Doctoral Degree

The general requirements for the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees as well as course descriptions in Polymer Science are described in the current University Graduate Bulletin (see index for Polymer Science - course prefix 9871). These requirements are set by the Graduate School. The specific departmental requirements listed in the bulletin are set by the Department of Polymer Science. The combined requirements of the Graduate School and Department of Polymer Science represent the minimal standards for the attainment of a particular degree. As such, they do not adequately describe the concern of the DPS faculty that graduate programs also be tailored to each student's background and research interests. Consequently there are additional requirements and procedures that both the department and the research advisor impose beyond those described in the Bulletin.

Doctoral Degree Requirements

84 Total Credits = (36 course credits & 48 minimum research credits); 2 cr. Seminar I & II for full-time students; formal seminar; research presentation; pass 6 cumulative exams; doctoral dissertation defense and final written dissertation; 1 year residency requirement; computer proficiency.

The doctoral degree is not awarded merely on the basis of the completion of a prescribed program of course requirements. The Ph.D. In Polymer Science is considered to be recognition that the recipient has carried out independent and original research at the prevailing advanced level of polymer science understanding.

In practice this original research is done under the guidance of a faculty member of the Polymer Science Department (see "Graduate Research Requirements", Section II). The student is assumed to have an advanced level of understanding of the principles of polymer science necessary to do research after the successful completion of course studies and cumulative or other examinations. After the public discussion of the research work both in a departmental "formal seminar" and then in a public "research presentation", the written dissertation is examined by the dissertation committee and an "oral doctoral dissertation defense" examination must be passed. A good measure of the scholarship inherit in the research can be determined by the faculty using the described procedures.

  • A public discussion referred to as a departmental "formal seminar" and "research presentation required which reviews the literature pertinent to the research problem.
  • Pass 6 Cumulative Exams - exams are given on a monthly basis (except June, July, August, and December)
  • Oral doctoral dissertation defense and final written dissertation
  • Computer proficiency is required and can be satisfied by an earlier undergraduate computer programming course or by a related course taken at the UA.
  • Attendance and participation is required in seminar-type discussions scheduled by the department.

Course Requirements for the Ph.D. Program

(See course descriptions in the Graduate Bulletin.)

The doctoral course program in Polymer Science consists of 36 credit hours based on a combination of:

Core Course Program - 17 credit hours (and 2 semesters of Polymer Science Seminar required of all full-time doctoral students - credits are not included in the Total Course Credits),

Elective Courses - at least 19 credit hours of elective courses appropriate to each student's area of interest.

Core Courses

17 credits - required for all students

4 credits of the following polymer chemistry courses:

  • 9871:601 Polymer Concepts (2 cr.)
  • 9871:602 Synthesis and Chemical Behavior of Polymers (2 cr.)

Note: Students must take 601 and 602 unless exempted by the student's advisor on the basis of previous study.

4 credits of polymer physical chemistry courses:

  • 9871:674 Polymer Structure and Characterization (2 cr.)
  • 9871:675 Polymer Thermodynamics (2 cr.)

4 credits of polymer physical property courses:

  • 9871:631 Physical Properties of Polymers I (2 cr.)
  • 9871:632 Physical Properties of Polymers II (2 cr.)

2 credits of the following polymer technology course:

  • 9871:701 Polymer Technology I (2 cr.)

3 credits of polymer science laboratory:

  • 9871:613 Polymer Science Laboratory (3 cr.)

Two Seminars

Required for Full-Time Students

  • 9871:607,608 Polymer Science Seminars I and II (1 cr. each)

(Seminar I and II are given concurrently in the Fall semester of each year. Seminar I is for first-year full-time students, and Seminar II is for second year full-time students.)

The two seminars are required for all full-time students in residence for two years, but they are not required for part-time students. Note: The two credits earned in these courses are in addition to the 36 course credits required for the Ph.D. (That is, the minimum course credits presented for graduation must be 36 credits of courses + 2 credits of Polymer Seminar).

Computer Proficiency Requirement

All students in the M.S. and Ph.D. programs in DPS are required to have taken a minimum of one undergraduate or graduate level course in computer science, like the University of Akron course 3460:201, with a passing grade. Graduate students lacking such a course may demonstrate computer proficiency by taking (a) 3650:605, Computer Physics I, 3 credits, or another applicable course at UA.

Elective Courses

The student and the student's research advisor determine the elective courses that will be taken by the student to fulfill the student's course program. The courses may be in the departments of polymer science, chemistry, physics, mathematics, computing, polymer engineering or other engineering departments. Below is a list of a typical first semester and second semester course program.

Typical First Semester Course Program

A typical first semester course program for new full-time students with no previous polymer background and no other course deficiencies would be:

9871:601 Polymer Concepts
9871:607 Polymer Science Seminar I
9871:613 Polymer Science Lab
9871:631 Physical Properties of Polymers I
9871:674 Polymer Structure & Characterization
9871:701 Polymer Technology I
9871:899 Doctoral Research

Typical Second Semester Course Program

During the spring semester of the first year, and certainly by the fall semester of the second year all of the other required courses ought to have been taken to allow the student to be well prepared both to answer cumulative exam questions in the second year and also to read the polymer literature on the chosen research problem.

9871:602 Synthesis & Chemical Behavior of Polymers
9871:632 Physical Properties of Polymers II
9871:675 Polymer Thermodynamics
9871:702 Polymer Technology II
9871:899 Doctoral Research

All of the above courses provide an introductory survey of the assigned subjects, and all are taught by a team of faculty. This choice of courses and selection of teachers has two purposes:

  1. A first term student is introduced to all of the broad areas of Polymer Science through faculty who are actively doing research in each respective area and who can give a good perspective of current research trends.
  2. Simultaneously a student also becomes personally acquainted with a teacher in his or her possible special field of interest. Thus informal discussions with teacher can facilitate the choosing of a research advisor in the spring semester.