Carnegie Mellon University

Requirements Overview

The major Ph.D. program requirements provide a strong foundation for dissertation research and beyond:

  • Completing four or more graduate courses in chemistry or related fields — many students choose to take six or more; some courses may be required based on the results of attainment examinations
  • Giving a formal seminar — to develop familiarity with the research literature and practice giving presentations to a broad audience
  • Delivering a research progress report, including a departmental poster session and an oral exam — to assess research progress and foundation knowledge; we do not require written comprehensives or qualifiers
  • Preparing a thesis-related research proposal — to generate ideas for innovative research distinct from the immediate next steps in the student's thesis research and to develop professional skills for formally proposing the methods and importance of the research
  • Teaching for one semester as a teaching assistant — to build important communication skills useful for both academic and industrial careers; additional teaching depends on availability of funding, positions, prior TA performance and student's career goals

In addition, students who are not native speakers of English are required to develop sufficient English proficiency to pass the university's Language Certification to prepare for excellent communication with colleagues and students.

Finally, the culmination of the Ph.D. program is a dissertation and public defense on the student's research. The dissertation is expected to include research worthy of publication and it is expected that students will publish with their advisors as they progress through the program.