PhD Program

The PhD requirements in our department are designed to train students to have broad-based knowledge, as well as experience in independent research and in presenting chemistry to an audience.

For more information about our program see the Department of Chemistry Graduate Studies Handbook (pdf).

This booklet includes details on the topics outlined below, as well as links to the following resources and more.

Course Requirements

PhD students are required to take five courses determined by the student's interests and field of study. Students may choose from a variety of intermediate and advanced chemistry courses in all areas of chemistry with the guidance of their advisor. Meeting the program requirements is the responsibility of each student. Students are expected to complete the Graduate Student Annual Activity Report before June 15 every year and meet with their advisor prior to August 15. This report guides students, their advisors, and the graduate coordinator on student progress and maintains eligibility for department fellowships and travel grants.

Programs of study can be modified to best address a student's research needs and interests. Thus, courses in related fields, such as biochemistry, pharmacology, biophysics, physics, optics, and mathematics are also available. Specially designed programs are also available for MD/PhD students.


The department encourages interdisciplinary research. We've grouped our faculty into the following areas:

  • Biological Chemistry
  • Chemical Physics
  • Materials Chemistry
  • Synthesis. Catalysis, & Mechanism

A number of our students have joint advisors. These collaborations between groups often lead to cross-disciplinary learning opportunities. In addition, our proximity to other departments including earth and environmental sciences, biology, biochemistry & biophysics, physics, optics, and biomedical engineering facilitates inter-departmental interactions.


At Rochester, teaching and research are viewed as central and inseparable. All graduate students participate in the teaching program as teaching assistants in undergraduate and graduate courses, usually during their first three semesters.

Qualifying Examinations

Students must pass a set of written qualifying examinations by April of their second year. By July 31 of that same year, students must pass an oral qualifying examination, which is based on their proposal for further PhD research.

Seminar Presentation

During the third year of study, students present a departmental seminar on a research topic as is customary within the student's sub-discipline.

Fourth-Year Review

By the end of the fourth year of study, students will meet with their PhD examination committee to discuss progress leading to a successful completion of the dissertation and promote timely completion of the PhD degree.

Student Responsibilities (pdf)

Student Activity Report Form Template (pdf)