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About the Graduate Program

Ph. D. Program
Biophysics Biophysics
Materials Chemistry of Materials
Environmental Environmental Chemistry
M.S. Program

Analytical Analytical
PChem Physical
Inorg Inorganic
Organic Organic
Biochemistry Biochemistry
Interdisc Interdisciplinary R&D




The Ph.D. Program in Applied Chemistry started at the University of Puerto Rico – Mayagüez Campus in January 2004. The Program was approved by the Puerto Rico Council on Higher Education on December 18, 2003 through certification #2003-191. The Program currently has about 50 students progressing towards the Ph.D.

Our Program supports the mission of the University of Puerto Rico by developing graduate students with knowledge and skills in areas of importance to Puerto Rico’s economic development. The emphasis of our research is in Biophysical Chemistry, Environmental Chemistry, and Chemistry of Materials. Our Program graduates will have strong communication skills to allow them to participate in the search for solutions to the problems that our society faces, and to promote the development and transfer of technology needed for economic development.

A total of 20 students have already earned their Ph.D’s and an average of 10 students complete their respective Ph.D. or M.S. degrees each year. All Program graduates have been employed or are continuing postdoctoral work.

Graduate students typically receive financial aid throughout their graduate study in the form of teaching assistantships, graduate fellowships and research appointments. Graduate fellowships and research appointments allow students to dedicate full time to their Ph.D. studies.

The Department has a vigorous research program with an average research budget of over $2,655,000 in external research funds, resulting in over 400 MS thesis, and 20 disertations.

Our Ph.D. Program is unique in various aspects. The Program requires a Practicum in a research laboratory outside of our University. The Practicum increases the student’s knowledge and skills in the chosen area of specialty and develops their communication and work skills through exposure to multiple research groups. The Program has unique courses such as QUIM 6705 Supervised Teaching of Chemistry and QUIM 8008 – Scientific Communication in Chemistry that helps to improve the students’ communication skills. The Program is also unique in emphasizing entrepreneurism through a graduate level in the School of Business Administration.  

Applying to Ph.D. Program

All requests for admissions are received electronically through http://grad.uprm.edu  Please feel free to contact our Graduate Coordinators on any questions regarding the Admissions process (marco.dejesus@uprm.edu).

Financial Assistance


Graduate students may receive teaching or research assistanships. Assistanstships are not considered a job or employment. Assistantships are stipends offered for a number of tasks that serve to train a student towards a career in teaching or research. Graduate students must maintain an overall grade point average of 3.0 to be academically eligible for assitanships. Assistanships may be renewed if the Department has funds, students comply with the assigned tasks, and continue to be eligible (3). Assistantships may be cancelled at any moment if the Department does not have funds, students do not fulfill the assigned tasks, or students are not eligible.

All graduate students with total or conditional admission may request assistanstships. Students who are suspended or on probation or have a job are not elegilbe for assistantships. Visiting students and those enrolled for professional improvement are also not elegible for assistanships. Some agencies provide scholarships for students, but request that they do not accept other forms of aid or assistantships. Students holding these scholarships are responsible for following the guidelines.

Students who hold a B.S. degree when they are admitted to the Ph.D. program will be elegible for assitantships for a period of up to 5 years (4). The 5 year period applies regardless of whether the funding comes from institutional or external funds. If justified the assistantship may be extended for up to 3 years, but only one year can be payed with instutional funds.
Students who hold an M.S. degree when they are admitted to the Ph.D. Program will be elegible for assistantships for a period of up to three years. The 3 year period applies regardless of whether the funding comes from institutional or external funds. If justified the assistantship may be extended for up to 2 years, but only one year can be payed with instutional funds.

The extension of the period of assistantship requires the approval of the Director of the Graduate Studies Office, who will evaluate the request after receiving the recommendation for extension from the student’s research advisor and the Director of the Department (or Graduate Coordinator).

Program Requirements

Placement Tests

Placement tests are offered one to two weeks before the start of doctoral studies (first semester). Students take five placement tests to evaluate their knowledge at the undergraduate level in: analytical, biochemistry, inorganic, organic, and physical chemistry. Students are not required to take the Biochemistry test if they have not taken this class.
The main objective of the placement test is to measure knowledge of chemistry and to encourage students to review and prepare for graduate study before starting the Doctoral Program. The exams will assist the faculty in assessing the students’ strengths and weaknesses. The faculty will provide the students with recommendations for addressing deficiencies.

Student’s Graduate Studies Committee

Graduate studentsselect their research advisor and establish their Graduate Studies committee during their first semester in the Program. This committee should be constituted by professors related to the student’s research project and consist of 4 to 6 professors, at least half of whom must belong to the student’s department. Professors from other institutions and government or industrial scientists may also belong to the committee, but they must receive an ad honorem appointment (Certificación 02-45).

All Ph.D. faculty members of the Department may serve as research advisor (President) of the student’s Graduate Studies Committee. The students’ Graduate Studies committee should meet every semester to evaluate academic and research progress, and to provide advice.

Plan of Study

The student will prepare a Plan of Study in consultation with his Graduate Studies committee. The Plan of Study should be turned in to the Registrar (with a copy to the Office of Graduate Studies) during the second semester in the Program. The Registrar’s Office will evaluate requests for graduation by checking whether the student has completed the courses listed in the Plan of Study.

The Plan of Study lists the courses that students will take, and is an excellent planning tool for the student and the research advisor. It also helps the Department Director in determining the courses to offer in the future.

The Plan of Study documents previous graduate level courses accredited towards the Ph.D. degree by the Graduate Committee. The courses will not be accredited until the Plan of Study is submitted and approved by the Department Director.

Research Proposal

The student shall present a written proposal for research that defines his doctoral thesis project, and will defend it orally in front of the thesis committee.

The research proposal requirement involves two very important activities. The first is the preparation of the proposal, and the second is its defense before the student’s committee.
The student’s Graduate Studies committee and the research advisor will advice the student in the preparation of the research proposal. In addition, the Graduate Studies Office has a Guía para la Preparación de Propuestas, Tesis e Informes de Proyecto en el Recinto Universitario de Mayagüez (http://grad.uprm.edu/normastesis.htm).  The content and precise format of the research proposals will be determined by each individual Graduate Studies committee until the Graduate Committee establishes a format.

After the oral defense, the student’s research advisor will provide the student with a letter summarizing the recommendations of his Graduate Studies committee. The letter will indicate a time frame for the committee to meet with the student and evaluate the student’s progress. For example, for the first three oral defenses that were celebrated the Graduate studies committees agreed to meet within a period of 6 – 8, 10 – 12, and 10 – 14 months, respectively.

Doctoral Exam

After approving the courses (excluding the doctoral seminar) the student should pass a doctoral exam that measures knowledge at the graduate level. This should happen during the third year of studies. The exam will be offered in August and in January.  It will consist of questions previously agreed upon by a committee that will be designated by the coordinator of the program according to the student’s area of specialty, and the courses that students have taken. Students who fail the exam a second time will be suspended as indicated in Certificación 09-09.

Internship or Practicum

Every student will work one semester or four months in an academic, industrial, or government lab outside the UPR-Mayagüez campus. The Practicum increases the student’s knowledge and skills in the chosen area of specialty and develops their communication and work skills through exposure to multiple research groups. The Practicum is organized to help the student advance towards completion of the Ph.D. Since the department does not have funds to subsidize the internship, research advisors and the graduate students must seek funding for the internship through grants or scholarships.

It is recommended that the four month period be flexible, but cumulative to include a period of at least four months. This period may be distributed as follows:

  1. A period of four months without interruption.
  2. Two summer terms.
  3. A maximum of three weeks in workshops related to the students research, and research experience to meet the four month period.

It is recommended that the Practicum be carried out during the summer since it should be easier to program and find housing for students. The Practicum should not consist of routine work in an academic or industrial environment, it should contribute to the student’s research project. Attendance to scientific meetings will not be counted as an activity to meet the Practicum requirement, and professional experience in industry will not be accepted.

After returning from the Practicum, students must present a progress report, make a presentation in the Graduate Seminar or in a scientific conference such as the Puerto Rico Senior Technical meeting and receive a formal evaluation from the Practicum supervisor or host.

Upon approval of the report, the President of the students Graduate Studies committee will submit a letter (similar to that in Appendix VII) to the Graduate Coordinator, informing him of the completion of this requirement.
Our Ph.D. students have carried out their Practicum in several internationally recognized laboratories such as those of:

  • Dr. Juan M. García Ruiz, Laboratorio de Estudios Cristalográficos Universidad de Granada - Granada, España
  • Dr. Abdu I. Alayash, Center for Biologics Evaluation Research, Food and Drug Administration, Laboratory of Biochemistry and Vascular Biology, , Bethesda, MD.
  • Dr. Gerd N. La Mar, University of California at Davis
  • Dr. Richard A. Dluhy, Chemistry Department, University of Georgia.
  • US Army Night Visions and Electronic Sensors Directorate, Fort Belvoir, VI.
  • Dr. Jaime L. Matta, Department of Pharmacology, Physiology, and Toxicology, Escuela de Medicina de Ponce, Ponce, P.R.
  • Dr. Carlos R. Cabrera – Center for Nanoscale Materials – UPR- Río Piedras
  • Dr. Roberto Irizarry, Research and Development, Dupont Electronics.

Click to University of Granada –link.


The student should perform independent research that represents a significant contribution to furthering knowledge in their specialty area. Students will be required two accepted publications before defending their doctoral dissertation.


The student will be considered a Doctor of Philosophy candidate when he or she successfully completes all courses listed in the students Plan of Study, successfully defend the research proposal and pass the doctoral exam.

Transfer of Courses from M.S. Degree

The Graduate Committee will evaluate requests for transfer of courses from previous graduate work towards the Ph.D. in Applied Chemistry. Please communicate with the Graduate Coordinator in regards to questions related to transfer of courses from M.S. 


The PhD Program is Applied Chemistry consists of a minimum of 52 credits, of which up to 18 may be in thesis research. In addition:

  • A. No more than 9 credits can be at the 5000 level
  • B. A minimum of 9 credits will be required in areas outside of the specialty.
    C. The minimum grade point average required will be 3.00.

    Courses in Areas of Research

    A. Biophysical Chemistry (two courses required):

    QUIM 6016 - Biophysical Chemistry, 3 credit hours.
    QUIM 6009 – Spectroscopy of Biological Molecules, 3 credit hours.
    QUIM 8995 - Special Subjects in Biophysical Chemistry, 1 – 3 credit hours.

    B. Chemistry of Materials (two courses required):

    QUIM 6216 – Surface Analytical Chemistry, 3 credit hours.
    QUIM 6707 – Solid State Chemistry, 3 credit hours.
    QUIM 6045- Computer Simulations Applied to Materials Science, 3 credit hours.

    QUIM 8995- Special Subjects in Chemistry of Materials, 1 – 3 credit hours.


  • C.  Environmental Chemistry (two courses required):
    QUIM 6010 – Advanced Environmental Chemistry.
    QUIM 6036 – Chemical Aspects of Environmental Problems
    QUIM 6055 -  Trace Analysis of Environmental Contaminants

    Recommended Courses and Electives by Area of Specialty – 15 credit hours of which at least 6 should be in courses in the area of specialty. The student should take these courses after consulting with his research advisor.

    The Graduate Coordinator has a list of other courses which the student may take. Due to the interdisciplinary nature of the Program the student may take one or more courses outside the Department and the College of Arts and Sciences.

  • Course Distribution

    Core Courses (3 courses @ 3 credit hours) – 9 credit hours
    Grade Requirements – 28 credit hours.
    Recommended Courses and Electives by Area of Specialty – 15 credit hours.

  • Core courses (3 courses of 3 credit hours):

    QUIM 6401 – Advanced Organic Chemistry
    QUIM 6605 – Advanced Physical Chemistry
    QUIM 6215 – Advanced Analytical Chemistry
    QUIM 6011 – Advanced Inorganic Chemistry
    QUIM 6715 – Advanced Biochemistry.

    Grade Requirements:

    QUIM 6705 – Supervised Teaching of Chemistry – 3 credit hours.
    QUIM 8008 – Scientific Communication in Chemistry – 3 credit hours.
    QUIM 8980 – Doctoral Seminar – 1 credit hour
    QUIM 8997 – Research -- 18 credit hours.

    And one of the following courses to develop business and management skills:

    GERE 6025 – Organizational Behavior – 3 credit hours.
    GERH 6027 – Legal Aspect of Business Organization – 3 credit hours.
    GERH 6037 – Wage and Salary Administration – 3 credit hours.

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