The Doctor of Philosophy is a research degree. It signifies that the recipient is able to conduct independent research and has both a broad basic knowledge of all areas of chemistry and a comprehensive knowledge of one field in particular.
Since graduate students arrive with a variety of backgrounds, some with M.S. degrees from other institutions in the United States and abroad, the program of courses for each student is designed in consultation with the director of graduate studies, taking each student’s specific background, experience, and interests into account.
Students must satisfactorily complete at least 72 points derived from courses and research, at least 32 of which must be taken in residence at New York University. 20 points of credit must be earned in actual course work maintaining a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or greater. A grade of B- or better in all classes is required to maintain in good standing in the program. All doctoral candidates are required to register for Professional Development in the Sciences, CHEM-GA 2673, during the first semester in residence, Graduate Seminar, CHEM-GA 3010, during the fall term of the second year, and to attend at least twenty colloquia presented by distinguished visiting scientists, at least ten prior to the qualifying exam and another 10 prior to the thesis defense. Students gain laboratory research experience in two groups during their first semester in residence. This laboratory experience provides student with direct exposure to techniques and methodology used in the various labs and helps them to choose a thesis adviser.
Students can select a research advisor at the end of the Fall semester in their first year of residency.
Students are then required to submit their core dissertation committee (four faculty members) by the beginning of the fall semester of their second year. While the Graduate School of Arts and Science requires a minimum three-member core committee, the department requires a fourth core committee members. Prior to taking the dissertation evaluation exam, students must also choose a reader to serve as the fifth member of the dissertation committee.
The following examinations are required:
Ph.D. Qualifying Exam—This exam consists of both written and oral components. Students must present their up to date research before their core dissertation committee at the end of their second year in residence.
Research Progress Meeting—Students are required to arrange a 30 minute presentation before their core dissertation committee. The purpose of this meeting is to ensure that each student’s dissertation project is on a track that will allow the student to complete the dissertation within the typical span of five years. This exam takes place during the student’s fourth year.
Dissertation Evaluation Exam—The exam is held before the final five dissertation committee members. This is a two part exam. Part one consists of a 30 minutes oral research presentation given by the student. An evaluation is conducted by the student’s dissertation committee members to ensure that the student is ready to defend and earn a Ph.D. Part two consists of both written and oral components. The exam provides an opportunity for the student to demonstrate proficiency in the design, planning and communication of an original research problem.
Dissertation—This exam consists of written and an oral presentation before the student’s dissertation committee members and it is open to the chemistry community. The exam is approximately 45-50 minutes in length. The exam is judged on a pass/fail basis.
Doctoral Thesis: The heart of the doctoral program is the research leading to the preparation of the doctoral dissertation or doctoral thesis. The accumulation of high grades in formal courses, while important, is secondary to the demonstration of a capacity for original thinking and the completion of an investigation that contributes significantly to chemical knowledge. When the thesis is finalized, it is read by the core dissertation committee and one additional faculty member who is referred to as reader. All dissertation committee members must approve of the final version of the thesis prior to the public defense.