Program Requirements & Financial Support

Program Requirements & Financial Support

An admission letter will include details of student financial support. Stipends are set such that the students’ net income is consistent with the cost of living in the Evanston area. Historically, all graduate students in good standing in the chemistry Ph.D. program at Northwestern have received full financial support (tuition and stipend) for the duration of their graduate studies.

The department establishes program degree requirements to ensure that students gain a solid fundamental background in chemistry and related fields and a thorough mastery of the major field. The requirements are revised frequently in accordance with the demands of a rapidly changing field. Specific rules are intended to serve as guidelines rather than as inflexible barriers. A student may petition the department for a waiver or modification of any requirement when such a change appears desirable.

All entering students must take a set of three Placement Examinations, one each in Organic, Inorganic, and Physical Chemistry. A student who does not achieve a suitable score on a Placement Examination will be required to take a specific graduate course in that area.

Doctoral degree programs require completion of at least two one-quarter courses that constitute a common academic core (physical organic chemistry, structural inorganic chemistry, readings in inorganic chemistry or quantum chemistry) and five additional courses, generally including one or two elective courses outside the major field. Many students choose to complete their entire course requirement by the end of winter quarter. Admission to the doctoral program is usually granted at the end of the spring quarter of the first year to students whose performance in course work and in research to that point is judged satisfactory by the faculty.

Each doctoral candidate takes an oral qualifying examination administered by a committee appointed by the Graduate Affairs Chair. The qualifying examination assesses the student’s progress in research and his or her general knowledge, particularly in the major field. Usually the exam is scheduled during the student’s seventh quarter in residence. Students must also present a departmental seminar in their division. In addition, an original research proposal is required. This proposal may be in the candidate’s general research area but must be original and not merely an extension of thesis research.

Upon completion of the thesis research, the student prepares a dissertation that must be acceptable to the thesis advisor and two other faculty members. The student then defends the thesis at an oral examination.


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