The Department of Chemistry has as its main goal the education and training of professional chemists for entry into industry, government, or the academic world. Graduate students pursue research-oriented programs of study leading to the Ph.D. or M.S. degrees. Most graduate students directly pursue a Ph.D. without getting the M.S. degree, and they can specialize in analytical, inorganic (or bioinorganic), organic, or physical chemistry. Additionally, numerous areas of interdisciplinary research may be pursued by students, regardless of their major area in courses.
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Entering graduate students take coursework from a Program of Study designed to give a broad background of knowledge, while allowing specialization in one area. An important aspect of graduate training is the time most graduate students will spend in their first year as teaching assistants in laboratory courses. Selection of a research advisor follows an interview process in which the graduate student becomes familiar with the research projects available in a number of groups. During the first semester a series of presentations by the research faculty aids in this process. The graduate student chooses a research advisor and at least two additional faculty members as an advisory committee by the end of the second semester in residence. The advisory committee helps formulate the graduate student's final Program of Study and guides the student's research. During the third semester in residence, the student (in consultation with the research advisor) completes a Prospectus, which consists of a written and oral presentation of the student’s proposed thesis research project. Graduate students become candidates for the Ph.D. degree after passing oral preliminary examinations, which are normally taken at the end of the second year in the department. There are two parts to these examinations: a report on the student's research progress to date and a proposal for an original set of experiments on a topic outside the student's research area. Both the progress report and the proposal are submitted at the same time in written form, after which they are reviewed during an oral examination of the student before the advisory committee. During their course of study, graduate students give three seminars about their research project or on a selected literature subject before a departmental audience. Successful candidates for the Ph.D. degree then concentrate on their research projects, and, after completing their research, they write a dissertation and defend it at a final oral examination. The average Ph.D. student finishes the degree requirements in about 4.5 years. Further details concerning the graduate program in Chemistry can be found in the Graduate Student Handbook or by contacting the Graduate Coordinator's office by a collect phone call at 706-542-1936, fax transmission at 706-542-9454, or e-mail from this page.