Register Courses to Complete the 18-credit Minimum of Graduate Courses for PhD

Continue taking recommended electives to complete the 18-credit requirement of graduate didactic courses for PhD graduation. A list of accepted electives is posted in the VCU Graduate Bulletin for chemistry PhD located at You should however consult the “Schedule of Classes” link on the main VCU website to find out the offerings for the current semester. Courses out of your area of specialization are also acceptable electives. To prevent overload, avoid taking more than 9 credits of didactic courses per semester but be sure to include the following non-didactic courses:

CHEM 698 Investigations in Current Literature, (it must be taken once prior to presenting literature seminar).

CHEM 690 Research Seminar in Chemistry (if attending seminar)

CHEM 692 Research Seminar Presentation (Only if presenting seminar)

CHEM 697 Directed Research, enough credits to complete a total of 12 graduate credits.

Other graduate classes that do not count for the course work requirement but may be useful for your career are:

GRAD 610           Career and Professional Development

GRAD 614           Introduction to Grant Writing

GRAD 615           Careers in Biomedical Sciences

EGMN 570          Effective Technical Writing

Start Cumulative Exams

You have to complete the cumulative exams by the end of your second year. However, if approved by Graduate Director and Advisor, you can start taking them in the second semester provided you have satisfied undergraduate proficiency requirements. Cumulative exams are on topics (i.e. research papers, book chapter, etc.) selected by Departmental faculty in the four areas of chemistry. The topics are released on Friday afternoons a week from the date of the exam, which takes place on the following Saturday from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm, in Oliver Hall 3059. When the topics are released, you should sign up with the Graduate Administrative Assistant to notify the area of the exam you are taking. The exam is graded in scores of 0, 1 and 2, and, offered six times a year during the months of February, March, April, September, November and December. Every Fall semester a new yearly schedule is posted on Blackboard. To complete the cumulative exams, you must get a minimum of 5 points in six opportunities (one year), including two scores of 2, and at least 3 points in your area of specialization. Failure to reach this outcome, will automatically restrict you to a Master degree with expected graduation within a year.

Present Literature Seminar  and Register CHEM 692 Instead of CHEM 690

The semester you are presenting a seminar (literature or research), register CHEM 692 instead of CHEM 690. The topic for literature seminar must be different than your current research or your group’s research. Consult with your advisor and seminar coordinator to get your seminar topic accepted. Check the seminar schedule on Blackboard and submit the form for topic and date approval with the Graduate Administrative Assistant a semester prior to presenting your seminar. The presentation must be 45 minutes in length and failing to do it on the date you select will grant you a U grade in CHEM 697 for that semester. You can only cancel your presentation with express permission of your advisor and seminar coordinator. If permission is granted and you are given an “incomplete” (I) grade for CHEM 692, you must present the seminar the following semester and once a grade becomes available, you have to file a “retroactive change of grade” with the Graduate Administrative Assistant to update the grade. Keep in mind that after one semester without change, the university automatically convert “I” grades to F. Do not register CHEM 692 if presenting a seminar to fulfill a previously earned “I” grade.