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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 objective of the requirements are to stimulate interesting discussion based upon original inquiry and coordination of information by the candidate in a number of fields that challenge his or her interest.

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:

  1. Two consecutive academic years with full-time study one term each year;
  2. Two consecutive academic years with half-time study both terms of each year;
  3. 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.


Students are required to take six graduate-level (500-level) courses and to perform satisfactorily, obtaining a minimum of a 3.0 average. Students 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 are made in consultation with their faculty adviser to best meet their needs and research interests.

Up to two graduate courses from a prior institution may be counted toward this requirement, provided an equivalent course is offered at Princeton.  The director of graduate studies grants such approval on an individual basis after consulting with the appropriate faculty.

Pre-Generals Requirements(s):

Departmental qualifying examinations

Qualifying examinations for incoming students are offered in the fields of biochemistry, chemical physics, inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry and physical chemistry in the fall of their first year. Graduate students are expected to pass an examination in three of these fields or to complete course work during their first year of study in order to compensate for any deficiencies.

General Exam:

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.

Qualifying for the M.A.:

The Master of Arts (M.A.) degree is normally an incidental degree 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; this requirement is most often fulfilled during the second year of enrollment.

Post-Generals Requirement(s):

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 seminars.

Out-of-Field Proposal

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. It is strongly recommended that this be done well before the FPO so that it does not conflict with thesis work,

The “out-of-field” research proposal must be written and circulated (via hard copy) among the advisory committee at least two weeks 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 committee records a grade for the written proposal and its oral defense. Grading is on a scale from Excellent to Fail.

Dissertation and FPO:

The Ph.D. is awarded after the candidate’s doctoral dissertation has been accepted and the final public oral examination sustained.

  • Application Fee: $90
  • Statement of Academic Purpose
  • Resume/Curriculum Vitae
  • Recommendation Letters
  • Transcripts
  • Fall Semester Grades
  • Prerequisite Tests
  • English Language Tests
  • GRE : General test and subject test in chemistry or subplan field required.
  • Additional Departmental Requirements: 
  • Ph.D. applicants are required to select a subplan when applying.

For Ph.D. candidates, tuition and fees during a student’s regular period of enrollment are provided in full from a student’s graduate student financial support, in the form of tuition support from fellowships, assistantships, or external sources.

The annual stipend amount provided to Ph.D. candidates during their regular enrollment is intended to support a single graduate student based on estimated costs. Master’s students or students with spouses and/or dependents may require additional resources to support their living expenses 

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