Chemistry & Biochemistry

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Programs leading to the Doctor of Philosophy and Master of Science degrees may be undertaken in the general areas of analytical, biochemistry, inorganic, materials, organic, and physical chemistry. The doctoral degree in chemistry is a research degree. To be awarded this degree, the student must demonstrate, to the satisfaction of the graduate committee, the ability to conduct original and independent research within some area of chemistry and must make an original contribution to the science. The master’s degree also requires a research project, but with less emphasis on originality and independence.


Each student must have a baccalaureate degree in one of the sciences, mathematics, or engineering to be considered for admission to an advanced degree program.

An undergraduate major in chemistry, with the following courses, is desirable:

  1. One year of organic chemistry (lecture and laboratory).
  2. One year of calculus-based physical chemistry (lecture and laboratory).
  3. One year of analytical chemistry including instrumental analysis.

Students with deficiencies in any area may be admitted, but such deficiencies may restrict the research areas available to the student and lead to requirements for additional courses during graduate study.

Prospective students are encouraged to contact faculty in areas of the students’ research interest.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to submit Graduate Record Examination (GRE) general and chemistry test scores.

Foreign students whose native language is not English will be required to obtain at least 550 paper score, 220 computer score, on the Test for English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).

This program requires a nonrefundable $65 application fee that must be submitted with the application for Admissions to Graduate Study in Chemistry and Biochemistry. Applicants must pay this fee by credit card.

Placement Examinations

During the week before the beginning of classes, each admitted student is given written examinations (ACS standard or equivalent examination) in the five divisions of chemistry: analytical, inorganic, organic, physical, and biochemistry. Every student is required to take at least three exams. The results of these examinations are used to advise the student regarding any deficiencies to be corrected, and to place the student in appropriate courses as determined by a Graduate Student Advisory Committee. Therefore, we strongly encourage and expect all beginning students to review the appropriate undergraduate material before taking these examinations. Failure to pass the exams will generally require that the student take some remedial coursework.

Introduction to Research Techniques

All graduate students must register for CHEM 592, Introduction to Research, during the first fall semester in residence.

Minimum Registration

All students admitted to the department will register for a minimum of nine credit hours every semester in residence except during the first semester, summer sessions, and while registered for CHEM 601 only. In the first semester, the students must register for a minimum of 6 six credit-hours, and in every summer session, a minimum of three credit-hours. Registration for less than this requirement is not considered satisfactory progress toward a degree.

Formal Course Work Requirement

Each student must complete the courses specified by the student’s graduate committee in the program of the study. Generally, these will include the courses specified by the student’s major division. The minimum course requirement for students in the master’s and doctoral programs includes at least 21 credit hours of 500-level lecture-style courses and follows a “2+2+3” format, in which all students must take for credit at least two courses (six semester hours) within the student’s major field and at least two courses (six semester hours) from outside the major field. In addition, students must take three lecture-style courses at the 500-level, which must be approved by the Student’s Graduate Committee. These three courses may be within the student’s major division or may be from outside the major field or outside the Department. Select 400-level lecture-style courses offered by the Chemistry Department (see Departmental Requirements and Regulations) are eligible, including CHEM 451A, CHEM 451B, CHEM 456, CHEM 468, and CHEM 479. Eligible courses taken while in the master’s program in the chemistry department at SIU may be applied to these departmental courses requirements.

For a student working in a cross-divisional area, the committee will design an appropriate program of study in consultation with the Graduate Advisor and the faculty of the divisions involved. Students must receive credit for graded presentations recorded as CHEM 593A-C. Masters and doctoral students are required to receive credit for CHEM 593A, which is a literature presentation that is organized through the student’s divisional journal club. In addition, doctoral students must receive credit for CHEM 593B and CHEM 593C, which are received for graded presentations associated with the presentation of an independent research proposal and a presentation of the student’s dissertation research, respectively.

All students must take one hour of CHEM 597, Professional Training, and one hour of CHEM 595A-E, Journal Club, each semester in residence.

Research Director and Graduate Committee Selection

Each student must select a research director and graduate committee preferably during the first semester, but no later than the end of the second semester in residence. The student must obtain a selection form provided by the graduate adviser and must interview at least four faculty members before selecting a research director and graduate committee. For a master’s candidate, the committee shall consist of the research director (chair), at least one member of the major division other than the research director, and at least one member outside the major division. For a Ph.D. candidate, the committee is identical except that at least one member outside the department is included. The chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, if not otherwise appointed, is an ex-officio member of every graduate committee. A division may increase this requirement.
Graduate Committee Functions. The functions of the graduate committee are listed below:

  1. To plan and approve the student’s program of study.
  2. To review the student’s progress in courses and suggest and approve changes in the program of study.
  3. To evaluate the student’s progress in research and to make appropriate recommendations.
  4. To determine whether a student may continue toward a degree. If continuation is denied, the committee must notify in writing the department chair of the reasons for this denial.
  5. To read and evaluate the student’s thesis or dissertation.
  6. To conduct required oral examinations.

As soon as possible after being appointed, the committee will meet to plan the student’s program. At this time the progress and program form is completed and filed with the graduate adviser. The committee may require preparation of a master’s thesis even if directly pursuing a Ph.D. degree has been previously approved by the faculty.

Research Tools

The department requires no specific research tools. A student’s graduate committee, taking into account the student’s background and the needs of the research area, may require that the student acquire one or more research tools (e.g., foreign language, computer programming, statistics, etc.). It is the student’s responsibility to see that any research tool requirement is completed before scheduling the preliminary oral examination.

Assistantship Support

Continuation of assistantship support is contingent upon the student making satisfactory progress toward a degree. In addition, continuation of teaching assistantship support depends upon satisfactory performance of assigned duties. The Graduate School has established time limits for financial support.

First Year Evaluation

The faculty, meeting as a committee of the whole, will review the progress of all graduate students at the end of their first year in residence.

For students in the doctoral program the faculty can:

  1. recommend continuation in the doctoral program.
  2. recommend transfer to a terminal master’s degree program.
  3. request that the Graduate School terminate the student from the program (giving cause).

For students in the master’s program the faculty can:

  1. recommend petitioning the Graduate School to allow entry to the doctoral program (accelerated entry option). Such petition can be made any time after one semester in residence.
  2. recommend continuation in the master’s program with the option to petition the Graduate School to grant a master’s degree equivalency. When granted, this allows the student to apply for entrance to the doctoral program without writing and defending a thesis.
  3. recommend continuation in the master’s program with option to petition to enter the doctoral program after completion of a master’s thesis.
  4. recommend continuation in a terminal master’s program.
  5. request that the Graduate School terminate the student from the program (giving cause).

Preliminary Examination for the Ph.D. Degree

Each student in the doctoral program must pass a preliminary examination before being advanced to candidacy. The first portion of the preliminary examination is given in the form of cumulative exams with 10 examinations scheduled each calendar year. The student must pass four examinations in no more than 10 consecutive trials. Students must begin cumulative examinations at the start of their second calendar year or immediately on admission to the doctoral program if one calendar year has already been completed in the master’s program. After the student completes the cumulative examinations, the preparation and defense of an original research proposal will serve as the oral portion of the preliminary examination.


A research project is required of all graduate students. A student in the doctoral program must earn at least 32 credit hours in research and dissertation (CHEM 598 and CHEM 600). A minimum of 24 hours must be dissertation credit (CHEM 600). The results of the research must be presented in the form of a dissertation acceptable to both the student’s committee and to the Graduate School.


After being admitted to candidacy, the student must register for 24 semester hours of CHEM 600 and complete a dissertation acceptable to both the student’s Graduate Committee and to the Graduate School before graduation. Students who have registered for the 24 semester hours of dissertation credit and have not completed the doctoral dissertation are subject to the continuing extended enrollment requirement described in the next section.

Extended Registration

A student who has completed all doctoral degree requirements with the exception of writing a dissertation, and who is in the process of writing a dissertation, must register for CHEM 601 (one to 12 credit hours per semester) until the dissertation is completed and defended.

Final Oral Examination

A student in the doctoral program must schedule and pass a final oral examination (defense of dissertation). The student will present a departmental seminar for credit (CHEM 593C) based of the results of the research.

After questions from the general audience, the student’s graduate committee will conduct an oral examination of the student. The grade for CHEM 593C is based on the seminar presentation and is independent of the oral examination. Copies of the dissertation must be presented to members of the student’s graduate committee at least one week before the seminar and the examination.