Chemistry Graduate Student Policies
Part of the excellence of the graduate program at Minnesota is due to the
graduate students themselves. Because Minnesota's reputation is international,
the graduate student body is a healthy mix from many countries as well as
from many states. This allows a stimulating interchange of perspectives on
topics cultural and political, besides those scientific.
Extracurricular activities are available in proportion to interest. The
graduate students field teams in intramural sports ranging from basketball
to soccer and can boast of championship softball teams. Also, many parties,
outings, and celebrations arranged by groups within the department reflect
the wide range of interests among the students.
The Three-Member Committee and Permanent Adviser
Upon entering graduate school, each student is assigned a three-member committee
selected from among the faculty. This committee consults with the student
to determine his or her academic program. Normally, the student chooses a
permanent research adviser during the second quarter in residence. This adviser
then automatically becomes the head of the student's three-member committee,
replacing, if necessary, one of the original members.
Requirements for the Ph.D
The graduate program in the Department of Chemistry includes six specialty
areas: analytical, chemical biology, inorganic, materials, organic, and physical.
In addition, an interdisciplinary studies area allows students with special
needs or interests to plan individual programs.
Students who are interested in completing part of their formal graduate
course in physics may wish to look into the requirements for the Ph.D. degree
in chemical physics, which are explained fully in the University's Graduate
School catalog. These requirements differ slightly from those for the Ph.D.
in chemistry, but the program still provides the student with the opportunity
to do research under the direction of a faculty member in physical chemistry.
In order to qualify for a Ph.D., the student must complete a series of proficiency
examinations, courses, and written and oral preliminary (Ph.D. candidacy)
examinations. A final oral thesis defense culminates the degree program.
Each of these is discussed in some detail below.
Students are expected to pass four of five proficiency examinations during
their first year in residence. The exams, which are at the level of an advanced
undergraduate course, are in analytical chemistry, biochemistry, inorganic
chemistry, organic chemistry and physical chemistry. The exams are given
during the chemistry first year orientation program in August. In the event
that a student does not pass the first exam they are offered two more times
during the academic year.
Each division offers a core group of closely related courses. Besides these,
the student normally takes additional courses in a minor or supporting program.
Written preliminary examinations.
Oral preliminary examination.
The preliminary oral examination requirement also varies among specialty
areas but more often than not involves defense of a proposed research project
which, in some areas, is an original topic unrelated to the student's thesis
research, while in others, is the thesis project itself.
Final oral examination and the thesis.
Each Ph.D. student must perform an original piece of research, describe
it in a thesis, and defend this thesis during a final oral examination.
Requirements for the M.S.
The University of Minnesota offers two types of Master's degrees. Plan A
requires a thesis, while Plan B requires a heavier coursework load instead
of a thesis. Courses for completing a Master's program are normally selected
from the recommended courses within a given specialty area and supporting
programs. An M.S. candidate must pass the proficiency examination in the
field most closely related to his or her specialty area but need not do so
in other fields.