Degree Requirements

Competency Requirement

Students must demonstrate basic competency in three chosen sub-disciplines of chemistry (analytical, biochemistry, inorganic, organic, physical).  Competency is established in one of the following ways: Scoring at the 50th percentile level (national norm) on the proficiency exam, completing a one-semester review course with a grade of C or better (courses specified below), or completing a one-semester graduate-level/advanced course in that sub-discipline of chemistry with a grade of B or better.  The competency requirement must be fulfilled before the beginning of the student's third semester in the graduate program.

Review Courses

Courses currently designated as review courses are:

·         CHEM:4171 (formerly 4:171): Advanced Analytical Chemistry

·         BIOC:3120 (formerly 99:120): Biochemistry and Molecular Biology I

·         CHEM:4270 (formerly 4:170): Advanced Inorganic Chemistry

·         CHEM:4372 (formerly 4:172): Advanced Organic Chemistry

·         CHEM:4431 (formerly 4:131): Physical Chemistry I

Advanced Course Requirement

Beyond the competency requirements, a minimum of four additional courses that total at least 11 semester hours of graduate credit must be completed by the end of the fourth semester in residence. Grades of "B" or higher must be attained in all of these advanced courses. A grade of "B-" does not meet this requirement. Research, seminar, and pedagogy credits, courses that are doubly listed with sub-100 level numbers, courses taken with the S/U grade option, and courses with grades of "B-" or lower cannot be used to fulfill this requirement. The student is strongly encouraged to develop a detailed course plan that is reviewed and approved by the research advisor.

Comprehensive Examination

The oral comprehensive examination is designed to assess the student's overall progress, knowledge of fundamental chemical principles and chosen area of specialization, and general competency for Ph.D. research.

Before the beginning of the second semester after a permanent advisor has been appointed, a Graduate Academic Committee (GAC) of five faculty, at least four from Chemistry, will be formed for each student with a Ph.D. degree objective. The committee will consist of the research advisor and four additional members invited by the student subject to the advisor’s approval.

The five member committee for the comprehensive examination is the same as the student's Graduate Academic Committee (GAC). Additional faculty members may be invited to attend the oral comprehensive examination and may be consulted in judging the presentation when it bears upon their areas of expertise.

To be eligible to take the Comprehensive Examination, the student must have a cumulative average of 3.00 or greater on appropriate graduate coursework at The University of Iowa. Appropriate graduate coursework includes review courses (Section II.B.), graded seminar presentations (Section III.F.), courses that satisfy the advanced course requirement (Section III.A.), and additional courses in chemistry or related disciplines that are judged appropriate by the student’s GAC. Graduate Chemistry Orientation (CHEM:5091, formerly 4:191), Ethics in Chemical Sciences (CHEM:5092, formerly 4;192), Research in Chemistry (CHEM:7999, formerly 4:290) and Research Seminar (CHEM:6990, formerly 4:291) shall be graded on an S/U basis and therefore are not included in the computation of the cumulative average.

The general comprehensive examination requirements set by the Graduate College must be completed by the end of the fourth semester in residence, unless written consent is received from the GAC and is approved by the Departmental Graduate Review Committee (DGRC). A student who fails to meet this requirement may be dropped from the Ph.D. program. A student on academic probation is not eligible to take the comprehensive exam. Students entering with a Master's degree and those exempted from review courses are strongly encouraged to take the comprehensive examination during the second or third semester in residence.

The comprehensive examination is a two-part oral examination. The first part consists of an oral defense of the student's research problem and progress, and will be based upon a written Research Report submitted by the student. The second part consists of an oral defense of an original Research Proposal submitted by the student. The Research Report and the  Research Proposal must be submitted (together) prior to five weeks before the last day of classes in the semester during which the examination is to be taken (or, for a spring semester examination, by the last Friday prior to Spring Break, whichever is earlier). It is strongly recommended that the examination be held at the earliest possible date in the semester to facilitate scheduling.

If the GAC approves both the Research Report and the Research Proposal, the oral examination may be scheduled. The student should then complete a Formal Plan of Study and a Request to the Graduate College for the Ph.D. Comprehensive Examination. At the examination, the student will be asked to present a short (20 minute) summary of his/her research project. During or following this presentation, the committee will ask questions designed to probe the student's understanding of the research topic and important background material, the experimental methods and techniques which are important in the particular area, and the goals and significance of the research. The committee next will examine the candidate's understanding of areas related to the Research Proposal. The student will be asked to give a short (30 minute) presentation of the Research Proposal. The committee will ask questions designed to probe the quality and the student's understanding of the proposal. Typically, however, this discussion will evolve into a wide-ranging examination of the student's general competency in the chemical sciences.

Seminar Requirements

Each student is expected to give a minimum of two acceptable seminars. One seminar must cover the student's research. The other may also deal with the student's research, or can be an extensive literature report. The student may register for the appropriate divisional seminar course and receive letter grade credit during those semesters in which the seminars are presented. The final Ph.D. defense cannot be used to meet this requirement.

The Research Conference/3-Month Seminar

At least three months before the anticipated final defense, the Ph.D. Candidate must meet with his/her graduate academic committee. If scheduling permits, the research work can be reported as a research seminar during a regularly scheduled divisional seminar, with a subsequent committee meeting for questions and advice.

Final Defense of the Ph.D. Dissertation

The Dean of the Graduate College will make a public announcement of a candidate’s final defense three weeks prior to the exam date. This final oral examination is open to the public. Dissertation copies must be made available to all members of the examining committee not later than two weeks before the examination date.