Old Dominion University
A to Z Index  |  Directories

College of Sciences

Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Advising    |    Course    |    Curriculum    |    Info Sources

Doctor of Philosophy in Chemistry


An application, transcripts, three letters of recommendation from former college teachers, a resume, an essay about career goals and Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores (aptitude section) are required for consideration of admission to the program. Admission to regular status requires a grade point average of 3.00 in the major and 3.00 overall (based on a 4.00 scale). General University admission requirements apply. In addition, a bachelor's degree (or equivalent) with a major in chemistry (or another science) is required, although applications from majors in all science disciplines are encouraged. Undergraduate courses in inorganic, organic, analytical (quantitative and instrumental analysis), physical chemistry and calculus are required for regular admission. Deficiencies in any of these areas will be identified and must be rectified by taking undergraduate course work in these areas.


Writing Proficiency Policy. The departmental graduate committee will request a writing sample from each new student. If the graduate committee feels that remedial assistance in writing is needed, the student will be referred to the Writing Center.

Courses. A minimum of 78 semester hours beyond the undergraduate degree or 48 hours past the master's degree is required by this program. The broad requirements for granting the Ph.D. are as follows: satisfactory performance in core and elective courses, successful completion of both written and oral portions of the Candidacy Examination, completion of the dissertation prospectus, and completion of a satisfactory dissertation and defense of the dissertation.

Core Courses. Students must choose one course from three different core areas. The core areas are analytical, biochemistry, environmental, organic and physical. Classes from each area are listed on the Curriculum webpage.

Elective Courses. Students are required to take nine credit hours of elective courses. The courses are to be chosen upon consultation with their advisor and/or their guidance committee.

Teaching. Students are required to spend at least one semester as a teaching assistant.

Seminar. All students are required to register for seminar CHEM 890 (one credit, graded pass/fail) and attend departmental seminars throughout their graduate career. Failure to attend at least 75 percent of the departmental seminars will result in a grade of incomplete (I), which must be converted to a passing grade by writing a literature research paper on the work of one of the seminar speakers. Twice during their career, students will register for CHEM 891 (two credits) and present a seminar, which will receive a letter grade. In the second year, students will give a background literature talk on their research. They will give their second seminar on their dissertation research just before they graduate.

Research and Thesis. During their first semester (and not later than the end of their first semester), students are required to interview the chemistry graduate faculty (a signed sheet of at least three faculty members is required), choose a graduate faculty research advisor, and develop a guidance committee. The student must write a research proposal describing his/her proposed research project and present it after the candidacy examination has been passed. Upon completion of the research, the student must write a formal thesis acceptable to his/her dissertation committee and defend it.

Candidacy Examination. A student admitted to the Ph.D. program in chemistry becomes a candidate for the Ph.D. degree by passing the Ph.D. Candidacy Examination. This examination consists of a written portion and oral portion. The student is required to submit a written description of a novel research idea in the form of a grant proposal, and then present and defend the idea to his or her guidance committee.

Dissertation. The dissertation is the final and most important part of the work required for the Doctor of Philosophy degree in chemistry. The dissertation must be based on original research and make a contribution to existing knowledge of sufficient interest to warrant publication in a refereed journal. The candidate normally works closely with the research advisor, who is chair of the dissertation committee.

The format of the dissertation or thesis is determined by the Guide for Preparation of Theses and Dissertations, available from the Office of Graduate Studies.

Dissertation Defense. The final examination of the candidate consists of the oral defense of the dissertation. This public examination is conducted by the dissertation committee with the research advisor serving as chair. The candidate fails if he or she receives a majority of negative votes from the dissertation committee. Another examination may be scheduled if a candidate fails the first; however, only one re-examination is permitted.