Doctoral Program

researcher preparing an experiment


The PhD program is a research-intensive degree requiring a total of 66 credit hours and a dissertation.

For a complete description of the degree requirements, see the UA Graduate Catalog.


The 66 credit hours of coursework required of our PhD students include 48 hours of coursework and 18 hours of dissertation research (CH 699). Students must maintain a grade point average of at least 3.0 (B) to remain in the program.

Six lecture courses (18 credits) and CH 584 Literature and Communication in Chemistry (3 credits) are required for the PhD degree. Normally, students complete all seven courses during their first two years in the program.

The remaining 27 hours of coursework will consist of seminars (CH 585/586), initial research review (CH 680), oral candidacy exam (CH 681), research techniques (CH 570), and advanced research techniques (CH 660) in the student’s major area. Students generally take 16 hours of research techniques courses.


Each semester in residence, students will register for research seminar (CH 585). Attendance is mandatory for seminar courses. The departmental seminar series provides students with the opportunity to hear talks by leading academic and industrial researchers and departmental alumni.

During their second year in the program, each PhD candidate will take CH 584 Literature and Communication in Chemical Research. This course will provide training in written and oral scientific communication. The course will culminate in a research paper, which serves as the written qualifier for PhD candidacy, and a short oral presentation graded by the department faculty.

In conjunction with the final dissertation defense, each student will present a dissertation research seminar to the Department (CH 586) which is open to the public. This talk allows the student the opportunity to summarize the key research methods and results that comprise their dissertation.


PhD candidates are normally expected to serve as teaching assistants (TAs) for at least one academic year while in the program. Most students serve as TAs during their first year before becoming research assistants.

International students must gain accreditation by the International Teaching Assistants Program (ITAP) within their first year of support to qualify for additional TA support.

Additional Academic Requirements

Each PhD-track student must complete an initial research review (CH 680) and pass the written qualifier in CH 584 during their second year, and satisfactorily write and defend an original research proposal (CH 681) in their third year. The student will also be asked to discuss their research progress during this meeting. 

At the time of their PhD defense, the PhD candidate must have at least one officially accepted or published peer-reviewed publication involving novel research the candidate completed at UA.

For more information regarding academic requirements, see: UA Graduate Catalog.

Research and Dissertation

The quantity of research required for the dissertation will normally be determined by the research advisor, although the entire dissertation committee will determine whether sufficient work has been completed to award the PhD degree. Typically, the PhD program takes at least four years to complete, the bulk of which is spent working on one or more research projects. The research for the PhD degree should encompass a significant body of work and must result in at least one publication in a peer-reviewed journal.

The dissertation should be prepared once the student and advisor, with advice from the dissertation committee, have agreed that sufficient work has been completed. The dissertation must be prepared according to the guidelines of the UA Graduate School. The dissertation should be distributed to the committee at least two weeks before the final defense is scheduled.

In the oral defense, the student should describe their research methods and results as detailed in their dissertation, unless the defense is held immediately following the student’s dissertation research seminar (CH 586). After a period of questions, the committee will meet to determine whether the student has passed the oral dissertation defense and make a recommendation regarding whether the dissertation is acceptable for submission to the UA Graduate School or whether the dissertation requires additions and corrections prior to its submission.