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Requirements for MS and PhD Degrees

This page presents a summary of the requirements. Requirements vary with the area of concentration; for detailed descriptions, see

The Biochemistry, Environmental Chemistry, and Polymer Chemistry options each have a core sequence of courses that are required for all graduate students in that option. All graduate students must present a department seminar (FCH 997) plus a capstone seminar; the capstone seminar is usually given on the day of the thesis or dissertation defense.

General Requirements

Steering committee and program of study: By the end of their first year of study, all graduate students must formally identify the two faculty who, in addition to their major professor, will provide guidance for their graduate school career. These two faculty and the major professor constitute the steering committee. These faculty must approve the student's program of study: the list of courses the student will take for their degree. This approval must also occur by the end of the first year. Forms are available online at students' MyESF page.

Communication Skills

All students entering graduate programs at ESF are expected to be proficient in communication skills, including technical writing and library skills. Chemistry graduate students can meet the requirement by demonstrating the equivalent in experience in writing and library skills, as determined by the Steering Committee.

MS Program Requirements

M.S. students are required to take at least 18 credits of coursework or non-thesis research; some options require additional credits. While a certain number of research credits are required, successful completion of an M.S. thesis project is determined by effort and effectiveness, not by credits.

PhD Program Requirements

Ph.D. students are required to take at least 30 credits of coursework or non-dissertation research; some options require additional credits. While a certain number of research credits are required, successful completion of a Ph.D. dissertation project is determined by effort and effectiveness, not by credits.

The candidacy exam at ESF has three formats, but Chemistry usually uses format 2 (research report) or format 3 (the thesis proposal). After authoring the document, students defend it orally in front of their steering committee and one or two examiners.


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