Program Description & Requirements

The graduate program in Chemistry at Tufts University is large enough to foster stimulating interaction among colleagues and provide research opportunities at the frontiers of science, but small enough to have a very favorable student/faculty ratio. Doctoral students become well acquainted with the faculty and, based on mutual interests, select a research supervisor during their first semester. Formal requirements are minimized to allow students the flexibility to tailor their Ph.D. or M.S. program to meet their individual needs. A more detailed description of the program requirements can be found in the Handbook of Academic Requirements & Procedure for the Chemistry Graduate Program.

Doctor of Philosophy in Chemistry

The Ph.D. in chemistry is primarily a research degree. It is awarded to students who have displayed competence in planning and conducting original research in the field of chemistry, demonstrated a broad familiarity with the science of chemistry, understanding in the application of the scientific method, and gained a thorough knowledge of their field of specialization.

The formal requirements of the Ph.D. program are built on a pyramidal structure requiring a solid foundation in all four core areas of chemistry (analytical, inorganic, organic, and physical), and a thorough knowledge of the field of specialization. In the first part of the Ph.D. program, students take at least one formal classroom course in each the core areas of chemistry: analytical (141, 142, 144, 145, or 146), inorganic (161, 162, 164, or 165), organic (150, 151, or 152), and physical (131, 132, 133, 134, or 136). The courses must be completed successfully (B- or better) by the end of the third semester. To round out the formal course requirements, two additional classroom courses, exclusive of research, must be completed satisfactorily by the end of the fourth semester.

Since original research is the primary requirement for the Ph.D. degree, a student selects a research supervisor and begins research before the end the first year. The student and research supervisor then select two faculty members to serve as the student's Doctoral Research Committee. The student's Committee, in conjunction with the student's research adviser, take over the advisory function from the graduate committee and guides the student's work to promote development as an independent investigator.

Tufts University has a unique system through which students develop and demonstrate a thorough knowledge of their field of specialization. Each student must complete two independent study topics. The subject of a study topic is proposed by the student to their Research Committee.  In this way, each student plays an active part in shaping their program. A student may begin work on a study topic as soon as an adequate understanding of the fundamentals has been demonstrated. Students must complete two study topics before the end of their fourth semester in residence.

Thus, in addition to research each student must complete the following requirements:

  • Service as a teaching assistant
  • Presentation of two study topics, one as a departmental seminar
  • Defense of an original research proposal.
  • Completion of a dissertation reporting significant work of publishable quality

Master of Science in Chemistry

The course requirements of the master's program at Tufts University are flexible since each student entering the program has individual goals. Briefly, each student must pass ten graduate-level courses, six of which must be in chemistry with formal classroom instruction. With the approval of the student's adviser, four of the courses may be taken in related fields outside the department of chemistry.

Graduate Program in Chemistry/Biotechnology 

The Department of Chemistry jointly with the Biotechnology Center, offer programs leading to the degrees Master of Science (M.S.) for students seeking an education at an advanced level in chemistry/biotechnology, and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) for those preparing for careers in which chemical/biotechnology research is a central activity. A more detailed description of the program requirements can be found in the Handbook of Academic Requirements & Procedure for the Chemistry/Biotechnology Graduate Program.

Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) 

The department is also a contributing member of the IGERT soft material robotics program. This program, funded by the National Science Foundation, supports Ph.D. students working on projects that combine expertise in more than one department. This support is awarded on a competitive basis. If you wish to be considered for this program you must select the IGERT Soft Material Robotics option when you apply. Additional information on these fellowship awards and soft material robotics at Tufts is available by visiting the IGERT Soft Material Robotics website.

Graduate Program in Chemical Physics 

The Department of Chemistry jointly with the Department of Physics & Astronomy, offer a program leading to a Ph.D. in Chemical Physics. For the mathematically inclined chemistry graduate students or the atomic-molecularly focused physics graduate students, this combined program builds on the strengths of these students while preparing them for careers at this recognized interdisciplinary boundary in areas such as designing materials for energy production and utilization, basic issues in surface interactions and catalysis, and complex issues in biochemistry. A more detailed description of the program requirements can be found HERE.

Water: Systems, Science and Society (WSSS) Program

All of the major graduate schools at Tufts University participate in the graduate certificate program in Water: Systems, Science and Society (WSSS), which is a model for integrative graduate education both that organizes research and training on water policies and issues across disciplinary boundaries. MA/MS/PhD student participation in the program does not add time to their degrees and is done through their home department. The goals of this unique certificate program are to develop interdisciplinary research projects that will make significant policy contributions, to educate a diverse, ethical, skilled set of professionals who are trained in a multidisciplinary approach within a specialized degree, and to meet the growing global demand for interdisciplinary water experts. Students in WSSS will be equipped to develop integrated, interdisciplinary solutions to the complex policy issues surrounding U.S. and international water crises. For more information on WSSS please visit