Major: Chemistry
Degree Awarded: Master of Science (MS) or Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Calendar Type: Quarter
Total Credit Hours: 45.0 (MS); 90.0 (PhD)
Co-op Option: None
Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) code: 40.0501
Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code: 19-2031

About the Program

The Department of Chemistry offers graduate programs in analytical chemistry, atmospheric chemistry, inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, materials chemistry, physical chemistry, educational chemistry, and polymer chemistry. The curriculum is designed to prepare students for the research and practical application of chemistry to challenges facing mankind. The department also encourages interdisciplinary activities. Faculty members are active participants in the environmental engineering and science and biomedical science and engineering programs; others work with physicists and biologists in areas such as atmospheric science, biochemistry, and biophysical chemistry.

The chemistry faculty wants graduate students to understand the purpose of, and need for, fundamental research while working on problems of practical interest and application to the challenges facing mankind in the modern world. Areas of research include the use of digital electronic methods to analyze trace constituents of air and water, a study of the molecules of living systems, the effects of toxic chemicals and carcinogens, synthesis and characterization of compounds of medicinal and industrial interest, methods for studying macromolecules, and characterization of transient species using lasers.

The Department of Chemistry strives to maintain a community of research scholars (faculty, postdoctoral fellows, and graduate and undergraduate students) that is large enough to provide a variety of experiences within chemistry, yet small enough to give each student individual attention. Both full- and part-time study are available.

Admission/Financial Assistance

Requirements for Admission

For admission to graduate study, the department requires a BS in chemistry or the equivalent. This requirement applies to full-time and part-time students working toward either the MS or PhD. Generally, in order to be considered for admission, a successful applicant should have taken two semester courses of Organic, Analytical and Physical Chemistry with corresponding laboratory courses. In addition, he/she should have taken an upper level Inorganic Chemistry course. All entering MS and PhD students are required to take a series of two-hour exams in analytical, inorganic, organic, and physical chemistry to help assess their preparation for graduate work in chemistry. The scores obtained on these exams are used as a basis for course selection.

Applicants for admission to PhD level graduate studies must submit Graduate Record Examination (GRE) results with their application. GRE scores are helpful to the Chemistry Department and the Office of Admissions, and are required for those students requesting financial support, i.e., a teaching assistantship (TA) and/or would like to be considered for a Dean's Scholarship or a Provost's Fellowship. Applicants for admission to MS level graduate studies are also encouraged to submit their GRE results with their application.

Financial Assistance

Graduate students at Drexel can obtain two main types of financial support: teaching assistantships and research assistantships. Teaching assistantships are available on a competitive basis to incoming students and are normally renewable for several years. All those requesting financial assistance must submit GRE scores.

Forms, details about requirements, and information about application deadlines are all available on the Chemistry page of Drexel's Graduate Admissions website.

Master of Science in Chemistry

Degree Requirements

The MS degree is awarded after satisfactory completion of a minimum of 45.0 credit hours in chemistry and related fields, at least 30.0 credits of which must be taken at Drexel. Both thesis and nonthesis options are available.

Course Requirements

The course requirements for both thesis and non-thesis options are one complete sequence in the major area of interest; one of the sequence courses from each of analytical, organic, polymer, and inorganic chemistry; and two courses in physical chemistry. The remaining credits may be chosen from graduate courses within the department or from other departments offering courses related to the student’s major areas.

Major Sequence9.0
Select one of the following sequences:
Inorganic Chemistry
Inorganic Chemistry I
Inorganic Chemistry II
Inorganic Chemistry III
Analytical Chemistry
Analytical Chemistry I
Analytical Chemistry II
Mass Spectrometry
Organic Chemistry
Organic Chemistry I
Organic Chemistry II
Organic Chemistry III
Physical Chemistry *
Physical Chemistry I
Physical Chemistry II
Quantum Chemistry Of Molecules I
Polymer Chemistry
Polymer Chemistry I
Polymer Chemistry II
Polymer Chemistry III
Additional Sequence Courses **15.0
Total Credits45.0

Thesis Option

Up to nine credits of CHEM 997 Graduate Research may be counted towards a master’s thesis. No later than the spring term of the first year of coursework, a student should choose a research advisor with whom to work in carrying out an original investigation in chemistry. The results will be written up in thesis form and submitted to an MS thesis committee consisting of the research advisor and two other departmental faculty appointed by the advisor. The acceptance by this committee of the MS thesis completes the thesis option requirements for the MS degree. Students in the MS program receiving financial aid from the department must elect the thesis option if they do not pursue the PhD program at Drexel.

PhD in Chemistry

Degree Requirements

The PhD degree is awarded in any of eight main areas of chemistry: analytical, atmospheric, inorganic, organic, materials, physical, educational or polymer chemistry. The degree recipient must demonstrate scholastic breadth in chemistry and contribute significantly to scientific advancement in a chosen major area. Requirements of the program include coursework, candidacy examinations, a chemical information retrieval or technical writing course, and successful completion of a publishable PhD thesis.

Course Requirements

Ninety credits of graduate-level work must be completed for the PhD degree. The Chemistry Department requires 30.0 credits of coursework in chemistry (outlined in the Course Requirements section of the MS program). The balance can be made up of advanced special topics courses and research credits.

Candidacy Requirements

To become a candidate for the PhD in chemistry at Drexel, a student must pass a prescribed set of cumulative examinations.

Cumulative Examinations

Written examinations designed to test a student’s background in his or her major area are given monthly during the academic year and occasionally during the summer at the discretion of the faculty. Students should begin taking these examinations after having completed three courses in the major area (usually the main sequence courses), though beginning these exams earlier is possible for well-prepared students. Students normally begin taking these examinations in the fall term of their second year.

Research Seminar

The thesis proposal seminar is designed to help the student conduct his/her research more efficiently by (i) promoting a greater fundamental understanding about the student's own specific research project and (ii) providing context and perspective about previous accomplishments in the field by other research groups as well as her/his own. The subject of the seminar will be a literature review and a description/defense of the student's research project including results of experiments and investigations already conducted as well as future work. The examination at which the thesis proposal is defended is held no later than the end of the winter term of the second year for full-time students or the end of the spring term of the second year for part-time students. A written report is submitted to the committee no later than two weeks before the examination. A passing grade on this examination is required for continuation in the PhD program.


A PhD thesis — the heart of the PhD degree — must be written, accepted by the research supervisor, presented to a PhD Thesis Examining Committee, and defended orally to the satisfaction of the Examining Committee. It is the responsibility of the student, not the research supervisor, to submit an acceptable thesis. It is expected that the student will have at least one peer-reviewed research article accepted for publication by the time of the thesis defense.


There are seven undergraduate teaching laboratories in the department: three freshman Chemistry Laboratories, two advanced Organic Chemistry Laboratories, a Physical Chemistry Laboratory, an Analytical Instrumentation Laboratory and a combined Analytical/Inorganic Chemistry Laboratory.

Mass Spectrometry Laboratory

A Waters Autospec M high resolution mass spectrometer, a Sciex API triple quadrupole mass spectrometer, and a Bruker Autoflex III MALDI Time-of-Flight mass spectrometer.
Magnetic Resonance Laboratory
Varian INNOVA 300 MHz superconducting FT-NMR spectrometer, Varian INNOVA 500 MHz superconducting FT-NMR spectrometer, and a Varian X-band 12" EPR spectrometer.

Analytical Instrumentation Laboratory

The open-access departmental Analytical Instrumentation Laboratory includes two Perkin-Elmer (PE) Spectrum One Fourier-transform infrared absorption spectrometers each with a universal diamond ATR accessory, a PE Lambda-35 UV/visible spectrometer, a PE Lambda-950 UV/visible/NIR spectrometer with a 60-mm-diameter diffuse reflectance integrating sphere, a PE model 343 polarimeter, a PE LS55B luminescence spectrometer, a PE Clarus 500 capillary-column GC with dual FID detectors, a BioAnalytical Systems Epsilon Electrochemistry System equipped with a rotating disk electrode, Clarus 500 capillary-column GC/MS system (with electron impact capability), a PE Series 200 Quaternary HPLC development system with UV/visible photodiode array detector, a PE Series 200 binary HPLC system interfaced to a Sciex 2000 triple quadrupole MS detector, a PE Series 2000 binary gel permeation chromatography system with refractive index detector, and  a Varian AA240FS flame atomic absorption spectrometer equipped with a GTA 120 graphite furnace accessory.

Atomic Force Microscopy

The department has a Veeco multimode Atomic force microscopy (AFM) for research and education. AFM, also called scanning force microscopy (SFM), is one of the foremost tools for imaging, measuring, and manipulating matter at the nanoscale. It is when a fine tip is scanned across a surface the tip-surface force is measured to provide topographic, frictional, and adhesion information of a surface. With the ability to perform non-invasive, high-resolution surface imaging and force measurement, AFM has become an essential characterization tool in multiple disciplines in life science, biomedical engineering, nanoengineering, chemistry, materials science, and other related fields. 

Other Departmental Facilities

The department has a VEECO INNOVA N3 Multimode scanning probe microscope and also maintains a computational chemistry laboratory equipped with nine Dell Optiplex 620 computers running Hyperchem v 8.0. Research laboratories for each of the department faculty members are located in Disque and Stratton Halls. Instrumentation available in the research laboratories is described on individual faculty web pages. Additional full-time support includes an instrument specialist (for NMR and MS), a glassblower (Chemistry Department), two electronics specialists (College of Arts & Sciences Electronics Shop), and four machinists (Drexel University Machine Shop).

Chemistry Faculty

Anthony W. Addison, PhD (University of Kent at Canterbury, England). Professor. Design and synthesis of novel biomimetic and oligonuclear chelates of copper, nickel, iron, ruthenium and vanadium; their interpretation by magnetochemical, electrochemical and spectroscopic methods, including electron spin resonance; CD and ESR spectroscopy and kinetics for elucidation of molecular architecture of derivatives (including NO) of oxygen-binding and electron-transfer heme- and non-heme iron metalloproteins of vertebrate and invertebrate origins; energy-transfer by Ru, Ir and lanthanide-containing molecules and assemblies.
Jason Cross, PhD (University of Surrey (UK)). Assistant Teaching Professor. Luminescent lanthanide complexes
Peter DeCarlo, PhD (University of Colorado). Assistant Professor. Outdoor air quality, particulate matter size and composition instrumentation and measurements, source apportionment of ambient particulate matter, climate impacts of particulate matter.
Aaron Fafarman, PhD (Stanford University). Associate Professor. Photovoltaic energy conversion; solution-based synthesis of semiconductor thin films; colloidal nanocrystals; electromodulation and photomodulation spectroscopy.
Fraser Fleming, PhD (University of British Columbia (Canada)) Department Head, Chemistry. Professor. Nitriles, Isonitriles, Stereochemistry, Organometallics
Joe P. Foley, PhD (University of Florida) Associate Department Head. Professor. Separation science, especially the fundamentals and biomedical/pharmaceutical applications of the following voltage- or pressure-driven separation techniques: capillary electrophoresis (CE), electrokinetic chromatography, supercritical fluid chromatography, and high-performance and two-dimensional liquid chromatography (LC). Within these techniques, we explore novel separation modes (e.g., dual-opposite-injection CE and sequential elution LC), novel surfactant aggregate pseudophases, and chiral separations.
Lee Hoffman, PhD (Flinders University, Adelaide, South Australia). Assistant Teaching Professor. Interfacial studies on the self-assembly of natural organic materials, understanding the nature of each component, and development of a mechanism describing this process;Dendrimer/metal nanocomposite design and synthesis hosting metal nanoparticles, utilizing the multivalent dendritic polymer architecture for further exploitation with other molecules such as antibodies and other targeting species.
Monica Ilies, PhD (Polytechnic University of Bucharest). Assistant Teaching Professor. Bioorganic chemistry and chemical biology; bioinorganic chemistry and biochemistry.
Haifeng Frank Ji, PhD (Chinese Academy of Sciences). Professor. Micromechancial sensors for biological and environmental applications; Nanomechanical drug screening technology.
Daniel B. King, PhD (University of Miami). Associate Professor. Assessment of active learning methods and technology in chemistry courses; incorporation of environmental data into chemistry classroom modules; development of hands-on activities and laboratory experiments.
Molly O'Connor, PhD (Drexel University). Assistant Teaching Professor. Synthesis and characterization of chiral and achiral metal complexes with novel multidentate ligands.
Kevin G. Owens, PhD (Indiana University). Associate Professor. Mass spectrometry research, including the development of sample preparation techniques for quantitative analysis and mass spectrometric imaging using matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI) time-of-flight mass spectrometry (TOFMS) techniques for both biological and synthetic polymer systems, the development of laser spectroscopic techniques for combustion analysis, and the development of correlation analysis and other chemometric techniques for automating the analysis of mass spectral information.
Lynn S. Penn, PhD (Bryn Mawr College). Professor. Surface modification for specific applications: chemically derivatize metal and ceramic solid surfaces; designing and executing sequential chemical processes, building complex and layered structures on surfaces, with specific focus on behavior of polymer brushes (investigating the fundamental transport-selective behavior of polymer brushes because of potential in drug delivery, biomedical devices and as an explanation of some biological processes).
Reinhard Schweitzer-Stenner, PhD (Universitat Bremen (Germany)). Professor. Exploring conformational ensembles of unfolded or partially folded peptides and proteins; determining the parameters governing peptide self-aggregation; structure and function of heme proteins; investigating protein-membrane interactions; use of IR, VCD, Raman, NMR and absorption spectroscopy for structure analysis.
Karl Sohlberg, PhD (University of Delaware). Associate Professor. Computational and theoretical materials-related chemistry: (1) complex catalytic materials; (2) mechanical and electrical molecular devices.
Anthony Wambsgans, PhD (Rice University). Associate Teaching Professor.
Jun Xi, PhD (Cornell University). Associate Teaching Professor. Biomacromolecular interactions both in solution and in confined environment; mechanisms of DNA replication and DNA repair; structure and function of molecular chaperones; drug target identification and new therapeutic development; single molecule enzymology; DNA directed organic synthesis.

Emeritus Faculty

Amar Nath, PhD (Moscow State University, Moscow USSR). Professor Emeritus.
Peter A. Wade, PhD (Purdue University). Associate Professor. Exploration of a newly discovered [3,3]-sigmatropic rearrangement in which O-allyl nitronic esters are thermally converted to γ,δ-unsaturated nitro compounds; development and exploitation of a carbon-based hemiacetal mimic; and exploration of cycloaddition reactions involving nitroethylene derivatives and novel nitrile oxides.
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