May 30, 2024  
2013-2014 Catalog 
2013-2014 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Ph.D.

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Program Description
Contact: Professor Anne Myers Kelley,

Research in the Chemistry and Chemical Biology graduate group spans the traditional disciplines of chemistry and related interdisciplinary fields including chemical biology. Students in the group choose one of four emphasis areas: physical chemistry, organic chemistry, chemical biology, or computational chemistry. Students are educated and must demonstrate proficiency in a particular subdiscipline, but have the opportunity to pursue research that spans multiple fields of chemistry and other disciplines if they so desire. This approach provides our students with both the rigorous training and the broad perspectives needed to address present-day scientific and technological challenges. Most students are admitted to the Chemistry and Chemical Biology program to work toward a Ph.D. degree, but applications from students whose goal is a terminal M.S. degree will be considered in special cases.

The deadline for receipt of applications is January 15. Late applications are considered as space permits. Normally applications are accepted for Fall semester only. The minimum requirement admission to the Chemistry and Chemical Biology program is a bachelor’s degree in chemistry or a closely related field of science or engineering with a grade point average of at least 3.0. The GRE general test is required and the subject test in chemistry or a related field is recommended. Admission decisions are based on undergraduate grades, performance on the GRE, accomplishments in undergraduate research, and letters of recommendation. Students from non-English speaking countries must take the TOEFL exam and are normally interviewed by telephone in order to evaluate English proficiency.

During the first year in residence, students typically take courses and serve as TAs for undergraduate science courses. The heart of the Chemistry and Chemical Biology Ph.D. program is the completion of a piece of original scientific research leading to the preparation and defense of a Ph.D. dissertation. Students are encouraged to discuss research interests and possible Ph.D. projects with all of the faculty in the group as early as possible, and select a faculty research advisor (major professor) no later than the second semester of study. Research normally occupies a majority of the student’s time after the first year in residence.

The Chemistry and Chemical Biology group has established the following requirements for the Ph.D. degree:

  • Complete at least four semesters of full-time academic residence (12 units minimum) at UC Merced;
  • Complete a minimum of 48 semester units, at least 40 of which must be earned in 200 series graduate-level courses;
  • Complete the required courses for one of the three available emphasis tracks, with a letter grade of at least “B” in each course (“S” in seminar courses graded S/U);
  • Earn a passing grade in a course addressing scientific ethics, approved by the Educational Policy Committee;  
  • Serve as a teaching assistant for at least one semester;
  • Pass the preliminary examination;
  • Pass the oral Ph.D. qualifying examination;
  • Present an open technical seminar or research poster at least once each academic year in residence;
  • Present and successfully defend a doctoral dissertation containing an original contribution to knowledge in the field.

Program Learning Outcomes

Graduates of the Chemistry and Chemical Biology M.S. and Ph.D. program will:

  1. Possess the fundamental knowledge needed to understand and critically evaluate current research in their chosen subfield of chemistry.
  2. Communicate fundamental concepts in their field as well as their own research effectively, in both written and oral form.
  3. Conduct themselves ethically and responsibly in science-related professions.
  4. Be proficient in laboratory, theoretical, and/or computational techniques necessary to contribute to knowledge in their chosen subfield of chemistry (Ph.D. and thesis M.S. programs only).
  5. Identify new research opportunities, plan effective strategies for pursuing these opportunities, and conduct research that makes a new contribution to knowledge in their chosen subfield of chemistry (Ph.D. program only).


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