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.

PhD in Chemistry

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. In general, students may complete these programs in 3-8 years. He or she may also teach lower-level classes or assist a professor.

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 $72,610 in May 2015 The same source stated that for the years 2014 through 2024, the employment of chemists would go up 3%.

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.

Doctoral programs in chemistry will consist mainly of extensive research and lab work in specific areas of specialization. Students with a background in chemistry or a related field should look into different specializations in particular programs before deciding on where to apply.

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