Graduate Program

SMU Chemistry Graduate Program Overview

SMU Chemistry Graduate Students Fall 2011

The new first-semester curriculum is uniform for all entering students.  This provides core courses in all three departmental pillars (Chem 6116, 6115, 6118). In the newly designed course “Modern Aspects of Chemistry” (CHEM 6220) each faculty presents his/her current/future research and an overview of the field. 

This enables the students to make informed decisions regarding the choice of research groups, as well as to become familiar with all the research being conducted in the department. 

The students select research advisors by the end of the first semester and begin research culminating in the dissertation. In the second-semester the students attend the courses in one of the three tracks featuring their area of research. However, as will be discussed in chapter C.4, depending on the availability of graduate student stipends, not all the faculty may be able to accept graduate students, which may restrict the students’ choices. For more information or to schedule a visit, please contact Dr. Michael Lattman.

New first year curriculum



CHEM 6220  Modern Aspects of Chemistry

CHEM 6116  Introduction to Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry

CHEM 6115  Theory of the Chemical Bond

CHEM 6118  Overview of Materials Chemistry

CHEM 6110  Chemical Communications

CHEM 6111  Practical Laboratory or Practical Computational Methods

CHEM 7111  Teaching Practicum I

CHEM 6120  Current Topics in Research


SPRING           Track A1 (Organic/Medicinal/Bioorganic Students)

CHEM 5393  Advanced Organic 

CHEM 6113  Practical Aspects of Spectroscopy

CHEM 6119  Synthetic Strategies

CHEM 7251  Research

CHEM 7112  Teaching Practicum II

CHEM 6121  Current Topics in Research


SPRING           Track A2 (Materials/Polymer Students)         

CHEM 5333  Introduction to Polymer Chemistry

CHEM 6113  Practical Aspects of Spectroscopy

CHEM 6114  Chemical Kinetics

CHEM 7251  Research

CHEM 7112  Teaching Practicum II

CHEM 6121  Current Topics in Research


SPRING           Track B (Theoretical/Computational/Physical Students)

CHEM 6343  Advanced Computational Chemistry

CHEM 6325 Introduction to ab initio calculations: Hartree-Fock Theory

CHEM 7151  Research

CHEM 7112  Teaching Practicum II

CHEM 6121  Current Topics in Research


Cumulative Examinations (“cumes”)

The purpose of the cumes is to aid students in developing a thorough understanding of both fundamentals of and recent advances in chemistry and their research field.  Each student takes these exams until the required total score of 25 is obtained.  A maximum of 12 cumes can be taken. Each cume is graded on a zero to 5 point scale. Students begin taking cumes during the spring semester of their first year. Eight cumes are given per year.

Teaching and (Oral and Written) Communication

In addition to research, teaching and communication are highly emphasized.  All students are required to serve as Teaching Assistants (TAs) for at least two semesters. 

Each student gives three oral presentations, two of which have large writing components. The first (Chem 7121) is a seminar on a current topic of chemical research.  The second, (Chem 7233) Research Synopsis and Objectives, is a written report on the student’s research progress and future directions.  The written report is presented to a faculty committee, and an oral presentation is given to the entire department.  The third, Chem 7334 (Proposal Methodology), is a written research proposal in the style of an NSF proposal on an original research idea unrelated to the student’s own research.  The written proposal is presented to a faculty committee and orally defended before the committee.

Admission to Candidacy and Completion of Degree

After completion of the above requirements, the Ph. D. student is Admitted to Candidacy. The final requirements of the degree are 48 hours of total coursework, oral presentation of research at a professional meeting (Chem 7122), and writing and successfully defending the dissertation. The written dissertation on a substantive body of research is presented to a faculty committee and orally defended in front of this committee.  The faculty committee consists of the student's research director, three faculty members (usually from the Department), and one member from outside the Department.

The following is a list of graduate courses offered in the Chemistry Department. Please check the Schedule of Classes available on Access for a listing of classes being offered during a specific semester.

CHEM 5185. Laboratory Methods in Physical Chemistry. Laboratory experiments with emphasis on thermodynamics, chemical kinetics, and physical biochemistry. One half-hour of lecture and five-hour laboratory period each week for five weeks. Prerequisite: CHEM 5381 or 5383.

CHEM 5188. Advanced Physical Chemistry Laboratory. Laboratory experiments with emphasis on chemical kinetics and molecular spectroscopy. One half-hour of lecture and five-hour laboratory period each week for five week. Prerequisite: CHEM 5185. Corequisite: CHEM 5384 or permission of the instructor.

CHEM 5192. Inorganic Chemistry Laboratory. Synthesis and characterization of transition metal and main group element compounds and solid-state materials. Prerequisite or corequisite: CHEM 5392.

CHEM 5306. Computational Chemistry. Introduction to the techniques of computer modeling of small to medium-sized organic molecules using advanced graphics workstations. Prerequisite: CHEM 3372.

CHEM 5310. Biological Chemistry: Macromolecular Structure and Function. Introduction to the structure and function of macromolecules of biological importance. Emphasis on nucleic acid and protein structure, enzyme kinetics, and carbohydrate and lipid chemistry. Three lecture hours per week.Prerequisites: CHEM 3371 (3373) and 3117 (3119).

CHEM 5311. Metabolism. Introduction to the pathways and regulatory events in the metabolism of carbohydrates, lipids, amino acids, and nucleotides. Three lecture hours per week. Prerequisites: CHEM 3371, 3372.

CHEM 5312. Physical Biochemistry. Physical chemistry of macromolecules and biological membranes, with an emphasis on the thermodynamics of solutions. Prerequisites: MATH 1338 and CHEM 3372, 5310. (CHEM 5381 or 5383 recommended)

CHEM 5317. Introduction to Molecular Modeling and Computer Assisted Drug Design. The course presents a thorough and in-depth overview of methods and techniques in computer assisted drug design. It includes topics such as drug discovery and drug design, molecular recognition and docking, ligand-receptor interactions, pharmacophore searching, virtual screening, de novo design, molecular graphics, and chemometrics. Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor.

CHEM 5321. Understanding Chemistry. The course focuses on a general understanding of chemistry in terms of models and concepts that describe structure, stability, reactivity, and other properties of molecules in a simple, yet very effective way. Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor.

CHEM 5322. Introduction to Nanotechnology. Nanotechnology is expected to change lives and society more than computer technology and electricity have done together. The course provides an introduction to NT. Nanomaterials and their applications are discussed. Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor.

CHEM 5333. Introduction to Polymer Chemistry. Introduces the synthesis, physical properties and solution properties of high molecular weight molecules. Plastics, manufacturing, and fabrication of polymers.

CHEM 5335. Advanced Laboratory Methods and Techniques. Advanced techniques and methods in the synthesis of chemical compounds.

CHEM 5383. Physical Chemistry I. Gas laws, elementary kinetic theory, and the four laws of thermodynamics, including applications to phase diagrams and biological processes. Prerequisites: PHYS 1106, 1304 (or 1408) and MATH 2338. Prerequisite or corequisite: CHEM 3351.

CHEM 5384. Physical Chemistry II. Elements of quantum mechanics and its description of many electron atoms, bonding and spectroscopy, intermolecular forces, structure of solids, chemical kinetics, and transport properties of fluids. Prerequisite: CHEM 5383.

CHEM 5387. Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics of Materials and Solid State Reactions. Examines the relationship between partition function and thermodynamic variables. Derives transport properties from random-walk models and kinetic theory. Studies solid-state reactions, transport at interfaces, phase transformations, and nucleation using techniques from both microscopic and macroscopic theories.

CHEM 5390. Environmental Chemistry. An examination of the chemistry of earth's environment, with emphasis on problems cased by human activity. Includes aquatic and soil chemistry, nuclear chemistry, combustion, alternative energy technologies, atmospheric chemistry, and global warming.Prerequisites: MATH 1338, PHYS 1303 or 1407, and CHEM 1304. Recommended: PHYS 1304 or 1408, CHEM 5381 or 5383, or GEOL 6338.

CHEM 5392. Advanced Inorganic Chemistry. Survey of the bonding, structure, and reactivity of inorganic compounds. Coordination, organometallic, and main group element chemistry. Three hours of lecture each week. Prerequisite: CHEM 5384.

CHEM 5393. Advanced Organic Chemistry. 3 hours of lecture per week. Prerequisite: CHEM 3372.

CHEM 5395. Advanced Analytical Chemistry. 3 hours of lecture per week. Prerequisite: CHEM 5486.

CHEM 5396. Advanced Physical Chemistry. 3 hours of lecture per week. Prerequisite: CHEM 5384.

CHEM 5397. Biotransformations and Biocatalysis. Covers the history, application, and current trends of biotransformations and biocatalysis with emphasis on how biocatalysts are developed and used in pharmaceutical research.

CHEM 5398. Medicinal Chemistry. Emphasizes the design, mode of action, and metabolism of drugs, including antibiotics, antifungals, antivirals, anticancer agents, CNS agents, and analgesics/antiinflammatory agents. Prerequisites: CHEM 3371, 3372.

CHEM 5486. Instrumental Analysis. The theory, operation, and application of instrumentation used in the modern chemical laboratory. Two hours of lecture and two three-hour laboratory periods each week.

CHEM 6000. Research. For students who hold fellowships, but are not enrolled in any credit-hour courses. No tuition.

CHEM 6049. M.S. Graduate Full-Time Status.

CHEM 6110. Chemical Communications: Literature, Writing, and Presentations. Fundamentals of literature searching, scientific writing, oral and poster presentations, and research notebooks.

CHEM 6111. Practical Laboratory Methods. Describes the theory behind and practice of laboratory techniques necessary to perform advanced synthetic chemical research.

CHEM 6112. Advanced Stereochemistry. Advanced study in molecular geometry and relationships in space between atoms and groups in a molecule.

CHEM 6113. Practical Aspects of Spectroscopy. Basic theory and practical applications of spectroscopy for chemists.

CHEM 6114. Chemical Kinetics. Kinetics of gas-phase, surface, condensed-phase, polymer, photochemical, and enzyme reactions.

CHEM 6115. Theory of the Chemical Bond. Covers different descriptions of covalent bonding, including the ability to predict bonding structures in molecules and methods to test these predictions.

CHEM 6116. Introduction to Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry. Protein structure, enzymes and receptors as drug targets, enzyme inhibitors, design of agonists, and design of antagonists.

CHEM 6117. Chemical Periodicity: Reactivity and Structural Trends in Inorganic and Organometallic Compounds. Explores periodic or recurring trends of the chemical elements in terms of their properties and chemical behavior.

CHEM 6118. Overview of Materials Chemistry. Surveys the synthesis, characterization and applications of ceramics and glasses, polymers, metals, nanomaterials, semiconductors and conductors, and biomaterials.

CHEM 6119. Synthetic Strategies. Formation of the carbon skeleton, organometallic reagents and coupling reactions, protecting groups and chemical compatibility, and convergent synthesis.

CHEM 6120, 6121. Current Topics in Research. Review of current research as presented by visiting lecturers.

CHEM 6130. Mechanisms in Organic, Organometallic and Bioorganic Chemistry. Fundamental mechanistic concepts in bioorganic, materials, medicinal, organic, and organometallic chemistry. Emphasizes mechanistic similarities of seemingly different types of reactions.

CHEM 6220. Modern Aspects of Chemistry. Overview of current important topics in chemistry and the relationship to research programs in the department. Prerequisite: Official admission to graduate program.

CHEM 6306. Computational Chemistry. An introduction to the techniques of computer modeling of small to medium-sized organic molecules using advanced graphics workstations. Prerequisite: CHEM 3372.

CHEM 6308. Special Topics in Chemistry. Presentation of advanced special topics that are at the forefront of current chemical interest. Content varies from term to term.

CHEM 6302. The Chemical Bond.

CHEM 6312. Theory of Organic Chemistry.

CHEM 6325. Introduction to Ab Initio Calculations: Hartree-Fock Theory. Quantum chemical investigations of the ab initio type normally start with a Hartree-Fock calculation. Students interested in quantum or computational chemistry have to acquire basic knowledge in Hartree-Fock theory before starting with the more advanced electron correlation theories. This course provides an introduction into Hartree-Fock theory. Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor.

CHEM 6331. Theory of Analytical Chemistry.

CHEM 6341. Advanced Models and Concepts in Chemistry. Advanced models and concepts are presented to understand the structure; stability; and reactivity or molecules in organic, inorganic, and polymer chemistry. Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor.

CHEM 6342. Nanotechnology: Fundamentals and Applications. Nanotechnology is an interdisciplinary field including, among other nanosciences, nanoengineering and nanomedicine. The course provides the fundamentals and present applications of nanotechnology in a variety of disciplines.Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor.

CHEM 6343. Advanced Computational Chemistry. The course provides in-depth training on how to use the computer as a modern, efficient tool to solve chemical problems. Major quantum chemical packages are used. The course is designed for all graduate students from chemistry, biochemistry, medicinal chemistry, biology, and engineering who want to obtain a thorough overview of methods and techniques applied in computation chemistry. Since the course addresses a broad audience, it is designed as an interdisciplinary course for graduate students with different backgrounds. Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor.

CHEM 6344. Computer Assisted Drug Design: Fundamentals and Applications. The course discusses the fundamentals of computer assisted drug design, the latest and important developments in CADD methodologies, and their applications. Topics include drug discovery, virtual screening, de novo design, and neutral networks, among others. Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor.

CHEM 6351, 6352. Methods and Techniques of Research.

CHEM 6397. Biotransformations and Biocatalysis. Covers the history, application, and current trends of biotransformations and biocatalysis with emphasis on how biocatalysts are developed and used in pharmaceutical research.

CHEM 6398, 6399. Thesis.

CHEM 7101, 7201, 7301. Advanced Independent Study. Readings in the chemical literature on current research topics related to the student's area of research.

CHEM 7108, 7208, 7302. Special Topics. Presentations of contemporary topics in chemistry.

CHEM 7111, 7112. Teaching Practicum. Discussion and experience in teaching and communication in the laboratory and classroom.

CHEM 7121. Departmental Presentation. Major presentation to the entire department on a topic developed from the literature.

CHEM 7122. Meeting Presentation. Oral presentation at a professional meeting.

CHEM 7151, 7251, 7351. Research.

CHEM 7233. Research Synopsis and Objectives. A written report of research progress and development of a written research plan for the Ph.D. research program. Must be defended before a faculty committee.

CHEM 7334. Proposal Methodology. Development of a written research proposal that is defended before a faculty committee.

CHEM 8049. Ph.D. Graduate Full-Time Status.

CHEM 8698, 8699. Dissertation.