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Graduate Program Overview

Research Rotation Program

The centerpiece of the first year of study is the research rotation program. After evaluating the department's ongoing research, the student selects up to two research groups for semester-long rotations. The student also chooses a mentoring committee to monitor his/her progress. The objective of the rotation phase of the program is to expose students to the nature of research-driven investigation. Consequently, there is limited required course work during the first year of the Ph.D. program.

The Department also recognizes that all incoming students do not necessarily share the same undergraduate research background. To provide the necessary expertise to complete the first year research rotations successfully, the department offers a wide variety of applied research short courses. Recent courses include applied separations, basic NMR, fundamentals of crystallography, and applied methods of computational chemistry. These courses are normally offered in July and August.

Students are required to give an oral defense at the end of each rotation. With the successful completion of the first year of rotation, students are considered for advancement to Ph.D. candidacy if they wish (including M.S. students). Successful applicants must have demonstrated qualities necessary for attainment of the Ph.D.: perseverance, integrity, intellect, and dedication. All students then select a research project and develop an individualized curriculum in conjunction with their advisor and dissertation committee.

Dissertation Research

In the following years, students will actively engage in dissertation research, begin taking fundamental and special topic courses recommended by their committee, and write and defend an original research proposal.

The Department maintains an active program of research meetings and seminars in which frontier developments in all areas of chemistry are presented and discussed by the faculty, students and invited lecturers from other institutions. This program exposes students to new ideas in chemistry by providing contact with scientists from various areas of the United States and other countries.

Admission to the Graduate Program

The Ph.D. and M.S. programs are separate and independent of each other. A student must apply to the program of interest and be accepted into it. Acceptance into one program does not grant admission into the other. For example, a Ph.D. student does not automatically enter the M.S. program at will. The student must apply to the M.S. program and be approved.

For the Research Thesis M.S., the student completes two research rotations, takes classes decided on by the mentoring committee, and completes and defends a thesis. The timeline in the first year is therefore nearly the same as for the Ph.D. program, although M.S. students will generally have a much more carefully planned curriculum for the first two years. The Non-Thesis M. S. student takes 30 credits of graduate classes and gives one public seminar.

English Language Proficiency Requirements

See Graduate Policies. Because communication is so vital to being a successful scientist, international students in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry must receive a minimum score of 45 on the Speak Test administered by ESL in order to receive any advanced degree.

Transfer Students and M.S. Holders

The high degree of flexibility of the Ph.D. program makes it very easy to transfer into our program or to continue your advanced studies if you already have an M.S. degree in Chemistry, Biochemistry, or a related science.

In most cases, one Research Rotation serves as a transitional element, and the Rotation Committee will decide on advancement to candidacy or additional rotation thereafter.

Students may transfer up to 6 credits from another accredited institution (B grade or better). However, for the Ph.D. program, as there is no minimum coursework requirement, most students elect not to actually transfer the credits. The committees take former coursework into account when deciding on future coursework, so students lose nothing in the transfer process.

For most students already holding an M.S. degree in Chemistry or Biochemistry from a U.S. institution, the experience at Duquesne will consist entirely of research, leading to a Ph.D. in only 2-3 years.