Proficiency Exams

OBJECTIVE: To identify if a student is prepared for a Ph.D. level program by testing their 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 will 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.

Graduate students are required to take the proficiency exams upon the start of their first year (whether that be Fall or Spring semester). For any of the exams a student fails the first time around, they must either:

1 – Pass an exam in the same sub-discipline by the end of their first academic year*; or

2 – Earn a grade of ‘B’ or better (not B-) in a proficiency course in the same sub-discipline.

* first academic year means within 12 months of matriculation.

Students who earn a B- or lower in a proficiency course or who fail to pass the proficiency exam on the second attempt 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 stated above (i.e. a rematriculated student would follow same rules as a new student).