Other Requirements

The graduate degree program in Chemical Physics has several options:

  1. Terminal M.S. degree
  2. M.S. degree followed by Ph.D.
  3. Ph.D. degree, not preceded by the M.S. degree

The choice among these programs will be determined on the basis of the student's academic record and his/her performance on the Integrated Oral Examination (IOE) as described below.

Integrated Oral Examination

The IOE is given on an individual basis, but will normally be taken at the end of spring semester or the beginning of the summer term of the student's first year. At this point, the student should have completed most of the cour se requirements listed above. The IOE shall be administered by 3 Chemical Physics faculty members appointed by the Graduate Studies Chairperson and will test the depth and integra tion of understanding of the student's knowledge in the core Chemical Physics areas as indicated above and in selected other areas of the student's specialization. The examination shall be oral. In the case of an overall ambiguous performance, the committee can require a second, written examination.

General Examination

The examination for admission to Ph. D. candidacy, consisting of a written and an oral portion, is also given on an individual basis. The written portion is in the form of a summary of the student’s research accomplishments and a research proposition describing the student’s thesis research problem. The topic for the research proposition should be developed by the student, in consultation with his or her advisor.

For students permitted to proceed directly toward the Ph.D. (on the basis of the IOE and coursework evaluation), the selection and approval of the proposal topic should be completed not later than the spring semester of the second year; for students taking the M.S. first, it is to be done within the semester following completion of the M.S. degree.

Written Portion

The written portion of the general examination will consist of a well-documented research proposal that include s a summary of the candidate’s research progress to date, along with a proposal for the student’s thesis research problem. The proposal should also include a critical review of the subject matter, which is pertinent to his or her proposed thesis research problem. The student is expected to use this opportunity to demonstrate a thorough understanding of the project and its relationship to other areas of Chemical Physics. This document normally shall consis t of roughly 15 and not more than about 20 typewritten, double-spaced pages not including references, figures, tables, etc. The document should consist of:

  • A title page
  • A brief (up to one page) abstract/summary that clearly outlines the student’s accomplishments to date and lists specific research aims
  • The body of the text, which should include:
    • An introduction and background that places the work in the broader scope of what has been done.
    • A description of the candidate’s research progress to date
    • Proposed future research direction

      The last part should include at least one aim that is original to the student.

The student's advisor will be responsible for initiating and coordinating the written examination. The student and advisor should discuss the general outline of the written portion of the general exam including the proposed future research. The advisor will submit the approved topic of the proposal and the abstract to the Graduate Committee Chairperson, who will approve an evaluation committee of four faculty members. The committee will include the advisor plus three other members of the graduate faculty. At least two of the committee members besides the advisors will be Chemical Physics faculty, with one each from the Physics and Chemistry and Biochemistry departments. The remaining committee member will usually be from the Chemical Physics program, but optionally may be outside the program if they bring relevant expertise to the committee. The student will then have six weeks to prepare and submit his proposal to the committee. During this time, the student will be expected to work independently on the proposal using all resources of the University including faculty and graduate students. Each member of the evaluation committee (except the advisor) will submit a written critique of the proposal to the student (and send a copy to the advisor) within two weeks after receiving the proposal. The student will then be given an opportunity to modify his proposal and return it to the committee, as required. If the proposal is basically satisfactory, requiring modest revision, the student will be allowed two weeks following its receipt for preparation of the revised proposal; for major revision, three weeks will be allowed. Presentation of a final proposal, which is judged satisfactory by the examining committee, will constitute passage of the written portion of the examination.

Oral Portion

After the written portion of the general exam has been approved, the oral portion of the examination should be scheduled by the student and his or her advisor through the Graduate School. The Graduate School form (gradforms.osu.edu) must be completed and submitted online to the Graduate School at least 2 weeks prior to the oral exam. The committee should include the three faculty members (in addition to the advisor) who evaluated the written exam. The content of the oral examination will be directed toward the proposal itself, the actual research program planned or in progress by the student, and general chemical physics questions. Since most of the more general background material will be available in the written proposal, the student should plan to present a brief, informal (approximately 5 minutes) summary of the proposal and then be prepared to answer questions from the committee related to the proposal, to his own research program, and to chemical physics more generally. Satisfactor y performance will result in admission to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree. Failure will result in a second attempt not later than the second semester following. [NOTE: the Grad School is not providing the outside reader but they are still requiring 4 grad faculty members for the oral exam]


The principal requirement for the Ph.D. degree is the accomplishment of independent research. Details concerning the Ph.D. dissertation and its oral defense are given in the Graduate School Handbook.

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