Proficiency Exams

OBJECTIVE: test proficiency in four areas of chemistry at the advanced undergraduate level

TIMELINE: during orientation or before starting your first semester of the graduate program

All students in the Ph.D. Program must qualify to pursue the Ph.D. degree. To qualify, students must demonstrate proficiency in 4 areas of chemistry (Analytical, Inorganic, Organic, and Physical) in addition to showing an aptitude for independent research. A student may qualify in a given area by either passing a proficiency examination or earning a B (not B-) or better in a course specified by the Graduate Affairs Committee.

On entrance, all students take proficiency examinations in analytical, inorganic, organic and physical chemistry at the advanced undergraduate level, the results of which are used to determine the appropriate course level for the student.

If a student performs poorly on a proficiency exam in an area in which an undergraduate course has already been taken, the student will usually be advised to take a graduate level course. If the student does poorly on an exam in an area in which no undergraduate course was taken, the student will be advised to take one or two semesters of the undergraduate course in that area. The Graduate Affairs Committee will specify this remedial coursework in writing. Upon satisfactory completion of the undergraduate course(s), the student may demonstrate proficiency in that area either by satisfactory performance on retaking a second proficiency exam or by satisfactory performance in an appropriate graduate course (determined by the Graduate Affairs Committee).

Students who earn a B- or lower in a proficiency course will automatically be transferred into the M.S. program. After successfully defending an M.S. thesis, students who later wish to pursue the Ph.D. must reapply for admission into the Ph.D. program and satisfy the qualification requirements for the Ph.D. program as if they were new students.