Known for Research

Chemistry is at the core of breakthroughs in disciplines as diverse as medicine, technology, nanomaterials and environmental science. PhD students in Clarkson University's chemistry program have the opportunity to participate in research and work alongside world-renowned faculty committed to sharing their knowledge.

Our faculty advisors educate you with the knowledge and skills you need to solve complex problems that impact society, ranging from smart materials to sensors, biotechnology and electronics. Graduate research is supported by federal agencies like the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Department of Defense (DoD), as well as New York State and private industry.

Our small size encourages faculty to provide personalized training and exceptional mentoring focused on student success.

Why Earn a PhD in Chemistry From Clarkson?

We're driven by research at Clarkson. Our traditional strength is in areas such as colloids, surfaces, electrochemistry and analytical chemistry — topics underpinning much of the work done by our faculty.

Graduate students regularly publish their work in top scientific journals and have the opportunity to present research at national and international conferences. Professional organizations and student chapters are available on campus, including the American Chemical Society (ACS) and the Electrochemical Society (ECS). Students have access to a variety of professional development opportunities focusing on areas like research mentoring, entrepreneurship and leadership.

In our small department, faculty share their knowledge with students while collaborating on joint projects. Graduate students conduct research on projects spanning traditional core areas in analytical, inorganic, organic, biochemistry and physical chemistry, as well as interdisciplinary fields like materials chemistry, bionanotechnology and environmental sustainability.

Get hands-on experience with state-of-the-art instrumentation, like nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, mass spectrometry, gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) and high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC).

Other instruments available for teaching and research include electron microscopes, UV/visible, fluorescence and atomic absorption spectrometers, mass spectrometers, X-ray diffractometers, particle sizers and thermal and mechanical analyzers.

Outside the lab, seminars and lectures expose students to the groundbreaking research conducted here and around the world. Our Shipley Distinguished Lecture Series has brought nine Nobel laureates to campus.

Curriculum Overview

PhD candidates in chemistry select a concentration from the following:

  • Analytical chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Colloids and surface chemistry
  • Environmental chemistry
  • Materials chemistry
  • Organic and inorganic chemistry
  • Physical (theoretical) chemistry

Sample courses include:


  • Advanced Bioanalytical Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry & Biotechnology Lab
  • Biomedical Analysis and Instrumentation
  • Bioelectronics & Bio-nanotechnology
  • CM Seminar
  • Colloids and Surface Science
  • Implantable and Wearable Bioelectronics
  • Sustainable Nanotechnology
  • Thesis, Dissertation and Special Projects


  • Biomaterials
  • Manufacturing Implications/Advanced Materials
  • Medicinal Chemistry
  • Nanostructured Materials
  • CM Seminar
  • Colloids and Interfaces
  • Physical Organic Chemistry
  • Polymer Science
  • Special Topics/Colloids and Surfaces
  • Thesis, Dissertation and Special Projects

The PhD in Chemistry consists of 90 credit hours beyond a bachelor's degree. These credits are taken through coursework, seminars and project work to fulfill all PhD requirements.

Requirements include the following:

  1. A minimum of 90 credit hours, including no less than 24 credit hours of coursework, a six credit-hour seminar and a maximum of 30 transferred credit hours from a Master of Science degree (B grade or better) applied toward PhD degree requirements.
  2. A minimum of three academic years of full-time graduate study or the equivalent in part-time study.
  3. Satisfactory completion of the PhD candidacy procedure within two years of full-time study after admission to the PhD program or, for part-time students, before completing 66 credit hours. If the comprehensive examination is failed twice, the student is required to leave the program.
  4. A written dissertation must be submitted by each candidate and defended orally as part of the final examination. For the final oral examination, a committee is selected by the faculty advisor and approved by the department chair and dean of the respective school. The committee consists of a minimum of five members. The members should include at least four Clarkson faculty of assistant professor rank or higher who possess an earned doctoral degree. At least one of the faculty members must be from a department other than the candidate’s major department.
  5. Time limit: After the comprehensive examination has been passed, all work fulfilled specifically for the doctorate is to be completed within a period of seven calendar years.
  6. Grading system: The grades of A+, A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C and P are acceptable for credit toward the degree. For graduation, an average of B or better must be earned in non-dissertation courses and seminar work.
  7. PhD candidates in chemistry must: (i) Complete a minimum of six credit hours of CM900 and (ii) present three seminars as part of their degree requirements.

Faculty members are associated with the New York State-funded Center for Advanced Materials Processing and several other interdisciplinary programs on campus. Their research is supported by sources including grants from the National Science Foundation, as well as New York State and private industry funding.

Current areas of research include:

  • Analytical, electrochemistry and sensors
  • Biochemistry and biotechnology
  • Inorganic and solid-state chemistry
  • Nanotechnology and nanomaterials
  • Organic, polymers and soft materials
  • Physical and computational chemistry

A complete application consists of the following:

  • Online Application Form
  • Résumé
  • Statement of purpose
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Official transcripts
  • GRE Test Scores: the GRE requirement will be waived for spring and fall 2024 applicants.
  • For international applicants, an English proficiency test is required:
  • Minimum test score requirements: TOEFL (80) and TOEFL Essentials (8.5), IELTS (6.5), PTE (56) or Duolingo English Test (115).
  • The English language-testing requirement is not waived based on language of instruction, nor do we accept university certificates. English testing is waived if an applicant has a degree from a country where English is the Native Language. Click here to see the list of these countries.

PhD prerequisites: Applicants must possess a baccalaureate (BS) or a Master of Science (MS) degree in chemistry or a related major (e.g., materials science, biochemistry, biophysics, environmental science or a similar discipline).

Applicants must have also completed the following minimum college course preparation:

  • Introductory chemistry courses, including general chemistry.
  • Specialized classes, including:
  • Analytical chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Inorganic chemistry
  • Organic chemistry
  • Physical chemistry.
  • Basic training in mathematics and physics.

Small Sensation

In many communities around the world, people have no way of knowing whether the water they rely on is safe. One Clarkson PhD student is working to build small, inexpensive sensors that can alert residents to hazards before it's too late.

Career Possibilities

Clarkson's emphasis on research allows you to focus on an area of chemistry where you want to make an immediate impact. After defending your dissertation, you can choose from career paths in:

  • Academia
  • Biotechnology
  • Consulting
  • Education
  • Forensic labs
  • Industry (e.g., electronics, environmental, healthcare, energy or law)
  • Research and development
  • State and federal agencies


Clarkson's faculty have extensive ties to the chemical and advanced materials industries. These relationships can result in opportunities for technology transfer and jobs. Some of the places our alumni work include:

  • Applied Materials
  • Abbott Diabetes Care
  • AireSun Global
  • CFD Research
  • DuPont
  • Ferro Corporation
  • Ford Motor Company
  • Ichor Therapeutics, Inc.
  • Lydall Performance Materials
  • Saint-Gobain
  • Siemens Healthineers
  • Werfen

| STEM OPT Eligible

Contact Us 

Graduate Admissions 
Phone: 518-631-9831

Interested in learning more about the PhD in Chemistry at Clarkson? Contact the Office of Graduate Admissions today with your questions.

100% Graduate Placement Rate - Program Specific

Destination: Anywhere

Next-generation sensors. Biotech product development. Building biobatteries for the military. Students in Clarkson's PhD program in chemistry come from everywhere — and can go anywhere.

See Where our Alumni End Up

Take the Next Step

A PhD in Chemistry from Clarkson can lead to careers in fields as diverse as healthcare, biotech and pharmaceuticals. Ask us for more information today.