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Chemistry Thesis Requirements

Thesis Requirements

Candidates for both the PhD and Master’s Degree in Chemistry must submit a thesis describing the results of their research. Policies regarding the preparation of the thesis are described on the Graduate School's Thesis and Dissertation Office

Before filing for candidacy, a student must fulfill all of the following degree requirements:

For Ph.D Candidates:

  • Cumulative GPA of at least 2.8
  • Presentation of one departmental seminar
  • Have an approved Plan of Study (POS). Update coursework and/or committee members if necessary by submitting a Request to Change the Plan of Study through myPurdue. If you are filing for candidacy but have changed your degree objective, please see additional provisions on the second page.
  • At least five cumulative exams passed 
  • Oral preliminary exam passed. At least two full sessions of active registration are required between the OP and the final examinations.
  • Minimum of 90 combined hours of graduate courses and research hours completed

For MS Candidates:

  • Cumulative GPA of at least 2.5
  • Have an approved Master's objective Plan of Study (POS). Update coursework and/or committee members if necessary by submitting a Request to Change the Plan of Study through myPurdue. Credit used to earn a MS degree at a previous university may not be used as part of a Purdue MS Plan of Study. If you are filing for candidacy but have changed your degree objective, please see additional provisions below.
  • Minimum of 30 combined hours of graduate courses and research hours completed. At least 12 research credit hours of CHM 69800 must be completed by the final semester.  

Deadlines and Preparation for the Thesis Defense

For students with regular candidate registration in the final semester, (not exam-only or thesis-only registration), two deadlines are fixed by the Graduate School:

  • The thesis must be submitted to the Graduate School no later than 5pm two workdays before the final day of classes. Submission is through HammerRR and the ETAF (Electronic Thesis Acceptance Form). Students will receive access to this form after successful completion of the final oral defense.
  • The final oral examination results must be reported to the Graduate School using a Form 11 by 5pm on the Friday one week before the final day of classes (and two days earlier in summer). Note that this deadline refers to the reporting of the exam results, not to the holding of the oral exam. It is recommended that the exam be held well before this date to allow time for corrections following the exam, if the committee requires such corrections prior to signing the exam form.

For 2022-23 and 2023-24 graduation, the anticipated dates are:


Exam report (Form 11) due

Thesis submission using ETAF due

Dec 2022

December 2, 2022

December 7, 2022

May 2023

April 21, 2023

April 26, 2023

Aug 2023

July 21, 2023

July 28, 2023

Dec 2023

December 1, 2023

December 6, 2023

May 2024

April 26, 2024

May 1, 2024

Aug 2024

July 19, 2024

July 26, 2024


All other deadlines listed below reference to the planned exam date. Again, the due dates for the exam report form (with committee signatures) are in the table above. We recommend that the exam take place at least a week (and preferably several weeks) before that date.

Counting back from the exam date:

  • The complete thesis should be delivered to the examining committee no later than two weeks before the exam date.
  • The Grad School Form 8, declaring the date and time and exam, and the members of the examining committee should be fully approved no later than two weeks before the exam date. The Main Office can help with this form. We recommend starting earlier, to allow time for faculty to approve the Form 8 before the deadline.
  • The exam should be scheduled, confirmed with committee members, and room reserved no later than the seventh week of the graduating semester.
  • The initial format review with the Thesis Format Advisor should take place no later than six weeks before the exam date. It is appropriate just to have portions of the thesis ready for the initial format review.

Finally, in order to avoid late fees with the Graduate School, students should ensure that they are on the Candidate List for graduation by the end of the fourth week of classes in the final semester, and should ensure that the Plan of Study is complete and correct no later than the Friday preceding classes in the final semester.

The thesis may be submitted in the semester following the successful completion of the oral examination. In this case, the date of degree conferral will be based on the date of the thesis deposit, not the date of the oral examination.

Exam-only and Thesis-only Registration

Students completing degrees early in a term or mid-term may be eligible for a privileged registration at a reduced fee through “exam only” or “degree only” registrations.

Definitions of Candidate Types:

  • CAND 991 [Regular Candidacy]:This is the candidacy to register for if you are currently taking any courses and/or research; most students will register using this candidate registration type.  Thesis-option MS students and doctoral students must register for 12 credits of CHM 69000/69800 in this semester (9 credits if registering as a summer candidate).  Students may still hold an RA or TA appointment as determined by their advisor so long as they are registered as a full time student.
  • CAND 993(Exam-Only Candidacy): Candidacy for those that ONLY need to defend AND deposit their thesis. Earlier defend and deposit deadlines apply. Cannot be registered for any other research or coursework and typically do not hold a GA appointment. Please note that there is an approximately $200 fee to register as CAND 992, but you do not need to register for research credits and are not liable for tuition costs. This can potentially allow a student to move on to post-graduate employment mid-semester.

The benefit of these special registration types is that students do not need to register for research credits and therefore are not liable for tuition costs (there is a fee of approximately $200). This can potentially allow students to move on to post-graduate employment mid-semester.

The cost of these special registration types is that deadlines for exam and thesis deposit are significantly earlier.

Exam-only or Thesis-only graduation date:

Typical date for Exam report (Form 11) due

Typical date for Thesis submission using ETAF due


early October

mid October


early March

mid March


early June

mid June


To qualify for exam-only or thesis-only registration, students must be registered for at least one credit in the previous semester.

Students are allowed to hold a Graduate Staff appointment (TA or RA) while on exam-only or thesis-only registration, but must resign the position on or before the date they deposit the thesis.

Because of implications for funding, insurance, and visa/immigration status (for international students), students should individually consult the Main Office for details and planning if they are intending exam-only or thesis-only registration.


Additional MS Thesis Requirements Information: The Chemistry Department does not offer “non-thesis” Masters degrees. MS students must submit an approved research thesis, following the typical guidelines and schedule of the Graduate School. Students should consult with their major advisor about the scope and length of the MS thesis. The requirement of a formal oral presentation and defense of the MS thesis is left to the discretion of the major advisor. However, both Ph.D and MS candidates must submit a Form 8: Request for Appointment of Graduate Committee, which contains information about dates and times for a defense.

Plan of Study—Change to Degree Objective: Students who have an approved PhD plan of study but wish to change to an MS objective must complete all of the following steps at least a month prior to the semester they plan to file for candidacy: submit a Form GS-17B to the Grad School; have their PhD plan of study archived by the Graduate School (request to be made by the Chemistry Main Office); and submit and receive Graduate School approval on an MS Plan of Study.

PhDs: Fourth Committee Member: PhD candidates should choose their fourth committee member well in advance. However, you do not need to submit a Request to Change the Plan of Study in order to add that individual to your POS. Please contact the Main Office as early as possible if you plan to include a non-Purdue professor as your fourth member.

Fees for Missed Deadlines: $200 late fees will be assessed for the following missed deadlines: declaring candidacy; having an approved plan of study; and thesis depositing. A memo must be issued by the Chemistry Department in all three cases and candidates must receive Grad School approval for an extension if they have missed the thesis deposit deadline.

Withdrawing from Candidacy: A student can withdraw from candidacy at any point during the semester they had planned to graduate upon notifying the Chemistry Main Office. A $200 fee will only be assessed to students after they withdraw from candidacy a third time.