysical chemistry.

Research areas available to those pursuing a PhD in chemistry include the use of digital electronic methods to analyze trace constituents of air and water, a study of the molecules of living systems, the effects of toxic chemicals and carcinogens, synthesis and characterization of compounds of medicinal and industrial interest, methods for studying macromolecules, and characterization of transient species using lasers.

Graduate Handbook [ PDF ]

The doctorate in chemistry degree recipient must demonstrate scholastic breadth in chemistry and contribute significantly to scientific advancement in a chosen research area. Requirements of the PhD chemistry program include coursework, candidacy examinations, a chemical information retrieval or technical writing course, and successful completion of a publishable PhD thesis.

Learn more in the Course Catalog

Chemistry PhD Candidacy Requirements

To become a candidate for the PhD in Chemistry at Drexel, a student must pass a prescribed set of cumulative examinations.

Cumulative Examinations

To become a candidate for the PhD in Chemistry at Drexel, a student must pass a prescribed set of cumulative examinations. Written examinations designed to test a student’s background in his or her major area are given monthly during the academic year and occasionally during the summer at the discretion of the faculty. Students should begin taking these examinations after having completed three courses in the major area (usually the main sequence courses), though beginning these exams earlier is possible for well-prepared students. Students normally begin taking these examinations in the fall quarter of their second year.

Research Seminar

The literature review seminar is designed to help the student conduct his/her research more efficiently by (1) promoting a greater fundamental understanding about the student's own specific research project, and (2) providing context and perspective about previous accomplishments in the field by other research groups as well as her/his own. The subject of the seminar will be related to but broader than that of the thesis research. The examination at which the research seminar is defended is held no later than the end of the winter quarter of the second year for full-time students or the end of the spring quarter of the second year for part-time students. A written report is submitted to the committee no later than two weeks before the examination. A passing grade on this examination is required for continuation in the PhD program.

PhD in Chemistry Thesis

A PhD thesis — the heart of the doctoral degree — must be written, accepted by the research supervisor, presented to a PhD Thesis Examining Committee, and defended orally to the satisfaction of the Examining Committee. It is the responsibility of the student, not the research supervisor, to submit an acceptable thesis. It is expected that students will have at least one peer-reviewed research article accepted for publication by the time of the thesis defense.

Requirements for Admission

For admission to graduate study, the department requires a BS in chemistry or the equivalent. This requirement applies to full-time and part-time students working toward either the MS or PhD. Generally, in order to be considered for admission, the successful applicant should have taken two semester courses of Organic, Analytical and Physical Chemistry with corresponding laboratory courses. In addition, he/she should have taken an upper level Inorganic Chemistry course.

Financial Assistance

Chemistry PhD students at Drexel can obtain two main types of financial support: teaching assistantships and research assistantships. Teaching assistantships are available on a competitive basis to incoming students and are normally renewable for several years. Prospective graduate students seeking financial assistance must submit scores for the Graduate Records Exam (GRE).

PhD in Chemistry Teaching Fellow Policy

The College of Arts and Sciences regards training in pedagogy and instruction to be core to the mission of doctoral education. Therefore, all PhD students in the College are required to perform significant teaching duties (defined over multiple terms) during their pursuit of their degree. These activities may include, but are not limited to:

  • Supervising teaching labs
  • Running course recitations
  • Teaching as the primary instructor
  • Running student seminars
  • Training junior researchers in core research methods
  • Running or actively participating in pedagogical seminars or conferences

Alternate fulfillment of this requirement is at the discretion of the program director and the head of the student's home department. To learn more about how to get a PhD in chemistry at Drexel, contact the graduate program committee chair, Reinhard Schweitzer-Stenner, PhD.

Learn more about the Chemistry PhD in the Course Catalog

Prospective Students

Please email or call us at 215.895.1805 with any questions you may have. We look forward to hearing from you!