Course Requirements

Admission to Candidacy Requirements

After completing the appropriate core courses and at least three elective courses, each student delivers and defends an oral presentation that addresses research completed or in progress, plus proposed research for completion of the dissertation. The presentation/defense is delivered to the student’s dissertation committee. The student is questioned by the committee about his/her research, plus material from any relevant graduate level courses the student has completed. Students who fail the exam on the first attempt will be provided a second opportunity to pass it, and will be advised by the committee on how to better prepare for the second attempt. Students who do not pass on the second attempt will be offered the option of obtaining a Master’s degree in an appropriate discipline (depending on which electives the student has completed) but will not be allowed to continue on to the Ph.D. degree. Under normal circumstances, students are expected to pass the qualifying exam prior to the sixth semester in residence.

Degree Requirements and Course Descriptions

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Cumulative Exams

Students must pass six exams (four if done during the first year) covering announced topics in nanoscale science. The exams require knowledge of basic principles of nanoscale science and current literature and will be administered monthly. Each student is expected to take the cumulative exam each time it is offered until (s)he passes the required number of exams.

General Science Proficiency Exam (GSPE)

The purpose of the GSPE is to ensure that students possess a working knowledge of material needed to master concepts in nanoscale science. The exam will cover introductory material in chemistry, physics and mathematics (including calculus). The web page for the Ph.D. in Nanoscale Science contains detailed information about the exam, including a list of topics to be covered and sample questions, to assist students in preparing for the exam. The exam will be administered three times per year, in August, January and May. Students are expected to take the GSPE each time it is offered until they pass it. Each student will discuss his/her performance on the GSPE with the Program Director regardless of whether (s)he passes the exam. The Program Director will indicate to the student any material he/she should study in greater detail and which faculty member the student should consult if he/she requires assistance in learning specific material. Students who do not pass the GSPE by the end of their first year enrolled in the program will be terminated from the program.


Students will be assigned to an advisor upon enrolling in the Program and will work closely with that advisor on suggested schedules of classes, research options, and other issues important to success. Upon selecting a research advisor, students will form a dissertation committee, and will then consult with the research advisor/dissertation committee on program matters.

Grades Required

Graduate students must have a GPA of 3.2 or higher to graduate from the program. Two grades of C or one grade of U will result in termination from the program.

Transfer Credit

Students who have taken graduate coursework but have not earned a graduate degree may transfer up to six semester hours of coursework. Students who have earned a Master’s degree may transfer up to 30 semester hours.

Language Requirement

There is no foreign language requirement.

Application for Degree

Students must apply for the degree when they are close to completing the program. After successful defense of the dissertation, a student will be conferred with the doctoral degree.

Residency Requirement

Students must satisfy the residency requirement for the program by completing 21 hours of continuous enrollment, such as coursework or dissertation credits. Residence is considered continuous if the student is enrolled in one or more courses in successive semesters until 21 hours are earned.

Time Limits for Completion

The student must achieve admission to candidacy within six years after admission to the program. All requirements for the degree must be completed within eight years after first registration as a doctoral student. These time limits are maximums; full-time students will typically be expected to complete the degree requirements within 4-5 years.