Organic Chemistry Ph.D. Requirements


Last updated 09/27/2016

Core coursework 

  1. The core courses for the organic chemistry path follow:

    • Chem 641: Physical Organic Chemistry (fall of 1st year)
    • Chem 841: Synthetic Organic Chemistry (spring of 1st year)
    • Chem 607: Laboratory Safety (spring of 1st year)
  2. Recommended courses

    • Chem 843: Mechanism in Organic Chemistry (fall of 1st year)
    • Chem 605: Structure Determination using Spectroscopic Methods 
    • Chem 636: Introduction to NMR Theory and Practice (1st year)
  3. Minor requirements set by UW-Madison must also be satisfied.

Joining a research group

  1. Attend research overviews from chemistry department faculty (first few weeks of 1st year).
  2. Meet with at least five professors to gain additional information about their research. 
  3. Carry out three rotations.
  4. No one can join a research group before the November selection period.

Thesis preliminary exam (Year 2)

  1. Written component (learn more about the organic chemistry path preliminary research report format) is due Jan. 31 of the second year.
  2. Oral Exam: A short presentation (20 minutes) followed by a question-and-answer session with the committee. This exam must be completed by April 30 of the second year.
The written summary and oral presentation should outline the background, aims, preliminary results
and planned experiments of the research that will be pursued. A committee of at least three faculty 
members including the research advisor will evaluate the candidate. Students that do not pass this 
exam the first time, must complete the requirement satisfactorily by August 31 of the 2nd year.

Original research proposal (Year 3)

  1. One-page summary providing the context for the scientific problem and the specific aims of the research is due two Mondays before Thanksgiving. The organic faculty will evaluate these summaries for approval (or required resubmission).
  2. When your specific aims (Summary) have been accepted, you must provide a complete written proposal, which is due the Monday of exam week. (RP Guidelines)
  3. Oral defense (45 minutes) with a panel of faculty (typically five) during the first weeks of January. Students who do not pass this requirement in the fall semester will have a second opportunity in the spring semester. Timelines for spring: deadline for the summary of three Mondays prior to the last week of classes; final due date for the written proposal on the Monday of the last week of classes.

Research seminar (Year 4)

Each fourth-year student presents a 20- to 25-minute formal talk on their research during a symposium held the week after exams (spring semester). 

Thesis defense

Your written thesis must be submitted to your committee at least one week prior to your defense date. 
Students who have not set a date for their dissertation defense by the end of their fifth year will meet 
with their mentoring committee members at least once annually until completion of the degree.