Requirements for the Master's and Doctoral Degrees in Chemistry (PDF)
(including the Biochemistry emphasis)
- 8.1. Course and Dissertation Requirements
- 8.2. Comprehensive Examination for Admission to Candidacy
- 10.1. General Information
- 10.2. Degree Completion and Distribution of Final Copies
- 10.3. Additional Information
This document describes the pertinent minimum University requirements and the supplemental requirements established by the Department of Chemistry and Biomolecular Science for the Master’s (M.S.) and Doctoral (Ph.D.) degrees in chemistry (including the biochemistry emphasis) and some related matters. All students should refer to the Graduate School section of the current University Catalog for a comprehensive description of University requirements.
Foreign applicants must submit minimum TOEFL scores of 550. All accepted foreign students for whom English is a second language are required to take an ESL placement exam and complete any recommended requirements.
1.1. Placement examinations are given prior to the beginning of each semester. The placement examinations will be at a level corresponding to a good undergraduate background in chemistry and are given to permit the evaluation of a student’s preparation for graduate work and to determine what courses the student must take. There are five separate placement examinations, one in each of the areas of analytical chemistry, biochemistry, inorganic, organic and physical chemistry. Each examination is given by a committee appointed by the chairman of the Department of Chemistry and Biomolecular Science and may be either written or oral or both. The results of the placement exam have an advisory function in determining remedial coursework and select graduate courses. The remedial action will be determined by the faculty advisor, after consultation with the placement committee for the sub-discipline.
1.2. Every entering graduate student must take four of the five placement examinations before registering and attending classes for the first semester as a graduate student.
1.3. The possible grades on the placement examinations are PASS and FAIL. These grades have the following meanings:
(a) PASS certifies that the student=s preparation for graduate work in the area of the examination is satisfactory.
(b) If a student FAILS a given placement examination, he/she can:
- A: petition the Graduate Committee (in writing) to retake the placement examination. Only one retake is allowed.
- B: remedy the deficiency by auditing an undergraduate course(s) or taking a course(s) as required by the examination committee. The student must achieve a grade of B or better for each such course.
A student is required to show satisfactory preparation for graduate work in at least three areas of examination, and where there are undergraduate deficiencies these must be reconciled by the third semester of the graduate program. The graduate program in chemistry at Clarkson of a student who does not pass a placement examination the second time, or who receives a grade lower than B in a required course will be immediately terminated.
(c) Those entering graduate students who have been offered RA or TA support, and who fail three placement examinations are subject to review by the Graduate Committee and the research advisor and may lose their research or teaching assistantship or fellowship. This may require the student to fund his/her education.
An official transcript from each University for which transfer credit is requested must be on file in the Graduate School (copy must be on file in the departmental office) before approval can be considered. A graduate student studying for a Master's degree can receive no more than ten transfer credits which must have been obtained over and above the requirements for a B.S. degree. Ph.D. candidates having obtained a M.S. degree can be given a maximum of 30 transfer credits in lieu of the M.S. degree. Normally, courses with grades of B or better can be transferred.
2.1. Request to transfer credits. To receive transfer credit, the student who has taken graduate courses that were beyond those required for an undergraduate degree should submit a written request to the chairman of the Graduate Committee of the Department of Chemistry and Biomolecular Science. A form for this purpose should be obtained by the student from the departmental office.
The information on the form should identify the specific courses and number of credit hours for which transfer credit is requested. In addition, the name of the text and a copy of the original course syllabus or outline and a copy of the transcript of grades from the student file should be appended. (The faculty member reviewing the course should be able to clearly determine the course content from the material provided.)
2.2. Evaluation of request. Each of the examination committees (cf. Section 1.1.) will review transfer credit requests in their area and recommend to the departmental Graduate Committee whether and how much transfer credit should be granted for prior graduate courses. If a students fails a placement examination, transfer credit will not be given for any graduate course consisting primarily of material upon which the student was examined and found to be deficient. The decisions of the departmental Graduate Committee must be approved by the chairman of the Department of Chemistry and the dean of the School of Science but are otherwise final.
All such courses require a form (available in the department office) which requests a definition of the content of the course (can also include such information as the text, chapter outline, etc.) and must be signed by the instructor of the course. In addition:
- no more than two of the six required courses for the M.S. degree can be directed study or special topics courses, and
- no more than two such courses in the major and one in the minor are acceptable toward the Ph.D. degree.
Teaching Assistants and other fellowship recipients are required to discuss possible research topics with every member of the Department before selecting a research topic and an advisor. Research Assistants are expected to work on a specific topic for the advisor who makes the assistantship available.
The overall performance of every graduate student will be evaluated by the chemistry faculty at least once each semester.
5.1. Credit Hours: A student may not take more than 30 credit hours in an academic year (for example: six for summer, 12 each for fall and spring semesters or in some other combination (15/15 for each semester). The financial aid appointment specifies the number of credits for which a student should register each semester. Advisors are responsible for assigning just the amount of credit hours needed. Students must be registered for nine credit hours per semester to be full-time and to maintain their status until they need less than nine credit hours to fulfill degree requirements.
5.2. Salary Limitations: If a student is receiving a full stipend from a department, he/she is not eligible to receive any additional funding. Before hiring or paying a graduate student for duties, approval must be given by the Graduate School.
5.3. Holidays and Vacations: With the approval of their advisor, graduate students may take up to two weeks’ vacation when classes are not in session, however, fall and spring semester breaks are not part of your time off unless you wish to take them as vacation days. Holidays include January 1, Memorial Day, July 4, Thanksgiving Day and the Friday following, and Christmas Day. In addition to the formal holidays listed above, any day that the University is officially closed does not have to be considered a vacation day.
5.4. Teaching Assistantships: (TAs) are awarded by the Department of Chemistry and Biomolecular Science. Renewal of TA support will be contingent upon satisfactory performance of teaching assignments, course and research work.
To continue in a TA position a graduate student must be fulfilling all of their teaching obligations as determined by the course faculty member, as well as by teaching evaluations and student comments. They must also be making adequate progress toward the completion of their graduate degree, as determined by their advisor in consultation with the Graduate Committee and Department Chair. Except for scheduled vacation, TAs are expected to work full time on research during the summer months. In addition, they may occasionally be asked to perform other department related tasks during the summer months. University, Chemistry and Biomolecular Science regulations allow graduate students on full year TA contracts two weeks of vacation per year when classes are not in session. However, specific vacation times should be determined in consultation with the student’s advisor, and vacation schedules must be reported to the department office well in advance of departure.
5.5. Research Assistantships: (RAs) are awards by individual faculty members having a research grant or contract funds for particular projects. Renewal of RA support will be the prerogative of the research advisor.
5.6. Termination of Contract: The assistantship contract will be terminated prior to its expiration date
■ if a student voluntarily withdraws from the program, or
■ if he or she completes degree requirements.
The Department of Chemistry and Biomolecular Science organizes graduate student presentations as seminar course, CM900, each Fall and Spring semester. Students are expected to attend departmental seminars for the entire duration of their graduate study, even if they have completed seminar credit requirements.
6.1. Seminar Presentation Requirements. Candidates for the M.S. or Ph.D. degree in chemistry must
(i) complete a minimum of 2 or 6 credit hours of CM900, respectively, and
(ii) present 1 (for MS) or 3 (for PhD) seminars, respectively, as part of their degree requirements. For the PhD program, the candidate can transfer an external presentation at a national or regional meeting (oral presentation or poster - selected in consultation with the PhD advisor) as equivalent of 1 of the 3 required seminars in the department. To transfer the presentation, the student must submit an E-mail request to the Chair of the Graduate Committee. The request should contain: the abstract of the presentation, the page in the conference book of abstract showing the schedule of the meeting that lists the presentation, and an endorsement of the faculty member stating that he/she approves the transfer.
6.2. Seminar Topics. The topics for the seminar presentations should be selected in consultation with the student’s research advisor and the faculty member in charge of CM900 or BY622. The topic of the last seminar for a Ph.D. candidate is expected to be the student’s own doctoral research.
6.3. Abstract. At least ten days in advance of their presentation, student speakers must submit to the department office a written notice of the seminar containing an abstract and references (E-mail to the Departmental secretary with copy to the CM900 instructor). The Abstract will be distributed for posting.
6.4. Other requirements. In addition to presenting their own seminars, students are expected to act as seminar chairpersons and projectionists, to participate in the discussions that follow the seminars given by other students, and to attend the seminars organized by the Department of Chemistry and Biomolecular Science for visitors and other speakers (Clarkson faculty, postdoctoral associates, etc.).
6.5. Attendance. Students will pass or fail the course (CM900/BY622) on the basis of their performance as speakers, participants and assistants, and also on the basis of their attendance. At least 60% seminar attendance during each semester is required.
7.1. University Requirements
“A minimum of 30 credit hours is required for the master’s degree. A maximum of 10 hours of transfer credit will be accepted towards the M.S. degree. At least 20 credit hours must be earned in residence at Clarkson. The grades A, B+, B, C+, C, and Q are acceptable for credit toward the degree. For graduation an average of B or better must be earned in hours presented (exclusive of courses receiving Q grades) for the degree and accepted by the department. The major portion of a graduate student’s work will be in the degree-granting department. There is no foreign language requirement for the master’s degree at Clarkson.
Programs of study and changes must be approved by the department chairperson and the Dean of the appropriate School.
If a thesis is submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the master’s degree it will be examined by a faculty committee appointed by the chair of the candidate’s department. The committee will consist of a minimum of three Clarkson faculty members. The approved thesis shall be sent to the Dean of the appropriate School, who will sign its title page and deposit it in the University library. To be eligible to receive a degree at Commencement exercises at the end of the spring semester, a student who has submitted a thesis acceptable to the adviser and committee must file the completed final copies with the appropriate School office no later than 10 class days before Commencement. Thesis credit accepted toward the degree shall not exceed 10 hours.
Students failing to perform satisfactorily will be separated from the University upon the request of the department chair and with the concurrence of the respective of the Graduate School.
All work done for the master’s degree is to be completed within five calendar years.”
7.2.1. The required minimum credit hours (30) cited in Section 7.1. above are in addition to any undergraduate courses required for those students who fail the placement examinations (cf. Section 1.3.).
7.2.2. To successfully complete an M.S. degree in chemistry a student must take a minimum of 18 credit hours of graduate chemistry courses (excluding seminar, CM900, see Section 6.). Research credit hours (CM900, Thesis/Special Project) accepted towards the degree shall not exceed ten. The student who plans to continue working toward the Ph.D. degree in chemistry after receiving the M.S. degree should take the Ph.D. regulations into account in planning the M.S. program.
7.2.3. A candidate for the M.S. degree in chemistry must perform research satisfactory to the advisor and must submit a written report/thesis on the results of the work.
7.2.4. If a candidate is terminating with an M.S. degree, a thesis must be prepared and orally defended to a committee consisting of a minimum of three committee members. If a candidate is continuing for a Ph.D. degree, either a report or thesis must be submitted; if the thesis option is chosen it must be orally defended in accordance with University regulations. The nature, scope, and length of the report/thesis will be prescribed by the student’s research advisor. The title page of the report/thesis must have the format shown by the accompanying sample (end of this document). Consult Section 10. for general instructions regarding typing, format, number of copies, illustrations, and other technical matters.
7.2.5. Seminar requirements - see Section 6.
8.1.1. University Requirements
“The requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy degree are as follows:
(1) The program requires completion of a minimum of 90 credit hours, corresponding to a minimum of three academic years of full-time study, two of which must be in residence at Clarkson. A master’s degree may be accepted in lieu of a maximum of 30 credit hours of transfer credit.
(2) A dissertation must be submitted by each candidate for the Doctor of Philosophy degree.
(3) At least six credit hours of seminar work are required.
(4) Coursework for the Ph.D. degree will comprise a minimum of 24 credit hours as follows:
■ Major field: minimum of 15 credit hours.
■ Minor field: minimum of nine credit hours.
A minimum of nine course credit hours must be taken in residence. Students should verify the requirements with their academic departments.
The grades of A, B+, B, C+, C, and Q are acceptable for credit toward the degree. For graduation an average of B or better must be earned in nondissertation courses and seminar work. In computing this average, all grades earned by a student in graduate courses and seminar work taken at Clarkson are to be counted. The grade of Q will not affect the average.
Students failing to perform satisfactorily will be separated from the University upon the request of the department chair and with the concurrence of the Dean of their School.
After the comprehensive examination is passed, all work done specifically for the doctorate is to be completed within a period of seven calendar years.”
i. The required minimum credit hours (90) cited in Section 8.1.1. above are in addition to any undergraduate courses required for those students who fail the placement examinations (cf. Section 1.3.).
ii. A student working toward the Ph.D. degree in chemistry must major in one of the following areas: analytical, colloid and surface, inorganic, organic, physical chemistry, or biochemistry. The student may minor in any one of those areas, in polymer or environmental chemistry, or, with the approval of the student’s research advisor and the graduate committee of the Department of Chemistry and Biomolecular Science, in any area outside the Department of Chemistry and Biomolecular Science that is closely related to the major field.
iii. All of the courses used in the fulfillment of course requirements must have catalog numbers above 500.
iv. Seminar requirements (see Section 6).
v. A master’s degree earned at Clarkson is not accepted in lieu of any graduate course credit.
8.2.1. University Requirements
“A comprehensive examination based on general preparation in the major field must be taken within two years after admission to the Ph.D. program. If the student fails, studies cannot proceed until approval is obtained from the department chair and from the Dean of the respective School and arrangements are made to repeat the comprehensive examination in the major field. If the comprehensive examination is failed twice, the student will be dropped.”
8.2.2. Supplemental Requirements
i. The comprehensive examination is administered by the examination committee in the student’s major field. It is given when needed and arrangements for taking it must be made with the student’s research advisor and the chairman of the examination committee in the student’s major field. The student must submit a written request for a comprehensive examination at least three months prior to the proposed date of the examination.
ii. A student who enters Clarkson with an M.S. degree in chemistry or biochemistry from another institution must take the comprehensive examination no later than one week after the end of his/her third semester at Clarkson.
iii. A student who fails the comprehensive examination twice, or who does not repeat it successfully within six months, may remain in the chemistry program as an M.S. candidate but will not be allowed to become a candidate for the Ph.D.
8.2.3. Specifics of the Comprehensive exam.
1. The candidate will inform the chair of the committee in their major field (Organic, Inorganic, Analytical, Physical Chemistry and Biochemistry) in the Department of Chemistry and Biomolecular Science of their intent to take the comprehensive exam. The exam must be taken within the first two years of the PhD program. Failure to take the exam within the first two years might result in salary reduction or termination of TA and RA support.
2. Committee Members and Scheduling. Selection of committee members will be done in consultation with the thesis advisor, but all members of the comprehensive exam committee for the sub-discipline must be included in the committee. Presence of potential members of thesis dissertation committee is encouraged. A minimum of two faculty members in the examination committee is required. The candidate is responsible for making appropriate scheduling arrangements. He/She will contact members of the comprehensive examination committee and schedule a time for the oral exam (~2 hrs time period might be needed). The candidate will also make arrangements to book a room for the event.
3. The comprehensive exam consists of two parts: Research Proposal and Oral Defense.
4. Research Proposal. The candidate will prepare a written proposal in the research area of their PhD thesis. The proposal must be submitted to members of the committee at least two weeks before the date scheduled for the oral exam. Hard or electronic versions are both acceptable; the candidate should consult each committee member on their preference. The proposal must be clear, readily legible, and conform to the following requirements:
- a. Contain a Project Summary (max. 1 page) that should give the title and name of the primary investigator (PI) and their mentor(s), and a summary of the proposed work. This summary should be a self-contained description of the activity.
- b. Contain a Project Description (max. 15 pages) that should provide a clear statement of the work to be undertaken and must include: objectives for the period of the proposed work, hypothesis for the proposed experiments and expected significance; and relation to the present state of knowledge in the field and to work in progress by the PI and others in the field (with appropriate references). Preliminary data can be included when available. Future plans including the rationale for experiments and potential alternative approaches should be emphasized. The 15 pages should include all figures, schemes, photographs, etc.
- c. Contain a References Cited section (no page limit – additional to the 15 pages project description) where each reference must include the names of all authors (in the same sequence in which they appear in the publication), the article and journal title (or book title), volume number, page numbers, and year of publication.
- d. The entire proposal must use Arial or Times New Roman at a font size of 11 points or larger; No more than six lines of text within a vertical space of one inch; Margins, in all directions, must be at least an inch.
5. Oral Defense for the Comprehensive Exam. This includes presentation, answering questions and panel discussion with committee members. This defense is not open to public. The candidate will prepare an oral presentation on the proposal (20-30 min). The committee will ask questions regarding (but not limited to) the area of the candidate’s thesis. Questions form the broader field will be asked. Additional questions might be asked if the candidate failed to pass the placement exam in their major area.
6. The grade for the comprehensive exam is PASS/FAIL. If the candidate fails the comprehensive exam or is judged to be minimally prepared he/she needs to retake the exam (in the same format) within a six months period.
7. A candidate can take the comprehensive examination a maximum of 2 times.
8.3.1. University Requirements
“A final examination must be passed. This examination will include, as a minimum, an oral examination based on the dissertation. For the oral examination, a committee will be selected by the Dean of the respective School upon nomination and approval by the department chair or other comparable administrator.
The committee will consist of a minimum of five Clarkson faculty of assistant professor rank or higher and possessing a Ph.D. At least one of the faculty must be from a department other than the candidate’s major department. Additional external members may also serve on the committee. This committee will judge the technical competence of the dissertation and the oral presentation. Final copies of accepted dissertations must be received in the student’s School office no later than 10 class days before Commencement to qualify a student to receive a degree at the end of the spring semester. Before receiving the degree each student must pay a fee, subject to change, to cover the cost of microfilming and binding the dissertation.” [For the current price, contact the Graduate School.]
A final oral examination based on the dissertation will be given.
I. Selection and Composition of the Examining Committee
Each final oral examination is administered by a committee selected by the candidate in consultation with the dissertation advisor and approved by the chairman of the Department of Chemistry and Biomolecular Science and the dean of the School of Arts and Science. The examining committee must have minimum of five Clarkson faculty of assistant rank or higher and possessing the Ph.D. degree. The thesis advisor serves at the chairman of the committee, and at least one faculty member must represent the student’s minor area.
The student preparing to take such an examination should (1) consult with his/her dissertation advisor about whom to ask to serve on the committee, (2) obtain and “Appointment of Final Oral Examination Committee” form from the chemistry department office, (3) obtain the signature of each committee member on that form in token of willingness to serve, (4) obtain the signature of the dissertation advisor on that form in token of approval of the constitution of the committee, and (5) return the completed form to the chairman of the Department of Chemistry and Biomolecular Science. The completed form must be returned before the dissertation is submitted.
II. Advertising and Scheduling the Examination
The candidate and the advisor/department are responsible for making arrangements for a room and advertising the dissertation defense. Advertisement should be to the entire Clarkson community (such as by publication in Clarkson...This Week) and should be done one to two weeks in advance of the defense.
NOTE: The student who wishes to receive the Ph.D. degree in chemistry (including the biochemistry emphasis) at Commencement exercises should allow approximately a six week time-frame for the following procedures. Once the advisor has determined that the dissertation is satisfactory, the copies for the committee members should be submitted to the Department of Chemistry and Biomolecular Science. After the copies have been examined for adherence to the required format and standards, first by the department chairman and then by the dean of the School of Science, the student will distribute copies to the individual members who have agreed to serve on the final examination committee. Final examination committee members have the privilege of a minimum of two weeks for review of the dissertation after they receive it.
III. Defense of the Dissertation
The final oral examination for the Ph.D. degree in chemistry should begin with the candidate’s summary of the dissertation research. This summary must not exceed 30 minutes, and is immediately followed by an examination on the subject matter of the dissertation. The examination will be open to the public, but only members of the examining committee will decide whether the dissertation and the oral examination are acceptable.
Any candidate who cannot adequately defend his or her dissertation will have the grade of pass or fail deferred and will be given one additional opportunity to repeat the final oral examination.
NOTE: All documents generally are expected to conform to high standards of style and appearance as well as scientific content.
9.1. Formatting. The report, thesis, or dissertation must be double-space and neatly typed on white 8 1/2 x 11-inch paper. The print must be letter-quality and should appear on only one side of the paper. Noticeable corrections and carbon copies are not acceptable; copies should be free from defects which mar their appearance.
9.2. Margins. Margins are to be an inch and a half wide (1 1/2") at the left-hand side, and one inch wide (1") at the right-hand side and top and bottom (see 9.3.).
9.3. Page number. Each page in the report, thesis, or dissertation must be assigned a page number and the numbering method must be consistent throughout the document. Numbering may be done at the top right-hand corner or bottom center, and should not be outside the one inch (1") margin. A one inch (1") margin must be maintained above or below the number.
9.4. Font. Small Roman numerals are used for the preliminary pages (see 9.8.). The numbering begins with ii (the title page counts as i, but the number does not appear). The remainder of the document (including text, tables, figures, photographs, appendices, and bibliography) is numbered in Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3, etc.).
9.5. Title page. The Graduate School requires that the title page of the document be in the format shown on the attached sample. All students are required to include a signature page signed by the appropriate committee members.
9.6. Photographs. If photographs are used, original photos are required in both copies submitted to the Graduate Schools (Photos should be dry mounted on pages within the dissertation.). The photos may be Xeroxed for the copy held by the chemistry department office.
9.7. Tables and figures. Tables and figures should immediately follow the page of text on which they are first mentioned. A very short table may be included on a page together with textual materials; however, a longer table should be placed on a separate page. Titles for tables, figures, graphs, or photos should appear at the bottom of the page on which it appears. EXCEPTION: Material necessitating horizontal binding should be placed such that the top is at the bound edge of the thesis with the title on the side opposite the binding.
9.8. Preliminary material. The preliminary material at the front of a report, thesis, or dissertation should include the following sections in the order indicated:
- Title page (which must follow exactly the format of the sample attached),
- Committee Signature Page (see sample attached),
- Abstract (which should outline the work performed). Abstracts for theses are limited by University microfilms to 350 words. There are no length limitations for abstracts in reports. Mathematical formulas, diagrams, and other illustrative materials are not recommended for the printed abstract. (A second, longer abstract may be included if desired.),
- Dedication page (optional),
- Acknowledgment page,
- Table of Contents,
- List of Tables (including their number, title, and the number of the pages(s) on which they appear),
- List of Figures (including their number, brief caption, and the page(s) on which the full caption appears).
- Additional items which follow the textual material are:
- List of References,
10.1. General Information
- All documents must be submitted in final form (after all corrections have been made) to the Department of Chemistry and Biomolecular Science office a minimum of 14 days prior to the Commence at which the student expects to receive the degree.
- The Title Page and Signature Page for each report or thesis must be in the format shown on the samples at the end of this document.
- The following completed items must also be submitted with the final thesis copies:
- a degree completion form from the department,
- an updated degree program form.
- Two (2) copies of thesis (will be sent to Clarkson's library for circulation and archiving).
- One (1) copy of thesis for department.
NOTE: All MS thesis copies should be bound in pressboard, hole-punched covers, with an appropriate label.
- One (1) electronic copy of dissertation on CD (for University archives).
- Completed SED (Survey of Earned Doctorates) - two options for submission:
- Online - review the SED Submission Procedures for how to complete the SED online.
- Hard Copy (fillable .pdf) - complete, print, and submit to your graduate coordinator.
- Submit electronic copy of dissertation to ProQuest for publishing (see below for more information). You must consult the faculty advisor prior completing the ProQuest form. Your thesis might be subject to pre-existing copyright agreements or might include sensitive material that should not be released publically. You must have the approval of the faculty advisor before submitting the ProQuest form.
Additional information can be found at: http://www.clarkson.edu/artsandsci/grad/current/completion.html
Check the site regularly as degree requirements and completion forms could change.
10.4. Final Acceptance Date Prior to the Beginning of the Semester
Final copies of the thesis must be received in the Graduate School no later than the second week of classes (last day to register) or the student must register and pay for one credit hour of thesis.
Students who have completed degree requirements, who are unregistered or inactive should not be allowed to use Clarkson facilities and/or laboratories due to the fact that the liability insurance does not cover any accidents for such individuals.
Exceptions to some of the requirements and rules described in this document may be granted in unusual circumstances. The student who believes an exception is justified should first consult with his/her advisor, and then with the chairman of the chemistry department’s Graduate Committee. The student should send a written petition to the chairman of the Department of Chemistry and Biomolecular Science requesting any exception.