Ph.D. Requirements

View the Graduate School’s general guidelines for completing your degree. The Chemistry Department’s requirements for the Ph.D. are listed below. A timeline for the Ph.D. requirements is here.

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First Year

TA Training

First week before the beginning of fall and spring semesters.


Rotations & Group Joining

Three research group rotations, completed by early November.


Coursework

Required coursework varies by path (see here: Required Coursework). All coursework is to be completed by the fall semester of the second year. The minimum number of credits for the fall and spring semesters is 8 and the maximum number of credits is 15. In the summer term most students register for 2 credits.


Minor Agreement Form

After you join a research group, discuss the course selections for the spring semester and following fall.  Complete the Minor Agreement Form with your PI and returned the signed document to the Graduate Program Office (room 2108).


Enrollment Credit Requirements

See the Registrar for deadlines related to course enrollment.

Non-dissertators (maximum 15 credits; minimum 8 credits)

  • Lecture Courses to satisfy the core and minor requirements or of general interest
  • 1-12 credits research (analytical – Chem 993; chembio – Chem 998; chem educ res – Chem 991; inorganic – Chem 994; materials – Chem 996; organic – Chem 990; physical – Chem 992; all use the section of your PI)
  • 1 credit group meeting (Chem 964, section of your PI)
  • 0 credits seminar (analytical – Chem 920; chembio – any; chem educ res – any; inorganic – Chem 900; materials – Chem 920; organic – Chem 940; physical – Chem 960)

Transfer Credits

A graduate student can receive departmental conferment for up to 12 credits from another institution toward the UW-Madison Ph.D. requirements. These courses will not appear on the UW-Madison transcript nor count toward the graduate career GPA. Coursework earned ten or more years prior to admission to a doctoral degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

To confer credits, you will need to fill out the Chemistry Course Waiver Form and:

  1. Identify a graduate course at UW-Madison that is similar to the course taken at another institution.
  2. Identify a faculty member who has taught the UW-Madison course.
  3. Email the faculty member asking for credit for the similar course. Include the following:
    • UW-Madison course number and number of credits
    • Course name, instructor, number of credits, grade, a short description, and syllabus of the course taken at the other institution
  4. Ask the UW-Madison faculty to email the Chemistry Graduate Program Office with permission granted and the number of credits.

Incomplete Course Grades

Students who are unable to complete coursework by the end of the semester due to extenuating circumstances may request from the instructor the assignment of the temporary grade of “I” (Incomplete). Graduate students are allowed the subsequent semester of enrollment to complete the coursework and should work with the instructor to determine a plan for completion of the coursework during that time period. If the work is not completed after this period, the Graduate School will place the student on academic probation and a hold will be put on their account preventing the student from enrolling in the next semester. Students with outstanding incomplete grades cannot receive dissertator status or be granted a degree.

At the end of the subsequent semester, the department recommends that course instructor change the Incomplete grade to the appropriate letter grade or change to a Permanent Incomplete (PI)*.

The Chemistry GPO will work with the instructor of the course to submit a grade change request with an explanation or reason for changing the grade from I to PI or to the appropriate letter grade.

The Graduate School policy for incomplete grades is here.

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*Students may be allowed to receive a Permanent Incomplete (PI) for the course, if the work is no longer relevant, the instructor of a course is no longer at the university, or a change of program makes completion of the work unnecessary. The student can graduate with PI’s on their transcript.

Second Year

Choose a mentoring committee by November 1 at 9 am

Use the mentoring committee selection form here. Rank 5 faculty, not including your PI, to be on the mentoring committee. Discuss your selection with your PI, considering faculty inside the department, affiliated with the department, and outside of the department. Please consider a wide range of faculty as many faculty would be appropriate for your committee selection. It is not necessary to contact the faculty inside the department that you select to be on your committee before you submit the form. Please contact the affiliate faculty and faculty outside of the department before you add them to your selection form. There is a comment box on the form. It is important to indicate if you are collaborating with faculty you listed on the mentoring form or if there are reasons why a specific faculty member should be on your committee.


Thesis Background Examination (TBE)

The examination will consist of a written report and an oral defense.  The details  about the exam are here: TBE Requirements. The oral portion of the TBE exam should be scheduled between January 15 and March 15. See the extension due to the building closures below.  If the oral exam cannot be scheduled during this period, please submit the TBE Extension Request Form. The student brings the evaluation form and, if desired, the MS warrant form to the oral exam. Examples of the written portion:

PDF and Word files of the TBE Evaluation Form are here:

Due to the building closures the following extensions have been approved. 

  • Fall 2019 Class: The TBE exam deadline was extended until October 15, 2021.
  • Fall 2020 Class: The TBE exam deadline will be extended until July 15, 2022.

MS Degree after TBE

After completion of your TBE, you can receive an MS degree. Please see the information here to request a warrant for the MS degree. It is best if you request the warrant 3 weeks before your TBE and bring the warrant to the TBE.


Enrollment Credit Requirements

See the Registrar for deadlines related to course enrollment.

Non-dissertators (maximum 15 credits; minimum 8 credits)

  • Lecture Courses to satisfy the core and minor requirements or of general interest
  • 1-12 credits research (analytical – Chem 993; chembio – Chem 998; chem educ res – Chem 991; inorganic – Chem 994; materials – Chem 996; organic – Chem 990; physical – Chem 992; all use the section of your PI)
  • 1 credit group meeting (Chem 964, section of your PI)
  • 0 credits seminar (analytical – Chem 920; chembio – any; chem educ res – any; inorganic – Chem 900; materials – Chem 920; organic – Chem 940; physical – Chem 960)

Third Year

Original Research Proposal Examination (RP)

The examination will consist of a written proposal and an oral defense. The details about the exam are here: RP Requirements. There are 2 time periods to take the RP exam: Nov 1 – mid-Jan (day before the spring semester begins) and Feb 15 – April 30. See the extension due to the building closures below. If the oral exam cannot be scheduled during this period, please submit the RP Extension Request Form. The student brings the evaluation form and the prelim warrant form to the oral exam. Examples written portion:

Due to the building closures the following extensions have been approved. 

A supplemental time period for the RP exam will be added in summer 2022 in addition to the time periods already set for next academic year for the Fall 2019 Class:

    • Fall 2021 Timeline: November 15, 2021 deadline for 1-page summary; January 15, 2022 deadline for oral defense
    • Spring 2022 Timeline: February 28, 2022 deadline for 1-page summary; April 30, 2022 deadline for oral defense
    • Summer 2022 Timeline: June 30, 2022 deadline for 1-page summary; August 15, 2022 deadline for oral defense

Entrance to PhD Candidacy – Dissertator Status

Successful completion of the RP, along with the other program requirements (TBE, coursework) will complete the requirement for admission to candidacy, i.e., dissertator status.


Request warrant for Research Proposal

At least 3 weeks before oral defense, request warrant for Research Proposal here. The student brings the warrant and the RP Evaluation Form to the oral exam. If the oral defense is done virtually, some suggestions are here.


Enrollment Credit Requirements

See the Registrar for deadlines related to course enrollment.

Dissertators (3 credits)

  • 3 credits research (analytical – Chem 993; chembio – Chem 998; chem educ res – Chem 991; inorganic – Chem 994; materials – Chem 996; organic – Chem 990; physical – Chem 992; all use the section of your PI)

Non-dissertators (maximum 15 credits; minimum 8 credits)

  • Lecture Courses to satisfy the core and minor requirements or of general interest
  • 1-12 credits research (analytical – Chem 993; chembio – Chem 998; chem educ res –  Chem 991; inorganic – Chem 994; materials – Chem 996; organic – Chem 990; physical – Chem 992; all use the section of your PI)
  • 1 credit group meeting (Chem 964, section of your PI)
  • 0 credits seminar (analytical – Chem 920; chembio – any; chem educ res – any; inorganic – Chem 900; materials – Chem 920; organic – Chem 940; physical – Chem 960)

Fourth Year

Fourth-Year Mentor Committee Meeting

This meeting is designed to provide a summary of progress and to establish a timeline for completion of work required the Ph.D. degree. The Fourth-Year Mentoring Committee Form should be completed by the student and the research advisor and be provided to the mentoring committee members before the meeting. The student should also provide an updated CV to the mentoring committee. The 4th year meeting includes a brief (~10 minute) presentation of the student’s research to the mentoring committee (open to others, if desired), followed by a closed discussion of results and future plans between the student and committee members. The 4th committee meetings should be completed by May 31.


Enrollment Credit Requirements

See the Registrar for deadlines related to course enrollment.

Dissertators (3 credits)

  • 3 credits research (analytical – Chem 993; chembio – Chem 998; chem educ res – Chem 991; inorganic – Chem 994; materials – Chem 996; organic – Chem 990; physical – Chem 992; all use the section of your PI)

Non-dissertators (maximum 15 credits; minimum 8 credits)

  • Lecture Courses to satisfy the core and minor requirements or of general interest
  • 1-12 credits research (analytical – Chem 993; chembio – Chem 998; chem educ res – Chem 991; inorganic – Chem 994; materials – Chem 996; organic – Chem 990; physical – Chem 992; all use the section of your PI)
  • 1 credit group meeting (Chem 964, section of your PI)
  • 0 credits seminar (analytical – Chem 920; chembio – any; chem educ res – any; inorganic – Chem 900; materials – Chem 920; organic – Chem 940; physical – Chem 960)

Fifth Year & Beyond

Year-End Meeting – If you are not graduating until your 6th year

Students who have not set a date for their dissertation defense by the end of their fifth year will meet with their mentoring committee members. This meeting is designed to provide a summary of progress and to establish a timeline for completion of work required the Ph.D. degree. The Fifth-Year Mentoring Committee Form should be completed by the student and the research advisor and be provided to the mentoring committee members before the meeting. The student should also provide an updated CV to the mentoring committee. The meeting includes a brief (~10 minute) presentation of the student’s research to the mentoring committee (open to others, if desired), followed by a closed discussion of results and future plans between the student and committee members. The 5th committee meetings should be completed by May 31.


Enrollment Credit Requirements

See the Registrar for deadlines related to course enrollment.

Dissertators (total 3 credits)

  • 3 credits research (analytical – Chem 993; chembio – Chem 998; chem educ res – Chem 991; inorganic – Chem 994; materials – Chem 996; organic – Chem 990; physical – Chem 992; all use the section of your PI)

Graduation

Graduation & Leaving the University


Preparing Doctoral Dissertation


Dissertation Oral Defense

The examination will consist of a written dissertation and an oral defense.

  • At least 3 weeks before oral defense, request the Ph.D. final degree warrant here
  • At least 3 weeks before the oral defense, create a flyer for the defense and email it to the Graduate Program Office. The template for the defense poster is here.
  • At least 1 week, preferably 2 weeks, before the final oral defense, email your dissertation to your Ph.D. committee.
  • If the oral defense is done virtually, some suggestions are here.

Submitting Your Dissertation

  • Pay the Dissertation Deposit Fee: Go to Grad Portal to pay the required $90 dissertation deposit fee, which covers the cost of processing the dissertation and publishing the abstract by ProQuest. The fee must be paid before submitting your dissertation electronically. The fee payment site provides an email confirmation with your fee payment receipt. Save this payment receipt as a PDF for the electronic dissertation deposit process. The receipt will be uploaded in the administrative documents section of the ProQuest/UMI ETD Administrator website.
  • Complete the Doctoral Exit Surveys: You must complete the following doctoral exit surveys before submitting your dissertation. Each survey will provide a certificate of completion once you have submitted the survey. Save the certificates of completion as PDF documents to upload in the administrative documents section of the ProQuest/UMI ETD Administrator website.
    • Survey of Earned Doctorates (SED): To complete the online Survey of Earned Doctorates you will first provide basic information including your email address. You will then receive an e-mail with a unique PIN and password. Access the SED survey site using the URL, PIN, and password sent to you in this email, and complete the survey. You must advance past the certificate of completion screen in order to submit the survey.
    • Graduate School’s Doctoral Exit Survey (DES)The DES obtains information on your academic experience (e.g., program quality, support, advising) in your doctoral program and information about your postdoctoral plans. To complete the Doctoral Exit Survey online, enter your name as it appears in university records and your student ID number (10 digits). At the end of the survey, there is a survey completion screen.
  • Electronic Deposit of Your Dissertation: After you complete the steps above, you can submit your dissertation electronically to the ProQuest/UMI Administrator website.

Department Checkout Process


Degree Completion Letter

You can either receive a degree completion letter from the Department of Chemistry or from the University.

From the Department of Chemistry

To receive a completion letter from the Department, please email Taylor Mathewson and provide the date of your defense and the date that you submitted your thesis to the Graduate School.  The letter will be signed by Matt Sanders.

From the University

To receive a completion letter from the University, please submit the Degree Completion Form available from the Registrar in the Graduate Students section.  It will first go to the Graduate School for verification.  Once all information is verified, the Office of the Registrar will provide your PDF letter. This process usually takes 7-10 days.

If you are in more immediate need of a completion letter, you are able to walk to the graduate school to have them process the information right away before getting approved by the registrar. This process can be done within 2-3 hours.