Students working with a professor and plants in a greenhouse chemistry lab.

Doctor of Philosophy


Program of Study


The doctoral program in chemistry requires a combination of coursework, research and teaching. In the first years of the program you will take letter-graded classes while conducting experimental lab research. Then go on to conduct undergraduate laboratory teaching for at least two semesters.

By year three, you are on track for PhD candidacy, which requires passage of written and oral examinations. There are written exams for all major areas of the PhD curriculum – organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, analytical chemistry, biochemistry and physical chemistry. The oral exam entails the defense of a research proposal that you will create in collaboration with your mentor.

The remainder of the program leads toward the dissertation defense. Your dissertation is an original research contribution that you will defend before a departmental committee.

Course Requirements (60 credits minimum)

A minimum of six 3-credit letter-graded graduate courses in chemistry as advised. Three courses are to be chosen from the following set of six core courses:

  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Physical Organic Chemistry I
  • Physical Organic Chemistry II
  • Advanced Physical Chemistry I
  • Advanced Physical Chemistry II
  • Theory and Techniques of Biophysics and Biophysical Chemistry


Qualifying (Cumulative) Examinations

You must pass two cumulative examinations within the first two years and a total of six cumulative examinations within the first three years.

Each of the four sectors: biochemistry, organic, inorganic, and physical will give a separate exam. Your subject of specialization is determined by your selection of cumulative examinations. A minimum of four examinations must be passed in your chosen major sector.


You must complete the proposition requirement before being admitted to candidacy. You will submit a written description of the research you intend to conduct for your dissertation to your doctoral subcommittee. This description should include highlighting the background, significance and planned approach that will be used to conduct this study. This written proposal will be defended in a formal presentation to the Committee before the end of the fifth semester of your graduate study.

Full Time Study in Residence

You are required to engage in full-time study beyond the master's degree or equivalent at the University in at least two sessions after admission to the advanced program. This requirement is designed to insure a sustained period of intensive intellectual growth. You will enroll in full-time study (12 credits) taken in each of two sessions, or in a regular session and a summer session, not necessarily consecutive.

Admission to Candidacy

You will be admitted to candidacy for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Chemistry upon the following:

  1. Satisfactory record in course and seminar study
  2. Satisfactory completion of the research tool requirement
  3. Completion of University residence requirements
  4. Satisfactory completion of the doctoral qualifying examination

PhD Dissertation

The final requirement is the completion of research, writing of a dissertation (thesis) on this work, and presentation of a thesis seminar.

The thesis seminar will be scheduled to take place within two weeks after the date of submission of the thesis to the doctoral committee. Following the public presentation the student and the doctoral committee meet to discuss necessary changes, if any, before the final copy is submitted.

Additional Information

See the Graduate Bulletin for details.

For more information, contact Dr. Alexander Shekhtman at [email protected] or 518-442-4163, or Brian A. Gabriel at [email protected] or 518-442-4648.



The Chemistry Department offers research specializations in subjects including forensic/analytical, biophysical/biochemical, organic/medicinal, inorganic/materials, and structural/computational. Undertaking extensive research in these areas will improve the quality of your dissertation and help you build a productive relationship with faculty members who will provide guidance and mentorship.

Two researchers working in a laboratory
Career Outcomes

You will be prepared to compete for positions in fields such as biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, agriculture, government and forensic science or explore postdoctoral training at research institutions.

Potential job titles for a PhD in Chemistry include:

  • Medicinal chemist
  • Analytical chemist
  • Organic chemist
  • Synthetic polymer chemist
  • Process development chemist
  • Professor of chemistry
  • Principal scientist
  • Associate scientist
  • Postdoctoral researcher


Two researchers working in a chemistry lab

International Students

This degree is designated as a STEM program. International students maintaining F-1 status are allowed to apply for up to 12 months of post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) following completion/graduation from their degree program. Currently, this degree program is also designated by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as an eligible degree for the F-1 STEM OPT work authorization extension; students who secure qualifying employment may be eligible to apply for the STEM OPT extension for a cumulative total of up to 36 months of F-1 OPT work authorization.

Admissions Requirements

Early Admission Consideration

  • Fall: December 15
  • Spring: November 1
  • Summer: Not Available

Departmental Assistantship Consideration

  • Fall: January 15
  • Spring: November 1
  • Summer: Not Available

 No Departmental Assistantship Consideration

  • Fall: August 1
  • Spring: November 1
  • Summer: Not Available
Required Application Materials
  • Transcripts from all schools attended
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Official GRE test scores* (GRE subject test recommended)
  • Statement of goals

*Waived through Fall 2024

The statement is generally one to two pages discussing what you have to offer the program and what you wish to get out of the program.  It should include a brief description of the applicant's field of interest, related background, desired area of study and research emphasis or career goals.

Student Learning Objectives

Learning objectives that UAlbany students are expected to attain through their course of study within their academic program.

  • Ability to independently conceive and resolve significant research problems. 
  • Development of advanced laboratory skills including familiarity with modern instrumentation and preparative techniques.
  • Preparation for employment or further advanced study at the post-doctoral level.
  • Rigorously thorough understanding of the underlying principles that explain chemical behavior.