PhD in Chemistry Program Information

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. Graduates may be prepared for advanced positions in the field, or continuing education in the form of post-doctoral research.

Essential Information

PhD Chemistry programs allow students to gain experience working closely with faculty, peers and seasoned professionals in order to further his or her research in chemistry. 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.

  • Program Levels in Chemistry: PhD in Chemistry; Post-Doctoral studies in a specialized topic
  • Prerequisites: Bachelor/Master Degree in chemistry or related field; knowledge/research skill examination; completing research on an unrelated topic;
  • Program Specializations: Freedom to choose coursework and research topics
  • Program Length: 3-8 years
  • Other Requirements: Dissertation; satisfactory GPA and completion of required number of credit hours

PhD in Chemistry

A main component of chemistry PhD programs is the dissertation, but there are general courses as well. As most Ph.D. in chemistry programs focus on independent research, students are often left to choose their own courses. They may also teach lower-level classes or assist a professor in order to gain valuable academic teaching experience. Some coursework students may choose from include:

  • Physical biochemistry
  • Inorganic chemistry
  • Advanced analytical chemistry
  • Organic synthesis
  • Physical organic chemistry
  • Quantum mechanics

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 (, chemists made the median annual salary of $73,480 in May 2014. The same source stated that for the years 2012 through 2022, the employment of chemists would go up 6%.

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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