Graduate Degree Programs

The Department of Chemistry at UAHuntsville offers the following graduate degree programs:

Degree Requirements for a Master of Science Degree in Chemistry

General requirements of the School of Graduate Studies under Plan I or Plan II must be satisfied.

Plan I – Master of Science with Thesis

A minimum of 24 hours of graduate course work is required to complete the degree. Up to 12 hours of the course requirements may be accepted as transfer credits from graduate work done in other chemistry programs. All incoming students must take ACS placement exams in analytical, inorganic, organic, and physical chemistry. They must pass these exams, scoring 50th percentile or better, to move into the graduate program without restrictions. Those scoring below the requirement must take one remedial undergraduate course in the field(s) in which they failed, receiving a grade of B or better.

Students are required to take 1 course from each of the four fields: analytical, inorganic, organic, and physical chemistry, as well as one course from either biochemistry or polymer chemistry for a total of 15 credit hours. Students should fill the remaining 9 credit hours with one additional course from their field of study (3 hours), as well as, two courses of choice (6 hours).

Field Required Courses to Meet 15 Hours Courses for Major Field of Study:

Analytical CH 521 Chemical Instrumentation. CH 621 Methods of Chemical Analysis

Biochemistry CH 561 Biochemistry I CH 562 Biochemistry II

Inorganic CH 600 Advanced Inorganic CH 601 Structural Methods in Chemistry Inorganic Chemistry

Organic CH 631 Synthetic Organic CH 531 Theoretical Organic Chemistry or CH 632 Physical Chemistry; CH 633 Organic Organic Chemistry Structure Determination

Physical CH 640 Advanced Chemical CH 549 Spectroscopy Molecular Thermodynamics or CH 641 Structure; CH 642 Advanced Statistical Thermodynamics Chemical Dynamics; CH 643 Quantum Chemistry

Polymer CH 540 Polymer Synthesis CH 645 Polymer Physical Chemistry

Plan II – Master of Science without Thesis

Graduate students entering Plan II must qualify by meeting one of the followingpreliminary examination requirements:

a) Passing placement exams in biochemistry, inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry and physical chemistry (or taking the remedial courses if necessary).
b) Having previously passed at least two sections of the Materials Science Program Exam I.
c) Having previously passed the Biotechnology Science and Engineering Preliminary Exam.

Course requirements under Plan II include one course from each of the four fields: analytical, inorganic, organic, and physical chemistry, as well as one course from either biochemistry or polymer chemistry for a total of 15 credit hours. Students should fill the remaining 18 credit hours with graduate coursework in chemistry or related fields. Of the total of 33 hours of course work required under Plan II, at least 18 hours must be in chemistry. Plan II requires a program of study drawn up by the student and the Chemistry M.S. degree program advisor. Students must also register for CH 780 Chemistry Seminar during at least four semesters. Because Plan II does not require any experimental work, it is not recommended for students seeking employment as industrial laboratory chemists.

Non-Traditional Fifth-Year Program Leading to the M.S. in Chemistry 
Plus a Class A Alabama High School Teacher's Certificate

Those who have a B.A. or B.S. degree with a major or its equivalent in chemistry as determined by the Department of Chemistry, who have not taken more than twelve semester hours in teacher education (graduate or undergraduate), and who are interested in obtaining Class A (master's level) certification for secondary school teaching, should consider the Non-Traditional Fifth Year Program. Contact the Education Department for preliminary advisement on admission and general program requirements. See the description in the Education section for more details.

Doctor of Philosophy

The Ph.D. degree with a chemistry specialty is possible within the guidelines and requirements of the Materials Science program (see "Interdisciplinary Programs"). Ph.D. research in the area of biotechnology (including biochemistry, structural biology, molecular biology and natural products) is possible under the direction of chemistry faculty within the guidelines and requirements of the Biotechnology Science and Engineering Program (see "Interdisciplinary Programs").

Doctor of Philosophy in Biotechnology

What is Biotechnology?

The Biotechnology Science and Engineering Graduate Program (BSE) is an interdisciplinary program of the University of Alabama in Huntsville concerned with research and scholarly activity in the diverse areas of biotechnology. The program's mission is to provide Ph.D. level graduates who are broadly trained in the areas of science and engineering pertinent to biotechnology and who will benefit the economic, educational, and cultural development of Alabama. Graduates of the program are expected to be able to make significant contributions to biotechnology in academic, governmental, and business settings.

Biotechnology is not a single area of study, but a multidisciplinary field concerned with the practical application of biological organisms and their subcellular components to industrial or service manufacturing, to environmental management and health, and to medicine. It is a series of enabling technologies drawn from the fields of microbiology, cellular biology, molecular biology, genetics, biochemistry, immunology, fermentation technology, environmental science and engineering which allow one to synthesize, breakdown or transform materials to suit human needs. Biotechnology ("Current Trends in Chemical Technology, Business, and Employment," American Chemical Society, Washington, DC. 1998) can therefore be defined as the safe study and manipulation of biological molecules for development of products or techniques for medical and industrial application. Although biotechnology in the broadest sense is not new, the current ability and demand for manipulating living organisms or their subcellular components to provide useful products, processes or services has reached new heights. Modern biotechnology has resulted from scientific scrutiny of old and familiar processes and from new advances in molecular biology, genetic engineering and fermentation technologies.

The future industrial landscape will continue to include research, development and the manufacturing of products such as proteins and nucleic acids that will be based wholly or in large part on biological processes. The interdisciplinary program in Biotechnology Science and Engineering will provide broad training in sciences and engineering dealing with the handling and the processing of macromolecules and living systems. Students will receive advanced training in one of three

specializations: Structural Biology, Biomolecular Sciences or Bioprocess Engineering. The principal core of instructors and research advisors are drawn from the Departments of Biological Sciences, Chemistry, and Chemical and Materials Engineering. The program includes significant involvement from local biotechnology companies as well as NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center.

PhD Requirements

To obtain a Ph.D. in Biotechnology Science and Engineering, the student must satisfy all requirements of the School of Graduate Studies as well as those of the Biotechnology Science and Engineering Program. The requirements are as follows:

1. Successfully complete the core courses:

  • CHE 560: Introduction to Bioprocess Engineering
  • CHE 561: Bioseparations, Recombinant Techniques and Protein Engineering
  • CH 561/BYS 547: Graduate Biochemistry I
  • CH 562/BYS 548: Graduate Biochemistry II
  • BYS 519: Gene Structure and Function
  • BYS 543: Molecular Biology of the Cell

2. Pass the Preliminary Examination

Each student must pass the preliminary examination which has to be taken at the end of the first summer of residence, and will cover materials from the core courses in the areas of Biochemistry, Cellular and Molecular Genetics and Bioprocessing/Bioseparations. Students will take examinations in all three areas during the first attempt. Students are required to repeat only the part of the exams that they did not pass. Students will have a maximum of two attempts to pass the preliminary examination. Appeals to this policy must be filed with the Director of the Biotechnology Program who will consult with the Graduate Dean and the Deans of the Colleges of Engineering and Science.

3. Choose a dissertation advisor and committee

Students who qualify for the Ph.D. program by passing the preliminary examination will choose a dissertation advisor and a Supervisory Committee during the fall semester of their second year. The committee will meet for the first time with the student to review the initial research goals (Research Start Meeting).

4. Write and defend a research proposal

In consultation with the dissertation advisor and committee, the student will begin working on a research project which will subsequently lead to an NIH or NSF style proposal. This written proposal will be submitted to the committee by the middle of the second summer. By the first semester of the third year, the student will defend this proposal in a seminar, followed by questions from committee members (Annual Research Appraisal I) (ARA-I). Successful completion of the written and oral presentation of the dissertation proposal constitutes the School of Graduate Studies Qualifying Examination.

5. Complete an acceptable program of study

The program of study will consist of at least 48 semester hours of coursework at the graduate level including the core courses required to prepare for the preliminary examinations and courses required to prepare the student to conduct original research in their area of study. Students must register for a total of three hours of seminar. A maximum of three seminar hours may be considered towards fulfillment of the graduate course requirements. A minimum of 18 hours of BSE 799 must be included in the program of study.

6. Complete and defend a research dissertation

During the fall semesters of the next two years, students will meet with their advisors and committee for research appraisals (ARA). Following these annual evaluations, the student will begin writing the dissertation and plan to defend it before the fifth year after passing the preliminary examination. The primary dissertation advisor and the committee have the discretion to allow students to defend the dissertation earlier if the work is of high quality and sufficient progress has been made toward the goals stated in the research proposal.

All requirements for the Ph.D. must be completed in no more than five years after the approval of the Research Proposal (ARA-I).

Faculty in Biotechnology Science and Engineering

(Chemistry: CH / Biology: BYS / Chemical Engineering: CHE)

Baird, J.K. (CH); protein crystal growth, fundamental mechanisms

Boyd, L. (BYS); gene function and expression, embryogenesis

Campbell, P.S. (Emeritus) (BYS); reproductive physiology, sex steroid hormone action, endocrine disrupters

Cerro, R.L. (CHE); bioprocessing, theoretical and experimental fluid mechanics, nanotechnology

Chittur, K.K. (CHE); FTIR, biosurfaces, protein interaction, expression profiling

Cseke, L. (BYS; Research); plant molecular biology, biotechnology, metabolic engineerings

Edmondson, S. (CH; Research); NMR spectroscopy, protein structure and function

Gartska, W.R. (Emeritus) (BYS); reproduction and chemical communication in vertebrates, paleontology

George, M. (CH); scanning probe microscopy

Leahy, J.G. (BYS); bioremediation, environmental microbiology

Magnuson, R.D. (BYS); plasmid host interactions

Meehan, E.J. (CH); protein crystallography, structural genomics, structure-based drug design

Moriarity, D.M. (BYS); regulation of eukaryotic gene expression, natural products drug discovery

Ng, J.D. (BYS); macromolecular crystallization, structure/function of extremophilic proteins

Scholz, C. (CH); biodegradable polymers

Setzer, W.N. (CH); biomedicinal aspects of biologically active phytochemicals, natural products chemistry

Shriver, J.W. (CH, BYS); Protein structure and function, NMR spectroscopy, structural biology/biophysics

Twigg, P. (CH); Protein structure and biophysical characterization of proteins, X-ray crystallography and NMR

Vogler, B. (CH); drug discovery and structure elucidation

Waddell, E. (CH); microfluidics, molecular patterning

Adjunct Faculty

Scientists from NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center (Space Science Laboratory), the HudonAlpha Institute, Oak Ridge Laboratory, and local biotechnology companies serve as adjunct faculty to the program with expertise in at least one of the thrust areas of Biotechnology Science and Engineering.

Materials Science - M.S. and Ph.D.


The Materials Science Ph. D. Program of The University of Alabama System (UAS) is an interdisciplinary doctoral program linking the three universities that make up the UAS: the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa (UA), the University of Alabama in Birmingham (UAB), and the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH). The program was started in 1988 and awarded its first PhD degree in June 1990. The program was deliberately constructed without erecting new Materials Science departments on the three campuses. This approach combined the strengths of the various campuses and their resources. Each student selects a program of study in a home department on their resident campus; and a research advisor to direct his/her research program. The course offerings straddle departmental as well as campus boundaries. The qualifying examinations are administered jointly by all three campuses. However, subsequent exams and the student's program of study are controlled by the home campus. The student's doctoral committee must contain at least one faculty member from a sister campus.


Research in Materials Science focuses on the fundamental relations that exist between the structure of materials on the one hand, and properties and the methods for synthesizing and processing these materials on the other; otherwise known as the materials triangle. The material may be a metal, a ceramic, or a polymer, and it may be dispersed in the solid, liquid or gaseous state. Depending upon the desired application, the structure of the material may have to be investigated at the nuclear, atomic, molecular, granular, or larger length scales. The property that is determined by the structure may be mechanical, electrical, magnetic, optical, thermal, chemical, or biological. Synthesizing may be done by thermal, mechanical, photochemical, electrochemical, or biological processes. Many basic academic disciplines can be fruitfully applied to the solution of materials science problems. Among them, we note particularly chemistry, physics, biology, and engineering. Faculty members guiding students in the Materials Science Program represent all four of these areas.

Further information on the Materials Science program can be found at the Materials Science website and also the Tri-campus site.