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    Western Michigan University
  Jul 24, 2017
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Graduate Catalog 2012-13 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Doctor of Philosophy in Chemistry

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The Doctor of Philosophy in Chemistry, with emphasis in environmental chemistry, is a research degree designed for persons intending to take a leadership role in teaching and/or research in applied areas of environmental chemistry. The program takes an innovative approach, using the skills and expertise provided by the traditional areas of chemical study as the foundation for addressing chemical processes occurring in the atmosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, and lithosphere. The program is designed to offer flexibility so that a full-time student may complete the degree in four years and a nontraditional student may be accommodated around full-time employment. The educational goals of the program stress a well-rounded expertise in chemistry, as well as a literate acquaintance with another environmentally related discipline such as biological science, hydrogeology, or paper science. These educational goals provide scientific breadth not often found in traditional chemistry degrees. Combining formal education with a research endeavor encompassing a chemical discipline will provide students with the high quality education necessary to contribute to the resolution of the expected and unexpected environmental issues of the future.


Admission Requirements

Applicants to the program will be expected to meet the entrance requirements of the Graduate College and hold a bachelor’s degree in chemistry or an equivalent amount of experience or training. Application must be made both to the Office of Graduate Admissions and to the Department of Chemistry. Prospective students are required to take the Graduate Record Examination General Test and the Chemistry or Biochemistry Subject Test. Three letters of recommendation from academic or professional sources should accompany the application. Application material, including grade point average, transcripts, performance on GRE’s, and letters of recommendation will all be used in the determination of admission and financial support.

Program Requirements

  1. After admission, the student will be required to take standardized placement examinations covering any four of the fields of Analytical, Inorganic, Organic, Physical, or Biochemistry. The entrance examinations are scheduled during the week preceding each semester. Identified deficiencies, if any, will be remedied with appropriate course work determined by an academic advisor. Enrollment in a 6000-level Chemistry course is not permitted unless the appropriate entrance requirement has been satisfied.
  2. Within the first academic year, students will select a research advisor and a major area of study. Selection of the research advisor will be by mutual consent of the faculty member and student. Selection of the student’s major area of study will be determined in conjunction with the research advisor. Major areas of study currently include analytical chemistry, biochemistry, inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, and physical chemistry. Shortly after selecting a research advisor, a dissertation committee should be established. The committee should be comprised of the advisor serving as chair and at least two other faculty from the department and one member from outside the department. No more than two of the departmental committee members should be from the student’s major area of study. Emeritus faculty may serve on the committee. Removal of a committee member will require mutual consent of the student and the dissertation committee or a majority vote of the department faculty.
  3. The student will complete at least sixty (60) semester hours of credit for the degree, with no more than half the credits as course work. A minimum of nine (9) formal courses, plus Graduate Seminar, must be completed satisfactorily. Fifteen (15) hours of doctoral dissertation research are required. The remaining hours will be completed through a combination of coop/internship experiences and/or special research problems and investigations in chemistry. The coop/internship option should be especially attractive to individuals who are considering an industrial career or who are already employed by industry and wish to set up a new scientific initiative. The student must maintain an overall grade point average of 3.0/4.00 to meet graduation requirements. The following describes the distribution of credit hours for the degree.
    • Seven (7) graduate-level Chemistry courses (21 hours) 
      -  at least two (2) must have environmental, biotechnology, nanotechnology or other applied focus
      -  at least two (2) must emphasize the student’s major field 
      -  appropriate courses from departments other than Chemistry may be substituted with approval of the student’s Committee
    • One (1) Cognate course from outside the department (3 hours)
    • Other 
      -  CHEM 6010 - Graduate Seminar  Credit: 1 hour 
      -  CHEM 5070 - Ethical Chemical Practice   Credit: 3 hours
    • Special research problems or coop/internships (17 hours)
    • Doctoral dissertation (15 hrs.)
  4. Beginning in the first year and concurrent with course work, the student will be required to take cumulative examinations (CUMEs) that cover all of the major areas of study in chemistry. The purpose of the cumulative examination is to ensure that the student has, and can demonstrate and apply, knowledge of current, advanced chemical principles. The following describes the cumulative examination process.
    1. Each academic year, eight (8) CUMEs will be offered. On each examination there will be topic questions from three of the five major areas of study: analytical chemistry, biochemistry, inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, and physical chemistry. The student will choose one (1) or more topics to answer.
    2. The student must pass six (6) CUME topics within the first two years of the program to remain in good standing. The student must pass at least two (2) CUME topics by the end of the first year. At least two (2) of the six (6) questions passed must be from an area outside the student’s concentration. The student must satisfy the cumulative examination requirement before standing for the research proposal defense.
  5. Within the first two years, the student will be required to present a critique seminar on a paper or papers from the current literature. Upon successful completion of the seminar, a passing grade will be received for CHEM 6010. Regular attendance at departmental seminars and participation in graduate seminar training is expected while the student is in residence..
  6. The student, after successful completion of no less than four (4) CUME questions, will be required to defend a written proposal for a unique research topic. The proposal topic must be unrelated to the student’s current dissertation research project and must be approved by the student’s dissertation committee.
  7. To be considered a candidate for the degree and to ensure a timely completion of the program, a full-time student should have completed the following by the end of the third year:
    1. Any deficiencies identified by the entrance examinations.
    2. At least five (5) of the seven (7) required chemistry courses with a minimum course grade point average of 3.0.
    3. Six (6) cumulative examination questions.
    4. The proposal defense.
  8. The program is designed to allow the flexibility of tailoring the curriculum to the needs of the student. Thus, the research tools requirement includes professional tools that facilitate successful academic, government, or industrial careers. Where necessary, satisfaction of the research tools requirement, including approval of appropriate courses, shall be determined by the dissertation committee. The committee can be petitioned regarding significant experience or expertise in these areas, which generally implies the use of a research tool in the context of current or prior employment or internships. The research tools component shall be met when a student satisfactorily accomplishes two of the following tasks:
    1. Demonstrates competence in computer programming and use by receiving a grade of “B” or better in an approved elective computer science course, or by sufficient previous course work, or by applying programming to a research problem. Such application could be through design and use of a program subroutine to analyze data acquired from a scientific instrument, computer modeling and simulation, design and analysis of algorithms or database management.
    2. Achieves a working knowledge of statistics by receiving a grade of “B” or better in an approved elective statistics course or by showing the ability to apply advanced statistical analysis such as multivariate analysis to a scientific research problem.
    3. Shows proficiency in the design or manufacture of electronic circuits and devices by construction of an instrument used in a research project or by receiving a grade of “B” or better in an appropriate course.
    4. Masters the design, repair, and development of chemical instrumentation used as part of an upper-level course or in a research project.
    5. Demonstrates a reading knowledge of one of the foreign languages important in the chemical literature or chemical industry (French, German, Russian, Japanese) by receiving a grade of “B” or better in a 4010 course in one of the languages, by passing a standardized examination, or by successfully translating a technical article assigned by the department.
  9. The Ph.D. candidate must complete and successfully defend a dissertation on a research topic approved by the dissertation committee.

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