PhD in Chemistry

Binghamton University's graduate program in chemistry offers the Master of Arts (MA), Master of Science (MS) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degrees in chemistry for students who are innovative, competitive and highly motivated in the traditional areas of analytical, inorganic, organic and physical chemistry, as well as other relevant interdisciplinary subjects.

By the end of the first year, each student is paired with a faculty advisor based on research interests and availability. Our department advisors provide guidance for students throughout their academic career, from course selection to research development.

Our students are regularly recognized for exceptional academic achievement and research efforts through various awards and scholarships. Other funding opportunities such as teaching assistantships, research assistantships, and stipends are also available.

Doctor of Philosophy

The PhD is awarded primarily for an original investigation which results in a significant advance in knowledge within an area of chemistry. A firm grasp of the fundamental principles, experimental techniques and current theories of chemistry is also required, and an extensive series of courses and seminars helps keep the student abreast of the latest developments in many fields. Students must demonstrate a breadth of understanding over the many areas of chemistry, a perspective of the relation of chemistry to other fields and expertise in the area chosen for dissertation research. We expect most students to complete their PhD programs in four years.

Proficiency in a specialized area is established by cumulative examinations (commonly referred to as "cums"), offered 10 times a year in any of the following areas: analytical, inorganic, organic, or physical chemistry. Students are required to pass three out of eight of these exams in their major fields. The examinations may cover virtually any subject within the defined area, and provide the graduate curriculum committee with an assessment of the student's growth as a chemist. These exams begin no later than the second year of residence.

A student may, together with his or her faculty adviser, prepare a proposal, with justification, for an alternative comprehensive examination, and submit the proposal to the graduate curriculum committee for its approval. If approved, the research adviser and the student nominate a guidance committee of at least five faculty members, including at least one tenured chemistry faculty member who is not the dissertation research adviser, with a nominated chairman who is not the dissertation research adviser. After approval by the graduate curriculum committee, the guidance committee becomes responsible for administering a comprehensive examination of the approved format, and for monitoring the student's progress toward the degree.

On completion of the "cums," each student takes an oral examination before a thesis committee, which uses this examination to determine whether the student has developed to the point where independent research can be appropriately carried out. Satisfactory completion of this examination is the final hurdle before completion of research and the presentation of a thesis.

The most important and time-consuming component of the PhD program is, of course, the research. Each student is required to complete a significant piece of scientific inquiry, write a thesis describing the work and the conclusions to be drawn from that work, and then defend the worked before a committee of chemistry and non-chemistry faculty.

Biological Chemistry and Biochemistry Track

The graduate program in biological chemistry and biochemistry is a program for students wishing to specialize in the chemistry of biological systems. Students entering this program take a biochemistry placement examination in lieu of an organic, inorganic or analytical placement examination. In addition, a separate set of cumulative examinations is given, and students may count an additional course outside the department toward the minimum six to eight courses necessary for the PhD degree.

Materials Chemistry Track

An interdisciplinary graduate program in materials chemistry has been approved by the faculty. Students may take a material and solid-state placement examination in lieu of the organic and analytical placement examinations. Relevant cumulative examinations are given, and courses outside the department are required for the minimum courses necessary for the MS and PhD degrees.

After You Graduate

PhD graduates have received appointments at Harvard Medical School, Cornell University and fellowships at institutions such as the National Institutes of Health, Atotech USA Inc. and Warner Babcock Institute for Green Chemistry.

Admission Information for Graduate Study in Chemistry

The graduate program in chemistry considers students on a rolling basis throughout the year. Both September and January admission is possible. Admission to the graduate program is based on transcripts, letters of recommendation and GRE scores. The subject test in chemistry is also requested. Special considerations are also taken into account.

Language and GRE requirements

International students, whose native language is not English, are also required to submit their TOEFL score; applications with a TOEFL under 80 (internet-based test) will not be considered. You are encouraged to apply online at the Graduate School.

The admission of international students is highly competitive. To be competitive you will need a TOEFL score of at least 90 (internet-based test), and a combined verbal and quantitative GRE score of over 1200 (old system) or 310 (new system effective Nov. 2011). A high score on the subject test will also help.

Where to apply

All applicants should apply online through the Graduate School website.

Class Profile

GRE Quantitative: 65%

GPA: 3.3

International / Non-Citizen Enrollment: 64%

*Score(s) represent the AVERAGE for the recently admitted class; scoring lower does not result in automatic rejection and scoring higher does not guarantee acceptance.


Fall: February 1

Spring: Rolling

Program taught in:

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This course is Campus based
Start Date
Sept. 2019
4 years
12,921 USD
(Resident); $24,261 (Non-Resident)
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