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The Department of Chemistry provides programs of graduate study leading to the MS and the PhD in chemistry in the fields of analytical, biological, inorganic, organic, material, organic, physical chemistry, and chemical physics. Interdisciplinary research is also currently conducted in the areas of surface science, combinatorial chemistry, natural products synthesis, nanotechnology, biosensors, laser spectroscopy, organometallic chemistry, and theoretical chemistry.


Analytical Chemistry
Biological Chemistry
Inorganic Chemistry
Organic Chemistry
Physical Chemistry

Contact Information

Department Chair: Kay M. Brummond
Main Office: 234 Chevron Science Center
Fax: 412-624-8611

Facilities—Department Shared Instrumentation

The Department of Chemistry is housed in a modern chemistry complex that includes Eberly Hall, Chevron Annex, Ashe Lecture Halls and the 15-story Chevron Science Center.  The Chemistry Instrumentation Center is an in-house research instrumentation laboratory that includes NMR, mass spectroscopy, and X-ray crystallography facilities. In addition to instrumentation within individual research groups, the department supports a vast array of modern research instruments, including three 300 MHz NMRs, one 500 MHz NMR, one 600 MHz NMR, two high-resolution and two low-resolution mass spectrometers, a light-scattering instrument, a circular dichroism spectrophotometer, a spectropolarimeter, X-ray systems—single crystal, powder, and fluorescence, a scanning electron microscope, an atomic force microscope, a vibrating sample magnetometer, several FT-IR and UV-VIS spectrophotometers, and workstation computer clusters. The Chemistry Library, a unit of the University Library System is a 6,000-square-foot facility that provides access to more than 30,000 monographs, 15,000 bound periodicals and more than 250 maintained journal subscriptions. Additional shared research resources include in-house machine shop, electronics shop, and glassblowing laboratory; helium recovery system and the Dietrich School Scientific Stockroom.


Facilities—Department—Shop Services


A bachelor's degree in chemistry, or closely related discipline, including courses in mathematics through integral calculus, is preferred. In addition, the student must meet the general Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences requirements for admission to graduate study.

Entering students take appraisal exams in each of four areas of chemistry: analytical, inorganic, organic and physical.  In discussion with a member of the department's Graduate Student Advisement Committee, scores on the appraisal exams are considered, as each student selects and registers for appropriate coursework.  Satisfactory performance in four core courses is required for students to pass the preliminary examination. Midway through the first year in residence, students are assigned to research groups.  The remainder of the student’s graduate program is developed in consultation with their research advisor. All advanced degree programs require original research and course work. Additional requirements include a comprehensive examination, thesis/dissertation and defense, seminar, and, for the PhD candidate, a research proposal. To earn a PhD, this process typically takes four to five years.

All applicants must submit Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores. Submission of advanced chemistry GRE test scores is recommended. International applicants must also submit TOEFL or IELTS scores. The minimum acceptable TOEFL score for the Department of Chemistry is 100 with a minimum of 22 in each category. The minimum IELTS score for the Department of Chemistry is a 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each section.


Financial Assistance

All full-time doctoral students in good academic standing receive complete financial support in the form of teaching assistantships, research assistantships or competitive departmental or university fellowships. This support is available throughout a student’s graduate career, including summer sessions. High quality UPMC health care coverage is provided with all assistantships and fellowships.

Requirements for the Master’s Degree

Four to six terms of full-time graduate work is generally required to obtain a MS degree in chemistry (a minimum of 30 credits). Special arrangements can be made for individuals who wish to pursue a MS degree as part time students. Each MS student must take a minimum of 12 credits of 2000- or 3000-level chemistry courses. These must include 2 three-credit core courses (CHEM 2110, 2120, 2210, 2220, 2230, 2310, 2320, 2430, 2440, 2810, 2820); the remaining courses can either be in the student’s area of specialization or in other chemistry division areas. Students electing to present a non-research thesis must take one laboratory course (CHEM 1250, 1430, 1440, or 1600) for credit, in addition to the preceding requirements. Each student must also demonstrate proficiency in physical chemistry by achieving 65% or higher score on physical chemistry appraisal exam, or earn a grade of B or better in CHEM 1410 and 1420 (or equivalent) or earn a B or better grade in either CHEM 2430 or 2440.

Comprehensive Examination: The student must earn a B or higher in all required chemistry courses and must maintain an overall QPA of 3.0 or higher to be in good standing.  The comprehensive examination consists of an examination of the student’s record in the required core courses and the additional 2000- or 3000-level courses.

Thesis: The thesis for the MS must represent an original research project or a comprehensive and detailed survey of a research topic of current interest in chemistry. It must be defended in an oral examination.

Requirements for the PhD

PhD candidates are required to earn 72 graduate credits that include 12 credits of core courses (CHEM 2110, 2120, 2210, 2220, 2230, 2310, 2320, 2430, 2440, 2810, 2820). In consultation with their research advisor or GSAC, students may take additional courses after they complete the required core selections.  Candidates are required to participate in teaching activities, for at least one or two terms, during their doctoral program.

PhD Preliminary Evaluation: Satisfactory completion of the preliminary exam requires the student to achieve a grade point average of at least 3.00 in 12 credits of core courses selected from two or three of the five chemistry divisions.  If the student receives grades below B in two or more core courses, regardless of the overall GPA, that student will have failed the Ph.D. preliminary evaluation and will not be permitted to remain in the Ph.D. program.

Comprehensive Examination: The comprehensive examination provides the candidate an opportunity to demonstrate their potential for independent research and scholarship.  The student submits a research report on their own work to committee members; the oral exam is a discussion of the student’s research to date.  The student must be prepared to answer questions related to the theoretical and practical aspects of the research problem. The student is also expected to show a command of graduate course work related to the field of the student’s research. The department’s comprehensive examination satisfies the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences requirements for an overview examination. Upon satisfactory completion of the Comprehensive Exam, with approval by the department chair and the assistant dean of graduate studies, the student is formally admitted to candidacy for the PhD program.

Seminar: Each student in the doctoral program is required to present at least one seminar, open to the department. The seminar may be given at any time during the student’s career and on any topic approved by the student’s major advisor, including the results of doctoral research.

Proposal: When substantial progress has been made by the student on the dissertation problem a proposal for an original research problem is to be written, presented and successfully defended before the student’s faculty proposal committee. The topic of this proposal should differ from that of the student's dissertation problem. The proposal is an important opportunity for the student to display scientific maturity in terms of originality and critical thinking.

Dissertation and Final Examination: The PhD dissertation is a report of scientific investigation completed under the supervision of the student’s faculty mentor/research advisor. It must represent an original contribution to knowledge and must relate what is found to what was known before. The candidate must defend his/her dissertation in an oral examination before a doctoral committee consisting of the major advisor, at least two additional departmental graduate faculty members, and one graduate faculty member from another department within the University. With prior approval, a qualified faculty member from another institution may also be appointed. The final examination is open to all members of the University community.

Course Listing


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