Typical Timelines for Ph.D. Completion

A Chemistry graduate student working in a lab.

Year 1

Year 1 Timeline
Date  What 
August   Evaluation of chemistry knowledge
August   Orientation and TA training
August-December   1st semester classes and TA duties  
September Begin lab rotation and research
November   Research advisor selection
December   Officially join research group 
January-May   2nd semester classes, TA duties, research  
June-August   Research  

Year 2

Year 2 Timeline: First column is date, second column is what.
Date  What 
August-December 1st semester classes (if needed), TA duties (unless on RA), research, present literature seminar to division, select advisory committee
January-May 2nd semester classes (if needed), TA duties (unless on RA), research
March   Written research report and original research proposal due to advisory committee  
April-May   Comprehensive exam  
June-August   Research  

Year 3 and Beyond

Year 3 and beyond Timeline
Date  What 
August-July   Research, write papers, attend meetings, give presentations
3 months before defense  Present research seminar to division, meet with advisory committee 
3 weeks before defense   Give dissertation to committee  
Defense   Dissertation defense