University of Southern California
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Graduate Degrees

Close contact between students and faculty is a constant feature of the chemistry graduate programs. The emphasis is on individualized programs aiming at in-depth understanding and development of scientific maturity. Attention is given to career aims, including research and development; secondary, college and university teaching; and the wide variety of industrial testing, operation and management areas.

Admission Requirements

A baccalaureate degree, equivalent to the B.A. with a major in chemistry at USC, is prerequisite to admission to the graduate program in chemistry. A baccalaureate degree in an appropriate physical science, engineering or mathematics is prerequisite to admission to the doctoral program in chemical physics.

Entering students must take examinations (at the undergraduate level) in physical chemistry and two of the following: organic chemistry, inorganic and analytical chemistry, physics and mathematics; the options depend on each student’s objectives. Examinations are scheduled immediately before registration and the results serve as a basis for selecting courses during the first year of graduate study.

Application must be made to the department on a special form, which includes application for fellowship and teaching assistant appointment and is available on request from the department chair. Materials describing the faculty, research areas and facilities will be sent with the application.

Degree Requirements

These degrees are under the jurisdiction of the Graduate School. Refer to the Requirements for Graduation section and the Graduate School section of this catalogue for general regulations. All courses applied toward the degrees must be courses accepted by the Graduate School.

Master of Arts and Master of Science in Chemistry

The department does not accept applicants for a Master of Arts or Master of Science degree in chemistry. The M.A. and M.S. degrees are intended only as transitional degrees in the process of completing requirements for the Ph.D. in chemistry.

The Master of Arts degree is granted on completion of 24 units of graduate course work (not including 590) approved by the guidance committee, and comprehensive final examinations. The Master of Science degree is granted on completion of 24 units of graduate course work, including not more than eight units (normally two registrations) in directed research, approved by the guidance committee, an approved thesis on the results of an original investigation, and a final oral defense of the thesis. The final defense is made while the thesis is in final draft form.

The guidance committee is appointed no later than the beginning of the second semester. The guidance committee is chaired by the research director in the case of the M.S. option, or by an appropriate member of the faculty in the case of the M.A. option.

Doctor of Philosophy in Chemistry

Application deadline: January 1

Screening Procedure
Appointment of a guidance committee and registration for research are contingent on passage in a single semester of at least two graduate courses with grades of B or better, and with an overall better than B average in graduate work. Retention in the doctoral program requires at least a B average in the first two semesters of graduate work.

Guidance Committee
The committee is appointed as soon as the student is prepared to undertake research, normally near the beginning of the second semester, and is chaired by the research director. Its function is to guide the student in selection of courses and research and in preparation for the qualifying examination, and to administer that examination.

Course Requirements
Completion, with no grade lower than B (3.0), of a series of graduate courses totaling 24 units, approved by the guidance committee. The committee may require more than 24 units of graduate course work. The overall average for all graduate work must be higher than B. Sixty units of registration, including CHEM 790 and CHEM 794, are required for the Ph.D.

Foreign Language Requirement
The department has no formal foreign language requirement. However, an individual guidance committee may require competency in a foreign language if this is relevant to the student’s area of research.

Qualifying Examination
The examination requires presentation of two propositions, written answers to questions previously submitted by the committee, and oral defense of both propositions and answers. It is administered by the guidance committee.

A research seminar presented within the subdivisional seminar program is required. This usually takes the form of a presentation of research accomplishments just prior to graduation.

An acceptable dissertation based on completion of an original investigation is required. The candidate must defend an approved penultimate draft of the dissertation in an oral examination.

Doctor of Philosophy in Chemistry (Chemical Physics)

Application deadline: January 1

Course Requirements
Completion (with no grade lower than B) of CHEM 538 and a minimum of five additional courses (20 units) selected from chemistry, physics, mathematics and engineering with the advisement and approval of the guidance committee. All other requirements and procedures are the same as for the Ph.D. in Chemistry.

Seminars and Research Conference

Seminars are held regularly in physical, inorganic and organic chemistry. All students are expected to attend one and are invited to attend all of these. All students are expected to attend the departmental research conference featuring speakers from all branches of chemistry, who may be local, national or international.

Teaching Experience

Teaching experience is required for the advanced degrees in chemistry.