Why do your PhD in chemistry at Dal?

We are an enthusiastic department with an international reputation and world-class research facilities. In addition to being one of Canada’s leading research-intensive universities, our graduate program is the largest east of Montreal and we offer the only PhD chemistry program in Nova Scotia.

Housed in a historic building located in the centre of the university campus, our department features newly renovated research laboratories containing a wide range of highly specialized, state-of-the-art instrumentation.

Our PhD students do outstanding research in every area of chemistry with highly motivated faculty members, postdoctoral workers, undergraduate students and technical support staff.

Several of us have worldwide rankings for impact and hold an impressive number of prestigious research chairs. The large number of research grants held by faculty reflect the excellence of our department and our graduate studies program.

You'll find the atmosphere is highly collegial with many collaborations and interactions between research groups. Coming to Dalhousie Chemistry ensures you are on the right track to start your career.

Program details

Doctor of Philosophy in Chemistry (PhD)

Choose a research supervisor

Before you begin your studies at Dalhousie, we encourage you to visit the department or start an email correspondence with faculty members whose research interests you. The best way to find a research supervisor that matches your interests is to:

  • Discuss ideas and projects with prospective supervisors
  • Ask faculty for descriptions of possible research projects
  • Write to the Graduate Secretary for general information

Program structure

First year:

  • Carry out research
  • Take and pass two or three graduate-level courses
  • Serve as a teaching assistant (TA) in undergraduate laboratories
  • Meet with a supervisor and supervisory committee before the year’s end

Second year:

  • Continue research
  • Finish coursework
  • Serve as a teaching assistant (TA) in undergraduate laboratories
  • Submit PhD Qualifying Report and pass an oral examination
  • Deliver a departmental seminar on a topic unrelated to your research
  • Meet with a supervisor and supervisory committee before the year’s end

Third year:

  • Continue your research
  • Finish course requirements
  • Serve as a teaching assistant (TA) in undergraduate laboratories
  • Meet with a supervisor and supervisory committee before the year’s end

Fourth year:

  • Continue and complete research
  • Deliver a departmental seminar on your research
  • Submit a PhD Thesis and pass the oral examination

Further information:

Transfer from MSc to PhD

An MSc candidate may transfer to the PhD program without completing an MSc degree if the following criteria are met:

  • Candidate must have performed well in research
  • Candidate must have a first-class record in graduate coursework

Students require the consent of the research supervisor and supervisory committee and a successful completion of the PhD Qualifying Examination in order to transfer programs.

Course requirements

PhD degree candidates proceeding from a BSc degree require a minimum of four one-term courses at the graduate level, including at least two 6000-level chemistry graduate modules.

PhD degree candidates proceeding from an MSc degree in Chemistry: If you graduated from Dalhousie University with an MSc, you must complete at least two one-term courses in addition to the courses passed for the MSc degree, and the courses must include at least two 6000-level chemistry graduate modules.

If you are coming to Dalhousie with an MSc from another university, you may seek transfer credits for your courses.

Qualifying report

Within 18 months of registering in the Chemistry PhD program, students submit a Qualifying Report of up to 70 pages. This report should include a literature survey and a significant research proposal for the PhD thesis. This is followed by an oral examination.

PhD defence

A PhD defence is open to the public and the Faculty of Graduate Studies arranges and publicizes the PhD defence in consultation with the supervisor and the student.

The PhD candidate makes a 20-minute oral presentation of the work, and then the members of the Examination Committee question the candidate. The external examiner, the members of the supervisory committee and the supervisor vote on the outcome of the thesis defence.

Important dates

Admission deadlines

  • For September: June 1st (Canadian), April 1st (Non-Canadian)
  • For January: November 15th (Canadian), August 31 (Non-Canadian)
  • For May Admission: February 28/29 (Canadian), December 31 (Non-Canadian)
  • If you have missed an application deadline, please contact the department directly to inquire if there is still room in the program.

Funding deadlines:

Graduate handbook for Chemistry

Download our Graduate handbook [PDF - 1.2 MB] for full details on all graduate programs available in the Department of Chemistry.