Apr 12, 2024  
2017-2018 Graduate Catalog 

Doctor of Philosophy in Chemistry

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The prospective candidate for the Ph.D. in chemistry may do advanced study and research in the areas of analytical, biological, inorganic, organic, or physical chemistry; or in interdisciplinary nanotechnology.

Students who wish to enter the Ph.D. program should have a baccalaureate degree in a life, physical, or mathematical science, or engineering, including one year of physics; one year of general chemistry; one year of physical chemistry; and mathematics consisting of either three semesters of calculus or two semesters of calculus and one semester of differential equations. Also required are four courses in other areas of chemistry at the 300-400 level, except for doctoral students in the nanotechnology area, for whom two other courses in other areas of chemistry at the 300-400 level are required. Students deficient in these requirements may satisfy them after admission, but the courses may not be taken for graduate credit and must be approved by the Graduate Program Committee after consultation with department faculty in the student’s primary area of interest. These deficiencies must be satisfied with a grade of C or better during the first two semesters of enrollment in the program.

Check departmental information for any additional requirements.

The student learning outcomes for this degree are located at http://www.niu.edu/assessment/clearinghouse/outcomes/index.shtml.

Course Requirements

Graduate students working for a doctoral degree must complete at least 90 semester hours of graduate work beyond the baccalaureate degree with a minimum GPA of 3.00. This will include formal course work, independent study, research, and the dissertation, as specified on the student’s program of courses.

A minimum of eight courses (24 semester hours, excluding CHEM 615, CHEM 690, CHEM 698, CHEM 699, and CHEM 799) must be taken for graduate credit. At least 15 semester hours are to be in chemistry except for students in the interdisciplinary nanoscience specialization, for whom at least 12 semester hours must be in chemistry. At least one of these courses must be CHEM 644, CHEM 645, or CHEM 646, or an equivalent physical chemistry graduate course. A minimum of three courses must be outside the primary area of study. Further requirements for the nanoscience specialization are given in the “Interdisciplinary Academic Centers and Courses” section of the catalog under “Institute of Nanoscience, Engineering, and Technology (INSET).”

Only graduate courses from accredited institutions in which the student has earned a grade of B or better may be accepted towards an advanced degree, subject to approval of the department and the Graduate School.

CHEM 615, Chemistry Seminar, must be taken each semester unless a written waiver is given by the director of graduate studies.

There is no general language/research skill requirement. However, a student’s research adviser may require that such skills appropriate for the student’s research be obtained, and course work to achieve this may also be included in the student’s program of courses.

The student must complete the degree requirements with a cumulative GPA of 3.20 or above in all NIU graduate course work included on the doctoral program of courses.

CHEM 799, Doctoral Research and Dissertation, should be taken as soon as possible after passing the qualifying examination, with enrollment to continue each semester until graduate work terminates.


Background examinations are required at the time of entering the program (described above in the requirements for the master’s degree).

A qualifying examination must be satisfactorily completed in the primary area. This examination will test comprehensive knowledge of the area at the graduate level. Faculty in each area will establish the graduate course(s) that will contribute towards the material upon which the examination is based. The qualifying examination must be taken no later than the fourth semester of enrollment as a graduate student. Students must have a GPA of at least 3.20 in previous graduate work to attempt the examination. A prospective doctoral candidate who has received an M.S. degree in chemistry from NIU must take the examination at the first offering following the awarding of the M.S. degree. Qualifying examinations will be given three times a year, in September, January, and May. A student who fails to pass this examination must retake it at the next offering. Failure on the second attempt will terminate further work toward the doctorate but not the master’s degree.

Within one year of passing the qualifying examination in the primary field, the student must complete a research oral examination on his or her field of research encompassing the background literature in the area, the current state of the student’s research, and the proposed direction of the research. The examination committee will be formed from faculty representing the primary area and a secondary area and will constitute the student’s examining committee for all future examinations, with the addition of an extradepartmental representative for the final dissertation oral defense. The student’s research adviser will chair the research oral committee. This examination will serve as the admission to candidacy examination. A student who fails to pass this examination must retake it no earlier than four nor later than six months after the first attempt. Failure on the second attempt will terminate further work toward the doctorate.

Each doctoral candidate will give an oral presentation of her or his research once a year. The student’s examining committee will evaluate the presentation and inform the student of its opinion in writing.

Appeals against dismissal for failure to satisfy above examination requirements shall be directed to the Graduate Program Committee, whose recommendation shall be passed on to the faculty. The decision of the latter shall be final.


The student must complete an approved research problem and incorporate the results in a dissertation. The dissertation will be a substantial contribution to knowledge in which the student exhibits original scholarship and the ability to conduct independent research. A successful defense of the dissertation before the student’s doctoral committee is required for its final approval.

Limitation of Time

All requirements for the Ph.D. degree in chemistry must be completed within seven consecutive years from entry into an NIU graduate program in chemistry.

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