Department of Chemistry



MD/PhD Program Requirements

The course and research requirements for an MD/PhD degree are similar to those of the PhD students. However, MD/PhD students are not required to teach. We recognize the multidisciplinary nature of MD/PhD students. The Department (and in particular the Graduate Student Advising Committee) will work with the MD/PhD student to design a course of study appropriate for that student. Courses already taken may count towards the PhD degree (see below, "Students with advanced standing:")

Medical Scientist Training Program

The Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP)  of the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University was established in 1983 to offer exceptionally talented individuals the opportunity to undertake a physician-scientist training program tailored to their specific research interests. For students who have a clearly-defined interest in biomedical research, the MSTP serves as a bridge between the  University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and several graduate programs in basic sciences or engineering at either the University of Pittsburgh or Carnegie Mellon University.

MD/PhD Students - Coursework

The University Regulations covering Graduate study state "The preliminary evaluation should be designed to assess the breadth of the student's knowledge of the discipline?" ( The Preliminary Examination in the Department of Chemistry is based on the student's record of performance in four of the department's graduate-level core courses. To meet the breadth requirement, the four core courses must be selected from at least three of the formal disciplines of Chemistry: Analytical, Biological, Inorganic, Organic and Physical. Two core courses must be taken in an area of concentration selected by the student. The following core courses are offered; all are 3-credit courses, the schedule of courses is published each year:

  • Inorganic: Chem 2110 Physical Inorganic Chemistry, Chem 2120 Inorganic Synthesis
  • Analytical: Chem 2210 Electrochemistry, Chem 2220 Chemical Separations, Chem 2230 Analytical Spectroscopy
  • Organic: Chem 2310 Mechanistic Organic Chemistry, Chem 2320 Advanced Organic Synthesis
  • Physical: Chem 2430 Quantum Mechanics and Kinetics, Chem 2440 Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics
  • Biological: Chem 2810 Biological Chemistry 1: Biomacromolecule Structure and Function, Chem 2820 Biological Chemistry 2, Chemical Biology and Bioanalytical Chemistry

The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences defines a grade of B as adequate performance for graduate students (see Appendix III for guidelines regarding core course grading). Therefore, students are expected to earn grades of B or higher in the first four core courses taken, which comprise the Preliminary Examination.

Students with advanced standing

Students who enter the graduate program with advanced standing (e.g., MD/PhD students and others who have already taken graduate-level courses in chemistry) may request permission from GSAC to earn credit for a core course by taking an examination. Normally, this "credit by examination" option is available only to students who have previously taken a graduate-level course similar to one of this department?s core courses, as determined by the course instructor. Earning credit by examination involves the assignment of a letter grade based on an oral or written examination, at the discretion of the core course instructor. Students wishing to take such an examination should obtain the Credit by Examination form from the Graduate Program Administrator. A course passed by examination counts towards the requirements for the Preliminary Exam.

MD/PhD Students -- Comprehensive Examination

All MD/PhD students in the Chemistry graduate training program are required to complete their comprehensive examination by the end of the first term of their third year in Chemistry. After completing the Comprehensive Examination, students may submit the Application for Admission to Candidacy form. A full description of the Comprehensive examination is described elsewhere in the handbook.

MD/PhD Students -- PhD Dissertation Committee

Typically, the faculty participants in the PhD Dissertation Committee are the same as in the Comprehensive exam committee plus a member from outside the Department. All Chemistry graduate students are required to meet with their PhD Dissertation Committee (outside member may be excused if it requires excessive travel, etc.) at least once per year following the comprehensive exam. More details can be found in the graduate handbook.