The Department of Chemistry provides facilities for students intending to work toward the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.). The Department of Chemistry is a vital, expanding hub of scientific inquiry with deep historic roots and a ready grasp on the future.
Housed in the world-class Frick Chemistry Laboratory, faculty and students work at the frontiers of science where the lines between chemistry and other disciplines merge. They conduct collaborative, interdisciplinary research with the potential to produce anything from new molecules and forms of energy to advanced models of catalysis and innovative materials. They also are immersed in the classic pursuit of chemistry -- to examine the composition of substances and investigate their properties and reactions.
Graduate students are invited and encouraged to pursue individualized programs. Their experience is enhanced by strong faculty mentoring and access to world-leading intellectual and physical resources. The Ph.D. is awarded primarily on the basis of a thesis describing original research in one area of chemistry. Graduate students begin this research during their first year of graduate work; it becomes one of their most important activities in the second year, and thereafter they devote almost all of their time to it. The final public oral examination consists of the defense of a student’s original research proposal as well as a defense of the thesis dissertation. The chief objectives of the requirements are stimulation of interesting discussion based upon original inquiry and coordination of information by candidates in a number of fields that challenge their interests.
A Master of Science is offered to select industry-sponsored candidates. The program may be completed on a part-time basis under one of the following three plans: two consecutive academic years with full-time study one term each year; two consecutive academic years with half-time study both terms of each year; two consecutive academic years with full-time study one term of one year and half-time study in two other terms during the two-year period. For additional information about eligibility and application procedures for the Master of Science, please contact the department directly.
Ph.D. applicants are required to select a subplan when applying.
Optional: Applicants may submit a statement with their application, briefly describing how their academic interests, background, or life experiences would advance Princeton’s commitment to diversity within the Graduate School and to training individuals in an increasingly diverse society. Please submit a succinct statement of no more than 500 words.
The M.S. degree is only open to employees of firms with active membership in the department’s industrial associates program.
Students are required to take six graduate-level courses and to perform satisfactorily, obtaining a minimum of a 3.0 average. Students may choose P/D/F enrollment for one of these six courses. Students may pursue study in the subdiscipline of their choosing: chemical biology, inorganic chemistry, catalysis, and organic synthesis, physical experimental, theoretical and computational, or materials chemistry. Course selections and enrollment decisions are made in consultation with their faculty adviser to best meet their needs and research interests.
Departmental Breadth Requirement
The Department of Chemistry requires that students demonstrate a breadth of knowledge in the field of chemistry. The breadth requirement is generally completed by successfully passing the qualifying exams in a minimum of three of the following subfields: organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, physical chemistry, biochemistry, and chemical physics. Students, with approval by the DGS, may also satisfy the breadth requirement by replacing one or more examination with equivalent graduate-level coursework. This coursework would count within the six courses mandated by the course requirement.
The general examination consists of two written proposals and the student’s oral defense of each. The first proposal is based on the student’s chosen area of thesis research. The second consists of an independent research proposal that is in the student’s general area of research but which is not a part of the student’s thesis research. These proposals are considered together with a review of the student’s overall academic record and research progress. Of students who pass the general examination, only those who have shown some degree of distinction in their work proceed toward the doctorate.
The Master of Arts (M.A.) degree is normally an incidental degree awarded on the way to full Ph.D. candidacy and is earned after a student successfully completes the general examination. It may also be awarded to students who, for various reasons, leave the Ph.D. program, provided that this requirement has been met.
Students are required to teach at least six contact hours per week for one term or three contact hours per week for two terms; this requirement is most often fulfilled during the second year of enrollment.
Third Year Seminar
In the third year of study, students present a thirty-minute seminar on their research progress. To foster understanding of the different chemical disciplines, third-year students are required to attend all such seminars.
At least two weeks prior to the defense of the thesis at the Final Public Oral, the student must generate an original research proposal, not directly related to the thesis research, and defend the proposal before the advisory committee.
The “out of field” research proposal must be written and circulated among the advisory committee before the oral presentation date. The student is responsible for organizing the committee members to meet for this oral exam and informing the Graduate Administrator prior to the date agreed upon. The student is required to circulate a final version of the proposal for the committee to review a minimum of two weeks in advance of the oral exam. The committee records a grade for the written proposal and its oral defense. Grading is on a scale from Excellent to Fail.
The Ph.D. is awarded after the candidate’s doctoral dissertation has been accepted and the final public oral examination sustained.
- Gregory D. Scholes
- Paul J. Chirik
Director of Graduate Studies
- Robert R. Knowles
Director of Undergraduate Studies
- Robert P. L'Esperance
- Andrew B. Bocarsly
- Roberto Car
- Robert J. Cava
- Paul J. Chirik
- John T. Groves
- Michael H. Hecht
- Robert R. Knowles
- David W. MacMillan
- Tom Muir
- Joshua D. Rabinowitz
- Herschel A. Rabitz
- Gregory D. Scholes
- Jeffrey Schwartz
- Annabella Selloni
- Martin F. Semmelhack
- Mohammad R. Seyedsayamdost
- Erik J. Sorensen
- Salvatore Torquato
- Haw Yang
- Jannette Carey
- William M. Jacobs
- Ralph E. Kleiner
- Leslie M. Schoop
- Marissa L. Weichman
- Bonnie L. Bassler, Molecular Biology
- Frederick M. Hughson, Molecular Biology
- Bruce E. Koel, Chemical and Biological Eng
- Alexei V. Korennykh, Molecular Biology
- A. James Link, Chemical and Biological Eng
- Lynn Loo, Chemical and Biological Eng
- Cameron A. Myhrvold, Molecular Biology
- Satish C. Myneni, Geosciences
- Sabine Petry, Molecular Biology
- Michele L. Sarazen, Chemical and Biological Eng
- Jeffry B. Stock, Molecular Biology
- Martin Helmut Wühr, Molecular Biology
- Nieng Yan, Molecular Biology
- Michael T. Kelly
- Jenny Martinez
- Chia-Ying Wang
Courses listed below are graduate-level courses that have been approved by the program’s faculty as well as the Curriculum Subcommittee of the Faculty Committee on the Graduate School as permanent course offerings. Permanent courses may be offered by the department or program on an ongoing basis, depending on curricular needs, scheduling requirements, and student interest. Not listed below are undergraduate courses and one-time-only graduate courses, which may be found for a specific term through the Registrar’s website. Also not listed are graduate-level independent reading and research courses, which may be approved by the Graduate School for individual students.