Univ of Southern California
University of Southern California
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Graduate Degrees

Close contact between students and faculty is a seminal 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.

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

Degree Requirements

These degrees are under the jurisdiction of the Graduate School. Refer to the Requirements for Graduation 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.

A guidance committee is appointed for each student. 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

Guidance Committee
The guidance committee is composed of the research advisor, three other members of the Chemistry Department, and one member from outside the Chemistry Department. The committee is appointed at least one semester before the qualifying examination, and prior to the screening procedure.

Course Requirements
The student must pass a series of graduate courses totaling at least 24 units. The guidance committee may require more than 24 units of graduate course work. Sixty units of registration, including CHEM 790 and CHEM 794, are required for the Ph.D. Registration for CHEM 790 and CHEM 794 should be done with the approval of the staff Graduate Advisor.

Screening Procedure
The screening requirements designated by the department for continuation in the doctoral program are: an overall grade point average of B or better in at least 24 units by the end of the fourth semester of course work with no grade lower than B-; and a successful research seminar presented by the student to the guidance committee. Only students who have passed the screening requirements are allowed to take the qualifying examination.

Qualifying Examination
The qualifying examination requires the presentation of two original research proposals, or one original research proposal and one critical review of a scientific article, written answers to questions previously submitted by the guidance committee, and oral defense of all of these. The qualifying examination is administered by the guidance committee, which should not be chaired by the research advisor.

An acceptable dissertation based on completion of an original research project is required. The candidate must defend an approved penultimate draft of the dissertation in an advertised oral thesis defense lecture, which is open to the scientific community. The Dissertation Committee consists of three members of the guidance committee including the research advisor and the outside member.

Foreign Language Requirement
The department has no foreign language requirement.

Doctor of Philosophy in Chemistry (Chemical Physics)

Course Requirements
Completion (with no course grade lower than B-) of 24 units of courses selected from chemistry, physics, mathematics, and engineering, with an overall grade point average not lower than B. These courses must be selected with the advisement and approval of first, the research advisor, and then the thesis chair. All other requirements and procedures are the same as for the Ph.D. in Chemistry.

Seminars and Research Symposium

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 annual research symposium 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.