PhD in Chemistry Program Information

A student studying towards a Doctor of Philosophy in Chemistry spends the majority of the time involved independent research and study. Students may also teach lower-level classes or assist a professor. These programs allow for the student to gain experience working closely with faculty, peers and experienced professionals in order to further his or her research in chemistry.

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Ph.D. in Chemistry

The program is mainly a research program and requires a dissertation, but there are general courses as well. Students work and research topics in theoretical, physical and organic chemistry, as well as complete extensive research and experiments. In addition to formal coursework, students are required to develop communication skills by giving presentations on his or her research findings and also working as a teaching assistant.

Education Prerequisites

To enroll in a Ph.D. in Chemistry program one must hold a master's degree in chemistry or related scientific field. In addition, prospective students must go through an examination to assess their level of knowledge and research skills. Research on an unrelated topic must also be completed as a means of further understanding the student's potential. Depending on the program, a potential graduate student must complete the required number of credit hours in physical, organic, inorganic and analytical chemistry with a satisfactory GPA.

Program Coursework

As most Ph.D. in chemistry programs focus on independent research, students are often left to choose their own courses. Some topics students may choose from include:

  • Physical biochemistry
  • Inorganic chemistry
  • Advanced analytical chemistry
  • Organic synthesis
  • Physical organic chemistry
  • Quantum mechanics
  • Atmospheric chemistry

Popular Career Options

Graduates with a doctoral degree in chemistry may pursue careers in academia or advanced research positions in the private sector. Popular career options include:

  • General chemist
  • Research chemist
  • Industrial production
  • Production chemist
  • Secondary and postsecondary educator
  • Government regulator
  • Forensic chemist

Career Outlook and Salary Potential

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), chemists made the median annual salary of $71,770 in May 2012. The same source stated that for the years 2010 through 2020 the employment of chemists and material scientists would go up 4%.

Continuing Education Opportunities

Universities nationwide offer postdoctoral training and research programs. The program that the student enrolls in depends on the specific field of study. An example would be toxicology. Students can pursue further research on environmental exposures and human health and it the consequences. This type of training helps postdoctoral students develop in-depth research skills.

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