Doctor of Philosophy in Chemistry


An applicant must meet Graduate School requirements plus departmental requirements. A master’s degree is not a prerequisite for admission to the Ph.D. program in chemistry.


A student who receives the master’s degree must formally reapply for admission to the Graduate School before continuing studies toward the Ph.D. Major

Professor as Advisor

The student must have a major professor to advise and supervise the student’s studies as specified in Graduate School regulations. Incoming students are required to register for the coursework recommended by the Graduate Advising Sub-Committee in the first semester; and a permanent advisor must be selected by the end of the first semester of study. The major professor serves as the student’s research mentor.

Entrance Examination

All entering graduate students must take entrance examinations in analytical, biochemical, inorganic, organic and physical chemistry. These exams are intended to measure your ability to perform at the bachelor’s degree level in each of the five disciplines. Ph.D. students are required to pass at least four of the five exams at the 50th percentile level.

Course of Study

Minimum degree requirement is 54 graduate credits beyond the bachelor’s degree, at least 27 of which must be earned in residence at UWM. The student plans an individual program of studies in consultation with the major professor. Coursework must include one of the following: a minor of 9 to 12 credits in a single department; a minor of 9 to 12 credits in two or more departments; a coherent program of at least 9 credits concentrated in an area of chemistry outside the student’s principal area of emphasis. A Program of Studies, including coursework and proposed research, must be approved by the Department. A minimum grade point average of 3.00 must be earned in coursework in Chemistry, not including research (900-996) or seminars (912-935). Graduate School regulations require that a majority of all courses taken be at the 700-999 level. The Department has no formal language requirement but the student is responsible for familiarity with published literature in the area of that student’s research. The student must also participate in at least one semester of part-time teaching as a teaching assistant. The first stage of the student’s program includes general preparation as in the master’s program, as well as specialized courses in principal areas of interest and the initiation of research. Admission to the second stage of the Ph.D. program is based upon satisfactory performance in courses, research, and in departmental examinations. Upon entrance, the student takes proficiency examinations in analytical, inorganic, organic, and physical chemistry. Departmental approval to continue in the doctoral program is attained by passing an advanced qualifying examination (AQE) in the major area. This examination must be completed by the end of the fourth semester of study. In the second stage of the program, the student concentrates on the development and execution of original research. Additional coursework may also be required to complete the program of studies.


The student must meet minimum Graduate School residence requirements.

Doctoral Preliminary Examination

The student must take a doctoral preliminary examination. This serves to qualify the student for formal admission by the Graduate School to candidacy for the degree.


Candidates must each present a dissertation reporting the results of independent, original research carried out under the direction of their major professor. At least three months before the Dissertation Defense, at a time when most of the experimental work has been completed, the student meets with the Examining Committee for a preliminary review of the research to be described in the dissertation.

Dissertation Defense

The candidate must, as the final step toward the degree, defend the dissertation in an oral examination. The candidate also presents a public dissertation seminar, describing research in completed form for the Department and others who may be interested. A student who does not pass this examination within five years of admission to candidacy may be required to take another preliminary examination and be readmitted to candidacy.

Time Limit

All degree requirements must be completed within 10 years from the date of initial enrollment in the doctoral program. For additional information view the Graduate School Ph.D. requirements.