Twin Cities campus
Twin Cities Campus

Chemical Physics Ph.D.

College of Science and Engineering
Link to a list of faculty for this program.
Contact Information
Chemical Physics Program, University of Minnesota, 137 Smith Hall, 207 Pleasant St SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455 (612-626-7444; fax: 612-626-7541)
  • Program Type: Doctorate
  • Requirements for this program are current for Spring 2017
  • Length of program in credits: 48
  • This program requires summer semesters for timely completion.
  • Degree: Doctor of Philosophy
Along with the program-specific requirements listed below, please read the General Information section of this website for requirements that apply to all major fields.
Chemical physics focuses on research areas where the techniques of chemistry and physics are combined for the study of atoms and molecules; their interactions in gases, liquids, and solids; and the detailed structure and dynamics of material changes. Areas of research and specialization include spectroscopy, optical properties, laser applications, molecular collisions, chemical dynamics, quantum mechanics, computational chemistry, statistical mechanics, thermodynamics, low-temperature behavior, polymers and macromolecules, surface science, biochemistry, and biochemical and heterogeneous catalysis.
Program Delivery
  • via classroom (the majority of instruction is face-to-face)
Prerequisites for Admission
An undergraduate degree in chemistry, physics, or a related field is required for admission. The preferred minimum undergraduate GPA for admittance to the program is 3.2
Other requirements to be completed before admission:
Prospective graduate students should have adequate undergraduate preparation in chemistry, physics and mathematics. Three letters of recommendation and scores from the GRE general test are required for all applications. In addition, international applicants are expected to provide scores of at least 587 (paper), 240 (computer), or 95 (Internet) on the TOEFL. A Subject GRE score is not required but if available will help the admission committee to make better decisions, in particular in cases where undergraduate transcripts are more difficult to evaluate (which is especially true for international applicants, who are strongly encouraged to submit the GRE subject score). The Subject GRE can be taken in chemistry, physics, or a related discipline.
Special Application Requirements:
Applications for fall semester must be completed by December 15 in order to be considered for financial support. Applications received after December 15 will be reviewed on a space available basis. The program prefers to admit for fall semester and will only consider spring admission under extenuating circumstances. More application information is available at
Applicants must submit their test score(s) from the following:
  • GRE
International applicants must submit score(s) from one of the following tests:
    • Internet Based - Total Score: 95
    • Internet Based - Speaking Score: 23
    • Total Score: 7.0
    • Final score: 83
Key to test abbreviations (GRE, TOEFL, IELTS, MELAB).
For an online application or for more information about graduate education admissions, see the General Information section of this website.
Program Requirements
24 credits are required in the major.
24 thesis credits are required.
This program may be completed with a minor.
Use of 4xxx courses toward program requirements is permitted under certain conditions with adviser approval.
A minimum GPA of 3.00 is required for students to remain in good standing.
Students are expected to pass a proficiency exam in physical chemistry during their first academic year in residence. Each first-year chemical physics student will choose a program of study in consultation with his or her TMC (three-member committee). The 24 course credits required must include either: (a) at least 5 credits in chemistry (CHEM) and at least 5 credits in physics (PHYS), or (b) at least 16 credits in chemistry and/or physics combined, including at least 5 credits of quantum mechanics and at least 5 credits chosen from among the areas of thermodynamics, statistical mechanics, statistical physics, and chemical dynamics. All first-year students must register for CHPH 8601 during both fall and spring semesters and for CHEM 8066 during the spring semester of their first year in residence.
Required Courses
Any CHPH, CHEM, and PHYS courses at the 5xxx or 8xxx level may be used to satisfy degree requirements. Up to 8 credits in 4xxx-level courses may be used with approval from the director of Graduate Studies.
Students may count 1 credit each of the following towards the degree.
CHEM 8066 - Professional Conduct of Chemical Research (1.0 cr)
CHPH 8601 - Seminar: Modern Problems in Chemical Physics (1.0 cr)
Thesis Credits
Take 24 credits after passing preliminary oral exam.
CHPH 8888 - Thesis Credit: Doctoral (1.0-24.0 cr)
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CHEM 8066 - Professional Conduct of Chemical Research
Credits: 1.0 [max 1.0]
Grading Basis: S-N or Aud
Typically offered: Every Fall & Spring
Builds sensitivity to ethical issues in chemical research. Readings/case studies, small-group/large-group discussion, summarizing comments from instructors/guests/panels having special expertise. Weekly seminar. prereq: Chem grad student
CHPH 8601 - Seminar: Modern Problems in Chemical Physics
Credits: 1.0 [max 2.0]
Grading Basis: S-N only
Typically offered: Every Fall & Spring
Topics in chemical physics. prereq: Grad chem physics major or instr consent
CHPH 8888 - Thesis Credit: Doctoral
Credits: 1.0 -24.0 [max 100.0]
Grading Basis: No Grade
Typically offered: Every Fall & Spring
(No description) prereq: Max 18 cr per semester or summer; 24 cr required