PhD in Chemistry Program Information
Read about chemistry programs at the Ph.D. level. See educational prerequisites, program coursework, popular career options and employment outlook statistics.
An individual who is studying towards a Doctor of Philosophy in Chemistry degree spends the majority of the time involved in independent research and study. He or she may also teach lower-level classes or assist a professor. These programs allow students to gain experience working closely with faculty, peers and seasoned professionals in order to further his or her research in chemistry. In general, students may complete these programs in 3-8 years.
A main component of these programs is the dissertation, but there are general courses as well. Students work and research topics in theoretical, physical and organic chemistry, and they complete extensive research and experiments. In addition to formal coursework, students are required to develop communication skills by giving presentations on their research findings.
To enroll in a Ph.D. in Chemistry program one must hold a bachelor's or master's degree in chemistry or a related scientific field. In addition, prospective students must go through an examination to assess their level of knowledge and research skills. Research on an unrelated topic must also be completed as a means of further understanding the student's potential. Depending on the program, a potential graduate student must complete the required number of credit hours in physical, organic, inorganic and analytical chemistry with a satisfactory GPA.
As most Ph.D. in chemistry programs focus on independent research, students are often left to choose their own courses. Some topics students may choose from include:
- Physical biochemistry
- Inorganic chemistry
- Advanced analytical chemistry
- Organic synthesis
- Physical organic chemistry
- Quantum mechanics
- Atmospheric chemistry
Popular Career Options
Graduates with a doctoral degree in chemistry may build careers in academia or pursue advanced research positions in the private sector. Popular career options include:
- General chemist
- Research chemist
- Industrial production
- Production chemist
- Secondary and postsecondary educator
- Government regulator
- Forensic chemist
Career Outlook and Salary Potential
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), chemists made the median annual salary of $71,770 in May 2012. The same source stated that for the years 2010 through 2020, the employment of chemists and material scientists would go up 4%.
Continuing Education Opportunities
Universities nationwide offer postdoctoral training and research programs. The program that the student enrolls in depends on the specific field of study. An example would be toxicology. Students can pursue further research on environmental exposures and the consequences to human health. This type of training helps postdoctoral students develop in-depth research skills.
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