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 and defending an original research proposal — to generate ideas for original research distinct from thesis research and to defend the methods and importance of the research
  • Teaching for two semesters as a teaching assistant — to build important communication skills useful for both academic and industrial careers

In addition, students who are not native speakers of English are required to develop sufficient English proficiency to pass a test of spoken English 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.