Chemistry Ph.D. Assessment Plan

Mission Statement

Recognized as the "Central Science," Chemistry constitutes the scientific cornerstone for agriculture, manufacturing, medicine, mining, nanotechnology, and semiconductors, which are critical to the welfare of the citizens and economic development of the state, nation, and the world.

The mission of the Chemistry Ph. D. program is to prepare students with advanced scientific knowledge and the training necessary for research careers in the chemical sciences, addressing issues that are important to society today and in the future. This training includes rigorous classroom instruction at the advanced level along with the scholarly pursuit of new knowledge. The preparation and defense of a Ph. D. dissertation and publication of research results in peer reviewed scientific journals are the most visible achievements of students in the program.

Ultimately, the program intends to prepare creative scientists with a solid theoretical background, advanced training in current research techniques, and the communication skills needed to convey the results and societal significance of their work. Graduates of the Chemistry Ph. D. program should be prepared for careers as independent scientists in industry, national laboratories, and academia.

Student Learning Outcomes

1. Theoretical knowledge

  • (a) Students will possess a broad factual knowledge at the advanced level in all subfields of chemistry (Physical, Inorganic, Organic, and Analytical).
  • (b) Students will possess a deep factual and theoretical understanding of their area of specialization, including an awareness of modern research methods and technology, and problems of intense current interest.
  • (c) Students will possess advanced cognitive skills in areas such as mathematics and physics that are necessary to understand and advance chemical theories.
Student Performance Indicators
  • Problem sets, exams, and final exams in graduate core courses (CHEM 631, 642, 650)
  • Student tracking/performance in graduate core courses
  • Cumulative exams
  • Problem sets, exams, and final exams in advanced graduate courses beyond the graduate core curriculum.
Assessment Method
  • Materials from each course are reviewed by assessment committee representing each subdiscipline (Inorganic, Organic, or Physical Chemistry) for problem solving and quantitative reasoning.
  • Analysis of how students perform (grades and scores) in each course relative to their performance on the registration exams.
  • Analysis of the examination level and student performance on exams, evaluated by each subdiscipline.
  • Materials from each course are reviewed for level of difficulty, content breadth and depth, problem solving, and quantitative reasoning, on a rotating basis for the subdisciplines (Inorganic, Organic, and Physical Chemistry) by an evaluation committee primarily of faculty from that discipline.

2. Research methods, planning, and experiment design

  • (a) Students will independently design experiments to investigate a scientific hypothesis.
  • (b) Students will carry out experiments with safety, using proper safety equipment and techniques.
  • (c) Students will independently conduct data analysis, along with evaluation of experimental or computational uncertainties and noise. Students can interpret results in the context of their uncertainties.
Student Performance Indicators
  • Experiment design
  • Laboratory safety
  • Analytical skills
Assessment Method
  • Annual evaluation by research mentor and discussion of evaluation with department faculty at end-of-year faculty meeting.
  • Annual evaluation by research mentor and discussion of evaluation with department faculty at end-of-year faculty meeting.
  • Annual evaluation by research mentor and discussion of evaluation with department faculty at end-of-year faculty meeting.

3. Literature research and communication skills

  • (a) Students will be able to present their work by effective written communication in the form of scientific papers and reports, and by oral communication in the form of scientific seminars.
  • (b) Students will be able to train others in basic scientific knowledge and techniques and in advanced knowledge and techniques in their field of expertise.
  • (c) Students will be able to use scientific databases and the scientific literature to research a new topic. Students will have the ability to critically analyze and extract information from papers in the scientific literature.
Student Performance Indicators
  • Written communication
  • Teaching and training skills
  • Oral communication
Assessment Method
  • Dissertations, scientific papers, and reports evaluated annually by research mentor with discussion of evaluation by department faculty at end-of-year faculty meeting. Student performance evaluated in Seminar courses using scoring rubric for written abstracts.
  • Annual evaluation of teaching assistants by their students. Teaching and training skills in the research laboratory evaluated by research mentor with discussion of evaluation with department faculty at end-of-year faculty meeting.
  • Student performance in group meetings and divisional colloquia evaluated by research mentor with discussion of evaluation by department faculty at end-of-year faculty meeting. Student performance in Seminar courses using scoring rubric for oral presentations.

4. Scientific creativity and independence

  • (a) Students will understand the societal and general scientific significance of their work.
  • (b) Students will possess the ability to identify key issues within their research area and independently propose new research directions and meaningful, testable hypotheses.
  • (c) Students will be able to draw from their general scientific training to synthesize new problem solving approaches.
Student Performance Indicators
  • Student self-direction and independence in research
  • Oral Proposal Defense
  • Dissertation defense
Assessment Method
  • Annual evaluation by research mentor and discussion of evaluation with department faculty at end-of-year faculty meeting.
  • Evaluation by examining committee.
  • Evaluation by examining committee.

5. Professional and Career Success

  • (a) Graduates will be successful in their professional careers as demonstrated by their abilities to solve important chemistry problems, to solve problems in areas different from their training, and to develop new and valuable ideas.
  • (b) Graduates will be able to work in a variety of professional environments as demonstrated by the abilities to work both in teams and independently, to provide project leadership, to mentor junior co-workers, and to communicate scientific results effectively to the chemistry community and the public.
  • (c) Graduates will possess professional character as demonstrated by their ethical behavior, their pursuit of continuing education and involvement in professional associations, and their commitment to safety and protection of the environment.
Student Performance Indicators
  • Post-graduation employment or graduate school placement.
  • Career employment and salary data
  • Job performance
Assessment Method
  • Exit interview, compared with national trends.
  • Alumni Survey. Data compared with annual ACS salary survey of all chemists, by employment type.
  • Alumni Employer Survey