Programs of Study

The Chemistry Department offers three graduate degrees. In chemistry, a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree, a Master of Science (M.S.) with Thesis degree, and a Master of Science (M.S.) without Thesis degree. Choose from the links below for more information about each degree or program.

  • Ph.D. Degree in Chemistry
  • Master of Science with Thesis
  • Master of Science without Thesis

Ph.D. students design curricula to address their particular interests. A wide variety of courses are offered, drawn from traditional chemical, as well as biochemical and other related fields. Each student groups courses into a core curriculum, in consultation with the department Graduate Advisor. Usually coursework is completed during the first year.

Graduate students pursue research in a broad range of disciplines: analytical, organic, inorganic, and physical chemistry, as well as biophysical, biochemical, bioorganic chemistry, and biophysics. Spectroscopy, computer analysis, and advanced structural and functional evaluation of biological materials are some areas available for concentration. Graduate students receive hands-on training in the use of state-of-the-art chemical instrumentation, and then use all equipment directly in their research.

Students interested in earning a Certificate in University Teaching through the Future Professoriate Program should contact Professor John Chisholm (

A candidate for this degree must:

  • satisfy the breadth examination requirement
  • maintain grade-point average requirements
  • satisfy the coursework and credit requirements
  • satisfy the research proposal requirement
  • pass the second-year oral examination
  • submit a satisfactory dissertation
  • pass a final oral examination based upon the dissertation and related topics

Once a candidate has satisfied all of the above-stated requirements, they must submit their written thesis to their defense committee.  This committee consists of six voting members (including the advisor and oral defense chair who must be outside of the home department).  They should be Syracuse University tenured or tenure-track faculty members.  One committee member can be external to Syracuse University based on subject-matter expertise; however, this committee member cannot be a personal acquaintance.  Note: The student must petition the Dean of the Graduate School to include more than one external committee member.

When a candidate is ready to graduate, there are a series of requirements that are mandated by and must be completed through the Graduate School

A candidate for this degree must:

  • pass qualifying breadth examinations in two of the major fields of chemistry
  • maintain grade-point average requirements
  • satisfy the coursework and credit requirements
  • submit a satisfactory thesis
  • pass a final oral examination based upon the thesis and related topics

A candidate for this degree must:

  • pass qualifying breadth examinations in two of the major fields of chemistry
  • maintain grade-point average requirements
  • satisfy the coursework and credit requirements
  • complete a culminating experience of one of the following:
    • passing a comprehensive examination based on coursework
    • completing a library study
    • presenting a public seminar within the department

Syracuse University is a research university, focusing attention on scholarship and learning at all stages of professional development. An appropriate model views undergraduate education, graduate education, and faculty scholarship as unified by the theme of learning. Scholarship can be broadly defined to include the creation of new knowledge (research) and also the dissemination of knowledge (teaching). Graduate studies under this expanded definition may, therefore, be conceived in terms of all of these important activities.

The research activities of doctoral students in chemistry remain central to the development of new generations of chemists. Recently, however, the Association of Graduate Schools in the American Association of Universities has recognized the more broadly defined definition of scholarship by saying that "...virtually all doctoral students, whether or not they enter the academic sector, will be engaged in not only the creation but the dissemination of knowledge, [and] the skills acquired in learning how to teach will be fundamental to their future work." Ph.D. chemists in most professional employment settings are frequently engaged in teaching related to their work. This "teaching" may take the form of presentations of research, reports of development progress, instructions to coworkers, and numerous other activities. Of course, professors and other faculty members are involved in teaching more explicitly and to a greater extent than Ph.D. chemists in strictly research settings.

Syracuse University is training the future professoriate in teaching proficiency through the Future Professoriate Program. This program helps articulate an effective and meaningful approach to the more broadly conceived training of Ph.D. students in the dissemination of knowledge. For this reason, the chemistry department is pleased to participate in the Future Professoriate Program. Besides enhancing the overall professional preparedness of our doctoral students, the program in the chemistry department also serves as a vehicle for the overall improvement of instruction in the department by helping our Ph.D. students become better and more efficient teachers. The scientific productivity of graduate teaching assistants is enhanced by eliminating inefficient teaching practices frequently observed in unskilled teachers, and by improving communication skills.

Students in the chemistry department's Future Professoriate Program are expected to take a graduate-level course in the teaching of college-level science, and also meet as a group to discuss issues in general and specific chemistry departmental teaching. In recent years, these issues have included choosing a textbook, construction of a syllabus, and obtaining student evaluations. Some of its recommendations to the department have been implemented at Syracuse.

Specific components of the program include the following: (1) promotion from a teaching assistant (Ta) to a teaching associate (TA) appointment; (2) participation in a "significant, mentored, independent teaching experience;" and (3) development of a professional portfolio that includes, in addition to the more typical research-based information, detailed information regarding specific aspects of the student's teaching development. Successful participation in the program is expected to culminate in the awarding of the Certificate in University Teaching.

More information can be obtained by contacting Professor John Chisholm ( in the chemistry department.

   » view program prospectus