The Polymer Program’s approach to graduate education matches the main recommendations of a recent National Science Foundation workshop. These include:
- broadening the training and educational experience of graduate students
- balancing academic and research elements of the graduate experience
- encouraging diversity among the student population, particularly by enrolling more women
(Summary Report, Graduate Education and Postdoctoral Training in the Mathematical and Physical Sciences, Workshop Report, National Science Foundation.)
Candidates for a Ph.D. degree must complete thirty or more credit hours of coursework with a grade of B or better, including core courses in the fundamentals of polymer synthesis, physical chemistry, characterization, polymer physics, and polymer properties. They must pass a comprehensive examination (the PhD General Examination) and complete a research dissertation.
A thesis advisor and an advisory committee are selected in the first semester. They help the student design a plan of study, which must be submitted to the Graduate School before twelve graduate credits are completed. The program has a language requirement that may be satisfied through competence in an accepted foreign language or by coursework in related area of study.
The General Examination for the Ph.D. consists of two parts: a cumulative portion and an oral portion. The cumulative portion is a cumulative system of four written exams, held monthly, starting in January of the first academic year and continuing through April. Students who successfully complete the cumulative portion of the exam take the oral exam no later than six months after passing the cumulative portion of the exam. Upon recommendation of the advisory committee, students may be awarded an M.S. degree after successfully completing the Ph.D. examination and twenty-four credits of an approved Ph.D. plan of study.
Candidates admitted for a master’s degree in polymer science must complete at least fifteen credit hours of course work and a thesis (Plan A), or twenty four credits of coursework and a final examination (Plan B).