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The UMass Lowell doctoral program in chemistry is designed to provide the students with a background in advanced course work and chemical laboratory techniques that will prepare them to carry out, under the guidance of experienced scientists, an original, independent investigation that will lead to an acceptable contribution to the body of contemporary knowledge. The requirements of this program exactly parallel the requirements of the Ph.D. Organic Chemistry Specialization with the exception that an additional 9 credits of course work are required above the 27-credit minimum required for the Organic Ph.D. Furthermore, the requirements of this program closely parallel those of the other highly successful doctoral programs in chemistry at UMass Lowell.

Plan of Program

The doctoral degree normally requires four years of study beyond the bachelor's degree or a minimum of two to three years beyond the master's degree. The plan of study pursued by each student is dependent on individual requirements and is developed through a conference with the Advisory Committee (or with his or her temporary advisor). The initial part of the student's program, normally completed at the end of two years of study, is devoted to formal course work. The first year is usually given to subjects in the major branches of chemistry in preparation for area (candidacy) examinations. The second year is devoted primarily to advanced subjects in a special field of concentration. The second and final part of the program is devoted principally to research leading to the doctoral thesis. However, the student is encouraged to begin research as early as possible in the program of study.

Credit Requirements

Of the 54-minimum credit requirements, a minimum of 36 credits in course work, exclusive of thesis and seminar, is required with at least 21 graduate credits to be taken in chemistry listed in the two sections that follow. Credit is not normally allowed for undergraduate subjects in chemistry except for those so designated in the catalog. Research credits and seminars would then make up the remainder of the 54-credit requirement. Planning the program of courses with the student is the responsibility of a student's Advisory Committee.

Course Requirements:

1. Required Core Courses:

Course #Course Name
84.523Organic Reaction Mechanisms
84.524Organic Synthesis
84.575 or 84.532Advanced Physical Chemistry
84.568 Organic Structural Analysis

2. Required are three elective courses selected from the following courses having an 84-or 97- prefix:  

Course #Course Name
84.514 Advanced Analytical Chemistry
84.538Biochemical Mechanisms
84.543 Modern Inorganic Chemistry
84.550Biochemistry I
97.503,504Advanced Polymer Science I, II
84.563Chemistry of Natural Products
84.672Surface and Colloid Chemistry

3. Required are two additional courses:

31.521 Introduction to Green Chemistry

AND one additional course having an 84- or 97- prefix OR a course from a closely related discipline.

4. In order to pursue the Green Chemistry Option, three additional courses taken above the 27-credit minimum defined above are needed to satisfy this Concentration. These courses require the approval of the Organic Chemistry/Green Chemistry Committee (Drs. Sandman, Chiang, Manohar).  Pre-approved courses include:

Course #Course Name
31.522Mechanistic Toxicology
19.503Toxicology and Health
31.523Sustainable Materials Design
19.550Environmental Law and Policy
31.525Experimental Conceptualization

Cumulative Examinations

Students in the Green Chemistry Option must pass four cumulative examinations to be taken at the beginning of the second full year of study. The exams will be given eight times in the Fall semester at two week intervals, and four must be passed to satisfy this requirement. The exams will be based on the required courses, seminars, and knowledge of the current literature from state-of-the-art journals such as Journal of the American Chemical Society, Journal of Organic Chemistry, Chemical Communications, Angewandte Chemie International Edition, Organic Letters, Accounts of Chemical Research, and Chemical Reviews.

Each cumulative examination will consist of announced and unannounced topics at the discretion of the examiner. The exam will be three hours in duration. The examining faculty will include the Organic Chemistry/Green Chemistry Committee. Topics to be covered on the examinations will be determined by the Committee. A faculty member from the Department of Chemistry at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth may also be included, as appropriate in a given year when student(s) in the joint doctoral program with UMass Dartmouth are taking cumulative exams. The grading of each exam will be “pass” or “fail.”

For those students entering the Program by transferring in from the Work Environment Department AND who have satisfied green chemistry cumulative exams administered by green chemistry faculty members, credit for one cumulative exam will be awarded with the approval of the Organic Chemistry/Green Chemistry Committee.

Original Research Proposal

Upon completion of the cumulative examination requirement, a student must defend an original research proposal within three months. The topic of the proposal should be different from the research topic of the student. The defense will be public and the examining committee must have a minimum of two voting chemistry faculty members. There should be a thesis advising committee consisting of at least four UMass Lowell faculty members with a minimum of two voting chemistry faculty members. The rest of committee members may include a co-advisor and non-chemistry faculty as voting members. All members have to be UMass Lowell faculty. The subject of the proposal requires approval of the committee prior to presentation; unanimous decision of the Committee is required for the student to successfully satisfy this requirement.


A student must present at least two seminars in the course of a Ph.D. program.

Selection of Advisor

By the end of the first academic year of graduate study, the student must select a research advisor in the Chemistry Department. A non-chemistry faculty member may be a co-advisor, but in such a case, the co-advisor is responsible for the support of the student.

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