Organic Chemistry Program


The Organic Chemistry Graduate Program is designed to prepare students to address emerging research opportunities at the crossroads of modern chemistry, biological chemistry, and materials science as it relates to problems of biomedical importance. Students participate in dynamic research led by faculty that are world leaders in the field of chemistry and experience the satisfaction of making original contributions to the advancement of chemistry and related disciplines. Students in the program benefit from working collaboratively across disciplines to solve complex health challenges, a hallmark of an education at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

UT Southwestern has world-class facilities for modern chemistry, including four high-field NMR systems devoted to small molecules.

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Special Requirements for Admission

Students within the Program must choose a mentor who is a faculty member of the Program. Students will apply for formal admission to the Organic Chemistry Program at the time of applying to the Division of Basic Science.

Organic Chemistry is designed to prepare students for emerging research opportunities at the crossroads of modern chemistry and discovery biology. Research projects focus on topics at the forefront of synthetic and mechanistic chemistry, chemical biology, and biochemistry. The Program is committed to providing an educational experience that is challenging, broad-based, and rigorous.

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Advanced Courses

Course requirements and descriptions are listed on the Course Descriptions page.

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Student Seminars

A weekly seminar provides a format in which students are encouraged to think critically about their research and how it relates to topics in chemistry. Each student presents one Works-In-Progress talk and one Journal Club annually.

WIPs are designed to generate feedback and suggestions for students regarding their research from a diverse audience and to provide experience with formal presentations, a critical skill for successful scientists. Faculty mentors attend regularly and facilitate discussion of the research presented.

Journal Club presentations provide a forum for students to learn and describe an area of chemistry not directly related to their thesis topics. This forum aims to broaden students’ knowledge and sophistication regarding important areas in synthetic chemistry. Topics are chosen by students in consultation with thesis advisors. Postdoctoral fellows also have an opportunity to present Journal Clubs.

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Dissertation Committee

This Committee oversees the scientific progress of the student toward completion of a degree. Faculty members on the Committee are selected for expertise in the thesis area so they can contribute substantial intellectual insight in direction of the project. The Committee must have at least four members, including the thesis advisor and at least two Program faculty members. The Committee meets at least once a year to provide guidance and advice and to ensure the student’s satisfactory progress toward a degree.

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Qualifying Examination

The qualifying examination evaluates the student’s ability to develop a hypothesis-based research proposal that addresses a specific question in modern chemistry. The proposal must be presented in written and oral forms. To distinguish the student’s abilities from those of the dissertation advisor, the student may not prepare a proposal related to dissertation research or to research being carried out by other members of the student’s laboratory. The examination tests the student’s ability to defend work described in the proposal and to demonstrate an understanding of the underlying concepts, experimental approaches and designs, and their limitations. Advancement to Ph.D. candidacy depends on successful completion of the oral examination. The qualifying examination process takes place during the spring of the second year after course work is completed.

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