Exams

As part of the requirement for a PhD degree, MIT requires a General Examination, which includes both an oral and written part. No other general written examinations are required. In particular, no qualifying (or entrance) examinations are given. Fulfillment of the written exam requirement varies by research area and are summarized below.  In all research areas the Oral Examination for the PhD in Chemistry must be passed by the end of the fourth semester of graduate study.

The Written Examination

Biological Chemistry

  • The written requirement will be satisfied by a written report submitted prior to the second-year oral exam.
  • Discipliary knowledge will be assessed in the second year oral exam. If necessary, the exam may be extended to 90 minutes to allow for these additional questions.
  • A list of fundamental topics that students should be prepared to discuss will be provided before the second year exam.
  • Required coursework: At least one "fundamental course” (chosen from 5.52, 5.54, 5.08 or others depending on background) will be required.


Inorganic Chemistry

  • The written requirement will be satisfied by a written report submitted prior to the second-year oral exam.
  • Disciplinary knowledge will be assessed in the second year oral exam.
  • Required coursework: Students are strongly advised to take the inorganic course sequence (5.04/5.05/5.061/5.062/5.068) to ensure a firm grasp of the relevant material.


Organic Chemistry

  • The written requirement will be satisfied by a written report submitted prior to the second-year oral exam.
  • Disciplinary knowledge will be assessed in the second year oral exam, which will be extended to 90 minutes in length if necessary.
  • Required coursework: Students will be required to complete 5.47 (tutorial) and pass 5.53.


Physical Chemistry

  • The written requirement will be satisfied by a single comprehensive exam offered at the end of the first year.
  • General knowledge in undergraduate-level physical chemistry (5.60/5.61/5.62) will be assessed by the comprehensive exam.
  • A set of problems covering all relevant material will be provided well in advance of the comprehensive exam. The exam problems will be selected from this set of problems.


     

The Oral Examination

The oral part of the General Examination for the PhD in Chemistry must be passed by the end of the fourth semester of graduate study. Students who have not satisfied the oral examination requirement by the beginning of their third year will be denied further registration as a graduate student in the department. This component of the general exam, required by MIT for all PhD candidates, focuses on general knowledge in the degree field of study. Students should consult the appropriate Graduate Registration Officer for information on the specific format and scheduling of the oral examination in their research area as there are differences in timing and format for the exam in each area of chemistry. More information is also available in the Guide for Graduate Students (certificates are required for access).