Jul 19, 2024  
2023-2024 Graduate Catalog 
2023-2024 Graduate Catalog

Theoretical and Computational Chemistry, Ph.D.

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SMU is the first university to offer a dedicated direct bachelors-to-Ph.D. degree program in Theoretical and Computational Chemistry (TCC) based on a four-year (66 credit hour) curriculum. Ph.D. students work on cutting-edge research with one of the four TCC faculty members in a vibrant, friendly and supportive environment. Interdisciplinary research with the experimental chemistry faculty and the departments of Biological Sciences, Computer Science and Mathematics is strongly supported. SMU’s High-Performance Computer Center (HPCC) provides outstanding computational facilities (930 TFLOPS).

Current research areas include developing: accurate quantum mechanical methods to study molecules, clusters, and extended systems as well as their chemical reactions; efficient algorithms to simulate quantum dynamics and spectroscopy; new methodologies to explore protein evolution and protein drug interactions; multiscale methods to simulate biological and artificial materials. TCC research often uses concepts and techniques from physics, mathematics and computer science to establish new approaches to long-standing chemical problems. Research areas also extend to interdisciplinary topics such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, high-performance computing and biophysics.

The TCC program focuses on training Ph.D. students who will i) perform independent research and publish in high ranking journals, ii) engage in interdisciplinary research and research teams, and iii) successfully compete for research, teaching, and consulting positions in academic institutions, federal and state agencies, and in the private sector. The demand for highly trained theoretical and computational chemists is steadily increasing and continues to grow faster than other chemistry-related jobs.

Admission Requirements

In addition to meeting the general requirements described under Dedman College: Admission  in the General Information  section of this catalog, applicants are required to take the GRE general graduate school admission test. Applicants who do not speak English as their native language are required to supply scores on the TOEFL English language proficiency test or the IELTS English competency test. Three letters of recommendation are required.

Financial aid is available in the form of teaching/research assistantships, which include the waiver of tuition and fees and health insurance.

Degree Requirements

Instructional Training - Mandatory Teaching Assistantship (2 Credit Hours)

The student completes two terms of the teaching practicum to enhance communication skills.

Current Topics in Research (6 Credit Hours)

Presentation (1 Credit Hour)

The student makes a presentation at a professional meeting appropriate to the field of research.

Research Courses (18 Credit Hours)

Candidacy (2 Credit Hours)

For admission to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree, the student must pass the following additional qualifying requirements:

  • CHEM 7233 - Research Synopsis and Objectives   
  • Written summary of already published paper(s) or a summary of research results to be published and evaluated by a faculty committee
  • Oral presentation of the summary and discussion of the future plans of the dissertation research program in front of a faculty committee
  • Attendance at group meetings including oral presentations of research progress in new topics in the field
  • Attendance at group workshops and workshops offered by SMU’s HPCC
  • Poster presentation at SMU’s annual Research Day

Defense of Thesis (12 Credit Hours)

Each student must complete a significant body of research, write a dissertation summarizing the published work (at least five peer-refereed articles are recommended), orally present this work before the department, and defend this work in front of a faculty committee.

Note: The Chemistry faculty meet at the end of each fall and spring semester to evaluate each student’s progress. Students will be informed of their progress in writing.

Total: 66 Credit Hours

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