2018-2019 Graduate Catalog 
    
    Dec 14, 2019  
2018-2019 Graduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Chemistry (Ph.D.)


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Program Coordinator/Contact

Douglas Raynie, Department Head
Jihong Cole-Dai, Graduate Program Coordinator
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Avera Health and Science Center 131, Box 2202
605-688-5151

Program Information

The Department’s chemistry faculty research programs fall into the thematic focus areas of environmental chemistry, green chemistry, chemical sensor development, organic synthesis, materials chemistry, natural products chemistry, and chemical education. Within these multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary focus areas, students can select research projects that involve the traditional subdisciplines of chemistry; analytical, biochemistry, inorganic, organic and physical. Currently active research projects in the Department focus on various aspects of analytical chemistry, drug discover and delivery, synthesis or photoactive materials including polymers, materials chemistry and self assembly, chromatography, the chemistry of cell membranes, environmental analysis, green chemistry, chemistry of climate change, photophysical chemistry, natural products synthesis, biophysical chemistry, computational chemistry, and solid-state NMR. For additional information about these options review the descriptions of current faculty research interests on the Department website.

Research Instrumentation

The Department is equipped with modern instrumentation core facilities to support its research program. These facilities are readily available to graduate students for “hands-on” experience after successfully completing a short training course.

  • NMR core facility includes 600, 400, and 200 MHz solution FT-NMR spectrometers and 400, 300, 100 MHz wide-bore solid-state NMR spectrometers
  • Core campus mass spectrometry facility consists of a 7T ESI FTMS; a high-resolution magnetic sector mass spectrometer with EI and CI sources and GC, HPLC, pyrolysis and fast-atom bombardment capabilities, a MALDI-TOF mass spectrometer; a Eksigent/Thermo LTQ ESI LC-MS/SM dedicated to “bottom-up” proteomics studies; an Applied Biosystems SCIEX QTRAP ESI LC-MS/MS dedicated to small molecule and metablomics characterizations; and a Varian GCMS.
  • Core campus proteomics facility has all the necessary equipment to prepare samples for mass-spectrometry-based proteomics characterizations.
  • Optical Spectroscopy lab containing 2 FT-IR spectrometer with far-IR capabilities; time-resolved spectrofluorometer; atomic absorption; and diode-array UV-Vis spectrophotometers.
  • The Department is home to multiple state of the art fluorescence microscopes for the analysis of biochemical reactions involving purified molecules and within living cells.  These instruments including spinning disk confocal microscopy, total internal reflection fluorescence (TIRF) microscopy, targeted photo-bleaching, instrumentation of for ensemble and single-molecule fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) experiments and fluorescence correlation spectroscopy, and optogenetics capabilities.  The department also houses cell/tissue culture facilities, large- and small-scale protein purification equipment and biophysical characterization capabilities including isothermal titration calorimetry. Campus computer facilities (including a Beowulf supercomputer cluster) are readily available.  Individual groups maintain their own system for molecular modeling, word processing or data manipulation.  Direct, on-line computer access to chemical and biochemical literature databases such as Chemical Abstracts and Web of Science are provided by the Department.
  • In addition to these departmental resources, individual research groups also maintained instrumentation including supercritical fluid chromatography and extraction, thermal analysis, and laser light scattering. Campus super-computer facilities and on-line computer access to Web of Science, Chemical Abstracts Services and other on-line information sources are readily available.

Course Delivery Format

Courses offered in the Ph.D. Chemistry curriculum are taught in a variety of formats which address student learning outcomes. Didactic (lecture) methods ensure the development of advanced knowledge of chemistry. Practical (laboratory) methods ensure the development and maturation of laboratory skills and training and these opportunities are developed in the research laboratory. A combination of didactic and practical methods ensures the successful completion of the graduate dissertation research project.

Facilities and Services

The Department is housed in the newly constructed Avera Health and Science Center, which provides 100,000 sq. ft. of research and instructional space.

Available Options for Graduate Degrees


Doctor of Philosophy 60 Credit Plan
  90 Credit Plan

Core Requirements


60 Credit Plan


90 Credit Plan


Students are required to complete 21 credits of course work that includes 12 credits of core coursework and 9 credits specific to the research project.  Additionally, students must complete 3 credit hours of seminar. The remaining credits in the 90 credit plan of study are dissertation research. Students must develop their program of study in consultation with their graduate research advisor and graduate advisory committee during the first semester in residence.

Candidacy Examinations


The Department uses a cumulative examination process as its written candidacy (comprehensive) examination for the doctorate in Chemistry. Exams will be scored on a scale of 0-1-2 where 0 represents inadequate knowledge of the material (corresponding to a failing grade), 1 represents adequate knowledge (corresponding to a grade of B or C), and 2 represents superior knowledge (corresponding to a grade of A or B). Successful completion of the cumulative examination process will require that the student accumulate 10 points, with at least three scores of 2 within the sub-discipline of their graduate research and accumulation of points in at least two additional chemistry sub-disciplines. These exams must be passed over a period of two calendar years (24 possible tests). The oral candidacy (comprehensive) exam takes place within a year of completion of the cumulative exams. For the oral examination, students are required to develop and write an original research proposal and defend it orally. In order to successfully defend such a proposal the student must be able to integrate their coursework into the proposed research, and the oral defense reflects that expectation. 

Additional Admission Requirements


GRE: General and subject score are recommended but not required
TOEFL: Score of 580 paper-based, 92-93 Internet-based
IELTS: 5.5

Applications are accepted for admission to the Ph.D. program in fall only.  Students are strongly encouraged to submit their applications for admission no later than January 15.  Initial offers of admission will be made no later than the first week of February.

In addition to the materials required by the Graduate School, the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry requires the following application materials:

  • A one- to two-page personal statement which includes a description of undergraduate research, work experience, or other factors demonstrating a propensity toward graduate studies. The personal statement should also include a statement of the applicant’s career goals. The applicant may upload this statement while completing the Graduate School’s online application.
  • Three letters of recommendation, preferably at least one from faculty at the applicant’s undergraduate institution. Letters should come from faculty who are directly familiar with the applicant’s academic work. They must address the applicant’s scholarly potential and may also speak to the applicant’s potential for graduate studies in the discipline. Letters should come directly from the recommenders, who may submit their letters electronically along with the personal recommendation form provided by the Graduate School. The Graduate School will email recommenders detailed instructions for submitting their recommendations using the contact information provided by the applicant.

General Requirements


Graduate students must consult with their advisor before registering for graduate work.

For additional information refer to the Doctor of Philosophy Degree Requirements .

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