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Requirements for the Ph.D. degree

Selection of Research Advisor

Students must complete at least two graduate courses with grades of B or better in the first semester prior to formally joining a research group. A guidance committee is appointed for each Ph.D. candidate, which is chaired by the research director to provide guidance and to administer a qualifying examination.

Coursework

Students must complete 24 units of graduate courses, with courses typically of 4 units each. Overall GPA for all graduate work must be higher than 3.0. Transfer credit for work done at other universities is possible. The unit requirement for the PhD is 60 units: 24 units of coursework, 28 units of directed research, and 8 units of dissertation research.

Qualifying Exam

The qualifying examination must be taken prior to the fifth semester and consists of the preparation and oral defense of two research proposals and brief written answers to three questions from the committee. This type of examination emphasizes a student's creativity and originality, and develops an ability to answer scientific questions spontaneously. It provides a realistic model for situations often confronted by practicing chemists and is itself an important part of the educational process. After this exam is completed, the student is expected to work full-time toward the successful completion of a Ph.D. thesis based on original research. An oral defense of the thesis and a research seminar in the department occurs prior to graduation.

Dissertation

After the qualifying exam is completed, the student is expected to work full-time toward the successful completion of a Ph.D. thesis based on original research. An oral defense of the thesis and a research seminar in the department occurs prior to graduation.

 

Chemistry Dept., USC College of Letters, Arts & Sciences