Oct 24, 2021  
UofM 2019-2020 Graduate Catalog 
UofM 2019-2020 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Chemistry, (PhD)

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PhD Degree Program

Program objectives are: (1) competence in a common core of material in the major area of specialization; (2) proficiency in a minor area of specialization outside of the major; (3) development of expertise in experimental design, data analysis, and oral and written presentation of research results; (4) competitive for professional positions in the chemical sciences.

Program Admission

See MS admission requirements .

Program Requirements

Diagnostic Examinations

Before registering for the first time, incoming graduate students will take a series of six standardized examinations, chosen from general, analytical, biochemistry, inorganic, organic, and physical chemistry. The examinations are at a level equivalent to completion of the following undergraduate courses at The University of Memphis: CHEM 4111 (inorganic), 4211 (analytical), 3310 and 3511 (organic), 4411 (physical), and 4512 (biochemistry). A doctoral candidate must make at least 50th percentile on four of the upper-level tests (analytical, biochemistry, inorganic, organic, and physical tests) or must take four of the equivalent classes (CHEM 6111 , CHEM 6211 , CHEM 6311 , CHEM 6411 , CHEM 6511 ). A candidate for the PhD degree must make at least 70th percentile on the general chemistry test to remain in the program. Students should note that a score of 75th percentile on the test or a “B” or better in the course is prerequisite to higher level graduate courses in each area.

Course Work Requirements

The doctoral degree program includes the requirement of the satisfactory completion of a minimum of 72 semester hours of graduate credit beyond the BS degree. The 72-hour total is subject to the following restrictions:

No more than 12 hours

No more than 12 hours of credit at the 6000 level may be counted towards the doctoral degree. At least 12 hours must be in courses numbered CHEM 7100 -7899 (8100-8899; however, a maximum of 1 hour of Presentation (CHEM 7911 ) may be combined into this total), with at least two areas of chemistry represented.

A maximum of 32 hours

A maximum of 32 hours credit for CHEM 8001 - Directed Research  and CHEM 9000 - Dissertation  combined can be applied toward the 72-hour total.

A maximum of 12 hours

A maximum of 12 hours of CHEM 7910 - Spec Prob In Chem /CHEM 8910 - Spec Prob In Chem  may be credited toward the total hour requirement.

A maximum of 12 hours

A maximum of 12 hours of course work may be included in a field related to chemistry (physical or biological sciences, mathematical sciences, or engineering). Courses taken in related areas must be numbered 6000 or above. However, these related courses cannot substitute for the more than six of the twelve hours of required CHEM 7/8000-level courses for the PhD Degree.


Presentation (CHEM 7911 ) and Advanced Presentation (CHEM 8911 ) are required. A maximum of 4 semester hours from some combination of CHEM 7911 , CHEM 8911 , and CHEM 7913 /CHEM 8913  may be used to meet the 72 semester-hour requirement.

A maximum of 30 hours

A maximum of 30 hours of graduate course credit completed at the University or other accredited institution (including credit applied on an MS degree) may be applied to the 72-hour requirement subject to the approval of the student’s Advisory Committee and the Department’s Graduate Studies Committee. Considering all other requirements are met, a minimum of 9 hours in graduate courses other than CHEM 7910 /CHEM 8910 , CHEM 7911 /CHEM 8911 , CHEM 7913 /CHEM 8913 , and CHEM 8001 /CHEM 9000  must be completed at the university.


Of the total semester-hour requirement, a minimum of 24 hours must be earned while the student is at The University of Memphis. This requirement cannot be met wholly by attendance at Summer Sessions and must include at least one academic year of full-time student status.

Comprehensive Examinations

The student must begin the written part of the comprehensive examinations in the third semester and take up to eight consecutive tests. These are described in the summary of the administration of the graduate program. A student pursuing the doctoral degree must obtain a total of at least twelve points. Any student who has not amassed twelve points at the completion of eight tests is automatically terminated from the doctoral degree program. Written permission from the student’s Advisory Committee is required to delay beginning the tests or to delay continuing once the student has begun taking tests. Within one year of obtaining the required twelve points, students should complete the oral part of the comprehensive examinations. The student will prepare a Research Prospectus on his or her thesis research problem, to be presented orally to the Advisory Committee in an open meeting and in a written form to the Advisory Committee and the Graduate Studies Committee. The oral comprehensive examination can be repeated only once. A student who changes major professors must present a new Research Prospectus within one semester after the change is made.

Students who enter the PhD program and already hold the MS degree

Students who enter the PhD program and already hold the MS degree in chemistry should begin taking the cumulative examinations at the first opportunity after initial enrollment if a satisfactory score is made on the diagnostic examinations.


Participation in Seminar is required during each semester of residence (excluding summer terms).

The Advisory Committee

Upon admission to the Graduate School, the student will be advised by the Department’s Graduate Studies Committee. A student must choose a major professor from the graduate faculty before the end of the first semester following enrollment. The major professor, in consultation with the student, will recommend faculty members to be appointed to the student’s Advisory Committee. This committee, which is appointed after the student’s First Year Conference, must be composed of at least five members, with the major professor serving as chair. Of the members of this committee, at least one is to be from a different area of specialization from that in which the student intends to work. Upon appointment, the committee will review the student’s progress to date and outline an appropriate program tailored to the student’s interests to enable fulfillment of the degree requirements.The student will be regularly evaluated by their Advisor and Advisory Committee. In the unlikely event that a student changes major professors, a new Advisory Committee must be appointed.

Admission to Candidacy

In order to apply for candidacy, the student must have an Advisory Committee and must have successfully completed the departmental comprehensive examination requirement. The written and oral portions of the comprehensive examinations (the oral exam replaces the research prospectus) collectively satisfy the comprehensive examination requirement of the Graduate School. The test scores, transcripts, and other pertinent data will be examined by the student’s Advisory Committee, and their recommendation, with the approval of the Graduate Studies Committee and the Department Chair, will be forwarded to the Graduate School.

Doctoral Research and Dissertation

A minimum of six hours of CHEM 9000  is required for the doctoral degree. Registration for nine semester hours of CHEM 9000  and CHEM 8001  combined is required of all doctoral candidates before the dissertation will be considered. NOTE: Students should familiarize themselves with the Thesis/Dissertation Preparation Guide before starting to write.

Final Examination

The student’s Advisory Committee will administer a final oral examination on the student’s dissertation and related material after completion of all course requirements and the dissertation. This examination will be held two weeks or more after the student has distributed copies of the dissertation to the members of the Advisory Committee; which must be done at least five weeks before the end of the semester in which the student expects to graduate. If the final oral examination is unsatisfactory, it must be repeated within one year. It may not be repeated more than once.


A student pursuing the doctoral degree program may be terminated for any of the following reasons:

  1. Failure to maintain a grade point average of 3.0 or above. A student who has a cumulative grade point average below 3.0 will be placed on probation. The Assistant Vice Provost for Graduate Studies must approve continuation in graduate school. Any person whose continuation is denied may appeal the decision to the University Council for Graduate Studies.
  2. Accumulation of more than six hours of graduate credit with grades of C or below.
  3. Failure to accumulate the requisite number of points on the departmental comprehensive examinations. (See Comprehensive Examinations Section).
  4. Failure to make satisfactory progress towards the degree in a timely fashion, as determined by the Departmental Program Retention Committee.
  5. Failure to satisfy the Advisory Committee on the final oral examination. (See Final Examination Section).

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